Jul 23, 2009

Reports and Updates

Explore Sweden Monster July 3-9th 2009

Six days, 1069km. Sunsdvall, Sweden. Team Yogaslackers (Mark, Sara P, Sara D, Lina).

This was my first time in Sweden and second in Scandanavia (Denmark 2005 Long Distance Triathlon World Champs). Sweden is a beautiful country that is very similar in look to Ontario Canada. I couldn't believe how at ease I felt while there (other than the language barrier). It was Canada with a European twist. The people were great, very friendly and I was surprised at the quality of english I heard from many of the locals. Unfortunately for me this is not South America when it comes to buying anything,...it is much more expensive. Lets just say Ramen was a favorite staple meal of mine...

This adventure race was to be completed in teams of 4 where all teammates complete everything together. Most teams consist of 3 males and a female but ours was different, we had three females and a male. My team consisted of three Americans and myself called the Yogaslackers (www.yogaslackers.com). We began the race in a town called Sundsvall up in Northern Sweden. The complete race was a total of 1069km to be completed in less than 6 days using a large variety of sports. Our team began the race with high hopes for a good finish, we all felt strong but also had never raced together as a team beforehand. The events were pretty wild considering sleep deprived endurance junkies were going to complete them. Mountain biking, white water kayaking, river boarding, rafting and canoeing, mountaineering, inline skating, ziplining, sailing, rock climbing to name a few of the events in the race. Not only is adventure racing a very physically demanding sport but it requires an unbelievable amount of mental strength as well. In a 6 day race anything can happen (good and bad) and each team member needs to keep a strong mental game going (despite fatigue, distress, diet, fear, etc).

Some navigational mistakes in the beginning of the race put our team behind the others after the first section. We all felt a little disapointed I think but remembered that it was a long race and maybe not all was lost so we got on our bikes with relatively high spirits and pushed on. Our strength as a team would have been trekking/running but as luck would have it this race was a bikers paradise. A touch of bad luck would be our story for the next 5.5 days. It seemed like the gods up above just wanted to make an already demanding race even more so for the four of us. Navigational errors, different strengths, flat tires, mechanical bike issues, losing out on the DH bikes, rain, were just some of the unlucky patterns we experienced. Looking back, I can see our strengths and determination. We faught through a lot. We withstood the amazing number of mosquitos, the major bike problems mark's bike kept undergoing (we managed to steal some rest while working on his bike). One of the toughest parts was arriving at the checkpoints while they were tearing things down. The volunteers were amazing and I cant thank them enough for always having a smile on their faces and welcoming us with high fives. We battled through forgotten maps and our support crew getting a blown tire. Another team let us borrow lifejackets and Mark did a fab job navigating without a map...haha... Our team also was the only team not to receive downhill bikes in Are but after a little hissy fit we got on our bikes and had a blast down the mountain. Through it all though there were some fantastic moments and memories: traversing the ridge in the mountaineering section, glisading down the snow, river boarding, rafting, tyrolean across a beautiful and deadly waterfall and working together on the bikes. I love it all and look forward to many more adventure races in my future.

I am proud of the team for keeping the spirits high and the motivation going through the easy and the tough. When just about everyone thought we were done, we kept on going. We were one determined team. It was a beautifully run race and I am so delighted I was lucky enough to participate.

Our Support Crew (Jen and Jenna) put a lot of effort into celebrating our achievements! A little RV party in the local park. Gotta love it! Thanks crew!

More pictures to come when I get them.
Once again thanks Inov-8 for the awesome pack and shoes, nuun hydration, Ibex clothing and Steed Cycles.

whats next? I believe an ultra trail run race is calling my name....possibly Frosty in September. Stay tuned

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