Adventure Racing race 7:37:00 
Yet another great weekend with the Bugs In Teeth team. Simpy and I met Funderstorm and the elusive beast called Marcus up in Bala for this years edition of Wilderness Traverse. After some early gear organizing, we had a nice relaxing dinner at the Bala Bay Inn and then headed to the race briefing to get the maps.
Maps were fewer than we expected, but it was clear the trekking sections would present some very tricky navigation. We also found out there would be a fairly aggressive short-course cut-off at 1:00am, so we knew we would have our work cut out for us. We headed back to the inn, and managed to have our route sorted out by 11:30pm, which I am pretty sure is the quickest we have ever managed for this race.
Off to the race, which started Le Mans style with a sprint run to the boats to start on the paddle section. Due to some challenges with the boat rental company, all boats were not created equally, meaning teams would be racing for good hardware. Needless to say we didn't see a 17' kevlar rig when we got there. :) The paddle for this race was awesome. Some early open water lake paddling was followed by some super fun river routes that had us frequently (very frequently) pushing boats over beaver dams. This turned out to provide much amusement, watching Simpy and Funderstorm trying to paddle their boats right over the dams (they even managed to make it at few times). Overall this was the most interesting paddle in a race I have ever done.
After the paddle we hit TA1 for what felt like a pretty good transition. We got dialed in quickly and started off for a monster trek section. The start was a decent length trail run, and I struggled a bit here physically. All year I had been training to become more of work-horse, and at UNE I seemed OK carrying more (but was likely helped out due to the slower pace). This race I found it much harder to have a really full pack and keep running for stretched out periods...more yet to work on. Thankfully for me the trek then turned into a massive bushwhack, skirting around swamps and lakes, with numerous swims and swamp crossings in between. Once again Simpy kept everything dialed in, keeping us well informed of where we were on the map. Never did we feel like we had gone off track, and we managed to secure all the CPs with little trouble. The trek ended with a short swim, which is not something I enjoy all that much. The water felt great, but crossing it at night, with boats passing by did cause some anxiety...yet another thing to work on. :)
We had a bit of a slower transition to bikes, as the temperature was dropping and we all wanted to get in a full change of clothes. We got to this TA later then we had hoped, and I think we all quietly realized it was going to be very tough to make the short-course cut-off. Regardless, there was much fun and bantering through the TA, and a major highlight when we got to watch someone get "Reedered" right in front of us. I wish it could have been put to video, as it was clearly one of the best, and perhaps most truthful speeches to a teammate wanting to drop out of a race. Classic quotes like "Do you have a compound fracture??? If you don't, then get up because you are going to finish this race!" and "EVERYBODY hurts really bad right now! That is what it is like to adventure race!" We have already thanked Sir Reeder (who we do feel is an extended member of the Bugs In Teeth team) for all the material he has provided us for future races...it really was classic stuff (and clearly it worked...as his teammate finished the race).
Off to the bikes for what we expected woud be a nasty ride through a good chunk of ATV trail. Luckily compared to the Ellesworth bike section at UNE ( "some of the best mountain biking Maine has to offer") it wasn't nearly as bad. There was some hike-a-bike sections for sure as the recent rains had really softened things up, but it did have enough ridable chunks to make it tolerable. We rolled into CP9 past the cut-off, which meant we would be treated to yet more riding. We heard yet another funny conversation in the race when a team told the staff at CP9 that they were done with their bikes, and were going to walkt to CP15...hehe. Our downfall was thinking the short-course route would likely be some long road ride, when in fact it turned us back to the trails we just came off of, only to head further down the hydroline. The pain was compounded when we found out the remainder of the hyrdoline trail wasn't much of an ATV trail, but more a snowmobile trail...meaning there wasn't all that much trail there. :) So on we went, pushing our bikes through a deep treaded, hole ladened, grass path for an extended period. This was easily the sleepiest section for me, and I was actually thankful for holds and mud groves that required me to lift my bike up etc. as at least that was preventing me from falling asleep. Insult turned to injury when the rain came, but fortunately for us it let up almost as fast as it started. Once we got off the hydroline, the rest of the ride to CP15 wasn't too bad as we managed to stay on our bikes for the remainder.
When we finally hit CP15, the transition to the paddle, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that there really was good canoes! I suppose that was one benefit to short-coursing, was beating many of those speedy full-course teams to the good boats. :) We grabbed the last two Kevlar 17' boats and were back out on the water for a 6km open water paddle to the finish. This was a super scenic paddle, and a very nice way to finish off the race. A short portage back to the community centre, and we were done.
This was yet another super fun race. Everyone on the team got along extremely well, and we had a ton of laughs. All of us had some high and low points, but we managed to help each other out, and persevere. We fell a bit short of our stretch goal, which was to finish the full course. I suppose that gives us something to shoot for next year when we return. We did make it through our primary goal, which was to cross the finish line with all four members. We thought a motto for our team could be "We may not finish every race fast, but we finish every race".
Thanks once again to getawaystix and Bash for working so hard to design an amazing and super challenging race course. The paddle was awesome, the trek epic, and the biking challenging and fun. Also it was nice to see so many familiar volunteers like Eco, Myka, Chief, and FunRun helping contribute so significantly to such an awesome race.