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Raid Pulse - 20 Years of Exploring Wilderness and Changing Lives

Stephan Meyer / 19.09.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
The author finishing the 2021 race
The author finishing the 2021 race / © Stephan Meyer

As I stood at the start line, surrounded by hundreds of fellow racers, I wondered how many of these people were taking part in their first-ever adventure race. Unbeknownst to some, it might end up being a life-changing experience. For my part, it felt odd knowing these people might now refer to me as an 'old-school AR racer'.  This was the 17th year I'd been adventure racing, but with every race comes the chance to learn and grow. This particular race? The Raid Pulse 8 Hour race. 

Amazingly, this event was celebrating its 20th year in existence! Think about that for a moment.

Twenty years ago, AR was in the beginnings of what I'd call it's first 'Eco-Challenge glory days'. That's when people like me, young, possibly overweight, sedentary armchair athletes accidentally stumbled across something on TV called the 'Eco-Challenge'. The things these athletes were taking part in on-screen stirred something within us, and we sought out local events to get a taste of that life.

In my case, I can say with certainty that it changed my life. While I previously spent too much time in bars, playing music in a band and over-indulging, with zero fitness pursuits, my life changed gradually at first, then more dramatically. 

I tried my first adventure race, and DNF'd. I learned a lot, and realized I'd actually have to train for this kind of 'fun'.  So I started training, more and more with every passing year. Before I knew it, I was running marathons, polishing off ironman distance triathlons, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and spending as much of my free time outdoors as I could.

Throughout it all, my love affair with AR continued. I dabbled in increasingly longer events that started taking me to amazing locations I didn't know existed, and making a network of like-minded friends that kept me on this healthy path. And you know what race was always there for me? 

Yup. Raid Pulse. I didn't learn about this Quebec, Canada based organization until 2006, but they were instrumental in my growth in the sport. My first 24 hour race? Yup, Raid Pulse. My first multi-day race? Yes again. My first winter adventure race (complete with pawls that were frozen open which meant I effectively had a push bike...), you guessed it, Raid Pulse. 

I also got to cross paths with, race against, or as a team-mate to, and learn from people that had actually done those amazing Eco-Challenge races. What an opportunity from such a local, grass-roots event!

I grew in the sport, along with Raid Pulse co-founders Thierry and Annick, now married and with children that join them at the races to help out. When the sport went into a bit of a lull, they pared back from putting on a series of races every year to focusing on putting on one or two quality events. Always in new locations only a few hours from where I live, and ALWAYS a different course. I have been relying on their events to get my AR fix for 15 years and counting! There used to be several other companies around here, but now they are the last event standing. 

My first ever race was with a group called Outlast Adventure Racing. Well, apparently they did NOT Outlast Raid Pulse. Another company, Frontier Adventure Racing (which also put on the successful Raid the North races) was a staple, but no longer exists. One of the owners moved out west and did 'ok' in partnering with Garry Robbins and putting on excellent ultra trail races like the Squamish 50.  Another company, Sea 2 Summit, which put on fun events 'back in the day' packed up their bags as well.  Even the charity-driven Quest for a Cure, where I cut my teeth in the 48 hour length, only lasted a few years. But Raid Pulse? They are still there for you!

So, back to the starting line, and the newbies around me.  Many, if not most of them, were inspired by the too-short-lived Eco-Challenge revival aired on Amazon Prime Video. How do I know? They told me so. I could only smile, as it brought back so many memories for me. 

I've broken more [expensive] gear in these races than most people will own in a lifetime. I've learned about teamwork, leadership, mental toughness, and gained more skills than I can count. I met my future wife at a race where she was volunteering. I proposed to her at the end of another hard-fought race where my position didn't matter to me at all, since I had her engagement ring with me the whole time. Heck, even our officiant was a fellow who briefly ran an Adventure Race Training course (which I took) when I was starting out!

Adventure racing has made me a better person, a better leader, a better husband, and set me on a path of lifelong fitness. So when I say that many of these people had no idea that this race could change their lives, I'm not being superlative. It's the absolute truth. And thanks to longstanding race organizations like Raid Pulse, they're given the chance to start down a new life path. 

So, as the starting pistol went off, and I started trotting in the direction of CP11, with my wife as my team-mate, I couldn't help but smile broadly and let out a massive cheer. This is life, in all its glory.  Cheers to Raid Pulse and it's first 20 years! I hope to race with them many more years, and hope to see some of YOU out there too!

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