Through the mists and forests came odd noises. Hollers, whoops of delight, cheers, and cries of frustration floated over the damp air as over 270 racers tackled the Cumberland MOMAR 2011.
This is the first year I’ve done both MOMAR races, the first was in Burnaby late May and the second just last weekend on Vancouver Island in the Comox Valley. This is my second Cumberland race and as I took the dog to the lake the day before for a quick run along the beach the memories come flooding back. My hands can already feel the grip of a paddle, a handlebar, and my legs ache to move faster. Whenever I start to feel nervous about this race I think of the whole point of the MOMAR; I am out with my friends exploring the Canadian wilderness having a ball, what’s not to like?
MOMAR’s 12th season ended with the most challenging course I’ve done so far, there were less transitions so each section seemed longer and more grueling. The kayak stage was smooth and the mists were starting to lift as we headed out for the run. Map reading skills were needed immediately, over shoot the turn off for the first check point and you’d be scrambling back. The elevation was brutal, but diving into the woods got us amped for the whole race – this was going to be fun. The biking was always going to be slippy, rain had pounded the roof of our chalet on Mount Washington the night before and the roots and rocks were slick with it. Mud splattered frames, faces, and backpacks.
The course demanded sections of self navigation; do you decide to take the higher ground length but challenging uphill, or go long and low? In the end you never really know what would have been the better decision, just the one you chose and how it felt. The last orienteering section was my favourite. It’s the same each year, I can see the finish line and I get a second wind which carries me through another map of hidden check points. Scattered amongst boulders, and trees you have to think like a mountain goat to complete the race.
We had been on the course for just under 6 hours, but it felt like half that time. Cumberland is beautiful, and by racing I feel I get to see it from every angle. We rip around the lake, flat like a mirror until the kayaks paddle through, multi-coloured darts in the grey green. Charging through the forest on bike and by foot we find trails and logging roads lined with tress, their leaves changing from green to ocher, red and purple. The town of Cumberland is quaint, welcoming us as we trundle through heads down, reading maps and checking times, the locals patient.
The award ceremony follows a buffet dinner up at Mount Washington. Two local musicians get things going and soon the room is filled with chatter about the race, and laughter about wrong turns and missed check points. This is why I love the MOMAR. I find my friends and we sit content with the day, bellies full, the first beers in hand. I can safely say I’ll be here next year, I wouldn’t miss the thrill of the race, the beauty of the location, and the feeling of a day well spent.
FYI: The video is of the Burnaby race, credit to 1iOpen Productions