Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Suburban Rush Adventure Race

Thanks to Graham Robins for sharing his experience.

Curtis C., Graham R., Isabelle J., Steve S., Megan C., Paul M.

The Suburban Rush is billed as a "30 KM Off Road Adventure with Mountain Biking, Trail Running, and Mystery Challenges"
I really didn't know what to expect with this race because they don't publish the course ahead of time - they like to keep it a mystery.  Apparently the course changes every year.  

There's a bit of anticipation going in - "Is the 30 KM half running, have biking - or is it a 20 K bike and a 10 K run, or?"  You don't really know.  So, I kind of just chilled out and decided to take it as it comes.

I haven't been on my bike since one of the Canuck Place adventure challenges a year or so ago - so I pumped up my flat tires and shoved it into my car and was on my way.  

Met up with the rest of the crew at the IF facility in White Rock.  I was a bit late - sorry guys!  Then it was off to Port Moody.  I can't remember the last time I was in Port Moody.  I don't have any friends or family that live there, no business associates that work there - I've just never had a reason to go to Port Moody.  So, it was a surprise when we drove through the area - I thought it felt very clean, new, recently developed - and very scenic.  (Not to mention a new IF facility coming soon!...)  

Once we were registered and got my bike past inspection - we were ready to rock.

The race had a very casual feeling for me.  I hadn't trained for it or been on my bike for over a year.  I wasn't in-it-to-win-it - but I wanted to have a respectable time and have a great workout with great people.  

At the starting line now and lots of people cheering us on, loud music - and we're off.  
The run is pretty much all uphill and it had us running off the road, under bridges, over the water on foot bridges - and I noticed that it still had that casual feel to it.  A lot of teams running together, chatting, talking about life and what they've been up to.  Curtis and I were on the same team and even though I see him at IF quite a bit - it's in pretty short stints.  We spent 3 hours together on this race and while you're competing and challenging yourself - you're also able to keep a conversation going.  

It was actually a bit of a revelation - for the first time - I felt like I wasn't really trying hard to incorporate fitness into my life.  When I first started at IF, I remember thinking "I don't actually really like going to the gym...I wish I could incorporate it into my life somehow..."   Now, though, I enjoy getting to IF 3 times a week for a butt kicking and then finding ways of incorporating fitness into the days off.  This race felt more natural than ever.  During and after the race - I kept thinking that this is PERFECT.  Here I am in a beautiful part of the world, hanging out with friends, getting some pretty serious exercise, challenging myself - and still having time for a beer at the Cactus Club afterwards...

Anyway - back to the race!  After the run, it was on the mountain bike and up an insane hill for a tough climb.  The hills on this course never seemed to end.  We kept hearing from the court marshals "This is the last hill...." or "It's all downhill from here...."  I think we heard that 4 or 5 times!  That's ok, though - it's probably better than knowing that there are a half dozen more hills..  I remember being proud of myself for doing the first steep hill without stopping or putting my foot down.  I was passing people and just put my head down and kept pedaling.  That felt good because the first time I was on a mountain bike and doing some hills a few years ago, I remember having to get off the bike quite a bit.  So, the race had a bit of a satisfying feeling because I felt like I had progressed quite a bit more than I thought over the years.

And the hills kept coming!  Just when we thought we were on our way down, there were more hills.  The terrain was a good mix.  I was never worried about smashing my teeth out or cracking my skull - it was a course that you could bomb through if you were super experienced or take a bit more time if you're getting used to it.  

There were checkpoints where we had to report to throughout the race.  After all the hills and ups and downs, we reached an area where we were greeted by a volunteer who said "Dismount - this is the mystery challenge part of the race.  You've got a 4 or 5 K run here..."   I said "You're kidding, right!?"  He just smiled "Nope..."   The legs are feeling extra heavy as we hop off the bikes and jog / run towards the check in tent.  This part of the race was around Buntzen Lake.  Another beautiful spot.  There was some strategy here because the checkpoints were all over the place.  You could go East, West, North or South to start - but you don't want to waste much time talking about it - so Curt and I took a look at the map, scanned the checkpoints and agreed to start going in the same direction.  Curtis was a sniper with the checkpoints!  He saw the flags in the trees, down by the water, over the cliff, etc., etc., very quickly.  If I had been running by myself - I think I'd still be there looking for them!  The last leg of the run was tricky - we could have run back the way we came or down a logging road.  We decided to go down the road.  We weren't sure about it because nobody else seemed to be going that way.  But, we're glad we did - we think it turned out to be a faster way.  

