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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Race Report: Moraine Adventure Relay 2011

This race is amazing!
14 stages - 1 canoe, 6 bike, and 7 runs. You can bring anything from a team of 15 (2 for canoe) or a team of 2 - you just need someone for every stage, and any member can do as many stages as they want. It covers 160km of Oak Ridges Moraine from Rice Lake to Aurora!

This year there were around 30 teams ready to rock it out. Our team was "Blood of the Ridge"... we were "Trail Pythons" last year, but needed a new name to reflect our being ready for battle this year!!! :)

The Canoe

This year we recruited some very experienced canoeists to compliment our effort, and as luck would have it they were fast and great guys too! :) They started in the 2nd wave and overtook all but 2 boats from the first wave... they almost certainly had the fastest time on the water. We were off to a great start!

Ganaraska Forest

This area is beautiful but very sandy. It starts with a long mountain bike that fast riders do in about an hour, but the sand takes a lot out of you. It's followed by two runs that are also quite sandy. We had some navigational challenges and by the time we exited the forest we were down in 7th or 8th... that's the nature of this kind of race, a few mistakes can really nail you.

Another run and Long Sault

After one more run leaving Ganaraska, we finally transitioned to the bike stages. This is our real strength as myself and one other guy are solid cyclists, we can finish in the top handful on all of these stages and we pretty much did. We flew through Long Sault and the next very sandy (again!) bike stage, then I nailed down a nice fast ride on my cyclocross bike on a mostly road stage to get us to Durham Forest in pretty good shape!

Durham Forest and beyond

The run through Durham Forest is hilly and scenic, really beautiful wilderness. We had a few more navigational issues but our runner still held his own and turned in a decent time. Things were looking up! I then did my first run of the day through Stage 10... this one has to be the toughest run, it's the longest at 11km, the hills are steep, and the trail goes from pretty good to downright awful by the end... trudging through a marsh and tip-toeing across rotting bridges - ouch! 

Musselman Lake and York Regional Forest

After this we hit a bike stage, which my buddy nailed. Then it's a trail run through the really wonderful York Regional Forest - anyone who lives in Markham or Aurora should really check it out, it's very nice in there. Then it was my turn to shine - I absolutely smoked the next bike stage thanks to my cyclocross bike and experience of having done the stage before! It was my forth stage of the day (had to fill in for a teammate who had a family emergency) so I was a bit tired, but since I had nothing left to do after it was just put the hammer down and suck it up time! Flew through the forest, then hammered it on the roads, I'll be disappointed if I'm not the #1 time on that stage - it really was my best!

The Finish

The last stage is mostly on roads with a bit of trail at the end... and then finally, the finish! Oh glorious finish.

Final results - although we crossed the line 5th, teams rested enough between stages that in the final accounting we ended up 7th... but our time (11:28) is over 2 hours ahead of last year (13:31).  It's a bit disappointing, but the good news is we won two stages!  Our canoe team was the fastest, and one of my bike stages was #1 as well.  We had a couple of 3rd place finishes and a few top 5's, so we really had some solid efforts.  We fell short of the goal of finishing top 5, but we demonstrated the pace to pull it off... so I'm encouraged for next year.

Now accepting applications for 2012!!! :D Seriously, if anyone is interested in joining our team we could use the help! Or if you want any advice or have questions about forming your own team, fire away. It's an awesome event that I can't recommend highly enough - great organizers, great volunteers, wonderful.


Heather Shearer said...

Wow, that sounds fun. I've always wanted to try an adventure race. I'm definitely going to try to find time to fit one in soon!

Looking forward to hearing about your results.

Robin said...

Congrats again, sounds awesome!