Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Wilderness Traverse

Not sure where to begin with this one..

The website proclaims it to be a 24hour adventure race covering 150km via feet, pedal and paddle power.  In reality, there is no course, just check points and it takes you however long it takes you to complete. You find your way around using a compass and maps. GPS are forbidden. You can use roads, water, or bush waking to get where you need to go.
So I actually do not know how to do this BUT I was asked to be on a team and this is not the sort of thing you do apparently solo so I was the token vagina.

The other team members I knew to be a older fellow who has done lots of these sorts of races but has never finished this one and is the navigator and the caption. A twenty something fellow who has never ran more then 12k but is an iron worker and has good overall fitness and another twenty something who has raced cross country skiing and o-cup and has won the BPMR several times. A real mixed bag. Was pretty worried i would be the weakest link. How it works is you stay together for the entire race. It is a d/q to be more then 100 meters apart.

So we start off and running. First section is a simple trek- lots of running when able. Easy to find check points. Could really just follow the crowd.  Apparently around 7k. Feet wet from about 15min in, and that is how they stayed for the next 26hours.

Then we get on the bikes for that is to be 24kish. within the first 15min we are looking at a culvert under the 400 filled with water in which were to ride under, so i did.....but then we realized it was the wrong way so we went back...soaking wet, wet , wet. But really that was just a few minutes early for the rest of the ride where we went through many puddles. Apparently part of the park trail. This seems to a good representation of what we rode through.
 Image result for Seguin Trail.
Lost feeling in my feet early on. At one point I was trying to get a drink from my hose and did not realize that anybody was behind me, and I fell over taking out a lady beside me. I jumped up and said I was fine but the lady  said to her team mates she was physically fine but mentally not.... yah so after that I rode fast for awhile to get away, I am not responsible for her mental state. There was not much elevation change as it is a old rail line but eventually I realized that my front de-railer was not working. Thankfully one of the guys has repaired bikes in the past.

Onto the trek/ run. This is where it was a bit frustrating as I would have ran more as that was my strength but obviously it is not everybodys and honestly we had to keep going for 20more hours thus bit of pacing was in order. As Ken the only navigator was the caption we all just followed.  Occasional jokes about the great north Korean leader also followed. My job was to pace count. Basically I learned how long it took me to cover a variety of terrain. Thus I counted my steps for long sections. I counted through forest and march and even along the tops of beaver dams. This was also the section where we swam to an island for a checkpoint. I took off some clothes and put them and my backpack in a garbage bag and then put clothes on when we got across. In the future I would invest in a soft dry bag big enough to cover my entire pack as the garbage bag was not perfect and it took a long while to undo the knot, although we did have a knife with us. Apparently the ideal route was 20k. Pretty sure we did more then that.

Then onto the epic long mountain bike ride. Official route was 80k I think we got on the bikes around 5;30pm until around 12;30am. Time got real fuzzy. And it got real hard. We all worked hard to draft and stay in a pack. I had invested in a good light for my handlebars. Combined with my helmet light, I could see quite well. Took a couple falls. And it was cold and wet. Eventually I started praying my bike would break and I would have to quit and the  guys would have to go on without me... and it did!!!! My brakes completely failed and I stop going down a steep embankment with my vagina on the cross bar.  BUT remember that guy who fixes bikes.... and I had to keep going. Next investment will be a new saddle attached to a new bike. The entire ride all the guys could talk about it how I was such a trooper for dragging my very heavy  bike around . Finished in the dark of night, last section on a lined highway, which really goes against self preservation as I am pretty sure there are just as many drunk drivers in Parry Sound as there is in Grey Bruce.

We rolled into the last transition area and I was cold. Really cold. There is a rule with triathlon Ontario about nakedness in the transition area.. no such rule exists in Adventure Racing. Completely naked changing all layers.Actually had tights and gor-tex pants and wool socks on the bottom. Long sleeve wool, fleece sweater, fleece jacket, and gore tex jacket plus a buff on my head. Also neoprene paddling gloves. The critical errors i did make was not bringing my warmest tights for the paddle, not having a wool hat, and this was the big one.. I did not have dry shoes to put on, I put wet running shoes back on. By the end of the night I added another two long sleeves and a plastic bag to my head.

Against all human nature we headed out onto the water in the dark. For awhile I tried to think of a polite way to say I was done and we needed to find shore now. But that was the issue where was shore? No idea. The fog was so thick I had no idea what I would do if we flipped as I had no idea which way to swim. Thankfully, I realized that if I shut off my headlamp the light of the moon was better. Well it was for awhile  until the clouds covered the moon. Essentially we spent alot of time scanning the shore looking for portages . It was dead reckoning , or as I like to think straight compass work. My biggest disadvantage is my lack of padding skills/ endurance. It was calm water but my stroke is not efficient. Will have to work on that. My job on the paddle was to carry two paddles and and two packs over the portages, and make some attempt to paddle. We made it to our first check point and I had to take some time to warm up, I could not stop chattering. For the rest of the night I had to stay in motion to stay warm. I am having some trouble recalling the hours between 4 and 6am. I do recall joking about how how much fun it would be to go to shore for non sexual spooning  to wait out the night/ fog. We did not  make a check point in time thus missed out on a 7k trek. Officially, the 'course' is 34k in paddling but who know how much we did weaving in and out of bays looking for the way.

All and all i never hit any major lows of fatigue and bonking.  There were sections I could have ate more but I could not get at my food efficiently enough without crashing on the bike or wasting time digging in my pack. I am at a serious advantage as I regularly stay awake in excess of 24hours due to night shift.

Yes I would do this again, but maybe do some shorter races first to work on my organization and I do want to learn how to orienteer. I think the idea of a complete female team sounds fun but i never ever ever want to be the one carrying the canoe.


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