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The exuberant run of Mark Brunet’s race/reality show Eco Challenge from 1995 to 2002 spawned an international boom in adventure racing, and by the time Brunet’s enterprise folded, AR events had become a self-sustaining phenomenon. According to Peter Dobos of Adventure Racing Canada, 2002 also marked the start of Canada’s own brief “golden age” of multi-day adventure racing — the heyday of events like Raid the North and Quebec’s Ukatak. Indeed, back in the early 2000s, there were more races across the country than there were available weekends.
The complexity and expense of organizing these events eventually led to their eclipse by more manageable 4-to-12-hour “sprint” races; happily, Canadians can still enjoy a healthy roster of these each year. On May 21, for instance, Quebec’s Raid Pulse kicks off the 2016 racing season with its first event, an eight-hour rogaine-style race in the Lac Sainte-Marie area in Outaouais. (Named for three of its founders, rogaine is also considered an acronym for “Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigational Expertise.”)
Raid Pulse’s 50-kilometre course explores a storied outdoor playground, with challenging mountain biking paths, gorgeous lakes and kilometres of forest trails. The trekking/bushwalking and paddling legs share some 15 kilometres, while mountain biking takes up the remaining 35. Participants can compete as individuals (solo paddlers must use a kayak; teams of two must use a canoe), two-member female and male teams or two-member co-ed teams. An online mandatory gear list serves as a word of warning: Surprise gear checks during the race carry 15-minute penalties for non-compliance.
Note that on the same day, a two-hour, two-discipline (no paddling) 15-kilometre rogaine-style event known as Le P’tit Raid Pulse is open to competitors from 7 to 77 years of age of all levels of experience. A little taste of what’s possible next year?
Camping at race headquarters is an option, as are nearby cottage and condo rentals. Topographic maps, passports, race support and race jerseys and bike plates are all provided, and prize medals will be awarded at a celebratory meal and ceremony at the end of a challenging day. But the biggest takeaway is that hard-charging adventure racers keep events like Raid Pulse on the calendar. Long may they thrive.
For more information, visit raidpulse.com
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