Viewing entries tagged
Adventure Racing


Quick Reflection w/Pics - 1st Season Of Race Course Managing

Late last year I commented to a few friends on how I was looking to explore options for race course directing and design. Amazingly enough and shortly thereafter it all started falling into place, and this year I joined the teams for the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Racing series, the 5 Peaks trail running series, and a forthcoming local Red Bull Divide and Conquer adventure race. I felt as though just being brought on board by these highly successful and established brands was a victory in and of itself.

Basically as the course director/manager I'm responsible for everything from the inception of the specific race course until its completion. Starting with assisting in course design, pre-race flagging, implementing a race day safety strategy, dispersing of volunteers, setting up aid stations, managing volunteers while runners are on course, addressing any on the fly emergencies, and then packing up and making it appear as though you were never there to begin with. It's a behind the scenes job and I truly loved every second of it.

Obviously unforeseen was that I would end up directing all but one of these six races while on crutches, or in a colossal sized walking boot. All in all though I'd consider this to be a highly successful first season from a course directing standpoint, and I learned something new at each and every turn along the way. Being thrown onto the mic as race day MC for the Whistler version of our 5 Peaks race was the most daunting and hence one of the most rewarding experiences of my summer.

Between these six races I saw over 2500 runners and adventure racers (obviously not 2500 individuals as most raced multiple times) and we had ONE person take a wrong turn for the entire season. We're still not quite sure how that person made the wrong turn, but either way, I liked our save percentage (to steal a hockey term). Having raced for several years now myself, there's nothing I hate more than getting lost while on a flagged course (and I'm exceptionally good at this) so it's at the very top of my list of things not to f-up, though 5 Peaks have certainly been leaders in this realm since their inception.

I'm really looking forward to being back on board with all races again in 2012...unless of course they're secretly looking for my replacement as I speak? 

It was a pleasure to be a very small piece in the very large puzzle towards ensuring race day success, and I'll truly miss the monthly meeting of familiar and smiling faces. Our trail running community is as strong as any I've come across and we should be exceptionally proud of this.

Of course our access to beautiful locations certainly doesn't hurt, and as an example, here's how the season finale looked at Buntzen Lake yesterday morning. Thanks to all who frequented these races this year and I look forward to seeing you again in 2012.

First wave start of Sport and Enduro courses

Ghost kids 1k race
Original unaltered shot from top of posting. All pics were taken on an iPhone 4

Flooded beach due to an upper lake dam being spilled

Flooded beach made for spectacular shots

Trimmed and flipped. Otherwise unaltered. Water reflection on top

Trimmed and turned. Reflection on left. Otherwise unaltered.

Trimmed, flipped, and brightened with a filter

Trimmed, turned, and brightened with a filter, plus an added border

And finally, never, EVER leave your car keys unattended



Win FREE MOMAR Entry + 10 Q's With One Of Canada's Top Adventure Racers

Todd Nowack is a Victoria based, Mind Over Mountain Adventure Racing sponsored athlete. On July 23rd he'll be captaining a co-ed team of four racers against the most challenging endurance event in North America in 2011, Raid The North Extreme.

Tell us a bit about your racing history. For those who don’t know, where did you get started with it all?

Like many other adventure athletes on the west coast, I got into adventure racing with the MOMAR and have kept going ever since.  I was an avid mountain biker and was just getting into trail running and various other outdoor pursuits when I was asked to team up with the infamous ‘Snot Sisters’ to be a ‘Booger Brother’ in the Cumberland 2005 event.  We ended up winning the team-of-4 co-ed category and that race got me hooked.

How many MOMAR races have you done to date and how many of those have you won?

I have done all the races since the Cumberland 2005 MOMAR with the exception of 2009 when I was living in Norway. This makes it 12 total races with 7 overall wins: 2 solo, 4 with teammate extraordinaire Gary Robbins (Editors Note: I DID NOT add that but I will leave it in since it has a nice ring to it) and 1 with Natasha Dilay (only team-of-2 co-ed to ever take an overall title).

