Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cumberland MOMAR Race Report

Good Morning!

I just awoke from a deep post-race sleep and I am reflecting on yesterdays MOMAR in Cumberland so I thought I should post a blog while it is all fresh in my memory...So here it is my last race report for 2008 (well you never know what else might pop up on the race calendar...)::

To summarize for those of you who are as fidgety as me and unable to sit through my looong race reports:
277 racers
4 maps
4 Transitions
Paddle 1:15mins...9-10kms loop on Comox Lake starting and finishing at the Cumberland campground.
Orienteering map released- short O course in the climbing area above the campground 8 or 9 CPs.
Bike 1:30mins...with big climb in Cumby trails kms??
Trekking 1:23mins...Navigation stage 3/4 way through the bike stage...10-12kms with BIG elevation gain.
Bike 30mins...lower Cumby trails to Village- Rec Centre.
Short 11mins...1km Urban nav through village then onto the finish line!
5 hours 30ish minutes? I didn't see my finish time and forgot to start my watch so:)) it will be a surprise to me too when the results come out.

The day was perfect- blue sky, warm temps, no extra clothing needed. Such a wonderful change from the race here last year where is pissed rain for 8 hours. Got to the lake early and had everything race ready when the maps were released at 8am. Once I picked up my map all the mystery of the race course began to unravel and I was totally surprised by a few things:
1. The entire course would take place on the Cumblerand side- no Dam trails and no Nymph Falls orienteering leg (which was my 'ass' umption).
2. The orienteering leg would take place in the bush directly above the cumberland campground. AND I had NEVER been in that area before. There went any advantage associated with local knowledge.
3. The biking would take us on some of my favorite trails...and actually followed my typical Weds night ride to a T :)) big smiles:))

I was v. excited to check out the area above the Campground and stoked to find out that now we have a 2nd Orienteering map laid out in the Comox Valley! The area is very small and riddled with cliff/rock climbing walls so I was anticipating a huge cluster traffic jam on the O course as hundreds of racers funnelled in to the bush after the paddle. turns out I was right about that one...

The paddle was challenging mentally cause it just seemed to go on and on and on. Probably the longest paddle I have done in a MOMAR it took an hour 15 or 30? I haven't seen my split times so I really don't know. And, I forgot to start my watch with all the water start excitement! We started by heading west down the lake and the engines of 270+ racers created a huge wave pool effect right off the start. Waves were created out of no where and banged between our boats like a pinball game. Boats rammed into my little single and I paddled hard to get away from the chaos and avoid disaster. Other racers were not as lucky and in fact the top team of 2 males- Team Helly Hansen/MOMAR went for a swim when their double outrigger flipped in the first 5 seconds of the race! Curses were heard above the sounds of hundreds of racers hooting and cheering their way off the start. Along the course I saw 3 or 4 boats floating upside down with swimmers attempting to clamber back onto them. Bad day for the less stable boats- surf skis and race boats. My little yellow Extreme from Comox Valley Kayaks charged on and proved to be quite 'sea worthy' in the mess of waves and rollers although I was entirely soaked and even considered bailing a couple of times as my boat filled with water crashing over the hull (and I wasn't wearing a skirt- it was calm when we got there!!).

So off the water waaaaay behind the doubles and racing at the back 1/4 as usual. I was the second female off the water and watched my competition hit the beach 50 meters ahead of me. Coming off the water that far back into the pack means hard work moving up places and passing other teams on any stage. But coming off the water into that cluster of racers in the O-stage was terrible. There was actually zero orienteering involved as hundreds of racers crashed through the bush in droves and we had to line up to punch our passports!!! It was a bit sketchy at times with a steady flow of racers heading out and back along a rocky single track trail bordered by a rock face on one side and a cliff drop on the other- and no one wanted to give an inch. I even had 1 guy ask to get by me as I waited patiently and followed behind a line of 10-15 racers on the single track trail!!!! Yeah right! So, after following crowds of racers to CPs (you could not avoid it) and skirting past people whenever possible I checked off the O course after what seemed a very short time (perhaps 30 minutes??) and then headed to the second Transition to move from foot to bike. I came out of the forest as the first solo female and passed a few other teams in the process.

TA 2 went smoothly and I switched from soggy sneakers (walking in the lake) to bike shoes, threw on my helmet and glasses, clipped my race map to my handlebars, chugged some water and opened a pack of cliff blocks for the ride up the road. The bike was all flagged but I knew the route by heart so I just put my head down and hammered. The only hard part about riding my usual fun weekly ride was reminding myself that this was a RACE! I passed a tonne of racers on the bike climb. Because all the doubles get ahead of me on the kayak leg there are less experienced racers/bikers up front and I get to meet them all as I pick my way up the rankings. On the climb alone I passed 20 or more people and I even passed a bunch on the way down! Me...the 'sweeper' for my riding group who always pulls up the rear on the downhill.

At the top of the climb there was a little rocky section that you have to carry your bike up before reaching the summit- and CP. The moment I bent my left elbow to lift my seat onto my shoulder my bicep contracted into a severe full blow cramp and locked shut. I had to drop my bike and physically pull open my arm with my other hand. Yikes. dehydration had crept up on me somehow. When I scrambled up the rock my toes cramped too and suddenly splayed out in opposite directions inside my shoe. owwwwweeeee. I took some time at the top to chug my e-load and woof back half a pack of cliff shot blocks for the descent. I hoped it would be enough.

