Preparing for MOMAR 2014

Most of my mistakes in life begin when I open my mouth…

Many things we think about privately and more times than not, these thoughts stay private. Some of us however, get this strong feeling to share these thoughts a bit earlier than might be wise. I fall into that category.

A few months ago I sent an email to my fellow members at Coquitlam Search & Rescue asking if anyone had any interest in the MOMAR (Mind over Matter Adventure Race). I had always wanted to do this and it has been on my bucket list for a few years. I sent the email without really considering the possibility that others would accept the invite. I simply thought, “I want to do this but need a team of 4 so I will invite people and then feel as though I at least tried.” Of course, SAR people are full of adventure and enthusiasm for any challenge. They thrive on this actually so it should have been no surprise when I immediately received three emails from members who were interested. Damn. Now I was committed.

While my dream of doing this event is going to come true, it now means I need to step up on several levels. As the person who had the bright idea I must organize the team and do registration (done), help coordinate our trip over to Cumberland, line up accommodations (thanks Gord T!) and ensure we are all ready for the event (including myself).

The event is a 50km adventure race which takes place in Cumberland, British Columbia, Canada. It is 50km in total but includes three different travel types which include: trail running, mountain bike and kayak. Apparently is also some orienteering and some mystery challenges. My guess is most of it will be mountain biking with about 10km of kayaking and less than 20km of running.

I am not a complete adventure race newbie as I have done the smaller 30km Suburban Rush many years ago. Unlike a normal trail running race which is pretty straight forward, an adventure race is much more complex as it has all the transitions, equipment and clothing for each activity. You need to not only figure out what you will wear on the bike but also how you will change clothes and store the equipment. Transporting all the equipment is a whole other problem. Essentially, logistics is huge in an adventure race and requires a lot more planning.

Besides the logistical challenges there are also training challenges. Instead of just running you need to begin cross training all three sports. Then you need to begin doing these all in one day to test transitions. Not only does combining the sports take time and organization but it is also hard to get all four members scheduled on the same day so you end up doing sessions with alternating two or three people.

In order to prepare I have been doing several different training strategies.

Running: I am doing a few different running strategies. First, I am running as much as I can which is difficult as I have a day job I really enjoy and that keeps me busy. I ran 5 days in a row (averaging 10km each day) and felt really good at the end of each day. Calves were cramping a bit at night and my awesome wife gave me a massage which fixed that. Trying to use the roller a bit more to help with this. I am also doing alternating distance and speed runs. I have a flat 5km run that I do for speed and another run I do much slower which includes some good hills and more distance.

Weight Training: I hate going to the gym and only keep my gym membership for the winter months when it is hard to run on the trails. So at home I do mostly body weight exercises. I am not trying to bulk up but instead just want to become stronger, more flexible and more durable. I have a kettle bell which I really enjoy. Also planning to get a squat rack at some point to help me do chin ups, squats and dead lifts which are all my favourites. Right now I do a lot of calf rises, push ups, boards, air squats and kettle bell swings. I like big movements which incorporate the entire body. Been wanting to start doing burpees. One day…

Kayaking: Have been out in the kayak a few times with the team. The first time I was told I was holding the paddle upside down which was a bit embarrassing. As a kid I used to spend many days in the boat so while I feel very comfortable paddling all day, there are some kayak specific techniques I am still working on. From an exertion point of view I feel good in the boat. Did 10km yesterday and it felt way easier than running 10km.

Mountain Biking: While I am not the fastest on the mountain bike, I have logged quit a few hours on the bike over the years so this is what I am practising the least. This might be a mistake but I need to have some priorities with training and I think this activity requires the least amount of refinement.

Yesterday Steve (fellow SAR member) organized a great training session where we had the opportunity to do mountain biking, kayaking and trail running. Steve is an excellent map maker and has helped quite a few race directors by creating amazing race maps. Below you can see him showing Mechthild the route for the mountain bike route.



My stomach was messed up in the morning but I showed up anyways thinking at the very least I could help out. Steve and Mechthild (another SAR member) did a long mountain bike while I slept in the truck. A couple hours later they returned and I was feeling marginally better. I did feel a bit guilty when we kayaked and ran as I was well rested.


We then did a 10km kayak to get a feel for the distance and speed on the water. Surprisingly got a blister on my hand so I will be wearing gloves in future for this. Stomach was still doing weird stuff but I was able to function. I have done a lot of time in a canoe but never measured my distance. I was surprised at how long 10km feels on the water. We had perfect conditions as the water was like glass for most of it. Not necessarily MOMAR like conditions but good for us to do some familiarization.



After the kayak, Steve took us for a scenic 17.5 km trail run through Port Moody and up Eagle Mountain. I use Strava to track my running and here are the results of that run:


Overall our first big training session together was very successful. Huge shout out to Steve’s wife Jackie who served up an assortment of delicious snacks between sports. Her words of encouragement and throw up sounds kept me going. 😉

Besides all the training, I am also experimenting with gear and nutrition but will save that for future blog posts.


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