This race started a week before the actual race started… We were racing in California and Claire, my teammate in SLO also to be my teammate for FMIJ, contracted some horrible rash from the poison oak. This put the team in crisis mode and we sent out a bunch of emails in search of a female for FMIJ. We found one three days before the race and her name was Alix.
Alix has raced an 18hr race before but that was the extent of her AR racing. She had done support as well and she wanted to get more involved in the sport. In the pre-race emails Tom through some sarcasm her way and she responded immediately with sarcasm right back. We knew we had a keeper then.
We got to Castle Mountain Resort, checked our gear, ate a meal, got the maps done and actually had time for a 2+ hour nap. It was awesome. I crashed on a couch in the hostel and snoozed for 2hrs or so.
The race started at midnight and we were hiking up to Barnaby Lake. We had talked about not running at all this race because of Mike’s legs but he said he wanted to run off the bat so we did. We headed down the trail towards the Barnaby Lake trail. We probably got to the junction in around 10th place and we powered our way up to the lake and CP1 arriving in 5th. Alix and Tom were both Billy Goats on the mountain as the passed teams and forced Mike and I to follow. The next part was a bushwhack over to CP2 down by the river.
We crashed down quite successfully finding several animal tracks and never really having to bushwhack in anything heinous. We got down to the river just slightly South so we contoured the river down to the CP. Little did we know but we hit a cliff section and walked in the river up to our crotches in some spots which was QUITE COLD. Nevertheless, we contoured around and arrived at CP2 in 4th place.
It was a quick run down the road to a gear pickup where we gathered our snowshoes and headed back down to the river to CP3 and another river crossing. Both river crossings were by boat as the crew felt it wasn’t safe enough to do a Tyrollean from the desired point. So we ferried ourselves back across and were on our way to Grizzly Lake and CP4.
We crashed through the bush to find the great trail which took us all the way to CP4. We ended up NOT needing our snowshoes and that irked us, but the trek was fabulous with absolutely amazing views at the top and through the valley. To my surprise I couldn’t keep up with the team and Tom had to tow me up the valley. Thanks Tom! We arrived at CP4 to this gorgeous lake nestled in amongst some large cliffs and to our amazement we were in 3rd place.
Next up we went up and over a cliff face and bushcrashed back down to another road which lead us to TA1. We made this transition super fast as we ate a ton of food on the way to the TA. We got on our bikes for a 5km ride down to the boats at CP5.
We pumped up our boats and headed into the cold water. We were warned of a couple sweepers and cautioned to be careful. The water section proved to be scarey yet fun and maybe made me nervous a few times. Nonetheless, despite two stops to empty our boats of water we arrived at CP6 intact and with huge smiles on our faces. We trekked our boats into TA2 still in 3rd place.
We took our time at this TA, getting dry and getting a bunch of food in us. The next bike section was going to be long and we’d need a bunch of food.
On our way to CP7 we got stuck looking for a trail marker rather than reading our map and making our way to the CP in a more “intuitive way” which resulted in us losing about 2 hours or more and dropped us down to 5th place. However, our adventures away from CP7 allowed us to make up time and get to CP8 back in 4th place. From CP8 to CP9 it was straight up this mountain which required a lot of pushing in the hottest time of the day. We slogged up as we knew Team Pure was right behind us. We rode real well into CP9 and noticed we were only now 15 minutes back of 3rd place again.
We decided to head to CP10A and the first advanced section. Getting to 10A was easy, getting to CP11A up Whillaby Ridge was treacherous. In my good days I could have ridden it, but in my “fatter” days it was not going to be ridden. Alix had recently bonked and nailed herself in the clavicle and we needed to help her get up as well. We managed to get to the top in good spirits and we headed up, up and up to the waypoint which took us down to TA3. Unfortunately we didn’t check the maps close enough and we probably should have just headed back to CP10A and the road as we would have saved probably an hour. However, the views from the top of the ridge were absolutely breathtaking!! Oh well, the treat at the end was 5km or more of sweet downhill single track and more than made up for the crazy climb to the top of the ridge!
At TA3 we were still in 3rd place and we “heard” that Pure had left CP8 at 9:30pm. We arrived at TA3 at 9:35pm. We were astonished and felt real comfortable and assured that we were going to get 3rd! Only 45 minutes later though we discover that Team Pure actually left CP11A!! at 9:30pm and were right on our tails. We busily got ready and just before we left Pure came into the TA. The race for 3rd was on!
From TA3 to CP12 it seemed to be a fairly straightforward hike along some ATV tracks. Little did we know that the one track didn’t get us where we thought it would. We concentrated too hard on the various creeks and being tired weren’t thinking properly. We hunkered down for a 30 minute snooze and awoke to more frustration, but still a lot of determination. We met other teams, we tried many things and then finally after nearly 4 or 5 hours we found CP12. We felt for sure that Pure would have passed us and we trudged along to TA4, deciding to skip CP13A. We got to TA4 over 2 hours behind Pure and all of Mike, Alix and Tom passed out in their chairs…
The race for 3rd was over and we were a bit unmotivated as we knew we had wrapped up 4th place. So, I let them sleep for 15 minutes and then finally had enough waiting and lit a fire under their butts. We got out of the TA and started on our bikes over to CP14. CP14 was up a fire road and led to another awesome highlight of the race. The downhill from CP14 to the cutline below was amazing.
Tom and I giggled as we would let Alix and Mike go ahead and then catch them. We had so much fun and the smiles on our faces completely outweighed the fact that we had just raced for the past 30hrs. We hit the cutline, went down a few fire roads, cut across a couple of fences and ended up at the finish line in 4th place overall!!
We proved yet again how important having a good navigator was this race. We made two errors, but were able to remedy them and move on. Despite being nowhere near our fittest physically, mentally we were on our game and we really succeeded. I have to give a strong kudos to Mike for being an awesome navigator, to Tom for being a horse as always, to Alix for exceeding every expectation we had, and to the entire team for having so much fun, so much laughter and still being competitive. Of course, I have to thank our support crew, Aaron, Jackson and Stephanie for making everything possible for us in every TA!
Now onto Vancouver!!