We kept running into Izzy, Steve, Megan and Paul and exchanged some friendly competitive banter.  
Back on the bikes after completing all 8 or 9 checkpoints.

A bit more climbing on the bikes and then finally some downhill.  I was getting pretty tired near the end - I don't think I ate enough before the race and wasn't quite fueling up the way I should have been..  The rest of the downhill was through some great open trails which gave us a chance to enjoy the scenery.  The checkpoints were pretty much done by now and we were on the home stretch.  The terrain started looking familiar and we were close to the finish line.

As a last surprise, you get off your bike and run towards the finish line - only to be told to get down on your stomach and 'run' to the finish line while crawling on your knees and elbows underneath some mesh netting!  A fitting end to a great race.

We met up with the rest of the crew at the finish line and then it was off to Cactus Club for a celebratory beer!
This is a race I would definitely do again - it was a blast.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking Risk

During my University years, like most students, all I wanted was to travel as soon as I graduated. I wanted to do something thrilling, something risky that included a level of uncertainty, something dangerous, something some might call crazy. I wanted adventure like what you would read in Lord of the Rings, Treasure Island or Swiss Family Robinson. I wanted to hop a freight train across Canada. This blog is not meant to showcase the adventure I had but the feelings I had leading up to and taking that risk. Before embarking on my solo train-hopping mission I was filled with excitement. Like anyone who plans on doing something out of the ordinary there is anticipation within us that creates great levels of enthusiasm. The feeling we get when we know we are about to do doing something that is both new and in line with our goals creates an energy or gusto that pushes us forward in pursuit of it.

Before hopping on the freight train I spent months at the railroad tracks watching trains, talking to the operators, researching maps and books to give me more confidence before the big jump. I was so excited to just take off and hit the open road away from the predicable routines of school, work and home. As the day came closer I started to recognize a new feeling inside of me. I was beginning to feel very nervous. My nervousness started to get the best of me, as I did not trust that I was going to follow through with my plan let alone even be excited anymore. I was confused and though I was still doing the research and planning, I doubted myself.

The feeling of nervousness that comes before doing something bigger than you are use to is something we have all experienced. Whether moving to a new city, taking that new job, starting a business or hopping a freight train, it is a feeling we have all come face to face with and it is a sign that we are taking a risk. The definition of risk suggests that injury, damage or loss can happen when we take them. Risk therefore brings a level of uncertainty with it that makes us question whether or not we should continue to move forward. Yet when we take risks, some of the most memorable experiences and greatest outcomes can occur. Without taking risks, we never truly experience the exhilaration and thrill of success and achievement. As it stands, anything worth achieving comes with some sort of pain or discomfort and that means taking a risk.

Embrace the nervousness that is experienced before big change and big adventures and understand it means you are about to embark on an endeavor involving risk. Risk is good but don’t confuse it with that of gambling. Gambling is an unnecessary risk where negative outcomes are harder to minimize and the chances of being successful are not as great. If you want to succeed in risk taking then take the steps to better prepare for it. Gather information, research, ask questions, develop a strategy/plan and then follow through with action. Just as important, don't let your external conditions decide if it's worth taking risks. Many of us do this. We decide not to pursue a new job, because of the competition or we choose not to start our own business, because a similar business already exists.

I got through the nervous feeling I had before hopping the train by knowing that I had prepared well and had a plan. The combination of being prepared along with the nervous excitement I was experiencing was a feeling so potent that it created confidence in my abilities to succeed. We all can achieve our dreams no matter what the adventure. Great things are not easy to make happen and in most cases require us to take risks. Trust in yourself to take these risks and get what you truly want out of life.