What was your favorite MOMAR experience and/or course to date?

‘Three-peating’ in 2007 at the Cumberland MOMAR with yourself. We had won the previous two races of the year and had lots of pressure to win as no racers had ever won all MOMARs in one year. Winning that race was definitely a highlight but the feeling of being completely dialed in during that race still hangs with me.  I think that was the first time where we both really knew exactly how hard we could push, when to back off, and how to flow from control to control while being efficient. I still have memories of us ‘running’ through the town of Cumberland like scarecrows with cramps everywhere, our legs stiff like pencils, and our arms and back stuck like the Tin-Man from Wizard of Oz while Brian is yelling at us that we could sit down and have a coffee and still win.  Memorable times.  Favourite course would have to be one of the incarnations in Cumberland. The single-track riding is phenomenal, the area is beautiful and the community is fantastic! (Another Note: I swear I did not know that would be his answer, and I did not add it after the fact myself! PS Couldn't agree more Todd)

Will we be seeing you lining up for our first ever Burnaby MOMAR race?

Yep. I will be there racing solo and looking to have yet another great time and experience.

Have you ever raced an expedition race like RTNX before?

I’ve done two other expedition races (RTNX 2007, and the Baja Travesia 2007).  I’ve also done some 24 hour and 36 hour races, and some orienteering ‘Rogaine’ events.  I have yet to have success in expeditions with brutal 20+ foot swell kayak conditions in Baja that wiped out several teams including leaving us unranked due to abandoning one of our kayaks and gear.  In RTNX 2007, we had some really bad luck with tearing our inflatable kayak open (even though we were being extremely careful and watched other teams literally drag their boats over sharp rocks) this situation delayed our paddle by many hours pushing it into the night where I ended up suffering from hypothermia after my body temperature had dropped by 3 degrees due to being exposed in our open cockpit kayaks.

What did you learn from these previous experiences that you feel you can apply towards your next shot at this format of race?

Eat lots of pizza and drink lots of beer to make sure that you have a good spare tire to keep you warm in times of need.  Seriously though, I think these races come down to fitness, experience and a bit of luck.  Had we been able to make it out of the swell and get to the checkpoint in Baja (which was literally right there) we would have continued ranked and placed close to the top.  RTNX would have been the same had it not been for a piece of rusted rebar that was sticking up out of the beach and virtually invisible.  Either way, luck would not have it.  For this coming race, I’m going to bring all the fitness and experience I have, stay out of trouble and race smart.  I’m done with this bad luck stuff ;)

Tell us a bit about your teammates?

Pete Cameron and Leanne Mueller are a very strong and experienced adventure racing couple based out of Ontario that have partaken in numerous races over the years and are always contenders in any event that they enter.  I met them at Raid the North Extreme in 2007 and had the pleasure of racing head-to-head with them during the final stage of the race.  In 2009, we had teamed up to race the biggest race of the year, Explore Sweden, but due to some technical issues, were not able to race together.  So, it seems fitting that we are teamed up again.  While I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting our fourth member, James Galipeau, I have only heard good things about him, one of which being that he is a team strongman (able to take extra gear, pull others, put his head down and never stop).  The great thing about this team is that we have three solid navigators (Pete, Leanne, and myself) who all have proven race navigation experience and all of whom we can count on for pre-race mapping work, route choices, race time decisions, etc; this is an incredible advantage .  I have never been in this situation and cannot say how incredible this will be knowing that we can trade off navigating when the mind begins to crumble after countless hours of no sleep and physical hardship.

How is the rest of the field stacking up this year? Where would you place yourselves, and what are your racing goals for RTNX?

