|Photo: Stephen Biggs|
90 eager participants...35 km of biking, skiing and snowshoeing...
4 rolls of flagging tape...
One hell of a winter adventure...
Its official, The Snow Donkey Adventure Race "A Winter Whyte-Out", Manitoba's' first ever full-on winter adventure race is officially in the record books. 90 racers and 40 volunteers were treated to near perfect conditions to hold this fun and frosty event.
The anticipation of what was to come grew as the participants began arriving to register and get their first look at what would be an epic journey taking them from Ft. Whyte Alive to points unknown. With maps and racer directions in hand teams and solos began plotting the best possible route to the various check points and transitions that race organizers had laid out along the course. At the racer briefing racers received further information from race organizer Rick Shone and instructed on race rules, then were sent on their way to began packing necessary gear in two transition bags.
With 10 seconds to go race organizer John Ford began the countdown to start the first of many disciplines racers would travel along the 35km course. A short run followed by teams and solos transitioning to the first of two bike portions had racers pushing to be at the front of the pack. "Remember this is only the start of a 3-4 hour race", John was overheard shouting as they flew by to be first in the lead.
|Photo: Stephen Biggs|
Along the route participants visited check points manned by eager cheering volunteers and had official passports stamped before continuing on to the snow shoe section on Assiniboine River. What a spectacle it was to see racers en mass sprinting across the frozen snow, reminiscent of the original traders that traveled this waterway. Before all could return to their bikes, race organizers had another trick up their sleeves. An orienteering section followed, forcing competitors to find markers along the way. With fatigue setting in, it was back on the bike for the return journey to Ft. Whyte. Talk about having the best volunteers and a MacGyver moment, kudos to Bill and son Tiegan for stepping up and fashioning a bike pedal out of a block of wood to keep a team in the race.
Only on more unmanned check point stood between racers before finally getting on the skis for the final leg of the race. As each left little did they know that the course Rick and John had designed was not your average cross-country ski loop. This would test the racers and put the word "adventure" back in the adventure race. You could hear the groan as teams and solos that led the race realized the reward for being "so fast" was having to do it all over again in the advanced section.
What would be the ultimate ending to this incredible expedition? Why tobogganing to the finish line of course. "It was my favourite part of the race" said the Snow Donkey's youngest competitor at only 14 years old. As racers rocketed down screaming at the tops of their lungs like kids The Snow Donkey 2009 came to close leaving racers and volunteers looking forward to next year.
Thanks again to all that made this great event possible and we look forward to seeing everyone on September 26/09 for "Manitoba's Premiere Adventure Race" the Swamp Donkey!