September 14, 2010

Yukon Adventure Challenge Mini: August Rush

When the 24 to 36-hour Yukon Adventure Challenge was held earlier this year, I had trouble finding a teammate. For some reason, hiking, biking, and canoeing for 36 hours doesn't appeal to most people. I just don't get it.

After the race earlier in the season, when I was grousing about my inability to find a teammate, Pauline suggested we team up. Pauline is an adventure challenge veteran, so she already knew what she was getting into - and that's the best type of teammate to have.

Then, good fortune smiled our way. The race organizer decided to host a second race this summer - a scaled-down, 12-hour version called The Yukon Adventure Challenge Mini: August Rush. We were ready.

The race started dark and early at the base of Haeckel Hill. First, to begin separating the teams, there was a run.

Then, at the first Transition Area, each of the teams grabbed their trekking bags (containing the mandatory gear), and the hiking began. For Pauline and I, that meant walking at a swift trot.

As we rose above the tree line, wading through the wet buckbrush on an old trail that I knew, we knew that we were doing well. Before long, we were walking across the alpine tundra on Mount Sumanik.

Our goal was Mount Wilson and, after that, Scout Lake.

The trekking portion of the race.
We had started off strong in the coolness of the morning, but as the sun rose we began to feel the heat.


Feeling the heat.

Pauline does an imitation of the Kokanee sasquatch. (Not all readers may get this reference. Please leave a comment if you require or desire an explanation.)

At last we had a view of the other side. Thinking myself clever, I took us further to the left of Scout Lake than we should have gone. My intent was to avoid the mass of moraines and fire-kill at the base of Mount Wilson. Gah! How I blundered! We fumbled down the slopes searching for a trail through the thick lodgepole pines and fallen fire-killed trees. When we did find the trails, they wound back and forth, never quite taking us to our destination. Eventually, we decided that the direct route would have to do and we wandered back into the fire-killed trees and thick lodgepole pine. Finally, we reached Scout Lake.

There was a checkpoint at Scout Lake that we were told was in the lake. I thought that meant it was on a muddy, white-clay peninsula that jutted out into the lake. After sinking to my knees in an unsuccessful attempt to find it on the peninsula, we continued around the lake only to discover that it really was in the lake.

I stripped down to nothing but my underwear and my ultra-cool hat (I found an old funnel on the trails - and wanting to do my part to keep our trails clean, I picked it up and used most of my duct tape to fashion it into a very stylish hat) and swam out to the checkpoint. Of course, there was a photographer from a local paper there to capture the whole thing. Yes, my cool hat made the paper.

After the long hike (and refreshing swim), we welcomed the transition to our bikes. We flew down the old roads, hoping to catch up to the three teams that were now ahead of us.

What the..? Where did this dog come from?
Well, there he goes!

Biking in the Ibex Valley.

The biking portion of the race.
Then, of course, we had our accident. There always has to be an accident, doesn't there? Fortunately, we were able to make our repair and keep moving.

Another checkpoint, another opportunity to get soaking wet.

For the most part, the riding was fast and I had few opportunities to take pictures. Another team had caught up to us after our repair and, though we tried, we couldn't quite keep up. They beat us to the next Transition Area - the portage.

Carrying the canoe down to the Takhini River.

The canoeing section of the race.

Although paddling should have been our strongest area, it took us a little while to get in the groove. Around the first bend, though, we overtook the team that had overtaken us.

The clock was ticking. The race had a cut-off time and we already knew that most of the teams weren't going to make it. Would we?

After the long hike and subsequent bike, we could feel our muscles stiffening as we sat in the canoe. After we dropped off our canoe, there was a final 3km dash to the finish line. We tried to jog it, but my knee had started to hurt. I did a hobble-trot for the finish while Pauline jogged beside me. The cut off time was looming...

"We're almost done! We're almost done!"

..but we made it, the fourth of four teams to finish the race within the time limit.

Pauline celebrated by hugging her daughter. Pauline was a fantastic teammate and I would race with her again in a heartbeat.

I celebrated by soaking my muscles in the hotsprings.

And then by tasting my shiny new medal.

I loved the 12-hour format and hope the organizer continues to host them. I think they're the perfect opportunity for people who would like to try adventure racing but aren't ready to commit to a 24 to 36-hour race.

Conclusion? The YAC Mini rules!

The entire route.


Megan said...


dogsled_stacie said...

Congrats! Looks like fun.

Jennoit said...

Congrats! A 12 hour format like this really appeals to me - aside from the banoeing part (don't have a canoe, don't really know how to canoe).

Meandering Michael said...

It's easy to learn! I've got one you can borrow.