|By Rebecca Dussault|
The name adventure race sure says it all. It entails adventure, risk, effort, suffering, trials, teamwork, tears and joy. It takes 4 individuals and makes them into a race machine, depending on each other every step of way.
I was the one woman on the four-person team representing Salomon/Crested Butte for the 4-day stage adventure race in Wulong, China. As a team we traveled some 34 hours from Gunnison to our race location in a remote part of southern China.
The race put us up at Fairy Mountain Xuefu Hotel, which is an hour bus ride uphill from the city of Wulong with an elevation gain around 5,500 ft from the valley floor. The race would entail 4 days of stages with money to be awarded to the winner of each day's stage and overall. Our team comprised Jon Brown, Eric Sullivan, Brian Smith and myself. Some with much more adventure racing experience than others, but altogether super solid athletes.
The travels were tough on us, but we picked ourselves up and got our gear and ourselves ready for the race. Each day was a "junk show" of gear that had to be sorted into various team bins, which would be transported to different locations on course where we'd transition from one discipline to another.
We had to ready things like climbing harnesses, running shoes, headlamps, energy food, personal flotation devices, and tools for biking and fixing flats, etc... Being new to this my head would sometimes spin as we made strategic plans for the day.
Fast and Furious through the streets of Wulong City was the name of this game. This stage was gripping with its high speed. Right from the start line I was on tow behind super runner Brian who ripped me around the course. It was a 3km run, 4km bike, 4km raft, and ½ km run to the finish.
We had a good mental advantage by showing up as the only team on road slick tires and we worked hard during the stage and remained competitive the whole way until our boat got swamped in a rapid. This made for slower paddling and in the end we chased hard to secure 4th place only a minute or so behind the winning French Team.
After a rough night's rest with roommate Brian up coughing and taking medicine, we rolled out of our not so soft beds to greet the day.
This day's stage started only a short drive from the mountain top hotel and began with a short hard run to the bikes. With our biking shoes already on we were ready to mount up and spin the pedals for 2.5 hours. It had poured with rain all night and with the clay like texture of the soil it was a sloppy, muddy ordeal all day. The biking in the area is a mix of village single track; rough cut double track roads and the occasional stretch of pavement. Some of the trails are so steep and treacherous that it is better to dismount and hike with your bike up on your back. With the rocks resembling freshly exploded stone, it is easy to get flat tires and we experienced three on this day.