E2C Race Report
So, long overdue, here we go…
Exec Summary followed by more detailed navigating recount for those who are interested and myself for future race review referral. As well I've overlain the race map and drawn our route in Google Earth; feel free to download the kmz file
(approx. ~2.9mb) for viewing in Google Earth.
Exec "By the Numbers" Summary:
- Total hours out of the front door: 56
- Total hours delayed on flight down: 1.5
- Total number of former prime ministers spotted in Porter Lounge on way down: 1
- Total number of former prime ministers spotted in Porter Lounge on way home: 0
- Total hours delayed on flight home: -0.3
- Total hours worth of food taken onto race course: 24
- Total hours worth of food brought off race course uneaten: 14
- Total distance covered: 100km
- Total distance covered taking elevation into account: 94km
- Total elevation climbed: 1825m
- Total controls found: 49
- Total controls we stood within 50m of and bailed on due to my fuzzy head: 4
- Total number of ticks found during race: 1
- Total number of ticks found at finish line: 5
- Total number of ticks found in bag two days after returning home and allowed to fester and stew unattended in garage: 1
- Total hours of miserable happiness spent on course: 23.4
Wandered out to Nova Scotia for a long time in coming return to the E2C. DrBilly and I have competed at this race twice before in '07 and '08 and ever since our 2nd place finish in '08 I've wanted to return and put our name back on the cup a second time.
(Photo credit: Chris Richards)
However, with DrBilly busy chasing Lance around Inroman St Croix this weekend and Getawaystix in recovery mode from Costa Rica …I still didn't have my mandatory muscle to race with. A quick flurry of emails and Relentless picked up the offer. It was a great opportunity to race with this stellar mule; we'd never raced together before and he was also keen to give a push for a 24hr rogaine win on his laundry list of accomplishments. Suffice to say …the man from Ottawa lives up to his reputation!
We met up at YHZ, grabbed a rental, and headed into town for the night chez Super8 Dartmouth; something was definitely going on in Halifax this weekend as everything was booked or asking very high rates. No big deal though as with the delays we were arriving late and weren't going to be stepping out on the town anyway. That said …not 1hr in NS and we found ourselves standing in a boisterous pub on a Friday night; trying to order take out (everything else was closed) and being tempted by the siren call of pints glasses, inviting locals and great tunes. We resisted however, and immediately got to the business of sleep.
Next morning out to registration and bump into both our Ontario compatriots who also made the trek down east.
Team "Tree Huggers" (Photo credit: Chris Richards)
Team "GHO Slow" (Photo credit: Edward LeBlanc)
Based upon the map overlap with the 2007 E2C course, where we were forced to drop 4 controls, and that this map covered an even larger area than the '07 map my initial glance told me a course sweep was highly unlikely. As became clear with the start horn most other teams choose the same initial approach as us ...focus on the eastern half of the map with a counter clockwise attack. Our thinking was to leave all the piddly pointed controls around the start/finish area to the end if we found that a sweep was possible.
We lead the 3k road run south to the jump-in spot; an intersecting tertiary trail on our left. However as I watched the minutes and the very subtle road bends I didn't spot the tertiary trail and recalled not always being able to rely on these, opting instead to bail into the bush - forcing those behind us to make their own decision.
Well… it was nice to get our mistakes out of the way right off the line. We descended as expected and on what seemed the right line towards the gravel pit at 126. As we began to flatten out though the veg changed ahead of us to typical marshy shore veg with open sky. This visual along with the sound of a stream made me feel we'd somehow jumped in too early missing the desired ATV road altogether and 126 just to its north. So we turned SE and stayed in the woods even climbing a contour or two hoping to either spot the gravel pit, the ATV track, or if nothing else the major road running north out of the Ingram Gate Safety Camp. Eventually we pooped out on the major road only 50yards south of its intersection with the desired ATV track ...we'd just paralleled it …grrr, atlas it's early and amenable. On the out-n-back to 126 we determined we'd already lost ~10min to both the "Chimps" and the "B"s. ...game face on and claw back over the next few hours. Nothing like a kick in the pants to start out the 24hrs.
