Monday, November 14, 2011

Full Details on the Brrr-appp AR!

Hey guys,

Here are the full details on the Brrr-appp AR:

Registration: 6:45 a.m. - 7:45 a.m. at the Crowbar Lake Hiking Trail Parking Lot

Stage 1: 10 km Run
Stage 1 will feature a rugged trail run through the Crowbar Lake Hiking Trails. While challenging, the scenery is worth the effort! The winning time is expected to be under 1 hour, while a recreational participant should expect about a 2 hour time. This stage starts at 8:00 a.m.

Stage 2: Bushwhack OR Family Race
Do note, it is intended for participants to do one or the other. Or your family can do the family race while you do the bushwhack. Or if you think you're fast enough you could try to do both!

The Bushwhack will feature some ATV trail running and about 1 km of difficult bushwhacking. 1 km isn't to bad is it? Well, you need to hold that bearing! The further you are from your intended target the greater the time penalty. Various flags will be placed on the target trail, racers will report the message on the first flag they see on their return path. Note: You won't know what the message means until you're finished!

The family race will be a fun little adventure for the kids, likely most appropriate for those kids 10 and under. The orienteering course (Stage 3) will be opened for families with kids over 10, or some combination of the two. We can work out what exactly the family race is that morning if the event looks a little too "young" for your family! Parents do note: it is a VERY muddy location. Kids do note: it is a VERY awesome location.

Both the Bushwhack and the Family Race will be at the end of Myra Rd., just past the Crowbar Lake Hiking Trail Parking Lot and both start at 10:30 a.m.

Stage 3: Orienteering
The orienteering course, starting at 12:00 p.m., will also be held at the end of Myra Rd. in the challenging network of ATV trails. The course will be suitable for beginners, and veterans a like. I'll identify which controls are more difficult. The orienteering will be limited to 3 hrs. That is, I need you out of the woods by 3:00 p.m.! (Otherwise I get worried.)

General Notes:
It is hunting season, so wearing orange might be a good idea. To the best of my knowledge, most hunting in this area happens in the much deeper parts of the woods. This is a high traffic ATV area, I can't imagine anyone doing much hunting where we'll be and I have yet to see any hunting stands.

If you only want to do one or two of the stages that's just fine. Let's meet that morning to figure out what you intend to do.

Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Natural Selection Adventure Racing and some other guy present...

Date: 11/19/2011

Cost: $30 per racer ($20 per Family for Family Race only, Family race is free if someone is participating in the rest of the race)

Team Format: Solo, Teams of 2, 3 or 4


Registration: 6:45 – 7:45 a.m.

Start Stage 1, 10 km Run: 8:00 a.m.

*Start Stage 2, Bushwhack / Family Race: 10:30 a.m.

Start Stage 3, Orienteering: 12:00 p.m.

Location: Porter's Lake, NS

*Do note that the Family Race and the Bushwhack are two different events that will occur at the same time. The Family Race is just for fun, a little something to engage the rest of the house! Any elite racers wishing to participate in the bushwhack and the family event will be accommodated somehow; finish the first stage early and I'll let you do the bushwhack right away!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moose Knuckles Course Notes

Hey guys!

One month until race day! The course questions are starting to roll in, and I like to make sure everyone gets the same info. I'm going to paraphrase a few of the more common questions and publish the answers here. Keep an eye on this page as it may update with more info!

Keep the questions coming! Let me know if you'd like me to expand on any of the questions below as well.

Lastly, remember that I need at least five teams signed up by October 7th!

Will I be finished in 24 hours or less?
I believe the winning team will finish in 24 hours or less, however weather conditions can be harsh this time of year so there may be longer than expected sections. I suspect that the slower teams will be closer to 30 hours. The race course isn't setup to accommodate any cut-offs or fast-forwards, save one section at the end that some teams might miss if they really struggle. Race materials will highlight details on this.

Can I use a GPS?
Not unless it's an emergency. That is to say, I won't allow GPS use, but if you'd like to carry one for piece of mind then you're most welcome. If you use it I expect you to let me know and I'll issue a penalty time of some sort. If you end up using your GPS, expect the penalty to put you at the bottom of the standings for the finishing teams.

Seriously, that's a lot of biking... WTF?
You didn't think it was going to be easy did you? The most challenging part of the biking is the distance. The terrain is smooth and fast, with minimal topography. Again, you will be riding at night! Bring as much lighting as you can, it will help. If you aren't on your bike regularly, it's past time you started!

What distance / discipline breakdown is correct; the one of Facebook or the one on your blog?
The one on my blog is the current data. Sorry about the confusion, it's hard maintaining several sets of information! Please refer to the blog for any discrepancies.

