Storm The Trent
20th and Final Edition
Congratulations and thanks to Sean Roper for the fantastic accomplishment of hosting fun, meticulously organized adventure races for two decades. I remember that his waiver always included a clause allowing him to reschedule the race in case of pandemic. He finally got to use it. The pandemic hit fulltime event organizers extremely hard and Sean moved on to a new career.
This year's STT edition with 3 races over 3 days was the largest AR event ever held in Canada. Storm Racing has introduced so many people to the sport and generated tonnes of interest in other adventure events. After getting bitten by the bug, many Stormers have done Raid The Hammer, Wilderness Traverse and more. It was announced this weekend that Bob Miller will be taking over the Storm brand. We'd already heard that Georgian Nordic will be hosting some new events so the sport should keep its momentum.
Coach LD and I raced in the first wave on the Trek Elite course. That was not an advantage since we started paddling on Little Redstone Lake in pea soup fog. This isn't my photo. We couldn't see other boats until later in our paddle and there were times when we couldn't see shorelines that were fairly close.
I've needed to navigate in fog on outdoor trips and I've navigated on night paddles in adventure racing but I wasn't expecting any navigation challenges on this paddle so I had to change my mindset quickly!
I took a bearing and we headed toward the first floating checkpoint. I really needed a deck compass but instead I tried to balance paddling time with compass time. When we finally saw vague outlines of land on either side, I thought we were passing between the two islands I'd aimed for but we'd veered too far left and were passing between a different island and the mainland. At the time, it seemed like a huge error but looking at our GPS track, it wasn't that big a deal and we relocated properly. It was a happy moment when we saw Bob and his rescue boat emerging from the fog beside the control! He was taking photos.
From there, I took a bearing toward the narrow passage leading to Redstone Lake and checked it more often so we hit it dead on. We had decent visibility while paddling to our CP on Redstone then we returned to fog and a 3rd CP on Little Redstone. With major landmarks missing, it seemed to take a long time to get back to our starting point but the fog was clearing up by the time we finished.
We portaged 800 m uphill back to the TA. Coach LD took the boat and I carried our packs, paddles and bailer. We changed shoes for the rest of the race and set out on our bikes.
At CP2, we dropped our bikes and trekked to three CPs, doing a fair bit of slow running in rolling, technical terrain.
Back on our bikes, we soon left the marked route to find some CPs along the unmarked Trek Elite route. We gained 1300 m of elevation in this race, much of which consisted of riding around bends and looking *way* up. Hills, hills, hills! We rode most of them all the way up. Coach LD has excellent biking fitness and has ridden lots of big hills in recent months. Me, not so much, and my HR was high enough for long enough to make it hard to focus on the map. As it turned out, almost all the CPs were right beside the trail or road so I didn't have to spend as much energy on it as I did but I wouldn't want to ride past a CP and have to go back.
Fitness aside, the riding was super fun! It was a spectacular, cool, sunny autumn day with beautiful northern Ontario scenery. We kept commenting on how lucky we were. It was quintessential Canada - the way you'd see it in a tourism brochure. At one point, we both rode within 5 m of a deer with antlers standing still and watching us calmly. As we passed it, we realized that for some strange reason, we'd both assumed it must be a fake deer because it was so perfect, so relaxed and so close to us. It's not as if we've ever seen a fake deer standing in the middle of the woods but I guess fake deer (less realistic ones) are common at Christmas so it didn't seem that crazy.
We stopped at CP4 for another trek. Our route was an out-and-back so it wasn't a crisis - just a surprise - when we didn't see one CP on the way out. It was further from the trail junction than I had looked for it. On this leg, we jogged some flats and downhills but walked uphills to save energy. Coach LD started craving salt in the sunshine so I dug out my saltiest snacks (not many this time) and gave her an electrolyte pill. By this time, I felt much better, traveling at my all-day endurance pace with HR under control.
Back on the bikes for a mix of gnarly trail and gravel road riding. At CP5, we had a mandatory team photo to prove we were staying together. We were!
From CP6, we could hike up to an optional lookout checkpoint. Obviously, we weren't going to miss that! It was a steep climb up and at the top, we got out the camera and took some photos.
The view with the leaves starting to turn.
Our Storm 20th Anniversary souvenir photos.
And our team photo.
Then we headed back to our bikes for the final ride. By this point, even small hills felt big. We finished on a fun stretch of single track.
We were 2nd of two Female Masters teams but only one Male Masters team had arrived by the time of the awards and they had a full podium. So we felt slow but we did OK. We finished the longest event offered this weekend with smiles on our faces and that's worth a lot.
The winning Male Masters team was Long Time Running, i.e. 'Bent and Tarno. Congratulations!
Big thanks to all the organizers, volunteers and Coach LD for a very fun day in the woods!