The first weekend in December, Todd Nowack and myself headed to North Bend, Washington to compete in an adventure race series we had never heard of before Bryan Tasaka of the MindOverMountain Adventure Racing series had blogged about it a few weeks prior.
It was a sprint type race, similar in length to a MOMAR but without a paddling leg, mainly due to its December race date. It was supposed to be a biking and running race, with special surprise elements thrown in throughout the race. Due to our crazy weather this past month the original race course was blanketed in snow and apparently it took a full on last minute effort to re-design all but about 20% of the original course. Special thanks go to the race organizers for not cancelling the event all together.
'The Beast' adventure race series is designed with the beginner in mind and their main goal seems to be getting new people into the sport. For this particular race there were 85 people who showed up to brave the elements. As with any race there are always at least a handful of teams there to compete, and this field of racers and vollys had no fewer than 6 people who had competed in a Primal Quest
This was the first time that Todd and I had raced together, and we wanted something low key to go out and enjoy, without any self imposed pressure to do well. The Beast promised to be exactly what we were looking for.
The race consisted of 37 checkpoints and had absolutely no flagging whatsoever. You needed at least basic map reading skills to make it through the course and for experienced navigators there were numerous route choices throughout many sections of the race.
The event started with a 30+ minute running leg. As soon as the race director shouted "GO" I happened to look across and recognize one of Jen Segger's Dart teammates, Glenn Rogers (2nd at RTN Kamloops this summer) taking off towards the front of the run with his two teammates/friends (you could race solo, two, three or four).
Within seconds our whole 'relax and enjoy it stategy' was gone out the window and we were sprinting towards the front of the pack to keep pace. I actually knew someone racing the event! My competitve side got the best of me and we were off.
After the first running leg, and having taken different routes, we came into transition right along side Glenn's team. It was a friendly atmosphere and both teams smiled at each other, knowing that the game was on.
We departed transition within seconds of each other and over the next two and a half hours we would always be within a few minutes of their team. The rest of the course consisted of a long mountain biking stage that was broken up with four running sections. Todd and I decided to do the entire race in our bike shoes and in the end it payed off, as other teams wasted seconds and then minutes changing shoes back and fourth. The entire course was covered in snow and ice, and I found that our bike shoes actually gripped in the snow better than a running shoe...the same could not be said for the icy sections of course!
After three hours of racing both teams were still right with each other and it all came down to a choice of navigating. Glenn decided to try and bushwhack a section of course that Todd and I had no interest in. I had already been pricked a few hundred times by blackberry bushes and we decided the longer run was in our best interest. When Todd and I made it to the next CP, their team was nowhere to be seen. It was open enough that we were pretty sure they hadn't gotten ahead of us. However, we later learned that we gained 12 minutes on them right then and there as they ended up coming back out of their bushwhack and following our original route.
Todd impressed me with his navigational choices throughout the event and numerous times picked a better and more direct route than our competition. After 4 hours and 10 minutes of racing, we were the first team across the finish line! As I mentioned, it was not a super competitive event, but we were very happy to have our first race as Team MindOverMountain.com under our belts and in a positive way.
I think it must be said that the race was very well organized, with solid support staff, vollys, organizers, draw prizes and a choice of four different hot foods, and plenty of snacks at the finish line! It opened my eyes to the fact that there is a whole other race scene right 'down the street' from us that I never even knew about. From Squamish, with a stop at the Tsawassen ferry terminal to pick up Todd, and a border crossing, I was in North Bend in under 6 hours. With ferry transport to Vancouver Island, I have many a time spent this much and more commuting to a Momar event. It was exciting to discover a new area, new racers, and a new race scene. It would be great to see a more open race series amongst all of us in the Pacific Northwest and would greatly benefit adventure racing in general.
Todd and I will be at their next event in 2007...how bout you?
Gary Robbins, Captain of Team MindOverMountain.com
For more info the Beast go to http://www.beastrace.com.
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