What is the paddling like? Can I use my fast but fragile canoe?
It is river paddling, and for the most part you'll be able to paddle without hitting any rocks. However, there are a few spots where we did get fetched up. Some of those were even a surprise. If you've got a sharp eye and you're quick to hop out for a portage, you could use a fibreglass canoe. However, I believe there is a good chance you still might damage the boat.

There are some rapids, fortunately they don't surprise you. Depending on your skill in a boat you may have to portage these. The water level will also play a factor in whether or not these will be able to be paddled.

I'll do my best to keep you up to date on water conditions.

We're not very good navigators, how will we make out?
This is a difficult question to answer. As local adventure races go I'm comfortable stating that the navigation is not 'difficult.' However, as I'll mention below, the bike section is quite long which does compound the difficulty of the navigation.

We're not very good at technical riding, what will the bike be like?
You're in luck, this is perhaps the least technical riding I've ever seen on an adventure race. But... the bike section is ~100 km long. That is a shit ton of biking and it's uninterrupted. What that means is, if you make a mistake and you don't notice for a while you could get yourself lost. Therein lies the adventure!

For the bike, here are my suggestions:
- Get some long rides in before October 22nd!
- Get as many notes as you can on the map before the race.
- Make sure your bikes are in top shape before the race
- You will need bike lights, make sure they work.
- Have at least two reliable bike computers with odometers and speedometers. Pay attention to these during the race.
- During the race make sure to keep that map handy! Verify your position often.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moose Knuckles AR 2011

When was the last 24 hour adventure race in Nova Scotia? I can't remember either! Better host one!

Date: October 22nd / 23rd
Location: Eastern Shore, NS (Full details TBA)
Duration: 24 hrs
Disciplines: Mountain biking (approx. 100 km), river paddling (approx. 45 km), trekking (approx. 35 km)
Team Format: Teams of 3 or 4
Cost: $240 (team of 3) or $320 (team of 4)
Prizes: Not many
Contact: Andrew (

Registration: Available online, or by contacting Andrew

Schedule: TBA, expect a ~10:00 a.m. start on Saturday Oct. 22nd, with registration the night before / early morning.

Accommodations: Race HQ will be Spry Bay Campground. They are expecting us. I'll allow teams to make their own camping arrangements in our block since local teams with support crews may not require it. Contact me if you have any questions about when you'll need the accommodations.

Required Gear:
At all times:
- Compass
- Matches or lighter
- Knife
- Whistle
- Cell phone (one per team)

Bike section(s):
- CSA approved bike helmet
- Mountain bike
- Front white light
- Rear red light

Paddling section(s):
- Canoe, one per team*
- ULC approved PFD
- Buoyant throw line
- Bailer
- Paddle

*Teams of four must provide canoe specifications to confirm recommended weight limits are not exceeded by the team.

Gear Bins: Each team will be permitted one gear bin no larger than 190 L. A secondary paddling stash / bundle will be accepted provided it only contains required paddling gear.

Support Crews: If you have friends or family interested in support crewing for you it would make my job infinitely easier. More importantly, it would be advantageous to you! Support crews are not only welcomed, but encouraged. If you're unable to source a support crew we'll be sure we can accommodate you. Be sure to let Andrew know of your plans for support.

Course Notes: I'll update this as things fall into place. Right now there is a lot of biking! Much of it will be very fast though, so don't let the listed distances scare you. The paddling will exhibit one of Nova Scotia's finest rivers. Racers should expect some action on the river depending on water levels. The Trek will be another highlight through technical and challenging foot trails. Of course the Trek wouldn't be complete without some bushwhacks that will leave the most grizzled veteran racers in tears!

Final Note: I'd like to advise against doing a google image search for 'Moose Knuckles.'

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Team Trail Shop Does the Paternity Test!

364 days of the year my father is Richard Wayne Lowery. As it happens, Murray has the same father. While neither Murray nor I have met Brian's father, judging by Brian's outstanding personality we're sure he's a great guy... 364 days of the year that is. For all you amateur dayologists who've noticed that our paternal notification is short one day on the year, this is because of Who's Your Daddy?, Eastern Canada's most attended adventure race.

Who's Your Daddy? is an 8 hour adventure race typically hosted in the Greater Fredericton Area by Natural Selection Adventure Racing, you may have heard of these guys since they host Race the Phantom as well, which is Eastern Canada's BEST adventure race. Like any race, Who's Your Daddy? is challenging for anyone, but it also provides a beginner friendly atmosphere for those new to the sport. Fredericton is currently the power house of the Adventure Racing populous, no question that that is a result of events like Who's Your Daddy? The course consists of a biking section (typically having plenty of trekking / hike-a-biking!) a paddling section and the infamous tire pull. Yes, participants are required to pull a large tire some 500 m... loaded with a keg! No easy task, which is why the male and female racers with the fastest times are awarded the title of 'Daddy' and 'Mommy' respectively as per the namesake of the race.

