So here it comes my reflections and race report from Raid the North Extreme (RTNX) not sure how many parts this report will have but do plan to drop some pics in here for you to see. However in looking at photos they sometimes don’t do it justice to the beauty and insane steepness of some roads we biked (or should i say pushed bikes up) and mountains.
Let me begin by framing this a little. This an adventure race, but also known more correctly as an expedition race. in that its over 3 days long. The goal as you may know or not is to move as a team (3M 1F) through the wilderness either running/trekking, mtn biking or canoeing/kayaking with a few other skills thrown in along the way. In most races there are lots of Checkpoints or CP’s to find and you move to an area to find the CP based on your navigation skills and maps etc.(finding the actual CP in any given area can be the trickiest part of the race) in getting there ones’ team uses few roads(most deemed out-of-bounds or there aren’t any) trails (mostly) and a little bit of bush whacking. Just straight out crashing through the bush, woods, or forest whatever you want to call it.
This race was none of the above. Once you got to the given area the CP was the easiest thing in the world to find. And even more so in this race they were ALL staffed by humans. Looking back now that was probably because of the risk and inherent dangers associated with this race. RTNX was more of a route finding race. which meant the challenge lay in JUST getting to the area where the CP was. As for bush whacking… this was about 80% of the race… which in human terms means
EXHAUSTING!!!!! there were times in this race when all teams were moving at less than 1 mile/hour because the bush/undergrowth etc was so thick. As for going over mountain passes of which we went over at least 3, there were no flagged routes, guides or nice trails to follow.
In short, this race was always meant to be bloody tough. and it was.
Race day dawned blue and clear in Kaslow a small town in BC. We had camper here the night before after being bused from Nelson where all pre race events, checks, test, festivities happened.
We left Kaslow on another bus to drive about an hour to the middle of nowwhere. there we meet our bike, transported the night before. Race started at 10am with a short flat section on a dirt road then a massive 1000m gain over just 15km. or STEEP. We covered this is about 3+ hours and transitioned on the side of the mountain from our bikes (to be transported away by vehicle to meet us at the next TA)
We got onto our feet for our first trekking section. by now we were travelling across the top of a mountain range then discovered a fast nasty descent into a valley below to travel along the valley floor to cross over the river and begin the ascent up another valley. This all sound nice and just flows of the keyboard. But i have to tell you that descent into the valley was some of the worst off camber bushwhacking i have ever done. All that elevation lost to then begin climbing up the previously mentioned valley. Some of these race directors are sick.
We thought we had a good line down the side of the mountain only to be slowed more and more by cliffs we needed to traverse around and thick thick bush. We did finally make it to the bottom and to our surprise we found an old logging road and so run off along it in the direction we needed to go. However thinking the whole time we had descended too early and really blew what had us starting that section in about 8th or 9th place. arrrggghhh. But oh how things can change in adventure racing.
We crossed a log over a raging river (the 1st of probably 100’s in this week) this region had experienced about 150% of its normal snow pack this winter and the snow melt was still in full swing.
We ascended the valley through skills of bushwhacking, crossing streams, rivers and following faint and short-lived animal trails. We were now working with our good South East friends Odyssey AR and WEDALI from Minnesota. The bush was continuing to get thick. And Odyssey decided to climb higher to get above the tree line for easier travel. We had a mini 3 team conference and WEDALI & our team agreed that was a very silly idea as it was snowy, rocky and probably covered with impassable cliffs. So we went our separate ways. Us & WEDALI stuck together. Ultimately Odyssey’s idea was a bad one and they cliffed out and had to come back, being the last team through the next CP.
We continued through the night, however we stopped for about a 1 hour nap around 3am knowing the sunrise is about 4.30am. We pushed up the valley and into dawn and eventually got to the bottom of the pass, and no more trees and bush to stop us moving slowly. We reached CP2 at the top of the pass at 10am
This photo is us approaching CP2. While you cannot see it. it is up to the right and back out of shot.
From here we descended the other side of the mountain range, to some spots of rain and very grey skies. they never materialized and we enjoyed some glissading down the snow to covered the ground in good time. From here we continued to run/trek to the next TA where wer swapped running shoes for our bikes, which had been transported there with our gear bins of welcome food, dry socks etc.
Part 2 soon…