Team name: RaidPulse.com
Racers: Nathalie Long, Alex Provost
It was Storm the Trent on May 11 in the hamlet of Warsaw, Ontario. We had that race on the radar for some times so we were looking to it with excitement. Nathalie had done the race last year (2nd coed/5th overall) but it was my first time racing with Storm so I was looking to discover this race series. Perfect racing weather, not too cold, not too warm.
After spending the night in a world class 0.05 star motel... we got there early enough to get all the gear ready... but I managed to get thin on spare time by moving canoes around (changed the 16' for 17') and had to fix a cable housing that somehow got out of his place on my bike. Nath was very ready and was even a bit annoyed by my loose schedule and quite social behavior...;) but we managed to get on the bus with everyone else and were ready to race at GO time.
Nuun Hydration + visors
Suunto Ambit (route tracking allowed)
Swiftwick compression socks + visors
Unleash compression tights
Thule bike rack
Platypus hydration system
The race started with a trekking section where we had to collect 3 CPs in any order. The flooding made it a bit difficult to follow the landmarks and we took a little detour to get the first CP as we overshot the trail we intended to use, but we managed to get back on track relatively quickly and resumed our high running pace to the second CP which was right on (including a few roots bang along the way...). Then again I was a bit scrappy on the way to the last CP of this trekking leg but we did not loose much time, punched that flag and ran back to where the race started to pick up our bikes. Nath wasn't too impressed with my nav at that point... I wasn't either, but most of the race was ahead of us and I felt highly confident about our bike/canoe skills. Back to start/TA1 I had to kick myself to get on the bike quickly as my speedy teammate was again waiting for me... Oh well!
Once on paved road we shifted to overdrive working as a unit and got to the next CP quickly and we started to ride on ATV trails for a 2 CP any order loop. Trails were nice and Nath was riding very well so we managed to slowly claw our way back with the leaders, catching speedy Barb 'Tree Hugger' Campbell on the way as she had blew us on the first trek... We rode through most of the mud puddles and at the next CP we caught up with a bunch of riders (Chad Spence, Pullin Foot, Tom Martin, Recumbent Tree Hugger and a few others) so I figured we were making good times and it gave us some extra boost. Trails were unexpectedly rolling so we were able to keep a constant and fast pace. Back down the loop we were neck to neck with the leaders and Peter 'Los' Dobos (read his blog) confirmed us there were no one else up front but them so we were definitely back in the game! Again we welcomed the paved road and we punched the afterburner and soon we were dropping the other teams and solo racers on the way. By the end of the paved road we had managed to open a little gap in fist position, not without leaving some energy on the track...
Back on trails (marked this time, blue line on the map) the change of rhythm was really welcomed (at least for me!) and we kept pushing it through some technical trails and then more mud puddles. Pullin Foot were not far behind and caught up at some point and we stayed together a bit of time talking about the CP to come (which was further than we both expected). After the second CP we were again alone and kept going as fast as possible as a unit, now on dirt roads. But Pullin Foot fought their way back and at the very end of the leg we were together again biking into the TA.
We knew we had to transition as quickly as possible to avoid having them drafting our wave on the river. We had talked about the TA at the end of the bike and it our actions were clear in our mind. I knew Nath would be in the boat in a matter of seconds so my execution had to be bang on. There was a gear check at the TA so we cleared that quickly and in no time we were in the boats head down and paddling. We did not see Pullin Foot as we left the bay so it seemed the transition played to our advantage!
At that point I felt our chances of overall victory were increasing with every paddle stroke as I highly suspected that we were the best paddlers and we were in the lead. Being such a good paddler Nath pulled lots of water at the front and kept a high tempo, and I was paddling hard and steering our 17' canoe in the right direction. Being on water also gave our legs a bit of rest before the last trek. It was about 4,5 km up to the TA so we got there relatively quickly with a tail wind and nice scenery.
TA staff warmly cheered us up when we arrived and again a quick transition got us on foot for the last trekking leg where 4 CPs were to be collected in any order. Sometimes when you jump in the canoe after a big leg effort like we had just did the legs are a bit soft when you come out... and it happened a bit at that point... but luckily without much consequence as we had elected to go counter clock wise, hence not starting with running but bushwacking. So off we went with the first CP a bit off set on that short bushwack. Starting with the bush bought us a bit of break before trail running so it felt like the right thing to do. The way in went well and we got to the flag after crossing some water... Then for some reason we got stuck into thicker bush on the way out... A few swears later we got out and started running on the camping roads. The rest was on trail so we had to put the hammer down and make the right choices. The race started to take a toll on us as I was a bit low on energy and Nath also felt less powerful, so we ate and drink a bit to make sure we could keep our hectic pace until the end. At the end of the loop we could have bushwacked down back to the TA as the trail was passing close but I felt our trail running abilities were still strong enough to get us back to the TA in about the same time so we did a little extra on the trail then stormed back to the TA where race staff was much busier this time with plenty of action around. We did not see Pulling Foot neither many teams on the trails but we knew they were not far behind...
For some reason I then dragged the boat into the water and jumped into it (probably looking to shift to paddle after that fast run I guess!) but then found myself alone in our canoe...(huh?)... no need to say Nath was not planning for vacations on the shore... so I went back quickly to pick her up with a funky smile on my face (oh... there you are teammate...:/). Back in business we turned the boat around and we resumed paddling for the final leg of the race.
As we where hammering it down we crossed lots of teams (Trek and Trek Elite) making their way up to the TA. That kept us awake and alert as got a lot of encouragement from them, which was nice. Trash talks were flying in our boat to keep our motivation high;) Crossing teams allow us to ask them if they saw our pursuer... and it came negative twice so it became more and more clear to us that victory was close!
As its' never over until it's over... as we came to shore jumping out of the water in sight of the finish Nath's paddle accidentally (or maybe not..) hit me on the head which created a big 'hooo' in the crowd... but no harm and we crossed the finish line in 5:52:43 to take the overall win!
CP31-CP30-CP2-CP3-CP42-CP43- CP4-CP5-CP53-CP52-CP51-CP50- CP5-FINISH