Somewhere in Oromocto, NB Brian, Murray and I got our maps nice and early with about 1.5 hours worth of planning time. Right away Brian had a firm grasp of the course remembering many spots from last year's race. I love working a map with Brian. He has an incredible ability to see the map for only a few minutes and then remember every detail and every move hours later. We decided to attack the bike course first since we're stronger on bike and we wanted to make use of that to get as many controls as possible.

It's always fun to start a race when everyone goes a different direction. Some teams went on the water, some went up through town and others like us went along the Trans Canada Trail. Oh yea... the Trans Canada Trail! If I were to describe my ideal start for an adventure race it'd go something like this: The Trans Canada Trail. We threw down mighty in our big rings to leave the start line in a cloud of dust and man grunts. We collected the first batch of controls without incident starting in Lincoln and heading back down the Waasis Rd to the next batch in Oromocto. Our success continued and our speed never faltered... until Murray and I heard Brian curse horribly as we descended an ATV trail en route to a few controls on trails that were underwater. As cute as it is to hear Brian swear in his gently accent, there was nothing cute about his demolished rear derailleur.

Unfortunately Brian's bike is a dual suspension, so we couldn't bypass the derailleur with a singlespeed set up because the chain length changes and in general it would just slap around and constantly fall off. This was a catastrophic situation for any race, let alone an 8 hr race where the slightest mistake could mean everything. For a the next two controls on underwater trails (that was some fun map work!) Brian ran with his useless bike. It wasn't working. Enter Mad Dog.

Murray is a calm, mild mannered gentle sort. Mad Dog isn't. Murray is easy to contain on the race course. Mad Dog isn't. Murray is happy to go at a reasonable pace while appreciating the overall goal. Mad Dog isn't. It was a perfect time to unleash the Mad Dog. It went a little something like this...

Andrew: Hey Brian, this isn't working. Murray is the strongest runner and he can probably keep up with us on the bike on these ATV trails.

Brian: If you think it'll work and he doesn't mind...

Andrew: Murray, do you think you can keep up on foot while pushing the lame bike?

Murray: Yea, probably.

It's at this point that I can see Murray is no longer with us. His left eye was twitching, his shoulders hunched up a bit and I swear he picked up a scent of some prey somewhere. Mad Dog grabbed the bike like a predator claws into a carcass and hammered along into the ATV trail like his life depended on it. This kind of behaviour is generally foolish on an adventure race, but we only had about 5 km to go before we were on paved roads. The plan was to let Mad Dog go crazy and then Brian and I could push him on the bikes once we hit the pavement for the ~6 km ride back to the boats.

It wasn't long before Brian and I realized that we couldn't keep up with the Mad Dog. This was a problem because Mad Dog wasn't really concerned with the rest of the controls we needed to collect, he was of a one track mind to run fast with the bike. Through an extraordinary effort of our own we managed to track him down in time for the final control in the woods. Trying to get Murray back was a bit of a task that fortunately ended with only a few bite wounds and no need for animal control.

Now it was time for Brian and I to pay Murray and Mad Dog back for the incredible feat of effort by pushing him on the lame bike. Fortunately the topography was mostly flat on the way to the final control on CFB Gagetown. The folks on the base thought it was strange that three guys covered in mud were biking around at ~30 km/hr with arms around one another, but we let them use their imagination. From the base it was all downhill to the tire pull.

Mad Dog apparently had a few minutes of glory left as he demonstrated how to successfully expend the most energy possible while pulling a tire loaded with a keg. Being team captain has some perks, most notably, I get to delegate who pulls the tire. Brian took our second pull while I ate food. Both Murray and Brian put in great times.

Next we were on the water. we made a few quick moves on portage for the first few controls portaging two islands. The mosquitoes were bad, but tolerable. On the second island we met a half dozen horses. I love horses so I called praise out to them, forgetting entirely that my big brave brother whom we occasionally call Mad Dog for his fits of insanity is petrified of horses. As fast as he could say "no man, what are you doing?" they were charging us. Some of our more dedicated fans may remember some cows chasing us down in Dalhousie, NB at Race the Phantom last year. Well, this time it was horses. No doubt they just wanted to see why some guys in tight clothes were dragging a boat across their yard... but it was still an intense couple of seconds when all the excitement of a truck commercial was charging at you. The stopped fortunately with about 25 m to spare, and Murray managed to keep from suffering a panic attack.

Our island hopping was done and we had to paddle down river to a larger island for the final three controls. It was here that we became reacquainted with Murray's Canoe. While stable as an ocean liner, it's speed could likely be matched with a bathtub... to say nothing of the two large men and one extra-extra large man occupying the thing. We gave it what-for and hit the island without any drama.

