By JASON MAGNESS
The race is done. For almost a whole week, we battled the mountains, forests, and long, fjord-like lakes of British Columbia in Raid The North Extreme, a six-day, 500km adventure race held July 23 to 31, 2011. Three of the four members of Team GearJunkie/YogaSlackers that competed in this event are safely back in Bend, Ore., our home, and our other teammate is on her way to her sister’s wedding to recover by drinking lots of free champagne. . . .
It has been incredibly difficult these first post-race hours and days to come to terms with much of what happened out there in the remote wilderness during Raid The North Extreme. But the impressions that I do have are of amazingly beautiful and harsh mountains; alpine lakes and impenetrable alders of the Valhalla wilderness; the epic, lung-busting singletrack of the Seven Summits area; and the endless expanse of Arrow Lake.
As if the terrain were not challenging enough on its own, the race logistics broke down early in this event, and they never fully recovered. It was disappointing, and it honestly (unfortunately) destroyed the competitive side of this event. With bags of essential gear regularly missing at transition areas, checkpoints often unmanned and unmarked (we searched for hours for some!), the race forced our team and many others to bond together and switch from “racing mode” to full on survival mode more than once.
There are stories I could tell of fearful screaming in the middle of the night, dangerous mountain traverses, foraging for wild blueberries for extra calories, and serious considerations of toe amputations. . . but, perhaps, it is better for now to keep those to ourselves. In the end, Team Gear Junkie/YogaSlackers was one of only six teams (of the starting 30) to complete the entire course during Raid The North Extreme, a 500km feat. While the official race results are still being worked out — mainly to try and compensate for the inconsistent support offered throughout the race by the organizers — we are busy trying to decide what clothes and gear to wash and clean, and what to just throw away as unsalvageable sacrifices to the Adventure Racing Gods.
This race was a serious challenge, physically, mentally, emotionally, and, unfortunately, logistically. The organizers dropped the ball on many occasions. We’re still reeling from it all, but soon we’ll report back with some more concrete observations. For now, we need sleep. We need to rest and recover and think clearly again. Raid The North Extreme was a killer this year. But we survived. We won’t race this flawed event again. But we learned many lessons in the remote B.C. wilderness, and we’re ready, we think, for even bigger challenges ahead.
—Follow Jason Magness and Team GearJunkie/YogaSlackers this year on the newly-launched team micro-site.