Friday, June 26, 2009


When a rock is thrown into a pond what do you see? For most of us the answer is simple; a splash. The obvious answer to a question is usually the one we look for when asked because we are typically solutions based beings. It is not our fault; it is how we have been taught through years of schooling both in a classroom setting and in life. In solution based thinking we look for the universal cut and paste answer for no other reason than having the ability to supply and answer when a question is asked of us. This ability to fill others needs through providing solutions gives us power because we move from receiver to provider. The more we can provide, the more authority we are granted, therefore accumulating a stronger perception.

The fault with cut and paste based thinking is that we never learn to process information, which leads to empowerment. It is simple to memorize facts, regurgitate them as answers, and show everyone how well we would do on a game show, but your best life is not built for this type of thinking. Your best life lies in your ability to synthesize information and interact with it.

On any given day we are inundated with thousands of bits of information, each bit leaving a question for us to categorize, analyze, combine, extract details, reassess, find bias, and then come to an individualized conclusion. This taking of various components and combining them into a new whole facilitates learning far greater than just finding a solution based on the information given. Through synthesization we create a new understanding for ourselves and how we act within our personal spheres, therefore increasing the chances for our ability to succeed. In our search for new solutions we must blend our own knowledge and experiences so that we can form our own conclusions.

The answers for our own personal success do not lie in the hands of the guru du jour who is giving the same information to the next person that is giving them money, it lies within our ability to question what we think we know and understand that we do not know much. Our quest is to evolve our thinking therefore allowing us to expand our power. Unfortunately we spend more time trying to know more solutions and less time asking more questions, therefore limiting ourselves to understanding what and not why.

If we want to gain the upper hand on life and start actually living the best possible life we can, we must create new meaning to what we think we know. In order for this to happen we must understand the roots of our actions so that we can develop reasoning and authenticity of self.
Synthesizing information for personal advancement allows us to look beyond the splash and find out what happens to the rock as well as the displaced water. These answers will allow us to succeed, but we first must be able to answer with “I don’t know”.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ride to Conquer cancer

Recap for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. A first major destination for Moses Li, a training coach for Innovative Fitness. thanks for sharing!

I wanted to let you guys know what it was like and what an awesome experience it was to do something out of my comfort zone. Also to encourage anyone who haven't yet tried something "Major" to get out there too. Enjoy.

Ready. Set. RIDE. What an amazing journey the Ride to Conquer Cancer was. With 260km of riding, 1701 riders, and 6.9 million dollars in fundraising for Cancer research this was as much a success as an event as it was for each individual rider who completed it.

As we crossed the start line amongst the sea of yellow jerseys, you could tell just how much experience each rider had. There were some novice and some seasoned. Being a pretty new cyclist myself, it was slightly nerve racking to ride in such a dense group of people. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, because right off the bat there were a couple bad crashes, one of which me and several other riders even provided first aid for several minutes. While that seems a grim thing to mention, that was really the whole theme of the ride. People helping each other because that’s what people were in it for.

In terms of the ride, rolling hills with ocean scenery along the shores of White Rock, country side views and a 2 hour wait at the Peace Arch border crossing made the first day pretty easy going to start off with. Add the support volunteers and pit stops every 21 km and it made for a pretty sweet ride! At about kilometer 62 we started to pick up the pace as we rode through small-town USA. A sore butt/back, some drawn out hills and about 40 km later we’d hit that 100 km mark. For someone who had never rode more than 75 km in a day I was feeling pretty good. So only 30 km to go and a strange rubbing noise got my attention and I encountered another first experience, not one but two flat tires in a row. With the help of a passing rider we got things sorted out and it was back on track to camp. With the juice starting to run a little low, I made it to camp with a warm and enthusiastic welcome…time for a beer and a massage.

While Daryl and I never got that massage, we did get that beer and some time hanging out and getting to know new friends and customers current and old. It was party time in tent city! However, a hot shower, full stomach, and dropping temperature put us to bed early, but that was probably for the better.