The first control was easy. Somewhere, on a direct bearing between the first and third controls was the second control. This is called a 'Line-O' and is usually a fun but challenging exercise. Then it happened. Every so often on an adventure race you're presented with something so awful that you forever compare future atrocities to that thing. We experienced 'that thing' on this island by means of mosquitoes. More mosquitoes than we'd ever seen before, and we've seen bad mosquitoes. This isn't your shirtless guy with a moustache in a tent type of mosquito infestation... this is wipe your arm and get a handful of 400 mosquitoes! You couldn't breathe without inhaling them, you couldn't stop moving or they'd plug your eyes, ears and nose. The only reprieve was swimming in hot stagnant bog water, but even then they'd still ravage your face and head. Trying to hold the bearing was nearly impossible.

On our first pass we missed the second control, but fortunately on the way back we found it. Motivation to get the hell out of Dodge came easily enough to rid ourselves of the mosquitoes. Congratulations Who's Your Daddy? participants,we've got a new bench mark for 'suck'!

The paddle back was against the current and while not terribly difficult, the heat and long day caught up to us. We tried singing some songs to stay strong, but we were fading. Even though we only lost about 15 - 20 minutes due to the bike malfunction, that is often enough in an 8 hr race to compromise your result. Plus our water speed just wasn't what it could be if we had a performance boat. We weren't expecting much when we made it to the finish line... it's impossible to tell your placing on a race like this! We were surprised to learn we were indeed the first team back!

We had a great day; we worked together, overcame a catastrophic bike malfunction, dodged some curious horses and endured mosquitoes of biblical proportions... and all of it was made that much sweeter with the win. Well done Brian and Murray... I had a blast!

Oh... I almost forgot... on our approach to the finish line the captain passing boat called something out...

Murray and I heard: "The guy in the back is doing all the work!"

Brian heard: "You're too low in the back, it's not going to work!"

Yes, I was in the back.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Orienteering for Silent Witness Nova Scotia

Orienteering for Silent Witness Nova Scotia

Wednesday July 6th, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday July 13th, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday July 20th, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday July 27th, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday August 3rd, 7:00 p.m.

All meets are at Shubie Park, meet at Fairbanks Center off Locks Rd.

Bring your compass… and maybe a headlamp!

Individual Cost: $10 per participant, kids 12 and under are free, Parents / guardians must sign waivers for minors
Family Cost: $20 for families of three or more
Series Cost: $40 for individuals, $100 for families


Charitable receipts will made for additional donations in excess of $10

For more information Contact Andrew Lowery at or 902-489-8096

For 48 women in Nova Scotia since 1990, their deaths came at the hands of their intimate partners, forever silencing their voices. The time has come to end their silence. Silent Witness Nova Scotia is a group of organizations and individuals working together to raise these voices.

Draw Prizes Every Night!
The Trail Shop will be donating an awesome prize for one lucky participant each night, and we’re working on a grand prize as well, be sure to stop in and say ‘thanks for the support’ at either their Halifax or Wolfville locations.

6210 Quinpool Rd.
Halifax, NS, B3L 1A3

465 Main St.
Wolfville, NS, B4P 1E3

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Team Trail Shop's Race Report from the Pre-E2C

Mother nature supplied some serious 'tough guy' and 'tough girl' points on Sunday April 17th by means of torrential rain and crippling wind. Shawn Taylor and I, of Team Trail Shop, combine for over twenty years and in excess of 100 races worth of experience, yet neither paid heed to weather forecasts and were grossly unprepared for the annual four hour Pre-E2C. Shivering on the start line we were glad to start fast heading for the northern half of the course. Though strategic planning led to a slight detour to collect CP8 before heading north. It was only about 100 m extra distance, and the topography looked challenging for CP8, we felt it was better to get it early.

CPs 8, 5, 6 and 4 were collected with only a few minutes worth of fussing for CP6 at a false intersection. The dense network of trails at CP1 led to about 15 minutes lost time. Our original approach to CP1 had us within 50 m of the proper intersection, but we'd overestimated our distance travelled and we had to re-group at our last known point. It was frustrating, but we didn't have a good enough set of reference points to make any better of a decision at the time.

Heading east to CPs 2, 3 and 7 was when the cold began to have it's way with us. At each crest the exposure was brutal, and as luck would have it the rain hit it's hardest once we made it to the main road. Taylor had to keep moving to keep the cold away, but the effort was fast approaching uselessness. I kept reassuring him that he could have my rain coat if it got any worse, but I was beginning to think I was going to need it now that we were exposed. CPs 7, 3 and then 2 were collected without any trouble, and the three teams whom we caught at CPs 4 and 1 were caught again. Now all we had to do was run ~3.0 km south to the southern half of the course. The 3.0 km felt more like 30 km. The offer to donate my rain coat was officially reneged as I was starting to suffer from the early effects of hypothermia! Blood flow to the extremities had been reduced, and the legs were lethargic and stiff. Neither of us had much use of our fingers! While trying to get into our snacks it was like we had mittens on!

