Wilderness Traverse AR, based out of Bala, with Hansel, Carbon and JayXC.
Total time: ~23hours
Finished 3rd overall, 2nd Co-Ed
Phatty and Leanimal broke the news to me, early in the year, that I would need to find new teammates for this year's WT. Despite having big shoes to fill (Salomons, in case you weren't sure), I wasn't too concerned because Phatty Jr and La Femme had both raced the inaugural WT as Team Salomon, so I'd just ask them. With Hansel and me already committed, that would make a pretty good team. Unfortunately, neither was available to race in WT this year, and suddenly the prospect of putting together a team that might battle Snowpants for Bob the Beaver became much more daunting.
As it turned out, no one that actually knew me would race with me, but with the help of some kindly words from a few friends JayXC agreed to join us from New York state, and Carbon agreed to fly in from Calgary for the weekend. To be honest, I think the main attraction was simply the quality of race experience that WT has become known for. Kudos to Gstix and Bash for setting the gold standard for adventure race organization!
Once we had our team together, I started to follow Hansel, JayXC and Carbon's AP logs, and then became increasingly frightened by the shortcomings in my own race preparations.
With one week to go before the event, I overdid it a bit on a longish run, and needed to rest my Achilles tendon for 4 days, and then just last Thursday I managed to tweak my low back lifting the T-man into the canoe when we went for a family paddle in Orangeville. Things were not shaping up to have me at my best on race day.
Fortunately, with the help of some acupuncture, electric stimulation, and ultrasound (and my teammates giving me the queen sized bed the night before the event), I was a little stiff but ready to race come Saturday morning.
We figured that we should have been one of the stronger paddling teams, and with a long initial paddle we wanted to press our advantage. We were just about the first team on the water, and quickly moved into the lead, followed closely by PentathlonDesNeiges. We were through the second portage, and about halfway down Brotherson's Lk., when we realized that we hadn't punched CP 1 at the end of the second portage. How could we have missed it? We turned and headed back, only to discover that the CP wasn't there, because the volunteers manning that CP had not arrived in time. This was certainly a bit of a setback (16 minutes to be exact), but there was still a lot of race course ahead of us, so we slowly picked our way back through the field, now battling congestion with other teams at each portage and beaver dam lift over, and ended the paddling section in second place.
We transitioned quickly to the first trek, and set off running down the trail to CP 4, and then on towards 5. Hansel did a fantastic job with the nav on this trek, and we had regained the lead by CP 6. I think it was between 6 and 7 that we made an error in route choice, and allowed Snowpants.com to slip ahead of us again. We opted to head south-west from CP 5, and to use the trail to guide us in to CP 6. As it turned out, the terrain was far drier than usual, making for faster travel than usual off trail, the trail we did take had MANY more twists and turns on it than indicated on the map, making it significantly longer than we had calculated. Additionally, when we did get to the trail, and tried to up our tempo to a run, Carbon began to experience a painful stitch in her abdomen, that kept us at not much more than a walk. We came off the trek a few minutes behind Pentathlon, and never saw them again.
The first bike leg was going pretty well for us, and we were looking forward to completing it in the daylight, but we went down the wrong snowmobile trail and ended up quite a ways east of the Lost Channel dam, and got passed by a few teams while we got ourselves sorted out. Then we got into mechanical troubles, with Hansel's derailleur ending up wedged in his spokes. JayXC and Hansel worked away trying to straighten the hanger for a while, but eventually gave up and converted Hansel's bike to a single speed. Jay did some towing on the open sections, as Hansel's legs could only go round so fast, We were nearly done this bike section, but with the combination of a lot of mud in the chain, the likelihood of a bent chain link, and Hansel's cranking on the SS to get up the hills, he broke his chain. Carbon towed and I pushed a little on the uphills, and we limped into TA3 at dusk, not having the race we were hoping for.
We took some time in the TA for Hansel to repair his chain. I used the time to eat and drink.
The second trek went pretty well for us. We were moving more slowly (it was night) and I was glad when Hansel took over the lead at one point and upped our tempo. When we arrived at CP 12, we were a little surprised to discover that we were in 3rd place overall. A special thanks to Frankenjack and the other volunteers at CP12 for the best CP food out there! The fresh guacamole and chips gave me a real boost.
We followed the hydro line northwest from CP12 to Galla Lk. and then ran the road to the west of Galla Lk to get to CP13/TA4.
From then on things were pretty uneventful. JayXC towed Hansel on the road section coming out of CP13/TA4, and then the trail through the Gibson Indian Reserve was very rideable.
We knew at the final TA that Pentathlon had probably already finished, and we were about an hour behind the all-male team that was in second, so there was not much incentive to really push on the final paddle. I was nodding off every now and then, despite having had a little caffeine prior to the final bike section.
All in all, I think we did pretty well. I was very pleased with the way our team worked as a TEAM, despite some of us having never met/raced together before. All are far more experienced than me, and came well prepared to race to bring Bob the Beaver back from Quebec. It would have been great if he could have made his first trip to the mountains with Carbon, or gone stateside with JayXC, but against a team like Pentathlon we needed a cleaner race, and ultimately our mechanical issues foiled any chance of a top spot on the podium.
Thanks to my teammates; I look forward to racing with and against you in the future. Thanks again to Gstix, Bash and their team of volunteers for another fantastic race. I can't wait till next year!