Day 2. A quick pack up and breakfast and we were back on our saddles…which made me cringe the instant I sat down. Thank God for shammy lube. The second day picked up on some flats that just flew. Some great cooperation between fellow riders and draft lines made the first 25 km a breeze (literally). It was a cold day and I was glad for my outer shell I brought along. Parts of me (my ass) got progressively more and more sore, which didn’t help the onslaught of hills at the 88th kilometer. But only 50 km to go! Rain, thunderstorms and eventually hail slowed things down a bit but when I was so close to finishing something that I’d been working hard for, nothing could hold me back. Wolfing down one last snickers bar, and a cup of Gatorade, Team IF (me and Daryl) made its way along the last 22 km to the finish. Although we had to weave our way through a marathon and local bike riders, the scenic cycling path we were on finally came to an end at the University of Washington. What a reception and feeling of accomplishment as we crossed that finish line. The MC announced over the speakers what had been accomplished with the Ride, and I realized what I had just been a part of. I couldn’t have asked for a better first MAJOR destination. I then asked myself... what’s next?

Moses Li

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reflections from the West Coast Trail

Last week a group of 8 athletes from Calgary hiked the West Coast Trail. The collective was as diverse a group of people as I've seen on a destination; from ages 25 to 55, big differences in fitness level, and from an engineer to a divorce lawyer to an infant special care nurse and the list goes on...

What impressed me (other than the epic scenery and our luck - 5 days, no rain during shoulder season) was the perseverance and perspective shown by the group amidst the inevitable adversity everyone faced. Even our training coaches who had hiked the trail before found themselves outside their comfort zone and had to dig deep at times.

5 questions on the West Coast Trail helped summarize people's respective take-aways;

1) What were your top take-aways or moments on the trip?
- finishing day 1 alive
- seeing a bald eagle feed on a seal carcass
- diving into waterfall plunge pools
- walking along the tidal shelf and seeing all the marine life
- getting to know new friends
- learning of how people can push themselves so hard and get so tired, but still manage to go a little farther to finish
- seeing how different personalities can work together, help each other out, and be so kind to one another under rough circumstances
- The sense of accomplishment at the end
- Camaraderie with the group
- the awesome beauty that is right here at home in Canada even though we pay money to find it in other parts of the world
- and of course all the laughs

2) What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
- I Learnt to be stronger (or at least act it) in order to put other minds at ease and help them to keep going
- I also learnt that anyone can do something if they have the mental toughness to do it.
- I learned the truth of 'mind over matter' - something I've always believed in but never had to put into play until the night of day two of the hike
- respect for life: my own, the marine life, the delicate nature of our natural resources, and wanting to embrace life more on a daily basis with those important to me - pay these lessons forward

3) What did you find most challenging?
- the last part (the hiking on the beach sand) of day two of the hike.
- Crossing the rocks at every stream!
- When having a frustrating
moment, knowing that I still had XXX km to go, but then I'd soon find "my happy place" and be loving life again
- It was a real roller coaster ride of emotions - happy, frustrated, elated, tired, happy....
- it was more mentally tough than it was physically

4) How would you rate this experience compared to other fitness destinations you've done?
- Its hard to compare to other destinations. It was such a special trek with special group of people that I don't think you can compare it to any other
- It was a fantastic trip 10/10!
- Very High
- I have done some hiking abroad and it is always an incredible experience, but it is refreshing to know that we have world renowned, challenging hikes here in Canada!
- The only part that is missing from other hikes I have done is the cultural experience of being in another country
- right up there, one of the coolest places I've been

5) Would you recommend others hike the west coast trail?
- Absolutely, but I doubt if others with have such marvelous weather, so I'd be careful not to mention the 'no rain' bit.
- Of course, if you like backpacking and beautiful scenery it is a must! Can't wait for next year!
- Yes, I would
- Absolutely!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Worry about you

How many of us spend time throughout the day to reflect on our own actions or inactions, thoughts, feelings, meaningful conversations, etc etc. OR do we worry about others – what they’re up to, what they’re thinking.. who’s doing what. Mindless, endless gossip that serves no purpose other then to take away from our own SELF purpose and direction. We pick up the magazines and are so in tune with the next move of anyone but ourselves. Glued to the TV, talk about Lindsey & Brangelina like they’re our new best friends.. talk about the neighbours, their dog, and everything else but OURSELVES! It’s no wonder we have so many people unhappy with who they are, never satisfied, and never able to accomplish and achieve what they are capable of.. because they spend all day worrying what everyone else is doing.

