Monday, April 28, 2008

Navigating the Suburban Rush

So last Saturday I volunteered on the navigation section of the Suburban Rush in Port Moody. While this could be considered to be an entry level adventure race, there were quite a few experienced teams out there who are sponsored by Helly Hansen, Steed Cycles and other outdoor brand names. We (Jordy and me) were in charge of marking trail (mini green road flags and green ribbon) and 7 markers each with its own distinctive stamp. Racers were given a map where each of the markers were laid out and it was up to them how they were to approach each marker. Our job was to be creative enough to lead them to the marker, but not be completely obvious. Since I had a week to go before Miwok (more on this later) and I knew some of the side trails around Buntzen Lake I was given a few markers to set as I saw fit as long as I stuck to the map. Our first mark was #3 which was through a little bushwack and popped out into a little alcove near the lake. I ended up getting poked in the eyebrow by an errant branch. #6 was easily the roughest one as it involved clambering over a slippery log section, through a few downed trees and very narrow singletrack with steep switchbacks. Jordy had prelaid #5, #4 (which was on the FU George trail) which 4 teams and 2 solo runners missed completely. I suggested Mark#1 be in the middle of several uphill log sections that you had to scramble up, but if racers could see beyond the flags, they could bypass the trail and climb up a small fireroad and access the mark that way. By far the most frustrating and easily missed mark was #2. I placed it on the right side of a steep downhill with flags clearly pointing upwards, I designed it so that if someone was going downhill, they'd get tunnel vision and would miss it, but if you were going uphill, you would easily see it because you would be walking this section. Good times. It was a lot of fun directing racers all over the course and looking out for them as well. The only gripe I have was we were not able to assess penalties as quite a few teams did not follow the "You must be within sight of your team member at all times" rule. So for example, on Marker 6, the slower member of the team would wait at the bottom of the hill, while the stronger or less fatigued member would power up the hilly switchbacks and the way the marker was placed, they were more than 10 feet apart. Unfortunately we didn't have team numbers or a camera to take pictures for evidence. I think we should go on a yellow card, red card system for rule infractions. A ten minute penalty may not seem like much, but when the difference between 3rd and 4th place is 7 minutes, I think it'd be a good idea. Okay, rant over.

Miwok is only 5 days away! And I still don't have a plan! Well, other than running it.

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