From here things ran fairly smoothly for the majority of our planned route. We moved well during Saturday's daylight hours, not really any slower than had we'd been racing the 8hr version. We past both the "B"s (whom we saw near 248) and the "Chimps" who we never saw until Sunday morning. The headlamps came out with a brief stop at the Ingram West Safety Camp around 9pm on Sat. After drawing our route in Google Earth it looks like we did almost exactly half of our total distance in the Saturday daylight (47km of our 94km total). The only real navigational issues to come up were during this first 9hrs were the aforementioned 126 debacle and an issue around an uncrossable river and dam in the vicinity of 240-250-262.
Had we known about the uncrossable river and/or the uncrossable dam we would have adjusted our attack appropriately. Unfortunately when we hit the split along the powerline to either take the road up to 262-250 or go straight for the multi at 240, I chose straight …my thinking that the unknown of where we'd end up after 240's multi bearing work, there was a good chance it would send us in the direction of the dam and the other two controls. Therefore, might as well start there for the trio of controls. However, once we reached the river we hesitated …rightly so in retrospect. We did make our way upstream to a relatively "calm" and wider section to attempt a crossing. With thoughts back to the big rivers I'd cross solo in NZ with a massive 80L pack on my pack I ventured in only to get 1/3 of the way across and have the bottom drop out on me. Relentless said he thought I was simply retreating as I turned, but then he saw the expression on my face and quickly grabbed me as my feet went out from under me and I almost disappeared downstream to the generating station. Phfew… almost broke the "no swimming" rule! Never mind the fact that the "remain within speaking distance of your tamales" rule would have been broken in little to no time had I gone down. So we elected to stop looking to cross and just "get it done" as we b-lined it through the bush to the bridge upstream. Like wise we lost a bit of time looking to cross the dam from 250 towards 262. Had we know this was uncrossable, we would not have spent the time and simply hauled ass down the road; granted we would have missed out on the cool run along top of the headwaters delivery pipe. For future recommendation I'm going to suggest that linear uncrossable features be highlighted by race organizers for route planning purposes. The two issues combined probably cost us ~20min total.
Other than that …that's really about it for navigational issues Saturday's daylight. We pretty much dialled it in, stayed focused and kept it to relatively minimal issues; very happy about that. As the night fell we choose to take it slower in the bush, run the roads and be very conservative with our routes. Recovering overnight, position ourselves on the airphoto for daybreak and …dare we think it, potentially start replaning our route for a clearing of the course? In spite of a relatively careful and clean night aided by the SUPER-MOOOOOOOOON!!!!! as we approached 226 I felt my brain having a bit of a brain fart. I think I was especially mentally beat thanks to the previous challenging leg, both mentally and physically, between 227 and 225, where the final uphill to the control at 225 was "N"asty, downfall with a capital N! I think I also let my mind slip a bit because in 2007 DrBilly and I covered this upcoming stretch in the reverse direction and some subconsciously I relaxed my focus incorrectly thinking "yay, yay, I got this". …226 was no problem (inner monologue "…but, wait isn't this the wrong corner?") …cross the river and look and attacking 233 from the trail intersection …"interesting, no clear trails to be seen, onward and upward". Snag 233 and drop to the overgrown tertiary trail that I remember crossing in '07, intending this time round to make us of it and turn right. Sure enough, hit the trail, turn right, and hmmm "starting to get difficult to follow" "…I think we're still on it" …"no wait" …"yup" …"nope" …"screw this bearing and we're out on the larger trail again. By now my brain is getting hazy, but we manage to snag a distinct bend and make the short jaunt to 189. From here, bearing and bingo south end of a pond. Nope, this is a marsh. Several minutes lost bashing around not sure what was happening. This was definitely one of my weakest moments during the race. We even bailed for a second attempt going extra distance, but no dice. The "B"s showed up and I'm not even sure that I contributed any useful to our conversation my brain was failing me. Unfortunately my logical approaches were also stimmied by seeing the "B"s right on us and the fact that by dropping this control we'd likely loose should a sweep be possible …as the "B"s would likely sweep this being right here with us. …but somehow after what felt like an hour we bailed; I truly have zero knowledge of how long it was in actuality. In fact my desperation continued when trying to attack 200, where I clearly hit my lowest point and couldn't even make sense to find a lake we were standing next to!