Some advice (and this is a common sense general tip): Stop meddling in what does not concern you & attend your own affairs. How is taking someone’s personal affairs and turning it into gossip make you a better person? How is talking about the latest ‘story’ or your so called friend behind their back turn the focus from you and your problems? What are you so afraid of that makes you interfere with other’s lives?

When do we start being concerned with ourselves? Or is it that by focusing on others and their shortcoming s that you can easily forget your own...ahhh.. maybe that’s it. Well guess what – by pointing out where other people are wrong, will not make your own problems disappear.

Mind own business & worry about your own life.

Maybe eventually you will come to some sort of internal happiness and satisfaction and stop feeling the need to pick up the latest US weekly or talk about everyone else’s personal lives like its ‘news’. Requires a bit of work, and hey – we get it, it’s not easy to look inside for why you’re so unhappy. Much easier to point the finger. Too bad the people you’re pointing the finger at could care less about you. Last time I checked Lindsey wasn’t checking up on you. Grow up, be an adult, set some goals, focus on how YOU can get there and worry about that. At the end of your life I promise you won’t be thinking of those you’re gossiping about now and will wish you spent a bit more time focusing on positive things.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

your most important friend.

mute the tweet, ttfn facebook, even go further than the ‘who’s there for you in the tough times cliché’…. your most important friend needs to be you.

just when it seems as though everybody is worthy of their own audience, blog and or reality show, statistics show we are not benefiting from these fabled friendships; depression up, self esteem down, loneliness rampant – the bull friend market will soon crest it’s genuine capacity.

why is it important to love yourself? simple. if you can’t identify, accept and/or accentuate your own great traits – chances are neither can others.

for example being happy is infectious. when you are happy with yourself, others are normally happy with & around you. when there’s darkness inside, its shadow extends for miles.

but come on… happy all the time? no, that’s not realistic either and we are not speaking extremes. being genuinely happy isn’t a ‘to do’ for the day, it’s a life skill that includes; appreciating the gifts you have, focusing on the worthy, giving more than you take, listening more than you talk and the list goes on. we’ve all heard it, we all know it and today’s blog is a reminder to practice it.

people spend so much time investing in friendships that are low returners when they could spend time investing in a guaranteed stock – YOU. it starts from the inside, there’s no time span and it's the foundation needed to support others.

so over the weekend, spend some time getting to know, appreciate, respect and fall in love.... with you. write some while you live goals, reflect on your great life to date, and give yourself the positive self talk & props you need and deserve for being…..


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Momar 2009

Fun Factor:
 10/10 consistently for Momar events 
Extreme Factor: 8/10 only because there were some technical descents on the bike, and for the exposure on the rappel 
Cost: $130 includes dinner at the awards banquet/after party. Also notethat there is no kayaking stage in this event so it cuts the costs substantially 
Location: Squamish B.C 
Finishing Time:
 5 hrs 41 minutes 
3rd Male Team of Two, 7th Overall Yay! A Podium Finish! 
There is no better place than Squamish to hold an adventure race –
 it has after all, earned itself the reputation as the adventure sport destination in B.C. This year’s addition featured a new course designed by Jen Segger which always means quality and challenge. You do not know what you are in for until they hand out the course maps 15 minutes before the start gun goes off. It was also one of the first times they have offered a shorter sport course option so that newer adventure athletes can enjoy the satisfaction of completing an event like this. Race director Bryan Tsaka will be doing this for all future MOMAR events so be sure to try one! 

The start was staged at Alice Lake under bluebird skies – aperfect venue and day for enjoying the great outdoors. Parking was crazy – with 250 racers and their support crews converging on the start line you can bet BC Parks were enjoying the revenue being generated by parking fees. There were many familiar faces mulling around the parking lot and bike transition area. Billy and I were sizing up the competition and already getting grief from some of the other teams of two that we knew. MOMAR events have quite the die hard following, and many racers have been doing these events for the ten years that they have existed. I spotted Kyle Balagno and Dylan Berg getting geared up – it was nice to see some more connections to Innovative Fitness. 

