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Expedition Canada 2023 Race Recap:







Day 0: Dusty and I arrived before our teammates and were able to check into our room.

Thankfully it was on the first floor which made getting gear into the room much easier than it

would have been otherwise.





Thankfully, we were all able to arrive a couple of days before the race started so we had plenty

of time to pack, discuss, repack, etc. We enjoyed some tasty pre-race food as we packed and

went to meetings and gear check-ins before the race.

Pic- A



There ended up being several torrential downpours the nights and days leading up to the race.

This added some last-minute course changes to the canyon and white-water sections. The river

we were planning to paddle was in flood stage and running at 19k an hour! The extra rain also

meant there would be plenty of running water accessible along the course. Our plan for water

became much simpler since we had our Hydrapak in-line filters and cap filters ready to go.


As we packed and sorted, there were very few hiccups except for the issue with our flat trolley

tire…this ended up being the “thorn in our side” if you will up until we turned our gear in.

Thankfully, we had some perseverance, a patch kit or two, a wonderful race volunteer (Dianne),

and a handy friend and fellow racer, Jameson Henkle, to help get it fixed.


Prologue:


The prologue was the day before the race start and consisted of a fun, local course around the

host hotel in Penticton where we went to different points of interest, gathered checkpoint

clues, and enjoyed some of the local activities and food. It was very wet during this stage, hence

our fashionable rain outfits!




Race Day: 2:15AM- Alarms go off, we are up and dressed. Bags get to designated drop area and

we are on the bus with our first set of maps by 2:45AM. The race start was set for 8:00AM so

we had a long ways to go. Once the buses were packed, Dusty, Lebn, and Jason started on the

maps.



Roughly halfway to our destination there was an urgent pull-over for a projectile vomiter in the

seat behind us. Thankfully, the bus driver pulled over in time and all of the emisis made it

outside (phew!). By the time we reached the race start, everyone was ready to get out and

stretch the legs. It was at a heli-ski lodge at Keffer Lake. It was here we received a tasty

breakfast, coffee, and final instructions before we started on the first stage- an alpine trek.

Pic #18


Stage 1, Day 1: Alpine Trek



At 8:00AM sharp, everyone lined up on the start line and we were released for the start of the

race. The majority of teams decided to do this leg counterclockwise, while a handfull of teams

went clockwise. It was a very wet stage with rain, water crossings, wet snow, and bushwhacking

through wet brush. About an hour into this stage we thought our race was over when we heard

Jason scream in agony and fall to the snow on his back, holding his foot in the air. When we

rushed over to him we could see roughly 4inches of a sharp branch sticking straight out of his

foot. I remember all I could think was, “Puncture wound. Leave it in…but we have to see how

bad it is…take it out.” After a few moments, we removed the stick and Jason immediately said,

“Ok, let’s keep going!” But the rest of us made him take his shoe and sock off to make sure he

hadn’t done any damage. Thankfully, the skin wasn’t broken, but his shoe now had a hole

stright through the bottom and Jason had a rather tender bruise on his foot. We were thankful

to the other two teams nearby who stopped with us to make sure Jason was ok. Thanks Bones

Canada and Team More Mayo! The rest of the stage went pretty smoothly as we tromped


through the wet conditions. The final few hundred meters back to the TA we felt pretty

confident that we were in first since we had done that stage way faster than the expected fast

estimate and we hadn’t seen anyone else out there. But, to our surprise we saw a team racing

towards us on the road on their bikes. We finished the final stretch into the TA and quickly built

our bikes, changed clothes, and packed for the next stage. Thankfully we were able to find

some cover from the rain for a few moments.




Stage 2, Day 1: Mountain Bike


Temperature regulation was tricky during this race and this was the start of our struggle. This

leg started with a big descent and it was raining and cold when we left Keffer Lodge. However,

once we got a bit lower in elevation and started another climb, we started to overheat. We

began to realize that layering choices were going to be a strategic part of this race. This leg

went fairly smooth as we alternated from gravel roads to pavement to gravel again and even

had some fun single track further along in this stage. We started to have some struggles on the

climbs and were able to manage shifting weight around and using the bike tow. At this point,

Bones Canada was hot on our heels and the Team 400 Givaudan was about 30-40min ahead of

us. There were a couple of rather challenging hike-a-bikes in the middle of the night along a

hard to follow trail called the High Rim Trail (HRT) and down an old road that turned into a

creek and back into a road again (awesome nav @Dustycaseria! This was a very challenging

section, especially at night). A nice pick-me-up during the middle of this stage was the breakfast

sandwiches we had saved at the start! We ended up finishing this leg at 0240 on the second

day of the race, arriving during the dark zone for stage 3, the canyon section.

