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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Race Report: Rockstar Adventure Relay (8 hour)

Whew.  That was tough.

Run to the Start

This race started with a short run to the start line, presumably to separate the bikes out a little.  It was about 1.5km, got the juices flowing.  We held back pretty well, especially on the hills... 8 hours was going to be a long day, no use blowing up in the first 10 minutes!

The Bike

This year was interesting - there were three separate parts to the bike.  On each part you had to get a poker chip of a different colour, then present all 3 to prove you'd gotten them all.  You could get the chips in any order.

We realized early on that the singletrack trails would be a pain if they were crowded... but we decided to do that one first anyway, as it flowed nicely into the second trail for the next chip.  It wasn't too bad, but we did get held up for a few seconds here and there with traffic.

After that we took a little shortcut road into the next chip, and finally popped out and did the paved road section.  When we got back to the bike racks there weren't many bikes there - so we were feeling pretty good.

Trekking and Paddling

The next roughly 7 hours were completely freestyle - you had a map with a bunch of checkpoints, each having different point values, and you had to get to as many as possible using only your boat or your feet.

We decided to go for the big point value checkpoints, which looked like they were mostly near trails with a little bit of bushwacking.

But first we had to canoe to that area - which was no problem.  We snagged a high value island checkpoint along the way, they just for fun did this weird inner tube checkpoint (use an inner tube to go out to the checkpoint, about 150m or so, then return to shore).

Then it got less fun.

Day after - scratched up legs
We missed what on the map was supposed to be an intersection of several trails... we looked for it - but we didn't see a trail.  By the time we realized it, we had to figure out another plan - so we again trusted the map and tried to follow the "Maka Ina" trail.

Apparently "Maka Ina" translated to english means "not actually a trail".  We saw several signs suggesting we were on a trail - but each time there was absolutely no sign of a trail.  In some cases we were perched up on cliffs, where a trail couldn't have ever existed... but it insisted we were on a trail.

It ended up being pure drudgery.  Bushwacking and cliff scaling for about an hour, while confoundedly looking at our map trying to figure out where the hell we were...while getting eaten alive by deer flies... until finally, mercifully, we found a checkpoint.  It was supposed to be at a beaver dam - ended up being the 3rd beaver dam we found - ugh!

That one was worth 80 points, from there we knocked off the 90 and two 100 point checkpoints in relatively short order.  But again, this was all bushwacking, with about a kilometer between each one - so it was a long long slog.  My legs can attest to the conditions!  My eye is puffy from a deer fly bite, my hand too, it was really hellish.

We finally got the last of the big scores - a 100 point checkpoint - only to have the realization that we were very far from anything.  It was literally another hour before we managed to get back to the road and civilization... all told we had spent 3 hours hitting just 4 checkpoints.


Fortunately we popped out near an easy 40 pointer, which we snagged before starting the relatively long (but unimpeded) run back to our canoe!

Better Days

Once we got back to the canoe things got a bit better.  We hit a bunch of the lower value but easy scores on the lake - 60 in the middle of the lake, a 40 and 50 at the top of it, and the 40 point paddleboard challenge.

Somewhere in all of this, though, I managed to lose a bag with our medical kit in it.  I had it fastened with the bungee cords on my hydration kit - as I drank they must have loosened, because it had popped right out.

Gear Check...

There was a mandatory check-in back at the start/finish, which we knew would include a gear check - hopefully it wouldn't be something I had lost!  Unfortunately it was the flashlight, and that had been in my medical kit.

Crap.  20 minute penalty.

The only bright side was during the penalty we were able to rehydrate and refuel, and plan out what we'd do until the end.  After the penalty we'd have only about an hour to go.

Last Hour

We decided we were in for a penny, in for a pound - and went for the highest value checkpoint left, a 70 pointer near the main trails we'd used on the bike.  On the way we hit an easy 20, then a ridiculously tricky 30 pointer (we actually missed it at first, picked it up on the way back thanks to some help!).

The 70 point checkpoint was out by a marsh, and through brambles and awful crap again.  But we were great with our navigation and found ourselves within about 50m of it when we emerged by the pond.

On the way out I lost my footing and hit the deck - leg right onto a branch.  I was lucky not to pierce myself entirely, got away with what will surely be a bad bruise.


We were about mid-pack, which was pretty satisfying for our first 8 hour attempt.  We learned a little more about these races, and the area it's run in... so we'll be ready to rock next year.

We also got some intel that the other areas weren't nearly as bad... the trails were rough ATV trails, but they were real trails.  So good to know for next year (and don't tip off anyone else!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Race Preview: Rockstar Adventure Race (8 hour)

We did the 4 hour version last year.  It went well.  Very well, in fact!

How do you follow that up?  The 8 hour version of course!

The race starts like a normal race - you follow a marked mountain bike course.

But once that's done everything changes - there is no "course", just a map showing the location of a bunch of checkpoints.  You can get to them by canoe or foot, taking whatever route you choose.  Each one has a specified point value, and the team with the most points at the end wins.

It isn't always about being the fastest - last year we definitely weren't, but we won our category.  The strategy around what order you do things in to maximize the checkpoints you can get to is the real key.

Some are far and are worth a lot of points - but if they're too far and take too much time then it may be better to hit a bunch that are clustered together and worth less!  Some involve weird challenges - last year I had to go out into some swampy pond on an inner tube to get to the checkpoint, another my buddy had to use a stand-up paddle board around a course.

Should be a lot of fun - it was last year anyway!

Only downside.... the weather.  July in Ontario is just stinky hot, and this weekend will be worse than normal - well into the 30's.  8 hours is going to be tough.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

This has been my worst summer for training in many many years.  We've just been so busy as a family, too much going on!  I've managed to squeeze in a ride a week and a spotty run, but that's about it.

At least I don't have any races coming.  Oh other than an 8 hour adventure race... whoooops!  That should be fun.