Friday, October 2, 2015

Race Report: MOMAR Cumberland 2015

Perfect day for an Adventure Race!  Image: Dave Silver

Wow.  What a great day.  MOMAR Cumberland was another fantastic event complete with a rad course, rad people and an uber-rad team mate:).

First things first I have a few thank you's to share.  I wouldn't get to fulfill my huge passion for adventure racing without these peeps:
  • Mr. MOMAR himself, Bryan Tasaka.  A man with a vision who has transformed the sport of Adventure Racing.  Bryan has ensured that AR lives on in BC and his races have now captured the spirit of a new generation of racers.  Thanks go out to Bryan for sticking with it and creating a giant playground for us to play in year after year:).  You are never allowed to retire.
  • MOMAR Volunteers- seriously you rock!  Thank you for donating your time, energy and support so that we can play in the woods all day!  Playing it back should be on every racers list...get out and volunteer and spread that racing karma around.
  • MOMAR community.  It's not really about the race anymore.  The MOMAR has created a big, dirty community of racers and volunteers and these rad people have become a family over the years.  It really is amazing and it brings me back year after year to for our reunion.  Great to see all of my race friends!
  • Sarah and Debbie- thanks for breaking the water for Gen and I this year on the kayak leg!  We would still be paddling if it weren't for your super human strength in the kayak:). 
  • My dirtbag friends.  How many hours a year do we spend exploring, playing, running, riding, bushwacking (and then some) together each year?  I am forever grateful to have such an adventurous crew of peeps to call on for ridiculousness in the woods.  Collecting memories, not things...well, there might be a few bike purchases in there...
  • Mountain City Cycles- the best bike shop crew a girl could have.  These guys are stand up, straight up and I always know they have my back.  Thank you for keeping my wheels turning boys.
  • Extreme Runners- the dream team that keeps my feet happy and rockin the trails.  Thanks to Lene and the gang for all of the support over the years! 
  • Ascent Physio, Bayview Chiropractic and Harbourview Massage- the mechanics for my body that ensure I am healthy, ready and recovered for each and every one of my adventures.
  • And finally, the trail builders.  You know who you are and I hope you know I LOVE YOU.  If it weren't for you, I would be laying on the couch with clogged arteries and a butt twice the size:).  Can't thank you enough!

OK: Race Report!  

Scroll to the bottom for the on for the play by play...or save it for a rainy day and get outside;).

After about 8 years of solo racing, I was ready for something different.  I love racing on my own but have fond memories of team racing knew that partnering up would provide me with a challenge- stepping out of the known and into the unknown.  It is always easier to stay on the path you know.  But we don't grow with the familiar.  We need new experiences for that.  So...I forced myself to step off my path and explore a route into the lesser-know world of team racing again.  Why not?  Life is short- rack up as many new experiences as you can I say!

Working as part of a team forced new challenges on me because I am used to listening only to the voices in my head (and there IS an entire team in there lol).  With team racing, decisions can potentially take more time, agreements must be made, trust is on the line and team mates are only as strong as everyone's weaknesses.  But racing with a team gives back in ways that flying solo can't provide, as well.  Moral support- help during the lows and pooled energy on the highs.  Shared tasks like taking turns map reading and punching the passport. Increased confidence with a second head to nod confirmation or to prevent an error.  Not to mention the sweet moments and memories that are created when adventures are shared with friends.  One things for sure, it is a heck of a lot more fun with a buddy!

Ok Ok...but maybe we really just wanted to try and beat all the boys...

Truth be told, we initially decided to team up so that we could shave off precious minutes on the kayak leg, by paddling in a double.  We thought we had a chance to take one of the top overall spots and finally get a team of ladies on the podium. We had grand aspirations to train for the kayak and learn to paddle a surf ski this year...hahaha.  In reality, we finally secured a kayak and a baby sitter for Gen's wee one just 4 days before the race- and it was all systems go!

