What a tough day. This race involved running/hiking, mountain biking, and paddling.
And... orienteering. A new organizer has taken over the race, so we weren't sure exactly what to expect - he's a tough dude in the Adventure Racing world! And it was tough.
Actually even before the start, I just wanted to mention how bad my spring has been... I've had recurring hamstring trouble when running that has kept me from doing much more than 5km. And 2 weeks ago I had a respiratory illness that hasn't entirely passed.
So I was not really looking forward to 5 hours of this, it was really uncertain how I'd manage...
The start was 3km of hiking/running within the Albion Hills conservation area. We ran/hiked as much as I could tolerate through the first two checkpoints, navigation was reasonably easy (had a couple of minor snafus but nothing terrible). There were detailed trail maps, numbered markers, this was the easiest orienteering of the day!
My heart rate was through the roof, even at mild efforts... I had seen this on some of my last runs before this thing, but just crappy to be in trouble so early.
The bike a marked course, still at Albion mostly, and was glorious - very much like the 24h course we had done years ago. A mix of double and single track around the property, much more trail than expected!
I had two problems at this point - I was in the red (high HR!). And trail kilometers take a lot longer than road kilometers! So by the time we finished this segment, we were a couple hours in and had a lot to go.
Finished on a long asphalt section which gave me a chance to cool down (it was getting steamy!) and recover a bit on some of the downhills.
Portaging is always miserable but 600m downhill and I just couldn't get a decent grip on the boat, kept slipping. And by now we were in the full sun and it was getting hotttt. We managed to finally get into the boat but I was just cooked.
The paddle was ... something else. Previous years it has been on a lake, so we could really rock, always a place we make up time. This time was the twisty and shallow upper Humber River and it was more just steering and hoping we didn't bang into rocks or get beached! I felt a bit better by the end of the canoe, though, heart rate was back into a more reasonable place.
The final portage out of the river my arms felt like they were going to fall off.
This is where it got very tricky. VERY tricky. We didn't expect this level of orienteering. Only one of the checkpoints was even close to a formal trail - the rest were ... not.
Fortunately we've done enough of these things to be able to read the maps well - clearings, contour lines, creeks, fences, it was all marked - and being able to generally take a bearing and go in the right direction.
The maps were really great and detailed, though, and we pretty much nailed each one, taking close to the shortest path between them (using trails where they existed!).
I didn't know how much I had left in me to do another 3 checkpoints around Albion Hills - it would have been a very similar distance to what we had already covered.
But I was kind of saved... by the cut-off. We had to be back at the Finish by 4:30pm. So we hit one checkpoint then headed back, missing the last 2 checkpoints.
That's the first time at Storm we've ever missed checkpoints - but this course was longer and tougher than the previous organizer's! I think he overestimated our ability somewhat... only 7 teams managed to get to all of the checkpoints in the allotted time.
We finished 3rd in Masters and 18th overall (of 65 teams). Not terrible, but we could have done so much better if it weren't for my athletic inability. I was slow, and slowed us down as a result, by a lot.
Almost 7 hours. I was not expecting that, at all, looking at the distances! Last year we finished in 5h41 and completed everything (and I wasn't in allll that much better shape, but definitely better).
Everything just took time... lots of slower more technical trails, tough hills/terrain, even the portage was hellish. And the 9km of bushwhacking wasn't fast!! It was a much tougher course in every respect (except less mud).
I'm sore and tired and didn't have fun... but I'm ready to put it behind me and do it again.