Being that Primal Quest is no longer and there are no other large events going on in North America, RTNX has virtually sold out with a great number of strong teams signing up which is awesome to see. Compared to 2007, the field will almost be double. In terms of our placement and goals, a great thing I learned from speaking with my teammates is that we all really have a similar approach to racing; we race against ourselves and where we end up at the finish is where we end up.  As long as we all put in our best possible effort during the entire race, I don’t think any of us would care what place we came in. That being said, of course were shooting for first. J

Rumor has it you were injured throughout the winter. How has your training been going lately, and describe for us what a typical week of training might look like right now?

I have been suffering with an ‘upper body injury’ (insert NHL pun here) that I am still recovering from. While I’m still not 100%, I keep in shape on my bike commuting long distances, rolling my kayak down to the beautiful waters off Brentwood Bay to partake in long paddles, and doing lots of walking and hiking off-trail through the forest to simulate expedition racing conditions. I’ve been playing it on the safe side and not running much so I’ll have to see how I fare on my legs on the new MOMAR Burnaby course.

What’s one piece of advice that you have received or learned over the years that you would pass on to new and aspiring adventure racers?

Learn how to navigate. Join a local orienteering club and get to the point where you can run while reading a map and navigate on and off trail; this is a very rewarding experience and will enhance your outdoor pursuits. Don't train, just get out lots, compete here and there, and have fun! I've never trained a day in my life J

Great stuff Todd! Thanks for your time and best of luck at the race this summer. I know I'll personally be glued to my computer looking for live updates and cheering you guys along.

NOW, to be entered into the FREE MOMAR entry, which can be claimed at either of the 2011 venues,
Simply leave a comment below. Thanks for reading, good luck with the draw, and I hope to see you out on course during the first race in exactly four weeks time!




The Beast Adventure Race Report

Speed blogging, here we go...

The Beast Adventure Race in Washington State 06 was the first race that Todd and I ever did together...this was our one year anniversary...of course Todd forgot and didn't even get me a stinking card!!

We managed to link up with some local racers who lived just minutes from the starting area. Colin and Connie, of 'Colinoba' fame (a birthday adventure race that involves a pub awesome is that!), were gracious enough to host us in their incredible home. The lights were on, the tree was up, and it made me miss Christmas at home with the fam! We also met Reed and Andrea who were up from Portland for the event. Together three of the four (Connie was too sick to race) also did the race and put in a solid performance. With PQ 04 experience they are talented and experienced racers who like to have a lot of fun. Check out this link for what looks like an incredible mountain bike event in Oregon next summer. Appears to be the perfect excuse for a road trip (note the FREE beer gardens), and I'll be looking to organize a crew to head down there for this next summer...ahh, I miss summer...

Leaving Squamish with a mountain bike on my roof, in the biggest snow storm of the season, garnered me those 'special looks' from people, like they were saying,

"Ahhh, that's cute, he's an idiot!!"

Picking up Todd at the Tsawassen (don't care if that's spelled right or not) ferry and adding a second bike to my roof only increased out profile while driving on the highway.

"Look honey, those Canadians are funny, they have bikes on their car!!"
"Dumb ass Canadians!"

"Hi, we're not stupid, we really are going to ride these things...umm, actually, come to think of it we are kinda dense aren't we..."

The drive down was truly scary at times. Not because the roads were that bad, although it was dumping pretty good in places, but more so because the other drivers out there had a very noticeable lack of winter driving experience. I just tried to keep my distance from most other vehicles as Todd and I counted six cars in the ditch and three that seemed to have just pulled over and quit...
"Honey, rent a truck and come get me, NOW!!"

We weren't even sure if the event would go ahead and were actually amazed at how many people turned up on the day, with an even 100 people at the starting line! Personally if I had the option I truly would have stayed in bed!

The race course was covered in about 3-4 inches fresh snow (for the third straight year), and it was starting to rain on top of that...perfect conditions to freeze yer ass off!

