Sunday, October 29, 2006

I have been a bit lazy lately so I have decided to post an article my long time adventure race partner Chris Wilson wrote from 2002.

Intoxicated Press, North Vancouver, Tuesday September 10th, 2002

Team Hammer2Heaven completed the toughest Sea2Summit Whistler course ever in a time of just under 21 hours. Team members Bill Harbord and Chris Wilson have not yet received official results reflecting orienteering time penalties.

This year's course featured significant changes from previous years, including the start in Minaty Bay, just south of Britania Beach in Howe Sound. At 7am in a large gravel pit, all teams were provided an envelope to be opened only once the race had started, which provided directions to the first checkpoint (CP1) located within the tunnels of Britania Beach mine. While some team members were sprinting to the mine to ensure they secured one of the 175 hard hats required to enter the mine (for 600 racers), the others were hauling the kayaks approximately one kilometre to the shore. Upon returning to the shore with the first CP password, Bill and I jumped into our sleek double kayak and went to work moving up the field. We were able to catch and pass our colleagues who could run faster and we made great time during the first 6km leg to Porteau Cove, running with both wind and tidal current. At the turn-around, we were in sight of the leaders, including the legendary Super Dave Norona. The second leg 16-km of the paddle north to Squamish Harbour was very tough, into a building wind and ebbing tide, and we got caught in the strongest part of the current around Watts Point. Racers who gambled on the longer route hugging the shoreline were rewarded with an eddy current that launched them forward and out of reach.

After landing 3:18 into the race, we attempted to get our stiff and aching backs moving with a short 4km run to transition at Loggers Park. About halfway, we were greeted to the first mystery challenge, hauling 2 buckets of gravel 1km along the Loggers Lane trails, in a co-operative effort to help the Squamish Trails Society. Sadly though, many racers chose to ignore directions provided and simply dumped the gravel into the woods and took off... bad karma! We reached transition in 51 minutes where our amazing support babe, Becca waited with food and bikes. A slow change, bite and back-rub got us on to the bikes in 13 minutes and we headed up the Mamquam FSR to 9-mile bridge, the first major climb and the site of my killer cramping in this year's Test of Metal race. We climbed slowly, knowing a long day was ahead, and rode to the summit feeling good, exorcizing the ghosts of June!. This was followed by a sweet fast descent down the Ring Creek Rip, then a second climb up the Diamondhead road to Tseugotseuga, a classic moderate Squamish downhill. On to the Mashiter FSR for endless rollers, before dropping into Made in the Shade, a classic BC descent - drops, rocks and roots on STEEP switchbacks then on to the transition to Trek Stage, we had been riding for 3:30.The trek involved navigating to 3 CP's, all on the north side of the Cheekeye River across from us. There were only 2 marshaled points to cross the river, and we were not allowed to trek in the river. We covered the boulder beds and bushwhack to Cat Lake at a steady pace and found a fallen log to cross the river and save time, and completed the course in 2:17. As we departed, the marshals were advising teams just arriving that the trek cut-off was imminent, it was 5pm and 10 hours into the race.

The course organizers at Sea2Summit just dialed in the next section - after a short hike-a-bike climb up Rock'n'Roll, we were treated to super sweet BC singletrack, mainly downhill, all the way through Garibaldi Highlands... Rob & Cliffs Corners, Mashiter, Roller Coaster, Lumberjacks, 7-Up took us down to the highway, then we dropped into the Mamquam River trails, flat, fast champagne singletrack to finish the day in 11:30 ... no wonder we're smiling! Bill took a nasty fall on Lumberjack when he took a stump to the chest!

That evening we were treated to massages by Becca, beer and nachos by Cindy and a good night's sleep.

Day 2 dawned dark, wet and foreboding. We rode from Bob & Cindy's in Brackendale 2km north to the race start. The morning roll-call was filled with absentee teams, singles, doubles and 4's who had finished at 10pm or later last night and were unable to answer today's starting bell. A 1km run around a track and trail got us back to the bikes, and we settled into a steady pace on the flat road section... Bill fired up the big engine and I drafted him past many teams on to the fire road and double track. Once we reached the initial climbs through the Cheakamus Canyon the pack thickened and there were many hike-a-bike sections. The track opened up toward the summit and the highest views over the canyon were stunning to ride beside and we continued along the Cheakamus River, finally arriving at Brandywine Falls in 2:52.

We checked in, got our orienteering maps and controls, made a quick change to running shoes and we were off! We had one hour to find 10 controls in a one-square kilometer space, navigating through bush, rock and swamp. We scored 7 out of 10 before we had to hammer back to meet the 1-hour deadline and we were out of there in 1:12, felling good.

The intermittent rain made the next stage through technical singletrack very tough, as both an aggressive riding position and hard, semi-slick tires lead to some scary moments on steep rock descents into beds of shiny roots! Then bad news, a twig flipped between chain and spoke, and ripped my rear derailleur into a crazy angle, we were able to effect temporary repairs until I attempted a shift and the derailleur was thrown into the spokes and torn in two. Bill helped me to stay positive and we quickly turned my bike into a single-speed and pushed on to Creekside in 2 hours.

Becca was set-up on the slope in the mist and rain, she provided awesome mini-pizzas and coke, dry clothes and encouragement, and helped us our way to the Whistler summit and the Roundhouse 4,000 feet up. We trekked through the debris chutes of Whistler Creek, a steep treacherous climb over rock and logs then on to singletrack, access roads and ski slopes to the summit. As we passed the lower Chicpea lodge, the rain turned to snow and we really had done a Sea2summit, 100 miles by kayak, bike and foot!

We rode the gondola down, expecting to simply run across the finish line, only to find a waiting mud pit to slime through and a wall climb to get over before finally crossing the finish line at 4:30pm, after 21 hours of racing!

Many thanks to all the folks who helped us, especially my awesome support wife, Becca, and Bob & Cindy and my team mate Bill!!



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