So we finally got Tommy to 100% commit to a >24hr race... This would be John's second go at WT and the best choice for our 4th was Mike, who not only raced with John in his previous WT, but has an awesome ability to get people thru the rough spots.... and in order to finish this race we'd need someone to crack the whip and someone to rub some tummies.
Tommy came up with the idea to race as Team Birdman in honour of our friend and hockey teammate Chris "Birdman" McCauley, who less than a year ago was diagnosed with ALS. http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/former-hockey-player-...
Birdman is a super guy and an inspiration and it was an honour to race 'for' him, even if only as a small gesture from a few friends. (Tommy fessed up after the race, in a group call to Birdman, that there were a couple of times when he was hurtin' through the night that he turned to thoughts of Birdman for motivation)
Aside from the EXTREMELY intoxicated woman that followed Mike into our hotel room while I was working on the maps... and then proceeded to alternately massage my shoulders and then choke me out with a 'rear-naked' choke-hug while I was delicately trying not to crease the mac-tac on my maps... we had a fairly uneventful pre-race prep. Not kidding. It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time. At the time, more frightening... in retrospect, quite hilarious... I was thinking 'at what point do I need to defend myself?!?!'
We were a little banged up to start the race. My right knee is pretty messed (to the point I almost flew Will back to take my place) , John's been on serious meds just so he can move his shoulder and elbow and Tommy is not fully recovered from a cracked pelvis thanks to a mechanical bull incident... that's a story unto itself! So our lofty goal was to finish the full course!! ...(Obvious why we previously raced as the 3 Tensors?)
The initial run went well. Very slow, but my knee was loosening up and Tommy was fine. We hit the bikes near the back of the pack and at the start of the first trek we were about the same place. On the way from to 2-3 I had a moment of doubt. We hit what I thought was our drainage and my bearing should have brought us here just south of the CP, but it didn't feel right. We took about 2 minutes to confirm this fork was the right spot and then hit the CP.
I think we made up about a dozen spots on the trek without any running, so that was promising (we did shuffle/jog a little on the road back to get our bikes) and we were soon on a relatively relaxing ride to the canoe put in. We were ahead of my plan so there was no need to panic.. just keep things steady and keep spirits up. Mike worked hard on his 26'r to keep up with us, but next time he'll likely remember to fill his tires before the race (I think phatty may have let the air out, but I can't prove it).
The first half of the paddle was quite fast with predominant tail winds. When we got out for portages Tommy was really hurting. Turns out sitting in the canoe was the most painful part of the race for his pelvis. He literally would crawl out of the canoe and be paralyzed in pain for a minute or two until he was able to get moving. I tell ya, it's great to race with hockey players... it's always game seven and they always play 'till the final buzzer..
The last bit of the paddle was into a strong headwind. It was almost comical watching the shore not move at times. Tommy and I were quite unbalanced, but if I was able to keep us in a tight draft behind boat # 1 it was manageable.
We had a slow TA getting ready for the trek (the boys got worked pretty good on the paddle) but were still at least an hour ahead of the pace I thought we would be at. I was surprised after the race to see that we were only between 30 - 60 minutes behind most of the top teams at this point?!?!
I don't recall running anything from 8 to 9 and I didn't expect to run much beyond that when I planned out our course. We had pretty clean Nav through the trek. Given our slow moving speed my focus was on keeping the nav as clean as possible and picking easy lines. There were a number of self-doubting moments, especially in the dark between 10-11. Thanks to a couple of great discussions with Mike at some key points we had a near flawless execution on the nav. Unfortunately we didn't have any luck though and didn't stumble onto any 'bonus trails'.
Our Bike was slow and tedious, but I think this will be the thing that makes John and Tom much better racers for their next race. They were tired. John was having stomach issues and Tom was spent and the Hydro cut was tough on the team. We could have saved a couple of hours had I taken the longer road around, but I didn't even look at that as an option when planning. In my mind we were going to get in a good long paddle section, a good long bushwhack and a tough Hydro-cut trail and that's what the experience was supposed to be.... I didn't even think to look for an easy route around.... please don't tell Tommy that, he knows where I live!
... so we finished in just over 26 hours in 13th place.
It was an awesome course and expertly managed, as usual. The volunteers were great and I was blown away to find Richard and Angus and a huge heated tent at CP 11, complete with warm drinks and snacks!!! I even got help patching up a pretty good puncture wound from the staff at CP 10!
I was also elated to hear the Hermes and CO and JYD and that other guy would be taking home Bob. Perfect ending for an awesome race!!
Can't wait to see what next years version brings . :-)