Wow. What a race! I just returned home from a weekend in Squamish and my first Adventure Race of the season-MOMAR #1. This one may go down as the most challenging MOMAR to date-with epic elevation gain (over and over) and tonnes of self navigation-on and off the bike. There were highs such as keeping pace with teams of men (with huge quads and light XC bikes) on the grueling bike climb...and lows including debilitating inner thigh cramps while attempting to scramble up a verticle rock chute to the rappel site (more on that later)...and every emotion in between during the 5hour 45min-ish(final results tba) adventure race. Let me start at the beginning...
6:30am Saturday morning awoke to find my snotmonster buddy had decided to stick around for the race-ok, no problem, go with it.
7:15am Made my way with my super-volunteer-friend-Alli to Quest University and the start/finish for the race. Light rain, cool temp, no wind.
7:30 Set up bike at transition area ready to go with all my biking essentials (including newly adopted clipin shoe system).
8:00am Race maps released. Grab my map and sit in my warm car planning out my race strategy and checking out the route. There are basically 6 different legs to the race which covers at least 45kms of singletrack and some logging road. 19 checkpoints, 1 - 15km orienteering run/trek section, 1 100foot rappel and tonnes of self navigated biking. Discover that we are starting with a short run around the University grounds-LaMans style start to spread out the crowd on the way to the bikes. Looks like a couple of kms so I decide to run in my bike shoes and cut out a shoe transition right off the bat...head up to the bike transition for a warm up run and to switch around my shoes.
9:00am Race starts! Easy run around the campus then uphill (start of a couple hours up) to our bikes for a quick transition-running in the bike shoes was fine and idea works great. Bike uphill and into a short hike-a-bike section where we are stuck in a huge lineup of racers pushing bikes.
Orienteering: After a few minutes we are at the orienteering section and told to drop our bikes, get our punch (check point) and grab an orienteering map. Switch into sneakers and my equipment goes a bit nutz on me for a second: Bike glasses hit the deck and lenses blow out then my pack strap rips right out of the buckle as I take of my pack to grab my sneakers. ooops and ooops. Pick up the pieces and tighten up my 'kit' then grab my map and plan out my route. I struggled with my decisions on route selection for this course! Kept having second thoughts and spent WAY too much time standing still and thinking about my next move. **Must work on committing to my decisions cause precious minutes were lost to rediculous inner dialogue! This is one of the challenges of solo racing-there is no second voice to confirm your decisions. It is amazing what a little confirmation can do for confidence. Anyways-found the CPs easily as the locations were not tricky-just had a hard time deciding on the fastest route to get there. Felt like I had made all the wrong decisions and expected to see most people finished when I got back to my bike. The terrain had some serious ups and downs that could not be avoided - and it was perfect Kusam Klimb training! After finding my last check point I cut through the bush to my exit road and hauled downhill back to my bike....only to find that I was the first female to complete the course! Bonus! Let the bike climb begin...
BIG Bike Section: Sooooo fantastic! We climbed up a logging road on a series of switchbacks for what seemed like forever. Head down, easy gears, push push push on and on. Yes it was epic but it was no Branch 21 climb!! Training up that climb makes everything seem easier:) Managed to ride the entire climb AND stay ahead of teams of huge-quad-men (pat on back). All the while smiling and saying I love my bike!! Hit the top, got the check point, activated my suspension on my front fork and began bombing downhill in some of the sweetest, longest flowing singletrack I have ever ridden. It went on for ever!! The climb was sooooo worth it as it gave us miles of trails to link up for an awesome downhill section. My Giant ate it all up and I think we both loved every minute:) By the end I was getting into some steep gnarly terrain with super tight switchbacks that I had a hard time navigating**must work on those tight downhill corners.
But the ride wasn't over yet! Short section of road then right back into the trails for some non-technical XC singletrack which got the heartrate pounding and the lungs and legs searing once again. Lots of fun little bridges and short up and down power climbs. Actually super fun biking once again! Finally hit the CP after what seemed to be hours of riding (no idea how long) and switched back to sneakers for our final run/trek and rappel section.
Trek: Had to keep our helmets, gloves, harness and all our other mandatory gear with us for the trek as we would be completing the rappel somewhere in this section. This was a marked section and it was fantastic to put the brain on the backburner and just run dumb for a while. More fuel-munched on sharkies while trekking up the powerlines to the singletrack. Amazing view from the top. Into the single track for another summit up to the radio antenna (I swear we hit every radio antenna view point in Squamish) then down to the bottom before climbing UP to the rappel site (do you see a pattern here? Up down up down repeat). I had no idea how long this section was-I had folded my map in such a way that I could not see the entire trek route-as it was marked I didn't think I needed it. Turned out to be WAY longer than I thought and it just kept going on and on for quite a while (sorry don't know exactly-maybe 6 or 7km?). Came to the climbing area and saw the rock face we would be rappelling down-but had to climb up a 50 foot vertical chute to get there first. Took one step up and got those nasty 'you're not going anywhere' cramps in my inner thighs. My knees wouldn't straighten and weird primal noises came lurching out of my mouth. In the end I had to keep going or risk falling down the chute so I picked up my legs and placed them on ledges then hauled my self up with my arms basically. At the top I curled up and chugged the last of my water then chomped on some pretzels (mental note-don't try to eat pretzels without water after exercising for 5 hours). Thankfully the cramps faded away on the flatter terrain and I made my way to and through the rappell without problems. The rappel was good and then I was out of my harness and back on my feet for the final leg of running all the way back to our bikes.
Final Bike Leg: Back into the bike shoes, more pretzels and a gravel road ride with a few turns to navigate all the way back UPHILL to the university...could it be...the finish line! Park our bikes at the base of the hill (university is perched at the very highest point of course) and make a final run UPHILL to the finish line...killer! Would not like to see that on video as I am sure a walker could have past me at that point. Across the finish 5hours 45ish minutes...first female across and first in my category!!! Woooohoooo! Photo, stuff face, shower, sleep, stuff face, awards, sleep. Phew. Still awaiting the results-but there are cool photos online: http://mindovermountain.com/momar/blog/
Thanks for listening to my race tales!
And a HUGE THANK YOU to all the race volunteers for your support out there:) You were all superstars:)