Simply going by their resumes, Ryan Burlingame and Aliye Tuzlak went into the Yukon Adventure Challenge as strong contenders, even if it was their first adventure race.
The two-person team won the annual event, nicknamed the August Rush, by just over a half hour at the Takhini Hot Springs on Saturday.
“It went fairly well,” said Burlingame. “We got fairly lucky in the bushwhacking section. We found a pretty smooth sailing road right away… Going through the brush we found a road and were able to make some pretty good time.
“We took the long way to get to the second checkpoint, but other than that it went pretty well.”
Though just their first adventure race – this one considered a sprint length at around 60 to 80 kilometres – the two had plenty of tools to work with when it came to the hiking, paddling and cycling sections.
As a paddling instructor for Yukan Canoe, Burlingame had plenty of watercraft experience under his belt, while, as an expedition guide, Tuzlak had plenty of know-how in navigation. In fact, their team, called N/A to Race, was one of just three teams of the nine entered to find the “Cliffs of Insanity” for a 20-minute time bonus.
No slouches on the bikes, Burlingame represented the Yukon in cycling at the 2009 Canada Summer Games. The two also have great conditioning from biathlon, both having won medals for the Yukon at the 2008 Arctic Winter Games.
“It was perfect,” said Burlingame. “Aliye did biathlon with me for a number of years, and she’s also quite a good cyclist, so this was a pretty good race for us.
“The biking section went quite well, but canoeing was our strongest section.”
With the fastest finish, at nine hours and 51 minutes, N/A to Race would have won the event even if there were no time bonuses, but that doesn’t mean the bonuses had no effect on the final results.
Michael Pealow, the only solo competitor in the race, moved to third from fourth, with the largest time deductions for picking up garbage. (Each “substantial” piece collected cut five minutes off their finishing time.)
Pealow had the largest time deduction overall, collecting the most garbage and being the only one to attempt the second advanced bike section. With 105 minutes shaved off, Pealow finished in 10:06.
Taking second in the race was Look Ma… No Hands, featuring Nathan Millar and Ian Ruiteberg, getting 40 minutes in time bonus and logging the time of 9:24.
Saturday’s Challenge, which has a different course each year, began with a bike ride from Takhini Hot Springs to the top of Vista Hill and back to the hot spring. Teams then biked down Takhini River Road and paddled back, finishing with a ride down Equinox Adventure Learning’s zip line at the hot springs.
For an added bit of difficulty, this year racers didn’t know the course until five minutes before the start of the race. Teams were also required to complete a Sudoku puzzle before leaving the start line.
Race organizer Mike Tribes would like to see more people enter next year’s Adventure Challenge, which once had as many as 40 participants, up from 17 on Saturday.
“They’re a lot of fun and they’re not as daunting as you’d think,” said Tribes. “You think that racing for 12 hours is daunting, but when you switch it up every two or three hours, it’s doable. I think some people should try it and see what they think.
“It’s great to see the kids; there’s a bunch of 17-year-olds in the race – and finishing the race, which is awesome.”
At the Full Moon adventure race last June in Elkford, BC, Tribes helped his team take in a fourth place finish out of 34.
“I’m just trying to make it easier for people (in the Yukon),” said Tribes. “Down south, adventure races cost, like, $1,200 a team, this one is cost $150 a team – there are no T-shirts, no prizes.
“They get medals and a barbecue at the end – and a ride on the zip line.”
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