Stage 3, Day 2: The Canyon



This stage was open from 5:00AM to 7PM meaning any time before or after was considered a

“dark zone.” We arrived before 5:0AM0 so we were able to rest and get a small sleep in before

the start of this section. Team 400 Givaudan had arrived at 2:00AM and were already asleep in

their bivvys when we arrived. After a quick wardrobe change into our neoprene, we lay down

on the ground for a 90min nap. At 4:40AM, we woke up and got ready to do the canyon. Teams

were staggered by 10min intervals and only 4 teams could be in the canyon at once. Bones

Canada had arrived during the wee morning hours as well and were up, getting their gear ready

as we waited our 10min after Team 400 Givaudan started at 5:00AM.




The canyon ended up being a bit of highlight in the race. It was a great way to start the day,

wake, up, get cleaned off, and was not as cold as we were expecting.

Stage 4, Day 2: Mountain Bike



This stage was a short bike to the transition to the Canoe. We had sunny skies and a gravel trail

to follow all the way to the park at the edge of Wood Lake, the start of the paddle.

Stage 5, Day 2: Canoe Paddle



We arrived at the TA just as Team 400 Givaudan was finishing packing up their gear and getting

ready to launch. We quickly broke down our bikes and got our paddle gear ready for the stage.




The canoe leg would take us across the length of two lakes, Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake.

The wind was just starting to pick up a bit and we were hoping it would not build any further as

we hopped in our boats and head out. This is what the trolleys we packed were for. If the wind

caused unsafe paddle conditions on the lakes we would have to portage along the edge of the

lakes, hauling our gear behind. To our relief, the wind never picked up (for us at least) and we

were able to stay in the water the whole stage. As the day proceeded to warm up, a couple of

us started to get a little sleepy. Jason had packed a couple of waterproof speakers which helped

keep us engaged for an hour or so, but then just before the 2 nd checkpoint we started to fade

again. This is the point where we employed the “Floating hotel” strategy by hooking the two

canoes together, placing 3 people in the front canoe and one person in the back canoe so the

back person could take a nap while the other 3 paddled. This allowed for our two sleepiest

team members (which included me), to get about 30 min of sleep each while keeping us moving

forward. By the end of the canoe, Team 400 was gone out of the TA and we couldn’t see Bones

Canada behind us.




Stage 6, Day 2-3: Trek




This trek was going to be our longest stage on foot. We put on new shoes, dry clothes, packed

our sleeping pads, and food, prepared to be out for the night and into the next morning. Our

feet were doing well at this point since we had been managing the wet by using @aoskincare

skindoctor and changing socks at each transition. As we headed out of the TA, it started to heat

up and we ended up stripping down to just our @noname pants and our race jersies. We knew

we had seen part of this leg before on the first bike stage and were glad we were hiking it

second instead of biking it!



- You will notice a reflective construction vest on the back of our packs often during this

race. These were part of our mandatory gear to keep us visible to cars when we hit

sections of highway along the course in different stages. –


After a semi-pleasant evening trekking mostly along trail and dirt roads, we found our pace

beginning to slow down. After trying a few different things to keep our pace honest, we

decided it was time to sleep. We found a lovely, marked camp site along the HRT that even had

a pit toilet and toilet paper in a coffee can! We immediately took off our shoes, got all of our

clothes that we had packed layered on, pads on the ground, in our bivvys, and alarm clocks set

within a few minutes and were able to get a couple of hours of sleep (for the most part). Just

before our alarms went off we heard Bones Canada come up to the campsite and exclaim, “Oh!

