Because of the location, for Ontario, the elevation for the race was quite substantial at around 1200m total elevation over ~30km. While the race is a '25km' race, this refers to running straight-line between orineteering controls which just doesn't happen. So, around 28km would probably be more accurate.
As this event is for teams of three only, I hooked up with fellow Raid the North Extreme teammate Chris Piller and former Supplier Pipeline strongman Bill Wells.
As Chris had been on the winning team of the Saloman Giant's Rib Raid held in April of this year (the other big race in the series), he was eager to try and clinch a double win which, as far as he knew, had yet to be done.
We showed up for the race running a little late and before we knew it we were on a bus to head out to the start line. We had a chance to check out the maps in advance and could see that teams would be split into two groups at the beginning of the race. The start consisted of two loop sections where you had to get three of four controls, come back to the start, do the next loop, come back again, and then head out on the Bruce trail to get to another map in the race. To avoid overcongestion, teams were told which loop they had to do first.
The race started shortly after the bus drop which saw us go from not warmed up to red-lining it in a matter of seconds. Our strategy was to get out front after the first two loops and then get in a groove and try to hold our position. While I love BC and would not move back to the big O, the fall forest here is just so nice. The forest is nice and open with fall leaves covering the ground and that fall smell that I only seem to find here. It definitely reminded me of home - my old home :)
Our plan seemed to be working as we were the first team back to the start after the first loop and headed out strong on loop number two. Just after we picked up our last control and headed to the start line, we heard give out a yelp.
"You ok", we both asked as we slowed our pace.
"ummm, not sure, I just heard my knee pop".
We kept going but knew that this was not good. Chris has raced with Bill before and from what I've heard of him, he is an absolute strongman and will push through almost anything...
Bill had noticeably slowed so we decided to assess the situation at the start line (as that's where we had to head anyway after our 2nd loop).
Bill came in and was not running very well... you could tell he was in noticeable pain.
"This is not like Bill", Chris said as his mood became glum.
"I hyper-extended my knee guys... I think I might be done".
We let Bill know right away that he should make the right decision and not race if he was injured. As Bill is a chiropractor and physiotherapist, he knew he was done. After lying down and having us test his knee with some pressure, he had to pull out.
Chris was noticeably bummed but really, there was nothing we could do other than race hard the two of us (unranked) and try and close the gap we had just lost and win the race.
Chris and I went to work and slowly picked off several teams and closed the gap on the leaders but just could not get enough of the time back. At the end of the race, we were neck and neck with another team of two (one of their members had to drop) but they got a step on us at the last control and came in just ahead of us to take 2nd.
So, we ended up in third overall but obviously did not get ranked as we lost Bill. Nonetheless, it was still absolutely worth it as I had a great time and it just felt so good to get out on a long orineteering map and pushing the body hard again.
I've been on the bike a lot lately before coming out to Ontario and now realize how much I miss running lots. I'm definitely going to make this a priority over the next couple of months and try to put in some good performances in the Island Series Road Races.
Well, that's about it. I'll be back in BC soon and can't wait! I think I'm having Thetis Lake withdrawl.