The teams who found last weekend’s adventure race a challenge should not be surprised – it’s right there in the name.
Only two of five teams managed to reach the finish line of the Yukon Adventure Challenge over the weekend, and even the two that completed the roughly 140-kilometre trek ran into difficulties.
“There were a couple of setbacks pretty much at every stage of the race, but for the most part it ran pretty smoothly,” said competitor Rodney Hulstein. “Right at the very beginning – the second event we did was paddling – and Chantal and I did not spend enough time in the canoe (training). So going up Miles Canyon against the current was incredibly tough.”
Hulstein and partner Chantal Gagne, who make up the winning team Trail Trash, completed the race in about 27.5 hours. Assuming some mistakes cost them more than they actually did, Trail Trash arrived at a checkpoint more than halfway through the race expecting to be in last. Instead they were in first.
“Chantal and I, when we were getting to Fish Lake, we thought we were last,” said Hulstein. “We had a couple of mess-ups, like on the bike and especially – losing a couple hours – on the hike, so we totally thought we were last.”
Only their second event together, Trail Trash recently competed in the W.A.R. (Whitehorse Adventure Run), finishing third. For Gagne, who is new to the sport but competed in a few ultramarathons last year, the race might be the first of many.
“I love long distance events and I think this is definitely something I would like to do in the future,” said Gagne. “It was a pleasant surprise to find out we did so well in the race considering it was a first for us, in terms of adventure racing. I had a great time.
“You’re doing different activities, so you don’t burn out so much like if you’re just doing the running (in an ultrmarathon).”
Finishing second were the Swamp Sisters, including Tunda Fulop, Tom Fulop, Sylvia Anderson and Danielle Boisvert. The only team to do all four Yukon Adventure Challenges over the last five years – plus the Raid the North Adventure Race in 2002 – rolled over the finish line after about 32 hours.
The teams that dropped out were still ranked according to checkpoints reached and time spent.
Taking third were the Yukon Ironwomen, featuring Christel Bartczak and Tammy Reis, which began as a three-person team but was slimmed down to two when a member became sick the day before the race.
The Ironwomen decided to withdraw from the race near the Friday Creek checkpoint, halfway through the overland trek to Fish Lake.
“They got nervous about carrying on when they realized they would be fully committed to being alone in the bush because there’s no safety net at that point,” said race organizer Mike Tribes. “They are a new team and they were a little bit nervous about their navigation skills so they decided to catch a ride out on a quad. The ride on the quad was so uncomfortable they figured they would have been better off just finishing the race.”
The aptly named team The Lost Patrol, featuring Wendy Tayler, Leif Austad, Dave Hambly and Gerry Noble and who placed fourth, provoked a little concern among organizers by pulling a disappearing act during the race.
“They vanished on us,” said Tribes. “They were two hours ahead of the third-place team and we started to get worried when the third place team arrived at the Friday Creek checkpoint and there was no Lost Patrol. So we were out of contact with Lost Patrol for about 12 hours; we didn’t know where they were – we had no idea.”
Lost Patrol took a wrong turn off Alligator Lake Road, ending up in the wrong valley, then finding their way back to Annie Lake Road where they withdrew from the race.
Taking fifth were the Truncated Spurs, which had a truncated run, withdrawing after breaking a bike chain three times.
“They finally got so frustrated, they quit,” said Tribes. “It wasn’t a new chain, they just repaired the old one.”
Starting in an urban setting, teams began their journey at the Whitehorse Visitors Centre downtown, running to the Schwatka Lake boat launch, from there they paddled to the fish ladder, turned around, and went up river to McCrae Lake boat launch. Getting back on bikes, teams then peddled to the Mary Lake Rock Quarry near the Army Cadets base, staying on the TransCanada Trail, and biked to Annie Lake Road. Dropping their bikes teams then hiked up Alligator Lake Road to Friday Creek.
“From there they had the choice to go to Fish Lake directly – there’s quad trails or overland routes – or they could do an advanced section where they would go all the way to Alligator Lake, which is another eight kilometres, and hike over the hills and ridges to Fish Lake,” said Tribes. “Both routes would have taken them to the far end of Fish Lake.
“They were supposed to paddle from there, but the waves were so high that we just ferried them with a motorboat to the end of the lake.”
From there teams – just two by this point – mountain biked over Mt. McIntyre, hitting a couple checkpoints along the way, eventually reaching the finish line at the Mt. McIntyre Recreation Centre.
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