Our first 24-hour race…lessons learned

Well, three weeks have past since our initial attempt at an overnight adventure race. Our team used the inaugural Wilderness Traverse as a testing ground, and things didn’t quite go as planned.

Heading out for some adventure...

We didn’t manage to finish, but there was much to come out of the experience. Thankfully I was jotting down some notes for future reference:

  • Never trust the forecast. Those meteorologists use Ouija boards, tea leaves, and generally don’t know shit.
  • Sure that carpet-like moss that floats on top of bogs will support a man’s weight – but not necessarily three of them at the same time.
  • Swamp water smells bad, and teammates who bathe in it smell equally bad.
  • When 50 metres from a checkpoint and your teammate rolls an ankle, smashes his head into a tree during the fall, and is laying on the ground screaming in agony, don’t tell him you are just going to run ahead and grab the checkpoint.
  • If a teammate was to sustain an injury…say for example fracture his ankle…don’t continue to make him carry a crap load of stuff.
  • When your route selection has you jumping from one huge boulder to another with 50ft drops on either side, and turkey vultures are circling above, perhaps it is time to rethink your route choice.
  • While route planning in a nice warm cottage the night before a race, and you see two tightly positioned 15m contour lines on your map, don’t think they “may not be too bad” – they will be. At 3am when you are on the course, wet, exhausted, and have monkey-butt, those little lines look and feel much different – especially if you end up going up and down them multiple times.
  • Regardless of how cool it is to have a webpage with live GPS race coverage, if it is your first 24 hour race don’t share that link with friends and family.
  • When said friends and family ask about why your GPS route seemed to go all over the place, tell them the unit must not have been functioning correctly due to all the trees.
  • Trust Bob Miller when he says he wants to present you with a challenge – like a trek section with more water than land, and a canoe section with more land than water.

And this is the canoe section???

Yet regardless of the final outcome for our team, it really was an amazing adventure, and one we are much better off for from the experience. Bob Miller really delivered on what he promised, setting a course that pushed us physically and mentally through some of the most scenic landscapes that Ontario has to offer.

The organization of the race was top-notch, with no stone unturned when it came to planning and execution. Hyping the race with coverage on sleepmonsters.ca, providing live 24-hour GPS coverage, and having multiple professional photographers on the course made us all feel like we were at a world-class event. The volunteers were amazing, filling the roles of helpers and cheerleaders at every checkpoint and transition area.

So the race may have presented more challenges than we were prepared for (including the experience of being a mosquito buffet). However those hard lessons learned won’t soon be forgotten, and will only serve to make us even more prepared for our next challenge, where we plan on racing like RockstARs in three weeks. Now all we have to do is hope Mike’s broken ankle is ready in time.  : )

Big thanks to Luis Moreira from Breathe Magazine for allowing us to use some of his photos from the race.

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1 Response to Our first 24-hour race…lessons learned

  1. Mike Simpson says:

    Now the real question is will you and your team (read:me) actually learn from this or duplicate the mistakes? Me thinks I know the answer…

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