SAC Canadian Championships

October 1st, 2007
SAC Canadian Championships

Host: SAC Canadian Championships

Date: September 29th, 2007

Type: Adventure Race

Category: Male ( Team of 3 )

Team: Brent Hysop, Eric Lewis, Frank Job

Race Report
A long overdue race report on the SAC Canadian Championships, and wow, was it a good one! The folks at Salomon Adventure Challenge hosted a beautiful, but long race held at Bon Echo Provincial Park in the Land O’Lakes Region. 27 Teams raced the course, which ended up being a whopping 90 km+, full of bush whacking, and night-time fun. Race director and course designer, Geoff Langford produced a course that was stunning in some of the scenery, enticing us all to want to come back and explore the area while not consumed by the frenzy of racing.

Novarobot’s race team arrived midday on the Friday, to do gear checks and get ready for whatever might come our way. We managed to get ourselves into Bon Echo and set up our tarp over the back of the van, and start the process of going through our gear, and checking all our equipment to ensure we were ready. All pretty smooth here really, and other than some childish ‘gas’ exchanges, we made pretty quick work of the prep work, and resolved next time to stay away from enclosed spaces. That evening after dark, we had our maps distributed, and got to work navigating the course, so we’d be ready for any questions we may have had. Everything seemed covered in the captains meeting, so we made our way back to the sleeping van, and did a more thorough job of marking up the maps for the race.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough. In hindsight I’ll take the time to do a little extra. For example, our MO is usually to run a road to a significant bend or feature, and use this as an attackpoint to the control. In general orienteering, we usually do this, but for some reason in this long format we figured we’d do it on the run. Bad choice, it was time lost on the course, where we could have had the bearings all figured out prior. Live and learn, it was an important lesson.

Anyway, we grabbed some sleep in the van, setting watches so we’d be at the start line for 3:45am supplemental map distribution. We would have gotten to sleep earlier, if we could keep Frank from giggling like a 5 year old every time his stomach gurgled. After some sleep, we got up and made it to the start line, running a little late ‘cause Frank decided not to bring his food the first time.

With our supplemental map, and our decisions made, we were off for the 4am start to check the number of windows on a boathouse we had passed lots that morning. After that slow jog, we hit the boats for a short paddle across the lake to a dock filled with boats (frustrating to sit and wait to get off the water at this chokepoint). Up the stairs and into the thick brush, with our little headlamps. We aimed out for CP2 and pushed the bush for quite some time, and hit the lake (our catching feature) a little north of where we wanted it, so we needed to spend some additional time skirting the lake back to the path and CP2. Running into the CP, we got our “Good job guys, you’re mid-field.” WooHoo! Our first night navigation, and we were not lost!

On to CP’s 3 & 4, both in the bush. Lots of whacking, and a pleasant morning hello to the fearless ladies camped on the point and we were off to the boats at CP4/TA1. A long, long paddle ensued. We all managed not to shove any paddles where we were threatening each other to. We managed to also find out what it was like sitting in water for 3 hrs or more (sort of like a diaper rash)… And we learned the value of a foldable seat for the centre man, as well as training would be good for the synchronization of the team.

When we came off the lake at CP5/TA2, there was a light breeze, which managed to chill us all to the bone. We decided to pass on the changing, and see how we felt 15 minutes into the ride. We picked up a few places here with our transition speed, and we were warmed up enough not to want to stop. We lost quite a few spots on the road ride, and made it to CP6 where we proclaimed we were doing the ‘advanced’ course. Ieeeee!! Up and down through the pounding rocky double track/fire roads, and we began our long search, we will now call… “The CP6a Incident”. Some newbie mistakes, repeated a couple times, managed to lose us about an hour and a half on the CP6a search, but finally, we got it, but our confidence (yes we still actually had it) was shaken. We picked our way through the woods to CP’s 7 and 8 on bike, identifying the unmanned checkpoint features as we went. A couple wrong turns in there, were fairly quickly corrected, costing us maybe 20 min extra.

After CP8, we realized we were probably not going to make it even to the CP9 cutoff at 5pm, but we decided to hammer it out and give it our all. We raced into CP9/TA3 with at 4:55pm, a full 5 mins to transition and get out on the water. Frank really wailed down those roads, it had to be the fastest, most intense ride he’s had, and he did it great. He even pushed hard up all those hills, with us stupidly egging him on with chants of “just a little more!”

Into the boat, and off towards the massive cliffs of Bon Echo. You really don’t get much perspective of scale until you realize you have been going hard at them for 45 minutes and they aren’t getting much closer! So we paddled our hearts out, trying to make the 6pm time, but we just couldn’t pull it off. Throwing the boat up on the beach, and gathering our equipment, we sprinted down the park roads back to the start/finish.

14 hours, 15 minutes later, we’d crossed the finish line on our 90km + race. We managed to place 14th out of 27 teams, not to bad for this team!

It was a great race, and tough. We can hardly wait until next year.

Here’s a link to the course, from Team Go Banana: SAC Course

Also to the race site if you’re interested in more reports or details! Race Site

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