CP9 was collected easily enough, but even at a reduced pace we passed CP10, but we decided we could get it on the way back. There was some concern about finding the right 'indistinct trail' for CP14, but it was found right away and the control was collected in no time. That left only CPs 12 and 13. With some quick math it we figured that we had the time to collect them, but just barely. Back on the main road, I started cramping. It's no secret that Shawn and I are much better suited team-mates on longer races since Shawn is a considerably faster runner even after a winter off his feet with a high ankle sprain. As always, Taylor showed his experience by pushing just enough to bring me to the brink of agony before allowing some reprieve. I pushed (all be it slowly) through and we collected CP12 with no trouble. Just prior to CP 12 we met the eventual winners Mark and Dave who had about a 10 minute lead. The wind and rain picked up again, fortunately propelling us up the hill to CP13, but unfortunately the wind was still so strong that running back downhill was much more difficult that going up! Bad cramps became worst cramps for me, but the we continued north and collected CP10 as planned and rolled into the finish barely functional on account of the cold with four minutes to spare missing only CP11, a low value control that wouldn't have changed our placing in the No. 2 spot. Congratulations to Dave and Mark on the win!

Jodi Isenor hosts the Pre-E2C every year for us to shake off the winter cob-webs and get ourselves into gear for the E2C, a 24 hr rogaine hosted by the Halifax Regional Search and Rescue. Jodi always assembles a challenging but reasonable course, and it was nice this year to see some new faces.

Full results:

1 Dave/Mark 14/14 3h49m 4000pts
2 Andrew/Shawn 13/14 3h56m 3900
3 Lori/Troy 12/14 3h47m 3200
4 Coleen/Steve 11/14 3h52m 3100
5 Brian/Greg 12/14 3h53m 3100
6 Bruce/Conor 11/14 3h38m 2900
7 Anthony/Sascha/Tim 10/14 3h49m 2700
8 Mary/Paul 9/14 3h48m 2500
9 Colin/Ian/Jeff 7/14 2h42m 2300
10 2 Pinkies 9/14 3h46m 2000
11 Boomerang 8/14 3h13m 1900
12 Terry/Terry Edgett 8/14 3h48m 1800
13 Ellen/Jim 6/14 3h58m 1800
14 Grant/Patty 7/14 3h10m 1700
15 Nieforth's 7/14 3h47m 1700
16 Charadius 7/14 3h56m 1700
17 Robinson's 5/14 3h59m 1400
18 Glen/Roxanne 7/14 3h51m 1300
19 Jack/Vernon 6/14 3h11m 1200
20 Darlene/Vern 6/14 3h29m 1200
21 Amanda/Greg 5/14 4h18m 0
22 Alice/Dale 4/14 4h20m 0

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No Snow for Sno-Racin'!

There was no snow in porter's lake for Sno-Racin'!, but that didn't stop 18 participants from enjoying the beautiful weather. The 9.5 km run through Crowbar Lake Trails did still have some ice on the ground, but most avoided major drama. Surprisingly, the ice was still present after Jodi Isenor of Hoops & Yo Yo burned through the course in an hour and change. Karine Comeau, the other half of Hoops & Yo Yo finished in 1:24:13 to give Hoops & Yo Yo the fastest combined time for the run, the closest time to theirs being nearly 25 minutes later.

Notable participants were Wendi Brown, Karen Misner and Kate McCarthy of TeKamp's Champs; this was their first adventure race and it doubled as Wendi's bachelorette party! The trio stayed together on the run with an impressive time of 2:20:01, not to mention that they were expecting the trail run to be on crusher-dust trails!

Other notable racers were the Hammerheads; Grant Heddon and Jim Foster. While Grant is the only original member, the Hammerheads are Eastern Canada's longest serving adventure racing team, this being their 10th year. Jim McKim and Harold McQuade were the sole representatives from New Brunswick and raced as NSAR Crips.

The Myra Road trail systems notoriety showed itself during the orienteering stage as many teams struggled. The course was set-up to be difficult to favour the experienced navigator as the trail running stage favoured the experienced trail runner. In the end, Hoops & Yo Yo demonstrated that they had the most experience at both as the made short work of the O-course as the only team to collect all seven controls in only 2:26:00.

