Salomon Adventure Challenge – Deerhurst

Juliette, Dave Enns and I raced in the Salomon Adventure Challenge near Huntsville this weekend. We got off to a bad start, the canoe rental people had dropped off one less canoe than was needed and we were the unlucky team left on the beach. Geoff the race organizer scrambled to get us a canoe from the resort and start the race.

We ended up in a small, leaky, heavy aluminum canoe that was so short, only two of us could paddle. The rest of the competitors in the lightweight Kevlar canoes quickly pulled away from us. By the time we finished the 10km paddle we were nearly last out of the water and 20 to 30 minutes behind the lead.

We changed into our biking cloths quickly and tore out of the transition area to start reeling in the teams in front of us. Over the next 33km of mountain biking muddy, rutted skidoo trails we passed countless teams climbing the steep hills and managed to reach the next transition area in third place and just in time for the advanced course cutoff time.

We set off on a bearing into the heavy bush for the trekking section with the fourth place team less than a minute behind us. We reached the checkpoint seconds ahead of them and then quickly disappeared back into the forests. After another kilometer, we came down into the marsh and fought our way though the thick swamp alder and low dead spruce, the branches tearing at our legs. Eventually we couldn’t take it anymore and we jumped into the main watercourse through the swamp and started swimming and walking through the mud and water.

We were joined again by the fourth place team and we worked together to get to the advanced checkpoint and came in together. We couldn’t bear another trip through the swamp, so we decided to take the longer route and follow a logging trail up to high ground and around the swamp. As we walked, we picked the leaches off of each other and planned our comeback. We weren’t too worried as the other team pulled ahead of us since we were promised a time bonus for the canoe which should cover any difference.

As we walked the logging road though, the woods became thinner and more manageable, so I took a bearing and we set off hoping to cut off two kilometers from the route the other team was taking. The gamble paid off and we came into the transition area well ahead of them.

After a long 7km’s of trekking, it was good to get back onto our bikes for the final 15km race for the finish line. It was technically easy riding on gravel and dirt roads, but the huge hills wore at our sore legs as we climbed them in granny gear. The downhills were great though, so steep that we hit 75km/h on one without peddling.

We crossed the finish line in about 8hrs 17min, our 20min time bonus bringing our official time down to just under 8 hours and confirming our third place finish. The fourth place team had some problems in the trek and didn’t come in until after we had showered and finished our first beer.

So many teams were still out on the course that they extended the race finish cutoff time and delayed the awards. Teams continued to come in well after dark and worried partners and spouses sat patiently at the finish line waiting.

It was another great race for Juliette and I and Dave Enns is hooked. We really need to apologize to his fiancee Lisa. We are sorry for feeding his obsessions and his carbon fibre fetish, but we will do our best to keep him out of trouble and in one piece for your wedding.

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