Thursday, April 27, 2017

DontGetLost Raid the Rib - Orienteering Race Report

Better late than never, right?

Sarah and I had such a great time at our first DontGetLost race that we decided to try to do Raid the Rib in Niagara over Easter weekend.  But it was teams of three!  What's Team Husky (named after our dogs, not 'cause we're husky) to do?  Convince Toby to do his first orienteering race!!!!

We signed up for the full Raid, or 5 hours.  How bad could it be?

Two weeks out, Toby and I went to Ball's Falls, where the race was held, to scout out the Bruce Trail.  We completely guessed on direction, and then I went the wrong way anyways (how's that for a good omen?) but it ended up just as well as we went the right way for what the race covered.

We ran 17.1k that day, in a true mud-fest that made getting up hills (and there were hills) extremely difficult, plus we ended up bushwhacking unnecessarily long to cross one river that was kind of deep at the trail.  We had a blast!

Race day arrived.  We met up with Sarah, went over the maps (which you only get on race day) and discussed which optional checkpoints we would try to hit for points.

Room with a View was the first checkpoint we aimed for, and we came up with a "clever" shortcut that involved bushwhacking then reaching some faint trails to join up with a more established trail to hit checkpoint 1.

The race was point-to-point, so we took a bus ride to a Scout Camp near Short Hills Provincial Park for the start - and there was a relay to start the race!  Up a steep hill and down a steeper one - going down was scary, and I was passed by faster people so couldn't take the line I wanted so basically control falled down the entire thing, jumping over trees and praying to a god I don't believe in that I would make it down in one piece.  Each team member went in waves - Toby started, I was second, Sarah third.

We finished that and took off to find Room with a View - which, thanks to Toby's eagle eyes, went pretty smoothly! 
Where we went wrong was with our "clever" short cut.  We quickly found animal paths and followed them through brambles and thorns, picking them out of our arms and bleeding from our legs  (Toby and I were in shorts - it was going up to 20C! - not a great idea for orienteering, but - I used to play rugby, and you're not doing it right unless there's blood).  Sarah, who was more appropriately attired, fared better, but still got scratched on her calves over the course of the race - and muddy! 
At some point, after awhile of wandering around in the bush, we decided to give up on our clever short cut.  We made it back to the Scout Camp but were turned around and in looking for checkpoint 1 headed towards an area of optional checkpoints that we weren't planning on doing called the Canada 150.  Not where we wanted to be.  We headed back, then ended up going towards another point of the Canada 150.  Luckily we saw April, Mel, and Dawn and realized we were going the wrong way.  We started following some of the Canada 150ers, and found checkpoint 1.

We were at least an hour behind time.

And still fairly turned around.  Looking for checkpoint 2 we kept being unsure of where we were (Sarah and Toby were very good at sorting us out) - but eventually we found it.  We spent a very long time confused of directions before we started hitting checkpoints.

But by then the damage was done.  We hit checkpoint 5 and the aid station and assessed - we didn't have time to do the optional relay near there.  It was funny, Toby had a deep scratch on the inside of one of his knees that had bled down both legs.  He looked amazing!  The aid station ladies seemed concerned, but Toby, also a former rugby player, handled it in proper fashion - which is to say he ignored it!

We then headed towards a section where there were three checkpoints, but six possible locations - and you needed to hit the checkpoints in order.  We started looking for them, to no luck - and I said 'Honestly guys, we're not going to finish in the time limit (you lose points being over) and I think we need to take the points deduction for missing checkpoints and just get going - in the end, we found the last checkpoint there.

Saw Wanda's team, and followed them crossing a river above a waterfall - fun!  We then climbed the bank on the other side on the steepest, muddiest part there was.  Oops.

But we were hitting checkpoints better now.

Saw April, Mel and Dawn - how did they get behind us?  They're fast!  But they had gotten lost looking for checkpoint 2, then been hitting optional checkpoints.

By this point we were back on the section of the Bruce that Toby and I had run before, and were approaching the end.  We were also tight for time.  We tried to pick it up but along 20 Mile Creek or whatever it is there were just some really technical parts that are difficult to run.  And then the STAIRS.  Heh.  It's a brutal climb.  I gapped Toby :)  #chicked

We hit the last two checkpoints, then ran it in, about 5 minutes under time.
Muddy and happy!  It was fun!

Though, we were penalized 20 minutes over 5 hours (I assume that's why our finish time was 5:20) and finished with 0 points.  (We weren't the only team to do so)  We ran just under 20k - well, 'ran' - some parts running, some parts hiking/bushwhacking, some parts standing around trying to figure out where we were!

Next time, I want to help out with navigation - I left it to Sarah and Toby, but I should help out too.  I understand how to navigate, so there's no reason I can't do it.

All in all it was a great time and as Toby's scars fade we're hoping to convince him to run Raid the Hammer with us in November - he had fun, and the next day was already talking about things to do differently 'next time'.  Too early to register for it yet though! 

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