Monday, September 18, 2006

Sea 2 Summit 2006 - Race Report

The Sea 2 Summit is one of Canada's premier adventure races. I did it back in 2002, and this year, Bren and I decided to do it as Team Cardiac Arrest.

(You can click on any of the pictures for a bigger version. See the bottom of this posting for some links to the photo albums. Warning, this is pretty long)

Rough Google Earth Map of the Race

Thursday Sept 7, 06

Mary, Don, Jen, Keira and I drove from Shuswap out to Whistler via the Pemberton highway. We got to Whistler in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel room at the Tantalus lodge. I rebuilt my bike and we went out for Thai food before calling it in for an early evening.

Friday Sept 8, 06

Since Ecomarine wouldn't allow Brennan to strap the kayak to his car with no roof racks, I ended up having to drive down to Vancouver to pick up the kayak and drop off a whole pile of stuff at Bren's new pad. I picked up a hitchhiker along the way who turned out to be a really cool guy so at least I had some company on the way down. After dropping Cody off at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, I met Bren and Julie down at Ecomarine and we strapped our rented two person kayak on to the roof of Mary and Don's mini van. We then drove to Brennan's new digs, and dropped off all of his stuff. While we were there we realized that Brennan was supposed to be picking up his rental bike in Whistler in about 45 minutes. After a panicked phone call to Mary and Don, Don got sent off to the rental place to pick up the bike and Julie, Bren and I headed off to Whistler.

Once we got to Whistler, Bren, Julie and I raced over to the conference center for the pre-race briefing. Keira had been sick in the afternoon, so Jen stayed with her to give Mary and Don a break. At the briefing we found our what we were going to do.

The first day was pretty much in three stages. Starting at 0800, we were going to kayak 23 km down the Pemberton river, at which point we were going to transition to our bikes and peddle from approximately 45 km from Pemberton to Whistler. Once we reached Whistler our time officially "stopped" but we had to go to three places in Whistler and do some activities before checking in at the final check point at the bottom of Whistler Gondola. The bike ride was described as "epic" on some brand new trail. Dean, the race director, expected the fastest riders to finish the ride in about 4 hours, and told us to expect about 6 to 8 km of "hike-a-bike".

On the second day we were going to start from the base of the Gondola, and ride up the mountain, and then down into Whistler Creekside. From there we were going to ride up to Emerald Lake where we would transition to our kayaks for a quick paddle up the lake and back. Once we finished kayaking we were going to go out on a short run with some navigational components before racing back to the base of the Gondola once more. Sounded pretty cut and dried. Once we got back from the briefing we packed up our stuff and got ready for the next morning.

Saturday Sept 8, 06

Keira spent the night throwing up, so Dave and Jen got virtually no sleep. At 0600 Don was enlisted to take Jen's place as a support person, and Don, Julie, Bren and Dave hopped in the van and headed up about 23 km north of Pemberton where the race was to begin. We got there about 20 minutes before the start, so Dave checked in while Don, Julie and Bren got the kayak down to the river's edge. It was at this point that Dave realized that Ecomarine had been kind enough to supply him with two female paddle ends, which weren't going to do him much good.

Luckily the Ecomarine representative was there at the starting line, and had a couple extra paddles lying around. Dave and Bren frantically got ready to go, doing final kayak adjustments, and trying to think of any last minute things to take care of. At about 0800 Dean called us all in for the final pre-race briefing, and then off we went. We were a little slow getting going in the kayak, but it didn't take us long to get the hang of it.

We were paddling down river which was really nice, but there was an incredible strong up stream wind blowing which was a royal pain. In some places it was blowing so hard that the surface water was blowing up stream, while the lower water was flowing downstream causing weird little disruptions in the water. It was also at this point in the race that Bren and I realized that we had rented a really slow kayak...or else we really suck as paddlers. Since I refuse to believe the latter, and it's way easier to blame my problems on someone else, we're going to blame the stupid kayak. Bren also discovered how the lumbar support in the kayak worked which made paddling far easier on his back.

After two solid hours of paddling we got to the first transition point where Don and Julie took over with the kayak while Bren and I stretched out sore arms. We grabbed some food and hopped on our bikes for the upcoming epic ride.

After a small mixup where Dave thought they'd gone the wrong way we got into some serious peddling. The trail we were following was called the Soo Valley Trail. It had fallen into serious disrepair and had been "resurrected" by the Sea2Summit crew. It was supposedly all well marked by pink flags and tape, so it should have been easy to follow. The first bit followed some really well established trails which aside from being very sandy were pretty easy riding. Slowly though the trail became worse and worse. We started having to carry our bikes up lots of hills and had to be extremely careful on the downhills to avoid losing the trail. At one point Bren was chasing after one of the other racers when I noticed that he had gone flying past a turn off and luckily he managed to hear me yelling at him before he went to far down the hill. The views of the valley were absolutely incredible, but we had to fight our way up for everyone of them. At several points we nearly got lost because of almost non-existant trail markes. At one point we ended up near a construction site, and the trail builders got extremely creative going around it by running us straight through a swamp with several fallen trees on it. At another location it was so steep that it required throwing your bike on your back and scrambling up an embankment hand over hand. Once we got to the top we had a crazy downhill ride through some young alders which were all exactly face high. As long as you were happy not being able to see anything, and having your face clawed at by trees it was a great ride. We saw at least one pair of mangled sunglasses hanging off the branches.

