This past weekend, my teammate Ben and I participated in our first ever Adventure Race. This is a race where you attempt to locate a number of checkpoints using an assortment of travel modes, specifically paddling, bicycling, and trekking. This is something I've been wanting to do for some time now, so when Ben suggested the race while at the MMBA expo, I willingly dropped my original plans of doing the Paris-Ancaster race.
Saturday was spent putting the finishing touches on my gear, followed by an early bedtime. I woke on Sunday and headed out to the Walleye-Pike boat launch on the Holloway Reservoir, where the race was staged. After Ben arrived, we checked in with the promoters, and prepped for the race. There was a short pre-race meeting, where we were given the maps and race instructions, and we were left with a half hour in which to discuss final strategies.
We also used this as a chance to have a pre-race photo taken.
This particular race had us begin in the canoes, followed by the bikes, and finishing with an orienteering course taken on foot.
Ten minutes prior to the start (8am), we headed down to the shore. We staged the canoe, and when the promoter gave the "GO" command, we were off. Paddling into the wind to start...
We had to beach the canoe, get out, and run to the checkpoint. Repeat for each checkpoint.
After a couple hours, we ditched the canoe in favor of bikes. We rode out towards Columbiaville and Otter Lake in search of the elusive checkpoints. We started out doing great, working up from our ~1/3 way back positioning after the paddle.
We were coming up to the left turn which would take us to checkpoint #18, and then on the return trip.
One of us: "Do we have all the checkpoints?"
Ben: "Checkpoint 10... 11... 18?"
Me: "18 should be the last one."
Me: "F***! We're making a right instead of a left."
After an extra 4 miles, we rolled back into the transition. We did indeed make up a few places even with our "diversion".
We dropped our bikes, donned our trail shoes, refilled water, and headed out into the final trekking portion. Here we would use our map, compass, and bushwacking skills to locate the final 18 checkpoints. Side note: for the bike and paddle portions, all checkpoints were mandatory. For the trekking portion, you could get as many or as few as possible, as long as you got back to the start by the 4pm cutoff time. A minimum of 3 were required to remain a ranked team. Placing was determined by the number of points taken, with ties being broken by finishing time. For example, 3 teams get 14 of the trekking checkpoints. Team 1 finishes at 3:30pm, team 2 finishes at 3:15pm, and team 3 finishes at 4:05pm the placing would be as follows: team 2, followed by team 1, with team 3 receiving a DNF (missed cutoff time). So, there was some strategy and time management involved... do you risk missing the cutoff to get that one more checkpoint.
We headed up hill...
Through swamps... this one was not too bad
And making a couple wrong turns. We spent a half hour searching for one checkpoint only to figure out we were not too far from one we had already got. Oops!
We got to learn about the drinking habits of inhabitants long ago...
And about all things farming...
Unfortunately photos don't exist of the worst of the swamps. The cutoff time was fast approaching, and we had a fair bit to go to get out of the woods. The safe and sure way was to head straight North, where we would eventually hit Stanley Road where we would have a mile road run home. Straight North happened to take us through swamps ranging from ankle deep to "boys" deep.
Wet from hips down, we emerged onto Stanley road, and had a painful (for me) run to the finish. We made it in with 1 minute to spare!
The results had us finishing 17th overall out of the 54 teams which finished. We got 14 of the 18 checkpoints in the final trekking portion; we did see another of the checkpoints, but time was running short and we made the (wise) decision not to hike around the swamp to get it.
We both had a great time, learned a lot about navigation, and will definitely be doing this again.