Look guys! There is a toilet!” Then we heard one of their teammates say, “Actually, guys, is it ok

if I take a poop here?” It was right around then one of them saw us sleeping in the campsite

and they immediately started whispering. This was one of those moments where I had to laugh

to myself as I lay there, on the ground, taking a step back from the situation and imagining how

hilarious it was to be here in the middle of the night with several of my adult friends, all trying

to sneak by each other. After Bones Canada had moved on, we officially woke up, packed up,

and headed off after Bones Canada. We knew we had a good sleep under our belts and would

find our pace quickened with the renewed energy. About 20min later we caught up to our

friends and shared a few laughs then after a brief water stop didn’t see them again until the

final trek TA. This trek was far from over as we headed down towards the highway for a reroute

that was due to a creek crossing being at flood stage and now impassable. As we ascended up

past the marked reroute towards CP 26, we found the terrain becoming much more difficult.

There were so many down trees crossing every which way and it made travel extremely slow

and tedious. As we moved through the downfall, we kept scouting ahead to see if it improved.

It seemed like we would be stuck in that mess for hours, until finally the trees cleared a bit and

we found an old logging track that headed in just the right direction! It was steep, but very

direct and ended up dumping us out on the road we wanted. We were so thankful to have

stumbled upon this since there were other teams who struggled to find it or decided to take the

alternative route which was significantly longer distance.



Once we crested the hill, there were a couple of us who started to doze off again. We tried

playing a “Guess this Movie” game for a while and that kind of helped, but it was still a struggle

to keep all of us awake. The last part of the trek was in a nordic ski area and ended with the TA

at a Nordic Ski hut.

Stage 7, Day 3: Mountain Bike



*I have to mention the amazing burger surprise we received at this TA. And, coffee which we

poured into a bike bottle for some pick-me-up caffiene during the stage.

]


This stage started and ended fast. We hit the Kettle Valley Rail trail (KVR) which was a flat and

pretty straight gravel/dirt/some pavement trail, got in a pace line behind Dusty, and took off!

We were making good time, but the heat of the day and the pending thunderstorm was starting

to hit so we took a short 5min leg-up-delayer stop along the trail. Good thing it was short since

the mosquitos started to swarm almost immediately. This ride was rather pretty as it headed

through the valley towards the climb we would hit a ways in that once at the top would

descend down into the packraft. The packraft was our intermediate “finish line” in that we

planned to push to hit the packraft during the day. There was no dark zone so we could paddle

it at night, but it would be much faster if we could just paddle in the daytime. Due to our faster

than expected initial trek and hitting the dark zone for the canyon section our timing was

different than expected. Almost immediately after we delayered down to bike shorts and race

jerseys it started to hail. It was still sunny and hot but hailing. We could hear thunder overhead

as well. The precipitation was a welcome change to the muggy heat bowl we had been in only a

few moments before, especially since we were just about to start the climb. We continued to

push hard this stage and made it down to the packraft transition at around 5pm.

Stage 8, Day 3-4: Packraft



*I will make a note again here that the river was in flood stage leading up to the race and was

still in flood stage when we hit it on day 3. Before the start Nathalie, the race director, had told

everyone that without paddling the river was running at 19k/hr (that’s almost 12mph!).


Unfortuately, this TA had a couple of unexpected surprises. The first one was the mosquitos.

They were everywhere and they were excited to see us. The second was that we were given

instructions that the first CP on this stage was 7k away (on land) and the packraft put-in was

another 1k from the CP. We were not prepared to carry our packraft gear that far and were

slightly dissapointed that we were most likely going to be paddling in the dark for the majority

of the stage instead of thinking we might only have 1hour or so of night paddling. Once we

heard the news that we had a bit of a trek we immediately started pearing down our gear to

only the essentials and throwing everything else in bins and bike boxes. This was one of our

best transitions of the race. Mosquitos and new info = increased speediness. The trek to the

first CP was uneventful. The trek to the put-in from the first CP was really more of a bush whack

and Lebn was in Tevas for all of it. We hit the waters edge at 7:15pm. As we watched the huge

waves pass us by at breakneck speed, we started to hurriedly get gear stowed in the boats,

drysuits on (more mosquitos here of course), and the boats inflated. We had to get the boats in

the water by 8pm in order to miss the mandatory portage of the first rapid. Once we had all of

our gear together and made it in the boats, we grasped rocks and small trees on the bank in the

tiny eddy as we prepared to launch into the rushing water. Jason and Lebn went first with Dusty

and I close behind. The first hazard was a log jam that we had to stay river left to avoid which