By now however the sun was high enough to allow us to shut down the headlamps and I gave my head a good shake to get myself back in the game for the final push. Mentally this was tough as when the "B"s popped by us they said "yay, they'd found 200 …it was easy". Frig, low point for us. All we could do was try and save what we'd work so hard on all Sat and the overnight. We tackled the massive expanses of yellow in approaching 184 and cracked through the airphoto on what I think was likely the most efficient route possible. Likely would have been faster had my brain been faster at processing decisions at this point. We continued up the road snagging 130 and down the tertiary towards 201 (recollections of 2007 when there was a control right here as well; but on the height of land just west of the trail/stream junction). Pushed through towards 203 but my brain was still failing me and when we were in the yellow I assumed we were in the second yellow already. Did a lot of scratching of the head and looking at the watch had to make a final game decision. Try sort my head out one more time and find these two blasted controls or make a tough and tight dash for the early finish bonus, which looked highly unlikely considering the distance and the bushwhack separating us from the start/finish. I believed the bonus to be worth 200 points and so I thought let's make this our last ditch game play and should we miss we simply spend the half-hour picking up the stuff around the start/finish area. Boy of boy did we put the hammer down at 22.5hrs into the race ...that last sprint in was approx. 53.5min and we covered 6.9km of nasty up and down gravel road (155m elev gain); including 900m of bushwhacking in an attempt to gain that bonus. I mistakenly thought an early finish was worth 200 bonus points, as it had been 5yrs ago, but failed to read the back of the map which clearly stated only 10. This makes sense considering the relative points values back then were in the thousands as opposed to today which were in the hundreds. Regardless we brought it in with 1.3min to spare, picking up 125 on the way past. In retrospect had I know the bonus was only 10 points there's no WAY I would have suggested that move!
Just waiting for the results now… (Photo credit: Chris Richards)
With our 2007 win we kinda did some damage on the rest of the field, so in 2008 we got super egotistical and lazy towards the end opting to come in at ~23hrs in order to chill and grab the early finishers bonus. However, the "Chimps" deservedly took the win that year after pushing it right to the wire in the waining minutes of the race. Although the '08 online results don't reflect it (I'm guessing some of our punches were too faint and went uncounted) the Chimps accumulated 15,300 to our 15,200 points …a 100point difference that they acquired with their last punch of a low valued 300 point control with <5min left on the clock and a blast into the finishline. Hats off to the them, they totally deserved that win! With this memory in my mind, I kept the dumb ego-way-of-thinking in check …respect gentlemen (and ladies) …respect! (as well as made sure our punches were VERY clearly visible). There was some stiff competition happenin' out there in the wilds of NS! Therefore I was pretty surprised when they announced our win at the banquet. Since then however I've come to grips with reality and actually no longer feel that shocked ...we really earned it over that last 2-3hrs in the morning once we hit the airphoto and kept our heads in the game. With or without the sprint at the end we earned it by giving it during those last few hours in an attempt to save what we thought we'd just given up. After 22.5hrs of racing.
Mission accomplished (Photo credit: Edward LeBlanc) …unfortunately Relentless was asleep in the rental when they did awards.
Lastly, a huge concern I had coming into this race was an ever creeping up case of bursa
in my left heel. It had flared up last weekend with my road jaunt with IBB and I thought this could cause some serious issues at the race, especially if I stopped for any length of time over 5min as it would cease. Luckily it did not appear at all …instead though I got nasty pain happening on the front of my left shin. I assumed that somewhere in my clumsy stooper I must have smashed my left shin into a be-gilion trees stumps along the way. However, it was getting the point that even pushing through light bush my shin was in agony. When I took off the gaiters and tights it looked beat red all up the front of my left shine and swollen. By Tuesday it had ballooned and I couldn't walk on it…
By Wed hobbled up to DrBilly to have him take a look and tell me if I should be concerned. He put his hand on where the pain was and literally within <3sec he said "oh yeah, you've got tenosynovitis
" …"gazuntite" I said. Apparently it is inflammation of the tendon sheath and something he says he used to see a lot of with adventure racers. Beyond this problem the rest of my body feels great! Best I've ever felt post a rogaine.
Lastly, as per usual I came home and promptly left me bag untouched to stew and fester in the garage for atleast a couple of days. Sure enough as I pulled it apart I found one more little hanger-on'er groupie that'd followed me home. Unfortunately he fell to the ground of my garage and scurried away without a sign as I took his/her photo …so if you hear of downtown Toronto suddenly under an infestation of ticks on the national news …you'll know the source.
Again, a huge thanks to Relentless for making the trip down to NS with me. A pleasure and much appreciate you carrying around all my excess food; if we race together again I'll remember to just leave it in the rental!