The Beast is different from a MOMAR in that the majority of the participants are new comers and out to experience adventure racing for the first time. DART-Nuun do a very cool thing each year where they volunteer to pair up with newbies and help them get through their first race. It was great to see Ryan, Aaron and Glenn (hope I didn't miss anyone. Matt Hart was also out volleying on the day and has a short video on his blog) sharing their hard earned expertise with some brand new adventure racers...welcome to the sport, you might as well apply for an additional credit card asap!

Having not done much in the last two months, well, I did a lot of drinking, some ski touring, some floor hockey, some dodge ball, basically anything but a.r. disciplines were on the menu...where was I...this was/is our wake up call that race season is again, just around the corner. I do a 50k ultra every New Year's Day, so it's time to get back on the feet again. The Beast is our kick in the ass to get some focus back into the training sched.

I can't do short blog postings can I...I'm not even at the start yet...


Run to our bikes, then two bike loops back to the start finish and a running loop back again. I believe distances were about 40k of biking and 15k of running?

My biggest weakness is cold weather. I did a full year in the Northern B.C. oil and gas industry as a Pipe Fitter's Assistant. This involved working outside for at least 12hr a day, seven days a week, through the dead of winter. At one point I went into a back country 'camp' for three weeks and the WARMEST it got in those twenty one days was -27 degrees Celsius, with the mercury dipping to -47 one day...there are no days off. I remember getting out of camp and wondering when I would get the feeling back in my toes, the answer was fifteen days and they've never been the same since. My fingers are similar and it doesn't take much for me to loose sensation in my extremities these least most of them!


Within ten minutes we had about an inch of slush covering our feet on the bike. It was a slushy, slippery mess and I knew that I would struggle through it. Had I been wearing my biking booties and ski gloves I would have been better off, but I simply did not anticipate these racing conditions.

Before the first bike loop was complete I had literally lost all sensation from my kneecaps down. I had two stumps below my quads that weren't quite sure if they were pedaling in the right direction or not. With all that crap sticking to my derailleur I had lost all but one gear on my bike, thankfully the easiest one. I was only able to shift between the mid and big ring on the front. As we hit flat sections of the race Todd would effortlessly pull away from me,


My fingers also went completely numb and to actually shift gears I would have to reach under my bars and pull down on the shifter as I simply could not push my fingers enough to shift normally. To downshift I had to punch the shifter with my hand cause my thumb wouldn't move. Todd did not comment until after the race that I seemed to be taking forever to punch the checkpoints on our passport...that was because I couldn't flex my hand at all! I had to line up the punch over the right number and then slam both hands together to get it to go...I was not really enjoying myself, but kept telling myself that this was great training in case we ever get into these conditions in an actual expedition.

After both bike loops we attempted running out of the transition area, but we struggled to get our feet to respond to the terrain. After a few CP's we stopped to check on them because it felt like our socks had bunched up into a huge ball under our arches. It turned out that it was just painful sensation of our feet trying to resuscitate themselves!

After 4h10m Todd and I crossed the finish line...and continued running to my car for a change of clothes! As mentioned, this race is about fun and not a super competitive event. We loved it, there is such a great crowd of people in the Pacific North West and it's awesome getting to know more of them at each event we can participate in.

Our amazing host Colin (and Connie of course) had teamed up with Reed and Andrea to come in second across the line, but looking at the results I guess they missed a CP which dropped them down to fourth. They didn't care, they had huge smiles on their faces as they finished, and I believe the Santa hats were back on within seconds.

Thanks so much to Roger, Yumay, Eric and Aaron for hosting such a great event, and especially the volleys who were the only people that may have had it worse than us on the day!

It was cool to see another Canadian team down there as well. Team Suburban Rush, consisting of Magnus Byne, Christopher Lister, Sarah Goring and Lannie Theielen finished a solid 11th and I'm sure they would echo my was f$%king freezing but well worth the drive!

I'm not even joking when I say this, it's Tuesday night, and I still do not have full sensation back in my feet...if this lasts more than fifteen days I guess I'll head to the Dr. again!

Full Results Here