At the bottom of the hill there was an incredibly beautiful but spooky swamp that looked like it was straight out of the Lord of the Rings. Sadly once we got to the bottom, they immediately sent us back up the next mountain, and what a mountain it was. I think we spent 2-3 hours slowly climbing/hiking our bikes up very steep logging roads. About two thirds of the way up Brennan ran out of water, and luckily we managed to find a stream to refill our water bags. At about four fifths of the way up (after about six hours of peddling) we found out that they were starting to cut teams off at the bottom of the mountain for being too slow. We finally made it to the top and had a ripper of a ride down about 7 km of fast single track to the final timed check point. Since we had to ride through the village to get to the Gondola, the race directors wanted us to head through the village at a safe speed. To make it interesting we had to do a little scavenger hunt along the way which is where we met "Killer Kailey" and some of the other racers.

We finally crawled over the finish line about 10 hours after we started where I found out that Jen and Keira has spent the day at the hospital trying to get Keira straightened out. Luckily everyone was reasonably ok, so we headed back to the hotel room where Bren and I cleaned up ourselves and our gear and we chowed down on some well deserved pizza before crashing for the night.

Sunday Sept 9, 06

0600 rolled around and so Bren and I rolled out of bed. Our support team was bushed so we let them sleep while we made our way over to the base of the Gondola with the other racers. This morning was going to start with a 30km bike. We started with a mass start at 0700 and started riding straight up the mountain. We then sped down to Creekside and had a great ride through some awesome Whistler single track. Aside from a small incident with my seat colliding extremely solidly with some sensitive bits of my anatomy we had a really good ride, both of us cranking up some really solid hills. We got down to the transition point and hopped in our kayaks. We later found out that our lovely support crew had been woken up by Mom at 8:15, and had made it to the transition point minutes before we got there.

The paddle took us down the River of Golden Dreams onto Emerald Lake. The river itself was a cool paddle in that it was narrow and twisty, but we ran into some problems with it being very shallow, and actually ended up grounding ourselves at a couple of points requiring us to jump out and drag the kayak. After about an hour or so on the water, we got back to the transition point, and grabbed our running shoes to go for a bit of a jog.

The final stage required us to do some basic navigation on the running trails up above Whistler, finding 5 check points that were hidden in the woods. We ended up joining teams with Mike, a solo racer who was moving about the same speed we were. Bren was in charge of navigation, so I was running out in front calling out trail names while he was keeping us located on the map. All of a sudden Bren yelled out "Dave! Bear!" and I froze on the trail. Right beside me was a big black labrador retriever taking a dump behind a log. To give Bren full credit, it was black, it had four legs, and it was furry, but I wasn't in any danger short of being licked to death. We ended up finding the five check points pretty quickly, and headed back to the finish line. On the way back we followed a team of four and ended up finding ourselves on the wrong side of the river. We decided to ford the river and ended up getting soaked yet again as we mushed through the river. We finally made it across the finish line just before noon.

We had a nice afternoon/evening in Whistler, and our friend Scott Ferris drove up to see us for the evening. We headed to the awards ceremony that was amazingly unorganized as per usual, but got to see a nice slide show of all the pictures taken on the race.

I ended up catching Keira's tummy bug, and spent Monday night being violently ill. The original plan was that we were going to leave for Vancouver bright and early Monday morning to see folks, but since I could hardly move, we didn't end up getting out of Whistler until about noon. Sorry to everybody in Vancouver that we accidentally ended up ignoring/snubbing due to my disease. You really didn't want to see me. As it turns out Judy and Al came up on Saturday to visit with Mary and Don while we were our racing, and both Judy and Don ended up sick as well. Jen got a touch of it too, so it was pretty contagious.

After spending the evening at Petey's place we headed back to San Fran first thing Tuesday morning, and I ended up being back in the office before my office mate made it in.

Total time taken for the race was 13 hours and 57 minutes; 9:17:41 the first day and 4:40:15 the second day. We came in 11th overall in our category. We actually did significantly better the second day compared to some other teams by coming in 9th, but we didn't make up enough time to make it into 10th place.

The ride the first day was a killer. To give you an idea, our average speed on it was only 6-7 km/hour. I probably could've run a good chunk of the trail faster than we biked it. Even the fastest teams who were expected to take about 4 hrs, took over 5 hrs to do it. As you can see from the pictures, there was more than a little hike-a-bike going on.

According to the official results:

Day 1Day 2
Kayak 2:04:00 (23 km)Bike 1:14:00 (6 km)
<- This must be wrong...there's no way it was only a 6 km bike.
Bike 7:13:41 (45 km)Paddle: 1:59 :00(19 km)
Run: 1:27:00 (12 km)

Massive amounts of thanks go to our support crew (Julie, Jen, Mary & Don) for getting us there, fed, accommodated and taken care of. We can't thank you guys enough for all the work you did. We know that being support crew is a boring job, but we hope you know how much we appreciate it. Bren and I had a great time, even if we looked like we were in a lot of pain. Hopefully you guys enjoyed yourselves as well. Double round of thanks to Mary and Don for the amazing babysitting they did, and arranging dinners at odd hours due to mix ups.

Thanks also to Scotty for putting us up for the evening in Vancouver, and Bren's roommate Justin dealing with us crashing at their place for a while due to a mix up with keys.

Team Cardiac Arrest Photo Album. Mostly taken by Julie Rieter
Official Sea2Summit Photo Album. Gives you a better idea of some of the terrain.
Killer Kailey's Photo Album

1 comment:

Brennan said...

Hey that's hilarious...did you realise that Kailey's last name is McLachlan? Despite the amount of time we spent racing together, I don't think I ever properly introduced myself...unless we did at the bear/dragon/wolf/dog/polar bear statue? Anyhow...awesome race! Lots of fun, super happy I did it with ya Dave!