Race morning we dropped off our bikes, and placed our kayak (thank you Deb and Rick!) on the shore of Comox Lake, all by 7:00am.   We were first in line for the maps (MOMAR 101 people!) and spent the next hour hunched in the back of my hatchback, memorizing and then reciting the names and numbers of all the CPs.  Once the map went into the map bag, we never looked at it again.  Another benefit of a team- more brain space!

Leg 1: Kayak 10kms.  60 minutes.  Gorgeous, flat, green water meant smooth sailing for the first leg.  We were secretly hoping for white caps since we were in a big stable double haha.  Another benefit of a team- no fear on the kayak leg of getting flipped by the bigger boats!  It felt so awesome to be so stable in the double and just focus on hammering out the strokes.  Thanks to Ryan and Paul, we were kitted out with Wingblade paddles in addition to our sweet ride c/o Deb and Rick.  Even better, we discovered that our buddies Debbie and Sarah were absolute beasts in the kayak (swimmers!) and tucked in behind them for the entire leg.  We had no hope of passing them and tried unsuccessfully numerous times but got dropped off the back each time.  Our only choice was to paddle our little arms out to try and stick on their tail- and we nearly killed ourselves in the process!  It was head down, and core rotation, digging fast and furious to keep the pace.  My arms were burning and my legs were shaking the entire time!  Next year we are going to train for the kayak (MOMAR 101 and famous words!).   It sure was sweet to come off the water in the top third rather than the back as is the norm for me when solo racing!  Less congestion on the trails and an extra 10 minutes or so in the bank.

Leg 2: Trek kms?  60 minutes.  Out of the water, a CP punch and then a run down the beach following flagging.  Flagging was the word of the day and our least favourite part of this years course!  We love navigating and a flagged course does not favour our route selection skills.  Instead, the course becomes more of a test of fitness and it is hard to compete with the top teams without many chances to be sneaky haha!   We followed the flags and tried our best to pass the endless line of racers through the climbing trails at Comox Lake...then up to Queso Grande.  Thank you for the courtesy to allow us to pass and for the kind words you had for us, racer friends!  We had a choice to go left down the trail or right up to a quad track and then run out to 'the lookout' for a punch.  We went left.   The day after MOMAR, a few of us went out to help clean up controls/flagging on the course and we returned to that spot to do a little 'time trial' of the two options.  I know which way is faster 40 seconds...but I'm not telling;).   We took the Coal Creek Trail and made our way to Mama Bears and eventually into town, via the Wandering Moose and Village Park, collecting our CPs along the way.  We made an effort to push the pace as best as we could, because we knew we would be sitting on our bikes for the next while...
Sweet shot by Dave Silver on Missing Link

Leg 3: Bike kms? 2 hours.  On the bikes and a rip up the road to Missing Link and some lower XC trails.  Unlike most years, this year, the bike leg didn't feature an epic climb and descent.  Instead, it was made up of a series of shorter XC loops that forced the legs to continuously turn over.  Again, this style of course did not favour our strengths- I get stronger the longer and steeper the climbs get and Gen rides the long descents with abandon.  In a way, it was a positive, as it meant we were a closer match for pace on the bike legs.  We worked on cranking out circles and trying to inch our way forward in the pack.  

It was on the first climb on the first trail, that the first 'yelp' came from Gen.  "I'm cramping!".   Ooooooh not that is no fun.  If you haven't experienced exercise induced muscle cramps, you really are a lucky duck.  It is hard to explain the pain and terror that rips through you when your entire inner thigh or calf decides to contract and put you in agonizing lock down.  Relaxing can help.  Breathing can help.  Rest can help.  Water can help.  Salt can help.  Apparently new research shows that mustard and pickle juice can help too.  But sometimes absolutely nothing can help.  We took some time, chugged some water and downed some salt and then gingerly tackled the rest of the bike leg.  The cramps returned intermittently, on each of the steep climbs, and each time we took some time, stopped or slowed down and hoped for them to pass.  

