Adventure Racing race (Paddle) 1:15:00  6.0 km (12:30 / km)
Second attempt at Wilderness Traverse, this time with Double_Downon11 (Chris) and Crazyclark (Josh) as part of team Untamed Torpedo. Meticulous preparation and a significant amount of emails between teammates provided for pre-race Friday that was actually enjoyable and calm. Maps were provided at 8pm and we quickly isolated the first trek as the crucial leg in terms of making the aggressive time cut-off later in the race. By 12:30pm I was in bed and got a very restful 4.5 hours of sleep.
The race started with a 2km dash to awaiting canoes. There was a significant advantage to hauling ass to the put-in as only a quarter of the canoes were 17 foot light-weight kevlar. We knew it would be important for our team of 3 large guys to secure one of these canoes. With Chris leading the run, kayak paddles in hand and life jackets on, we sprinted down the road and indeed were able to secure our preferred canoe.
The first half of the paddle was excellent with some beauty lake crossings and easy portages. The second half involved invading a beaver colony's infrastructure along the Gibson river. Josh, due to considerable previous experience, unselfishly carried the canoe through all the portages, although I think this might have contributed to his ailments later in the race, and we should have shared this responsibility. After 20 to 30 beaver dam crossings, we made it to TA1. I believe we were in approximately 15th place at this point.
17mins in transition and we were off on the trek. We decided to follow the trail west and then south to Channel Lake at which point we stayed on the north ridge of the lake. We took a bearing west and hit the railway line just north of a major bridge. A large rock ridge on the western side of the railway offered excellent open terrain to navigate and trek through. As soon as we hit Shaw Lake we refilled water and continued on to CP5. The next bushwhack out of CP5 to CP6 was slow but when we finally hit the north-south trail north of CP6 we were in better moods. Josh was bonking just after CP5, so we helped him out once on the trail by taking his back-pack (Chris and I alternated carrying it). We finished the major river crossing just before TA2 in daylight which was nice. At this point we were in 13th place. After analyzing our route and times, it occurs to me that in order to compete at the next level we will have to push much faster through treks (i.e. run all trails and jog through easier bushwhacking sections).
It was extremely nice to see Squirt at TA2, and it made the previous 12 hours of racing disappear. Once we transitioned to bikes with lights on, we were off by 9pm. I felt rejuvenated to be on the bike and my legs felt fresh. The first 12km were easy-peasy until Josh hit something (I was right behind him and did not see exactly what went through his tires) and endoed straight over with his chest hitting the handle bars pretty hard. He only needed 10 mins to recuperate and then we were off, unfortunately his derailleur suffered some damage which we could not fix, and so he was limited in gear selection. The rest of the mountain biking section was slow due to messy hike-a-bike sections likely as a result of a recent ATV party in the rains as well as Josh having the walk the bike up some hills he could not pedal up due to gears. Also, half-way through Josh lost power for his handle bar light which significantly reduced our speed. Later on I remember that I had my high-powered princeton tech trekking light with me so the lighting issues were resolved at that point. Half-way through the bike was when Josh starting doubting himself, however, I would not have any of it, and urged him on as we wanted to finish as a team and I knew he would later regret it if he dropped out.
We made it to CP9 at 2:30am, well after the cut-off. However, well before this time we knew we would not make the cut-off at the speed we were going, so we were taking our time getting there. We were in 12th spot at this point.
A leisurely transition to refuel and we were back out on our bikes through the short-course, which meant more trails. Josh persevered through this tough section as most of the trails were overgrown and deeply-gouged with ATV tire tracks. Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the short-course bike section as the riding was fairly smooth and we could get some great speed and attacked the hills with what seemed like fresh legs!
Made it to CP15 (last canoe section) at 6am after riding for 9 hours! At this point we were in 11th place.
The last canoe in the early morning light was great, although sleep was knocking at my door. We made it back to the finish at 7:19am in 10th spot.
I had a blast through this course. The paddles were excellent and scenic, the trekking was challenging and long and the biking, although challenging at times, was a lot of fun and was enjoyable to accomplish at night. A huge thanks to my teammates for an enjoyable experience. Chris was tough throughout the race, always had energy to continue pushing the pace and was a significant help with the navigation. Josh showed considerable mental fortitude and I give him major props for completing the course with us - it would have been easy for him to drop-out, but mental toughness is one of the best virtues of an adventure racer, and he has it. Thanks also to Squirt for volunteering, staying up all night at transition areas, and giving me encouragement when we were able to see each other on the course.
Also, a major thank you to the race directors Bob Miller and Barb Campbell who designed an epic race-course and whose organizational skills radiated professionalism. From a racer's point of view there were no problems. It felt like they let us explore the course on our own with minimal intrusions, while at the same time they kept a close watch on our progress. I am already looking forward to next years' race!