The Wilderness Traverse was once again a race that we didn't want to miss. It was the 4th edition of this 24h race on August 17 2013 and once more there were really strong teams at the start line. The HQ was on a hockey ring in Nobel, Ontario. Quite an unusual place to have a HQ, but in the end, it was just a perfect place for a bunch of dirty and stinky racers.

Gear in action at Wilderness Traverse
Julbo Eyewear Dust - Pipeline

After getting through registration and gear check, Bob Miller gave us the map. It was pretty straight forward course. Three long sections - biking, trekking, paddling at night (probably at night) and then a short trek to the finish. 

The race started at 8:00am with a 6h mountain bike section of about 85 to 90km. Our plan was to use the «dratf» of some of the faster team. It didn't took really long before we realize that it was not a good place to use that strategy. The first two CPs were on a trail under a power line. We did our best to stay with the lead team, but we felt behind in the upper mid-pack rapidly. Fortunately for us, after about 20km we came across a bunch of teams that made us realize that we had passed a turn. Except for a few teams, we were all together once again. We got to CP1 located on the east side of Black lake. Got back on the bike to CP2 a couple hours later. The last 20km of the biking section was not as technical and we got to CP3/TA1 in a good time. Thanks to Joe for drafting and Alex for pulling. 

What a surprise it was when we got to TA1. The volunteers had some ice cream sandwiches for us. A first in AR for sure! After less then 10 minutes we were all ready to trek. Our strategy was to try to use the trail system as much as possible because that is where our team is the strongest. It worked well to get to CP4 as we managed to catch some time on the lead team but unfortunately it is not the way that the Wilderness Traverse is meant to be. Things got complicated for the rest of the trekking section. To be honest, we were a little discouraged when we arrived at CP5 and people beside little William Lake told us that we were 1.5 hours behind the first team. A quick look at the map and we took off. No time to waste, we had another 20km of trekking to do. As Bob Miller told us, the last trekking CP was not as easy as it looked on the map! 

We finally arrive at CP6/TA2 just before it got dark. At least we were happy to get a leg break and jump into the canoes. We also enjoyed the last ray of sun with team Vallée Bras du Nord/Mundial St-Raymond. Even if they were in transition before us, we got on the water before them. We didn't stay in front of them for a long time... After 5-10 minutes of paddling, Jonathan realized that he forgot is race jersey at the transition... so we headed back to pick it up, no choice. We got offered beer by campers on the beach, sadly we had to decline... After about an hour of paddling, we crossed with Vallée Bras du Nord/Mundial St-Raymond once again. They decided to take the shortest paddling line, with some more complicated route finding. As it was dark we chose a slighlty longer but safer paddling route but that choice had to have a downside : 5.5km of portage (at least on trail we used while biking on our way up so we knew it was good for portaging). We even cut across a marsh near the end to resume paddling southwest to CP7 faster. We then went on paddling into the night to CP8/TA3, without seeing any ligths either in front or behind us. In the end, our paddling route choice was a relatively good decision because we never saw anyone before the finish line.

We got to TA3 around 3am. We dropped the paddles and the life jackets and we ran to the finish to a 4th place overall, 3rd coed. We were happy to get to the finish, although a bit bummed by the gap between the winners and ourselves. 

We will get them next time !

Thanks to all the sponsors. Once again, it wouldn't be possible without you. Untamed New England, Clinique du pied Équilbre, THULE, Icebreaker, Nuun hydration, Rollerblade, Osprey packs, Suunto, Fruit2 energy bars, Swiftwick compression socks. Thanks also to Luis Moreira for the amazing shots. Visit Luis site at http://luismoreira.ca/. Thanks to all the volunteers and Barb Campbell and to Bob Miller for designing this course. We had a good time out there.

Congratulations to all participants and thumbs up to Pentathlon des Neiges for their victory over a solid Tecnu in 2nd place. 

Wilderness Traverse race page: http://wildernesstraverse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=75&Itemid=78
Race Live coverage page: http://www.untamedne.com/Home/live/RaceCenter.aspx?wt2013
SportIdent time splits: http://wildernesstraverse.com/files/Splits.html


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