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.

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