Stage One :: Around Alice Lake

The excitement was building after we looked over the course map and realized that we would be summiting the first peak of the Chief to gain access to the rappel. This would be tough because it came at the end of the race – punishing!

After the usual pre race briefing Billy and I lined up at the front of the start line with all of the faster teams. We really had no expectations for the day – Billy had a back injury from a downhill crash and I had only ridden my mountain bike once this season. The goal was really just to pace it out and enjoy racing for what it really is - a personal challenge. 

The opening stage was a fast tempo 4km run around the lake and up De Beck’s hill – it quickly spread out the pack. I always feel lousy for about an hour at the start of a race and then I seem to settle and then I can stay out all day. Billy and I are a good match this way – he starts stronger, and we he starts to fade I pull stronger. 

Out of the bike transition we were behind many of the teams of two that were rivaling us. This was no big deal – it would be long day and Billy and I always make up time on the technical bike sections. We just let the other teams keep looking over their shoulders as we slowly ground down the gaps. 

The first serious climb was the Rock and Roll re route trail. It chewed up more than a few racers. At the top I decided to take my first taste oCarbo Pro 1200 for the day. As I tilted my head back and squeezed the bottle for a pull, the top popped off like a cork. I ended up pouring half the bottle of syrup into my right eye! It blinded me instantly and it glued my right eyelids shut. I had to get Billy to try and pressure wash it out with his Camel Back – this sight was comical. I was covered in a sticky mess all the way down my right side – bear bait for sure, especially with the berry flavor!

We wound up Alice Ridge making our way to the bottom of Slookum and Powersmart. Our tactics were simple – let others pull on the climbs and then pass on the descents – it really pays to know the trails here! We were quickly greeted by Billy’s girlfriend Heather at the transition to the first orienteering section. She was volunteering this weekend and not racing for a change. Nice to have a familiar face taking pictures of the action here! We got our maps and took a moment to orient ourselves before diving into the bush.

Let the fun begin!

Stage 2 :: Navigation

This is where things really start to spread out. It’s always tricky because everyone is paying attention to were you are going – in the end we are all looking for the same check points, it is just a question of who can find them all the quickest. Adventure racers are pretty good bout helping each other out here – there are no attempts made to throw other racers off, and everyone always helps others out. This is a refreshing aspect of this sport. 

The first CP was a nightmare – there were 20 of us mulling around this banked wall ride structure that it was supposed to bebehind on the map. It took a good 5 to 10 minutes to locate it under some dense underbrush, then everyone scattered in different directions. Billy is the navigator – he has a knack for finding all of the bushwhacking short cuts. We went to work and quickly picked off all 10 CPs. At this point we had no idea were we were in relation to the other racers, but you know that you are doing all right when you see Gary Robbins. He was racing solo for the first time without his navigator Thom Novack – this promised to make the day a little more challenging for him. It would not be the last we saw of him either.

Billy and I quickly arrived back at the bikes at the same time as two of the other teams we were battling. We all had a good laugh because we took completely different routes and still finished in the same amount of time! They beat us out of the transition but we knew it was along climb up Skookum and a very gnarly descent down Powersmart. We stopped for a couple of quick photos with Heather and then started our pursuit feeling pretty good physically. 

Stage 3:: Epic Squamish Single Track

If you like single track – tight, root infested, and loamy trails with lots of flow, Squamish is heaven on a mountain bike! Billy and I were on the heels of the other two teams we were chasing up Skookum in no time. Itwas not long before they were all pulling over to let us by on the descent. We were not wasting anytime here. Both of us just had these big grins on our faces and we laughed hysterically all the way back down to the logging road where we transitioned out of the navigation section. From here we just turned on the afterburners andhammered our way up to the top of Recycler – one of my favorite single track descents anywhere. Carbo Pro 1200 is a wonderful thing.