was easy enough, but then we had to paddle river right to avoid the massive boulder at the

next bend. I remember paddling as hard as I could to get to middle of the river and just hit river

right before hitting the corner. Once past this initial hazard, we were all a bit more awake and

could relax just a little bit as we continued to speedily send it down the river. We all took a

moment just as the sun set to look around in awe at the beauty and wonder of the this thing we

were getting to do. Not many people get to enjoy such a beatiful scene in such wild feeling

circumstances. The remainder of the paddle was spent with the front person’s headlamp fixed

ahead, ears peeled for the sound of water rushing over or into log hazards. We had one nice

spectator yell from his deck on the shore to watch out for strainers. Needless to say, the Team

400 Givaudan completed this stage almost 2 hours faster than us, but they did it during the

daylight. We pulled into the TA around midnight, thankful to give the eyes and ears a small

break from such intense focus. Yes, even without paddling hard this stage took us about 6

hours, 1 hour faster than the fast estimate.

Stage 9, Day 4: Mountain Bike



This TA was pleasant. There was green grass, no mosquitos (at least there were none for us, we

heard horror stories from other teams who got there earlier in the day), and the volunteer had

a propane fire pit set up. We started this stage in a weird state. We left the TA in one direction

for about 30 seconds, but were a bit disoriented and ended up backtracking. Within a few

minutes, we were on track but about 15 minutes in to the ride we had another short 15min

stop along the side of the road. We got off our bikes lay on the ground and set the watch timer.

The sleep strategy was in a strange place for this race since we got some sleep on the first night

which we normally don’t do and we were about 12 hours or less from the finish line by the last

night so we weren’t really planning on a long sleep for the last night but we had been going for


over 24hrs since our last sleep. This short 15min rest was a strange experience for me. I think I

fell asleep, but I felt like I could see strobing lights on the inside of my eyelids the whole time.

The alarm went off and we were back on our bikes. We had some much needed ecclectic music

compilations blasting from the mini wrist speakers Jason had brought as we climbed. I don’t

remember about 1hr of this part of the ride. I was pretty much asleep on my bike, just trying to

think about anything else but sleeping. Just before it started to get light we had another small

sleep of about 25minutes. We were on the gravel road now and had just gotten the last CP

before the TA for the final trek. We pulled over onto some nice grass below a tree and passed

out for 25 minutes. When we woke up it was just starting to get light out. We hopped on our

bikes and continued our rolling disco jam the rest of the way to the TA which was a the Mt.

Baldy ski area. This climb felt like the longest and most brutal one of the race.

Stage 10, Day 4: Alpine Trek



*I will note here that we had carried our snow shoes on the bike leading up to this trek just in

case we needed them. We did not use the on the first alpine trek, but since this stage was in a

different area we wanted to be sure we were prepared. We did not end up using snow shoes at

all during this race, but they had a nice tour of the area as they rode on our backs!

We could see Team 400 Givaudan’s bikes leaned up against a fence in the TA so we knew they

were still out on the trek. We found out that they had been on the trek for about 4 hours

already. We knew we would probably not be able to catch them at this point unless something

went drastically wrong which means there was still a slight chance. This is adventure racing

after all and things happen! We transitioned to our trekking gear in the cool of the early

morning so we were all in our puffys as we started up the climb to the first CP. Within the first

30 minutes we had warmed up and had removed our extra layers. We did hit some snow on

this trek in patches, but since it was still early we were able to find firm ground in most places.

The CPs were arranged so that the route that made the most sense was to either do a

circumnavigation of the summit of Mt. Baldy or to get a few of the CPs on one side then trek up

and over the summit of the mountain to get the final CP on the opposite side. We chose to do

the circumnav, as did Team 400 Givaudan since we found their tracks in several places in the

snow. The nav was spot on (well done Dusty!) and the views were spectacular! There was a

tricky CP on the backside of the mountain where it was placed on a “high point.” But, it was

tricky because there were a couple of high points and they were all similar in elevation.

Thankfully, we found it pretty quickly and were on our back to our circumnav towards the final

CP of the loop. At one point, Dusty was in the lead and stopped all of the sudden in his tracks

and quietly pointed just ahead of him at a baby dear lying on the ground, frozen, staring up at

us. He said he almost stepped on it because it was so quiet, still, and camoflauged! The baby

dear didn’t even blink as we cautiously passed by. The last CP was at a backcountry hut where

you could see the upper part of the climb we had done on our bikes early that morning and we

could see the TA. At this point we were all ready to be done and it started to show a little bit in

our communication. Thankfully, we were all aware of it and were able to keep things going.