Stage 1 9.5 km Trail Run Individual Times
1st Men - Jodi Isenor (Hoops & Yo Yo) 1:01:33
2nd Men - Jim Foster (Hammerheads) 1:16:51
3rd Men - Shawn Taylor (Phat Daddy) 1:16:53
4th Men - Stephen Cooper (Eco-Challenged) 1:20:58
1st Women - Karine Comeau (Hoops & Yo Yo) 1:24:13
5th Men - Ian Clark (Eco-Challenged) 1:27:30
6th Men - Chad McNamara (Eco-Challenged) 1:30:48
2nd Women - Elizabeth Cook (Pinky and the Brain) 1:31:53
7th Men - Matt MacPhee (Pinky and the Brain) 1:33:10
8th Men - Grant Heddon (Hammerheads) 1:33:15
9th Men - Anthony Bell (We Are Cold) 1:33:30
10th Men - Harold McQuade (NSAR Crips) 1:36:15
11th Men - Sascha Richer (We Are Cold) 1:42:12
12th Men - Jim McKin (NSAR Crips) 1:46:38
13th Men - Tim Dine (We Are Cold) 1:55:43
3rd Women Wendi Brown, Karen Misner, Kate McCarthy (TeKamp's Champs) 2:20:01

Stage 1 9.5 km Trail Run Team Times
1st - Hoops & Yo Yo 2:25:46
2nd - Hammerheads 2:50:06
3rd - Eco-Challenged 2:51:46
4th - Pinky and the Brain 3:05:03
5th - NSAR Crips 3:22:53
6th - We Are Cold 3:29:13
7th - TeKamp's Champs 4:40:02

Stage 2 Orienteering Course Score and Times
1st - Hoops & Yo Yo 7 of 7 in 2:26:00
2nd - Hammerheads 6 of 7 in 3:46:30
3rd - Eco-Challenged 5 of 7 in 3:42:00
4th - NSAR Crips 5 of 7 in 3:52:00
5th - TeKamp's Champs 2 of 7 in 3:46:00
6th - We Are Cold 1 of 7 in 3:45:00
7th - Pinky and the Brain 0 of 7 in 3:50:00

Overall Standings
1st - Hoops & Yo Yo 4:51:46
2nd - Hammerheads 6:36:36
3rd - Eco-Challenged 6:33:46
4th - NSAR Crips 7:14:53
5th - TeKamp's Champs 8:26:03
6th - We Are Cold 7:14:13
7th - Pinky and the Brain 6:55:03

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Effort to End the Required Gear List

To be required is to be essential or absolutely necessary. It seems in today's races, that the only thing essential about an item on a required gear list is that you need it to pass inspection before or during the race. The required gear list has manifested into a mix of items that truly are needed in order to participate, that are necessary by law, that might be handy and those that promote safety. Based on these categories, it is my belief that we can do away with the required gear list and proceed to a future with more streamlined pre-race proceedings and more room in our packs for stuff we actually use.

First let's consider equipment that truly is needed in order to participate. These might be mountain bikes or boats. We don't need to list these items. When a race lists mountain biking or paddling in the disciplines it's strongly implied that you'll need a bike and boat. For specifics, the rules can indicate whether cyclocross or road bikes are permitted; likewise for kayaks versus canoes and any paddle type restrictions. There is some grey area when it comes to races with a ropes section since the bulk of participants may not be familiar with what equipment they might need for such a thing. In which case, a concise note without the formality of a required gear list will suffice.* A special note for race directors: in your rules, be sure to include something requiring teams to have their bikes / boats with them when completing the appropriate sections. Advantageous position can be achieved by leaving your bikes / boats on course and finishing on foot for example. A 'no gear drop' clause can also cover this.

Secondly we've got the gear that is necessary by law. These would be bike helmets, pfds, a bailing device and tow rope etc. These can and should be covered in the rules. "A helmet must be worn at all times while on the mountain bike" means a whole lot more than the required gear list's stipulation that you have the helmet with you. Other items required by (Nova Scotian) law are matches, compass and a knife. A gentle reminder in the rules can make sure participants will carry these items as well.

The next required gear list items to discuss are those that might come in handy. Dearest race director, I do love you for what you do, but you're not my mother. And if it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't listen to her either. Yes, spare socks might be useful for some participants, but I prefer to make that judgment myself. I also prefer to bring the bike repair tools that I deem appropriate. And if I want to catch some color during an adventure race, it should be my prerogative. Now, I will concede that since I've been racing for 10 years, that I'm a qualified participant to make these judgments. However, if the purpose of your gear list is to make sure that new participants have all they need then you'll fail at that purpose. If your race will have new racers, then you should have some kind of resource available (even a link to a website will do) that identifies typical gear used. These types of items can be suggested and advised as much as you like, but not required. The best resource for helping new racers in this department is to put them in touch with an experienced racer; as an RD you'll have enough correspondence to worry about. Give them my contact info if you like!