I arrived at the marshaling point just a few seconds before Billy, and I was told that we were in third place. It took a moment to sink in. I instantly got excited – neither of us thought that we would pull of a podium finish at the start of the day. We still had a ways to go though and I also remembered our last MOMAR race in Cumberland the previous year. Billy and I had rolled into the last checkpoint to start the final stage of urban navigation. Gary Robbins came running over and started yelling at us to let us know that we were in third place. This just put Billy and me into a state of panic and we ended up chasing our tails looking for a hidden CP in a park. With this in mind I just shouted at Billy to hurry up so we could get started on a sweet downhill – I did not tell him what place we were in. We made short work of Recycler, Psuedosuga, and some other sickeningly steep trail at the bottom of the cut block. 

I let Billy know our position as we rolled by the university on Garibaldi Lake road. He let out a big woohoo and we picked up the pace. We just had to conquer the Chief and a rappel and we could be on our way to a podium finish. A sharp left turn dropped us into a short steep decent onto Carpenter’s Bridge. Usually you need to hit the downhill fast and use momentum to power up the climb on the other side. The problem was there were to people walking there bikes down to the bridge. We both locked up the brakes but Billy missed shifted and blew hischain apart going up the other side! Another team of two we knew – Marshal and Duane, rolled by while we threaded the chain on and snapped a quick link back in. The whole process only took a few seconds but when you are sitting still the time cost is much greater. Before we got going again a solo Gary Robbins appeared on his bike – turns out he had gotten lost. This is whatadventure racing is all about – dealing with the little challenges that pop up around every corner!

There is something about the thought of a podium finish that makes you dig a little deeper. We both pushed the pace to catch Marshal and Duane. It did not take long - we ended up riding with them and talking about the day all the way to the base of the Chief. There was no rush to depart this CP – we were all out of water and needed to reload. It was going to be a tough climb on the way up to the first peak since we had all torched the legs pushing on the bike.

Stage 4 :: The Chief

I still do not know how they got permits to include the chief on the course. I am glad they did – it is a defining landmark for this town and an epic hike on any day. The four of us set out on the climb together. It was packed with day hikers and they were bewildered by the sigh of racers in bike helmets and climbing harnesses clawing their way up the trail. This stage was eating many of the teams – there were many people sidelined with cramps and bonking on the way up. The first 5 minutes of stairs at the bottom were tough – I tried to talk my legs into not cramping as I pushed the pace of our group upwards. Billy was hurting at this point and slowing down considerably. I backed off and let Marshall and Duane go ahead while I waited for him to catch up. We saw Gary again hammering down the mountain desperately trying to catch the second place solo male – the guy is like a mountain goat on speed. I gave him an estimate on the time gap and wished him luck.

Billy and I scrambled up the rock slabs to the summit for the CP. Neither of us was in the mood to climb the extra 10 feet for a photo so we said thanks and chased Marshal and Duane back down to the rappel – what a battle we were having with these two!

Stage 5 :: Slam Dunk

On the descent we were again neck and neck with Marshall and Duane. The four of us decided to finish together and share the third place spot. After all, we had pretty much raced together all day. This was a great example of the spirit of adventure racing – man versus nature is always a bigger than man versus man. We all made short work of the descent with this competitive pressure lifted. It was an easy bike back to town with a little bit of navigation. We did get turned around a couple of times until we found the river crossing.

The river brought welcome relief to the legs. All that was a left was a quick spin through Valleycliff and into downtown Squamish. At this point I noticed that my back brake pads were sticking to the caliper and would not let go – it kind of felt riding in the big ring all the time. Difficult but I could not be bothered with so little distance left to cover. It must have been from the Carbo Pro incident from earlier today. Regardless the four of us rolled into the finish guided by the sound of the cowbell. We all crossed the line arms linked and raised, and this seemed to confuse poor Dave Narona announcing the finishers on the mic.

On a closing note I have one thing to say -compression socks are sexy, and they work too. No calf cramps for the first time ever in an adventure race!

Possible team of four for Cumberland? Definitely – see you all there.

Thanks for doing support and cheering us on Nina!

If you would like to try a beginner local Adventure Race, come join us for the Innovative Fitness Canuck Place Adventure Challenge

Mark Coates