After a v. fun decent along fast XC trails and filled with whoops and hollers I arrived at the next TA where we were told to leave our biking gear and grab a 3rd map for a second navigation course. When I first got the map it took me a moment to piece it together. When I connected the dots my mouth dropped open. I looked up at Liz Tribe, the Trek course designer, and stammered "Are you serious??...Bucket?... And the 'lookout'?" She just laughed and joked that it was 'pretty much a flat course'. I was actually quite stunned at the distance and elevation that we were expected to cover on the course. More so for those other racers who were just getting on their bikes when I was starting the run then for myself. I think that ignorance might have been a good thing for those out of towners actually...if they had known the trails as intimately as I do they would have realized the length of time that this trek was going to take them.

It was a wonderful trek. I took them in order of approximatey and climbed the more gentle slope- saving the extreme steeps for the downhill...which is way more fun and much easier to tackle for me mentally. There were CPs near Sykes bridge (off Broadway)...Ginger Minge...Top of Bucket at the the Look Out above Bakers Dozen...on the DC Downhill the bottom of Bonzai/Hai Gui....then back to the Perseverance bridge on the main road. Those who run the trails - including my Adventure Running participants - will appreciate the scale of this route.

I enjoyed the trek thoroughly. I trekked the uphills...jogged the flats and sprinted the downhills. I enjoyed the low stress level that comes with local knowledge and not having to constantly check your location/second guess your decisions. I enjoyed chatting with the volunteers and taking time to soak in the fantastic views. I think I was out there for 1.25 to 1.5 hours but again I don't know for sure. At the start of the trek I ate my magic bullet to ward off any future cramps: a ziplock baggie of salty pretzels:)

Around the 3rd CP on the trek I picked up a shadow, however. A solo male racer guessed that I was a local and asked if he could 'follow me'. Well, I ask you...what do you say? How do you answer that one? I wanted to say:: "No way buddy! This is supposed to be an adventure! And I think you should have your own adventure and I should have my own adventure. So please use your map skills and have fun." But, instead (in a very Canadian way) I said: "I guess. But there are no guarantees...I have been known to take wrong turns." For the next 30 minutes I had a shadow that was very friendly but very much following me to the next 3 CPs. He was very nice and trying to make conversation but I am not a chatty racer...especially while climbing hills in my zone 4 heartrate. Arggggg. Don't get me wrong I am a people person, and he was a nice person but I was racing solo and really enjoying my solo experience. I am constantly thinking race strategy, fuel and water timing and planning my upcoming route selection and this guys is trying to make small talk. Once we hit the lookout CP I stopped to transfer water from my extra bottles into my pack bladder as I had run dry and polished off 2 litres 30 minutes earlier. I told him I had to reconfigure my pack and wished him 'good luck and have a good race'. He took the bait and ran off to the next CP without me. Phew. Alone again at last!

I ran into my shadow again as I caught him on the downhill section and ran past. He was hot on my heels again following me to the next CP at the bottom of Hai Gai and I wanted none of it. So I sped off and hit the gas then took some hard corners onto connecting trails and eventually lost him again. I don't like leading people who are supposed to be navigating their own course! Navigating and finding your way is half the fun!

Anyways...back on the bikes for a short XC section then into town where I was greeted by a gang of villagers who where cheering and clapping for us! I was stoked by their energy and thanked them for cheering us on. It was fantastic to come into the village and have that interaction with the locals and fans. Their support really helped to push me on through the final leg.

I grabbed my 4th and final map and took off to find 3 CPs in and around the village. It was super short and highlighted a couple of local businesses including the Dark Side chocolate shop which was great for Cumby. I pushed hard up Dunsmuir to the finish line but my sprint efforts must have looked more like a sunday jog at that point. Oh well! I crossed the line FIRST FEMALE SOLO and I think I was the 12th team overall and actually I felt fantastic! No major cramps, no sore legs, no blisters, no mechanicals, no navigational boo boos and the sun was even shining! What a great day and a fantastic race course!

A HUGE thank you to all the race volunteers- and there were a lot of you! Without your energy, time and passion there would be no races. You are the glue and I thank you!

A big THANK YOU to Bryan Tasaka and crew for another outstanding race - from start to finish you really do put on the best events out there. I am soooooo sad to hear that Bryan is decreasing the series to 2 races next year! I have always felt that we need MORE AR opportunities on the island and this will be a great loss to the racing community. Perhaps there is some way that we can keep building the race circuit on the island...with all the racers and all the passion there must be a way...

Congratulations to all the ELM racers who stuck it out and persevered in the MOMAR! Kathy Campbell, Sarah Burrell, Pagan Mackay, Gillian Ventor, Sarah Percevault, Lindon Smith, Ray Raggett, Mike Romaniuk and...I hope I didn't forget anyone! WAY TO GO!

Pics and Results to be posted on the MOMAR site:
Hasta luego,


Korky said...

Way to go Sarah! Your story about the "follower" made me laugh out loud!

Cindy said...

Excellent race report once again Sarah. There was no doubt here about you taking first place. Well Done! Hoping Kathy gives us her race report on the Members Board. Cheers to you.

Indigo Eve said...

Awesome job Sarah! I love your race report novels :)

Aimee and I saw you heading up the main street on the way to the finish and you were looking pretty good!

You are a very polite Canadian ;) I wonder how he would have replied if you had said what was on your mind...