Lastly we have items that promote safety. Adventure racing is ridiculously dangerous. A raincoat, toque, some gauze and a triangular bandage will not change that. It's always been my theory that any injury I could treat with the meager required first aid equipment isn't worth treating in the first place. Any injury requiring treatment, in my opinion, needs a whole lot more... including first aid personnel; will they fit in my pack? Sure I know first aid, but I can barely state my name after 24 hours let alone practice sound first aid! Again there is some grey area here with a raincoat and toque whereby hypothermia is a considerable risk in any race. However, the consideration for these types of things with respect to liability is slowly changing toward less requirements equaling less liability. When requiring an item like a rain coat that has no standard for qualification, like a pfd or bike helmet, the race director actually puts themselves in a liable position by qualifying that item. Take note of that one RDs; protecting your participants may not be protecting you.

If you're brave enough to host an adventure race, it's your right to include a required gear list if that's what you need to satisfy your level of comfort. But please, if you do include one, do it because that's what you want and you believe it's necessary for your race, not because it's always been that way, or because you think people will show up without shoes because they weren't listed for them.

*For races with a ropes course I'll go against my usual advice and suggest that there should be a pre-race inspection of gear. My reasoning: the prussik, for example, is often used as a redundant safety device. Unfortunately most people don't realize that your prussik can't be 4 ft long because it will either get jammed in your figure-8 / ATC or it will be too high for you to operate if it does engage. It's a very annoying thing to be in a bottleneck at a ropes course while the rope staff have to reconfigure someone's gear on another team. The same goes for harness adjustment.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Sno-Racin'! A 2-Stage Adventure Race
Date: March 26, 2011
Location: Porter's Lake, NS
Stages: ~10 km Trail Run / ~4 hrs Orienteering
Team Size: Teams of 2 or more, no categories specified
Registration: Available online at Atlantic Chip
Cost: $25 per racer
7:30 - 8:45 a.m.: On site registration / Check in (you have to check in even if you register online!
8:45 - 8:59 a.m.: Pre-race meeting / questions answered
9:00 a.m.: Trail Running Race Starts
12:00 p.m.: Orienteering Race Starts, maps & control sheets issued at start line
4:00 p.m.: Orienteering Race Ends
4:15 p.m.: Awards

More Details:
Trail running has been gaining momentum in Nova Scotia, and Adventure Race style orienteering has always been popular. I've decided to mate the two into a stage race to try and encourage some cross over between the two disciplines. This is also one of the first stage races that Nova Scotia has ever seen! I'm excited to try the race style and I look forward to it catching on for future events. In order to address all of the questions I'm sure this event will generate, I've put together an FAQ...

Where will the trail run be? How about that orienteering section?
In the spirit of adventure racing, these aren't usually revealed until the last minute. But because we're trying something new, the trail run will be on Crowbar Lake Trails, and the orienteering section will be in the trail system at the end of Myra Rd.

You mean where you hosted Storm the Beach AND the Snowgaine?
Yea... problem? Just kidding. I don't generally like repeating a venue like this, but with the proximity to Crowbar lake trails it was hard to pass up. Besides, there are a ton of trails in there that I haven't used yet, so you'll definitely cover some new ground.

Do we start orienteering as soon as we're done running?
No. The orienteering starts at 12:00 p.m.

Do teams have to stay together on the run?
No. The team's total time will be the sum of the two members, or in the case of a team of three or more, the sum of the fastest and slowest times.

What are the conditions like?
It's impossible for me to tell until the day before the race, it is Nova Scotia after all! Call me at 902-489-8096 anytime to get an update.

I don't know how to navigate, how will I do at the orienteering?
Poorly. But that doesn't mean you won't have fun! In general, the navigation will be intermediate. Controls that are more difficult will be identified by a higher point value.

I'm not a fast runner, how will I do on the trail run?
Poorly. But that doesn't mean you won't have fun! And then you can get'm with the maps!

Do we have to participate in both stages or can we just do one?
I would really like to see everyone participate in both since one of the goals of this event is to create some crossover between trail running and adventure racing. However, I won't turn anyone away. Be prepared for a pretty convincing phone call though! Unfortunately the registration cost will remain the same.

Are we allowed bikes during the orienteering section?

What else are we allowed to use during the orienteering section?
Cross-country skis, snowshoes, regular shoes... and if you can think of anything else ask and I'll let you know!

Will there be any paddling during the orienteering section?

Will the orienteering section take a full four hours? And do we have to be finished in four hours?
For most people the orienteering section will take longer than four hours, BUT you are required to be at the finish line no later than 4:00 p.m., which means some teams won't collect all of the controls. There will be penalties for tardiness, and the RCMP will be called at 4:30 p.m. if you're not out of the woods yet. Seriously.

What required gear is there?
None. But it is Nova Scotia law that you have matches, compass and a whistle on you in the woods. Also, it's law that you wear a helmet if you're riding your bike. And if you have any other questions about gear, just ask.

Will weather play a role in the schedule?
It's possible. The start of the orienteering may be delayed if conditions are such that the run times are exceptionally high.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Unconsidered Case for the Required Team Format

It seems counterintuitive that a team format requirement could help promote our sport. But those of us who have been playing the game since the beginning, or at least close to it, remember an aspect of team format requirements that might present an old tactic to new race directors that will indeed boost attendance.

