Challenge The Shield 6-hour Adventure Race
Super fun day racing with 'Bent! Big thanks to Hammer, Wil and their awesome team of volunteers. Thanks also to whomever was in charge of the weather; they did a fantastic job.
This was a new event with a new format so we were glad to receive detailed pre-race information to help us plan our day. There would be an opening prologue with trail running, paddling and mountain biking, then we could choose our own navigation adventures on separate trek, bike and paddle maps with equal point values.
The mandatory prologue was long enough to have a significant impact on the results and I knew we'd fall behind there. I wasn't sure whether we would have enough time to make up for it in the "choose your own" nav sections, which play better to my strengths. I estimated that we'd start our first navigation section at the 1 hr 30 min mark so it would be 25% of our race. The actual time ended up being 1 hr 20 mins.
We knew we wouldn't come close to clearing the course and we also knew that transitions take time, so we figured we'd choose two disciplines. We'd been told the approximate distances were 10 km each for the trek and paddle sections, and 20 km for the bike. Since each section carried the same points, we based our choice on estimated pace in current conditions. We figured that a paddle with portages would be easiest and fastest for us, then it was a tougher call between trek and bike. With the wet conditions, we decided on the trek. This was all before seeing the course but we didn't change our minds when we got the maps.
When we *did* waver was during the prologue when we realized that my running sucked and my biking didn't. But by then, we'd invested too much in our trek planning. We'd set aside a few bike points to do at the end if we had time, so that would have to do.
We did the paddle first and cleared that part of the course, including a high-value CP that required three short portages. There was a strong breeze but it was a gorgeous day to be on the water. I'd never done a canoe-O before and it was lots of fun. It felt more like a vacation than a race!
Then we headed out on the trek, where we planned to visit all CPs except for an isolated one at the south end of the map. Hammer and Wil were waiting at the start of the swim to the island CP, which was fun and refreshing!
'Bent and I chose different routes south from 39 to the ATV trail and each apparently thought we were leading the nav on that leg. This resulted in confusion and 8-9 minutes lost. When we were back on track, we met up with a team who didn't know their location and invited them to join us on the bushwhack toward 35. After that, for educational purposes, we identified the wrong attackpoint and eventually taught them the principles of relocation. (Sigh.) Another 9 minutes lost. Otherwise, it all went smoothly.
As we ran back toward the TA, we realized we would have 40 minutes left but we couldn't start the swim-run from the TA until the final 20 minutes. With that much time, we knew we could earn more points on the bike map so that was our plan. Unfortunately, we'd completely forgotten the rule that prohibited racers from starting a discipline within the final hour. Oops! So for 20 minutes, we waited for the swim-run, chatted with friends and handed out potato chips to other racers who were waiting. The swim-run was lots of fun - bushwhacking through rugged terrain and a refreshing, safe swim in a PFD. Even though we're not great swimmers, we got through it more quickly than expected and really enjoyed it. It was great to finish the race clean!
'Bent and I had a really fun day! I liked the format, which allows racers to focus on things they enjoy and/or are good at. The area is pure magic for adventure racing and the organizers have only scratched the surface of what is available. This is a terrific addition to the Ontario AR calendar - thanks to everyone who made it possible!