When we arrived back at the TA we saw Team 400 Givaudan’s bikes were gone and had been

replaced by Bones Canada’s bikes. We started to transition back to bike gear as Bones Canada

woke up from a sleep on the Mt. Baldy Ski lodge floor. It was fun seeing them and cheering

them on for their final trek and they gave us a boost of encouragement as well since we all

knew at this point that we were 2 nd and they were 3 rd . It was roughly noon when we arrived at

the TA, Team 400 Givaudan was just reaching the finish line at this time. We knew we were no

longer chasing the team in front of us and were no longer being chased by the team behind so

our pace relaxed a little bit.

Stage 11, Day 4: Mountain Bike to the finish!




There was some weather rolling in as we transitioned back to our bikes and we were still at

elevation. Knowing that this leg was a lot of descending we layered up for the exit from the ski

lodge. Within 45min of leaving the TA, it started to warm up again and we did a delayering stop.

We found the final CP of the race without issue and continued down a dirt road that eventually

turned into pavement. This stage seemed like it would be a breeze, but this is after almost

3.5days of racing on 4 hours of sleep, in the heat of the day, without any pressure to catch

anyone or leave anyone, on a big descent. DANGER!!! There was a point on one of the long,

paved downhills where Dusty was in front and all of the sudden Jason whizzes past him. Lebn

rolls up shortly after and rides next to Dusty exclaiming, “Jason just flew by me too and when I

looked over at him his eyes were closed! Chelsey said that if he injures himself on a bike one

more time he can’t race again!” Now we were in literal survival mode as we chased down Jason

and tried to keep him awake. He had the speaker blaring pump up music, I was riding next to

him asking him questions about his favorite ice cream, Chelsey’s favorite, Max’s favorite, and

Revel’s favorite. Still, his eyes kept shutting. I pulled out my bike bottle, got slightly ahead of

him and started spraying his face with water. It worked! For 1minute. Then I had to do it again.

And again, and again. I was running out of water and we were running out shoulder as we got

closer to town with more traffic. Around the elevation of the lake we hit a wall of heat. Jason

pulled over and sat down behind the only shade he could find- a telephone pole. I urged him to

take off his long sleeved black wool shirt and leg warmers, but he said he just needed a minute.

One minute later he sprung up, jumped on his bike and took off. I chased him down as Dusty

and Lebn worked to catch us. We knew we were still in trouble if we didn’t find some coke or

ice to cool Jason down and keep him awake. Finally, we hit a major intersection at a highway

where there was a gas station. We had 20 canadian dollars so we went in and grabbed all the

cold drinks we could get with it and one ice cream cone to share. Outside the store we all

stripped down to our race jersey and bike shorts (a reoccuring theme you might have noticed),

topped off our bike bottles with coke and water and left in a much better place.




I have crossed a lot of finish lines in my life, but everyone of them feels just as good as the last.

This one was no different. It was a beautiful setting on the edge of Lake Skaha. There was cool

grass to sit in and fresh pressed paninis waiting for us when we crossed. We finished around 6pm on day 4 of the race. For being a shorter expedition race, it felt much longer! The terrain was

interesting and beautiful and the weather stayed pretty good for us the entire time. This is a

race I would do again someday.




A Post-Race Recovery Activity: Mountain Bike Wine Tasting in Penticton




*A mini, human powered wine tasting tour post-race with fellow racers! What a treat!


I am thankful for my teammates. These adventures would be no where near the same without

friends to share them with. I am also thankful for the awesome AR community we have. So

many good people, getting after it, and enjoying what this awesome sport has to offer! A big

thanks to Nathalie and Hoodoo Adventures for putting on a great race! And to Team

BendRacing/Skindoctor’s awesome sponsors: Angelina Skincare-SkinDoctor, Leki, USWE, MRS,

Hydrapak, Fenix, Shimano, Lazer, Saltstick, Kahtoola, and FourHour Fuel.

Now, it’s time to keep recovering and prepping for Expedition Africa the AR World

Championships in October!

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