It was six years ago in Spring of 2005, and it was a pivotal time for adventure racing in Atlantic Canada. At that time, the two major players in Atlantic Canadian adventure racing had both removed their hat from the scene and there were no scheduled events for that year. Some individuals recognized the problem and set to work organizing grass-roots, unsanctioned and basically free races to help save the community. It worked, that year saw several small scale events that kept the sport alive. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia was witnessing the birth of two companies: Velocity Adventure Racing and Outdoor Quest who would often work together on events. Likewise the next year in New Brunswick a couple of boys were getting their feet wet adventure racing and would continue on to create Natural Selection Adventure Racing.

There are many significant differences in adventure racing before and after 2005 locally, and on more or less the same time-line globally. To name a few: race formats, racer turnouts, media interest and support crew requirements. Notable in that list is racer turnouts, or basically the size of the community. Prior to 2005 there was a considerable decline in attendance at races in the Atlantic Provinces. This decline wasn't specific to adventure racing, as cycling, rock climbing and many other fringe sports saw a similar decline. Given that, it's not a poor argument that the decline was independent of the actions of any race director or community. As a response to the declining numbers, post 2005 race directors began taking measures to make racing more accessible. One of these measures was opening the team format requirements.

In the Atlantics, prior to 2005, it was largely required that participating teams have three members. A premiere category of co-ed threes was typically created versus the secondary category of the many same sex teams of three participating. Rarely, teams of four would be tolerated, but not required as even at this time numbers weren't sufficient enough to have such a format. Note that the typical international premiere category is a co-ed team of four. During and after 2005, teams of two, three or four all of any gender were welcomed. Some races still held the premiere category for a co-ed team of three, but others let the entire field compete together.

The underlying fear of the race director was that they would lose a team because they couldn't find a third member. It's a logical fear, and most race directors have probably experienced a team loss if they exercised team format requirements. In the years following 2005 numbers were insufficient for race directors to refuse entry to teams who couldn't meet a particular format. However, local racing attendance has started to increase. Natural Selection Adventure Racing leads the way in the Atlantics with annual events. Race the Phantom, their flagship event, had five teams participate in 2007. Nine teams in 2008, 15 teams in 2009 and an impressive 18 teams in 2010. Their beginner friendly Who's Your Daddy race entertained eight teams in 2008, 11 in 2009 and an incredible 31 teams in 2010! That is progress! Trail Running has begun to take off in Nova Scotia as well. Jodi Isenor, formerly of Outdoor Quest, hosted a trail running race in November of 2010 that saw over 80 participants. Just a few years ago other people attempted to host trail running races here with virtually no return.

With the recent success it's important that our community doesn't take anything for granted. We need to ensure that we continue to grow as opposed to plateau or even see another decline. So I present to you the unconsidered case for the required team format. There was a period in my racing career when I didn't have a regular pool of teammates from which we assemble a squad for each race. I was a journeyman racer, picking up with whomever would have me. And at that time, there were team format requirements. It wasn't always easy to find a team of three, but I made do; notably without missing a race. The race directors, my colleagues, even local outdoor retail shops would help play match maker. It was quite an experience to meet someone the morning of your 36 hour journey into the wilderness together!

So how does a poorly matched group of strangers thrown into a team help promote adventure racing? By the process from which they arrived at the start line and the resolve following the event.

When I was shopping for teammates with the help of my colleagues we were in effect doing the best advertising possible, pier to pier notification. People were hearing about the race from their friend as opposed to a poster barely visible on a shop bulletin board, or a glanced over mass e-mail. They couldn't always participate for whatever reason, but they heard about it form the mouth of a trusted resource. And if the seed was already planted, this would certainly help it grow. And in the desperate days before a race, would be teams bent on racing would often beg, trick or kidnap someone into joining them! The necessity for that third teammate would bring in people that otherwise wouldn't have raced.

It does sound like a recipe for disaster! Often teams would be mismatched with respect to ability and fitness. By and large though, the beggars were understanding of their rookie teammates when they couldn't keep up... and when they were too fast! After the mud and blood was cleaned off teams were either made or divided. One thing was always consistent, those bold enough to try their first adventure race with strangers were hooked on our sport! In the event of a bad match, the regulars would go back to their usual teammates who's injuries had subsided, or continued on in search of the best match. The important thing was that the new racer was now on the hunt for a team, and for the next race it'd be them breaking in some rookies.

Having a requirement for team format isn't a sure bet to increase numbers. And further, as always, I'll add that it's of course up to the race director to present whatever experience they want their racers to have. My intentions with this piece were to simply ensure that the case for the required team format was indeed considered.