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Saloman Adventure Challenge in the
Kawarthas - 17 July 2004

Photo: Team in Final Transition Area

Race Summary from the Team

T'was a good race all in all. I think that we are an 8th or 9th overall,
and a 5th or 6th in the open male category. We were as high as fourth at
one point during the day. The atmosphere at Raid / SAC races is a little
different. Teams are there with cube vans and logo'd trucks etc. The
supposed "top teams" kind of move around with an implied arrogance (or it
seemed to me anyways). Briefing was at 8:30pm on Friday night, so we set up
camp, and then grabbed a bite and went to briefing. We found out the course
was 5 CP's, and 2 advanced (4A and 4B) CP's. We got our maps (3 total),
race instructions and passport. The race was to be a trek to CP1, trek to
CP2/TA1, paddle to CP3/TA2, bike to CP4 where the decision on whether to do
the advanced leg or not was to take place, bike to CP4A, trek to CP4B, bike
to CP5/TA3, paddle to finish.

We had to put paddle gear in 1 duffle bag and bike gear in another. We also
had to give them our bikes, and they were to move our gear to the
appropriate locations. They were very organized, which allowed teams to
focus on the other stuff. After working the maps and instructions, we tried
to grab an hour or two of sleep before waking up at 2:00am. They loaded us
onto buses at 2:30, and we arrived at the start at 4:00am. At 4:15, the
race started.

Trek to CP1:

This was a mass start, and as always, it is tough to make your own
decisions, and easy to follow the crowd. This was to be a trail run
section, and teams all darted off down the only trail visible. In a matter
of minutes, the trail forked. Teams all stayed left, and in about 10 more
minutes, everyone was turning around. These trails were not on the map.
The instructions simply stated follow a well maintained trail generally
Southwest to CP1. So, we doubled back and found the right trail, and we
were off and running. We were in 6th at CP1.

Trek to CP2:

Beyond CP1, we got our first taste of bushwhacking. This was a longer trek,
but all in all, the terrain wasn't too bad. We drifted North of our bearing
in an effort to stay on high ground. The higher ground made the pass
relatively easy, and we ran into teams here and there along the way.
However, our drift North put us a little too far out of the way. We ended
up North of the bay of a lake that we wanted to be on (our intention was to
hit the tip of the bay and head due South to a road and run into the CP).
So, we trekked around the bay somewhat and got to the bay we were looking
for. Tired of trekking, we swam close to 1/2km across the bay to the other
side (it was 6:00am'ish). After a short trek, we were on the road and
running to the TA. We arrived in 7th along with the team that was first at
CP1, and 2 or 3 other teams that were already there, readying their canoes.

Paddle to CP3:

This was a straightforward, but long paddle. I think all said it was about
12 km's, with 2 options for portage. We deviated from our original choice
of at the place of decision and decided to shoot a river on the other side
of a dam. Most teams opted for a portage, paddle, portage scenario. I will
admit that our hand was kind of dealt to us, as we were closer to the option
that we chose, so we took it despite our original plan to take the other
option. As it turned out, the way we went was the better way to go. We
arrived at CP3 in 4th I think, and had kicked the crap out of the teams that
we were paddling with.

Bike to CP4:

This leg was to follow trails that were not on any map to the CP. We ended
up choosing a trail that took us all the way there. The ride was pretty
much straightforward and uneventful. So, in an effort to spice things up,
Caleb decided to go over his bars and land in a swampy section beside a beav
er dam. Afterwards he said that he was thirsty! I haven't heard from him
since, so I can only assume that he is somewhere on a toilet, nursing a bout
of beaver fever! We arrived at CP4 in 5th or 6th I think, and decided to do
the advanced (we were ahead of the noon cutoff for the advanced by 2 or 3

Bike to CP4A:

Straightforward gravel road bike to a quarry. 'Nuff said.

Trek to CP4B:

This was the trek from hell. I still curse Caleb and Stewart for convincing
me to wear my spandex shorts the entire race. As if my legs didn't get beat
up enough during the first trek! This one seemed really straightforward on
the map the night before. It was a 2km trek due West to a road / trail, and
then a 10 or so km trail run to CP4B. But, the trek was through intensive
swamp. We were moving at a snail's pace. The growth was brutal to get
through, and whenever we did manage to find high ground, it was covered in
thorns and brambles. Again we drifted North, and ended up on the North end
of the lake that we were looking for. There was no way we were going to
trek around this one, so we decided to swim for the hunt cabin on the other
side (the only building on the lake). In an effort not to drown in the 1/2
km swim, I used my pack as a PFD. [ ed: Hopefully Woody will pledge never
 to do this again. ]
 Apparently I am not the strongest swimmer
of the group! We got to the dock of the hunt cabin, and the surprised
patrons greeted us with looks of "Who are these dam fools" in their eyes.
We verified our position with him, and were off on our way down the road.
This walk / run lasted forever in the heat, and by this time, the bugs were
brutal. We all had shorts on, so our legs were hamburger from the terrain,
but the bug spray managed to sting us back into reality. Eventually we made
it to CP4B in 7th or 8th.

The last bike and paddle were again fairly straightforward. The bike was
short and the paddle was long. This was a surprising race in that the bike
legs combined for less than a 3rd of the overall distance, and the other
legs totalled more. Our team chemistry was good. Stewart proved to be a
very strong racer. His height makes it difficult for a short guy like me to
match pace walking! The top finisher finished about an hour ahead of us,
which isn't bad. We entered the final trek about 10 minutes behind them, so
we know where we lost our time. A couple of things that I took from the
race are:

1) We may need to look at better kayak paddles. Other teams rented or had
bigger blades, and it seemed to help.
2) The middle guy in the canoe (this time me) needs to put some rubber or
something on the knee pads to stop his knees from sliding.
3) We have to really practice on the bike. I know that we think we are all
good riders, but when teams blow by you like you are standing still, late in
a race, it is not good. Riding is the quickest way to gain and lose time in
a race. That's why some teams, despite not being great at the other
disciplines (as we are) are successful.
4) High ground... Find it and use it to your advantage, even if it
increases the overall distance travelled! Swamps suck... No more to be
said about that.
5) Don't believe the hype! Put adrenalin and all else aside and screw your
head on straight (I'm probably the worst for this)... Make your own
decisions when dealing with the masses, and don't think that you have to
follow the crowd. Had we chosen the right trail at the beginning, we would
have been first to CP1 by about 10-20 minutes easy.
6) Use your pack as a floatation device in an effort to not die mid-race!
7) Always pack a towel for after the race.
8) Always wear pants or tights for the treks!

Thanks to Stewart and Caleb for a good day. I must sign off to scratch my
beaten legs. Honestly, it looks like I was caught in a combine accident.
There are fluids oozing out of my legs as I write this... brutal.