Lucky for Gen we got to push our bikes up a mountain (Water Boys, backwards?  The nerve.) rather than ride the whole way up, and her cramps co-operated with this much better than they did while peddling on the bike.  I try not to use the word 'hate' very often.  I am a pretty half full kinda' gal.  But man oh man is it hard for me to restrain my evil thoughts on 'hike-a-biking'!  I know it is because I absolutely suck at it.  My calves are my weak link and they are a big tool in hike-a-biking with power.  I will absolutely kill myself to stay on my bike as long as possible on super steep climbs because I know I will stop nearly dead in my tracks the second I am forced into a hike-a-bike.  And so it went...

Bear Buns was the highlight of the biking leg and we hollered and whooped our way down the berms and bumps just like we were on one of our usual Weds night rides.  We ticked off the trails and enjoyed two quick visits with our friends John and Pascale at CP 12 and 14.  They brought us up to speed and let us know we were 15 minutes off first place.  Onward to the trek we rolled...
Where do we go from here?  Image: Kathy Campbell

Leg 4: Self  Nav Trek kms? 1 hour and 5?.  We couldn't wait to get to this leg of the race and the end of the flagging!  We did our sneaker swap and left our bike gear at transition, ready to tackle the trek with our new map.  After a quick scan of the CPs and made a call to run the course counter clockwise, heading for the closest one first in that direction.  Choosing the direction was easy- we wanted to climb the least steep terrain and save the big drops in elevation for the descent.  Tired legs, meant a trek up the first hill out of transition and time to create a plan, have a snack and get in some more salt.  At the top of the first rise, we got our running legs back and made our way to the first CP.  En route, the evil cramps returned though, and Gen was left paralyzed for at least 5 minutes.  She ran as far as she needed to and while I got the punch she tried to massage out the cramps.  This would be the pattern for most of the CPs on the trek and we worked together to get it done.  

The course was really well planned and forced us to make route choices on many of the CPs.  Run the road or bushwack?  Hit this CP first or that one?  Love love love this type of racing as it makes it all much more fun and a great adventure.  We didn't do much bushwacking at all- opting to stay on trail/road for nearly all of the CPs, other than one dip into the bushes off of Rhizome trail for a nearby CP.  We moved as quick as we could under the crampy conditions and Gen was a rock star, persevering through the pain and continuing moving forward at a steady pace.  There were some funny moments on the trek that we will share with giggles for quite a while I am sure- falling over in the bushes with cramps, getting caught with our pants down and then some.  Good times;).  We hit the final CP and then ran down Wood Cutter trail to return to transition.  It dawned on us that we only had one CP left in the race!  So sad!  After so much build up (right up until the day before the race on a 4 hour scouting mission) we couldn't believe that our MOMAR experience was just about to end.  

Leg 5: Bike kms? 15 minutes? to Village Park and the finish line.  We rolled through the final section of trail, Round Out, and put our heads down until we hit the finish.  Helmet hair, mud stained cheeks and sweaty smiles, we crossed the line, hand in hand and the race came to a sudden an end.  We stared at each other in a bit of post insanity disbelief and shuffled our way through finisher medals, photo ops and snacks at the food table.  What a day.  No flats, no mechanicals, no major mistakes, nothing more we could have done- we really did all we could do on the day!  That is the best feeling- regardless of finish times, places etc...we both have the number one goal of racing as clean a race as possible, and reaching our limits.  I can easily say, that we did both.

Team ELM with Mr. MOMAR- done and done!  Image: Suzanne Woods

Congrats to all of the racers who toed the line- especially all of the ELM and MOMAR 101 athletes who gave their all on those challenging courses!  The only problem with MOMAR is you have to wait 12 months until the next one.  Can't wait until next year!

5 hours and 23 minutes
5 overall
1st team of two women
1st of many team adventures I hope!
Results and Photos 
Dave Silver Photos
Lorenz Jimenez Photos

1 Hornby Bar
1 Cliff Bar
2 Fruit Bars
Lots of S-Caps

Salomon Advanced Skin 5 Vest
Salomon Speedcross sneaks
Giant Anthem 29er

Happy Trails,

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