Race Report: Cumberland MOMAR

Yours truly beats record field at one of North America's largest adventure races

Story by Ryan Stuart
Twitter note: #momarcumby and @mr_momar 

Another year and another Atmosphere Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race in Cumberland. But the 13th time the Vancouver Island outdoor epicentre hosted the multi-sport race was anything but predictable.

"It's always good to see fresh blood on the podium and that definitely happened this year," says race director Bryan Tasaka. "It was an exceptional day on a lot of levels."

Yours truly was on the start line for the record setting event. It was the 35th MOMAR in 15 years and, as the only one in 2014, it attracted a record sold out crowd of more than 500 racers.

"I think it was the largest adventure race in Canada and maybe all of North America," Tasaka says. "Over the years we've held events all over the west coast - Squamish, Burnaby, Ucluelet, Duncan - but one venue always stands out as the best, the one we come back to year after year. That's Cumberland. The paddle on Comox Lake is beautiful. The trails are awesome. And the community support is amazing."

A bank of fog locked a chill into race morning, Saturday September 20, but burnt off just as the long course racers slipped into their boats and lined up for the mass start on Comox Lake. Ahead lay about 50 kilometers of paddling, trekking, running, mountain biking and navigation. The 30 kilometer short course would begin after the long course racers were off the water.

The paddle portion down and across Comox Lake took the fastest paddlers less than an hour but spread out the field. I was the first boat out of the water, a strategic decision I hoped wouldn't hurt me later in the race. I knew I was not going to be the fastest runner or biker, but knew I could be right up there on the paddle.

After ditching the boat I headed into the woods on foot. This trekking stage was fairly easy, but there were a few confusing trail junctions to navigate and some route finding to do. I was passed about half way through the stage by a local team of two, Brad Crowe and Clay Ward. They were running a lot faster than me.

I saw them again at the mountain bike transition, in the town of Cumberland, where we started a long grind and then a hike-a-bike up high into the mountain biking trail network. At the summit we dropped the bike and headed out on another demanding navigation trek. Plenty of bushwhacking and lots more climbing brought us back to the bikes for a fun and flowy descent, a long sweaty climb and then one final plunge to the finish.

The weather was perfect, but hot. Staying hydrated was a common problem with many racers complaining about cramps and wasp stings. I spent most of the second half of the race in pain with calves and quads cramping up. But I suffered on.

In the end I managed to hold onto my second place position overall and surprised myself by winning the solo category of the long distance race.

Of the various categories local racers dominated on the podium held that night at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Beside me in the local winner column The Dynamic Duo (Brad Crowe and Clay Ward) were the overall winners and ELM Fearless Leaders (Kathy Campbell and Lynn Swift) won the women's team of two. Locals also swept the podium in the sport course race.  After all the prizes were handed out, as has become a tradition at the Cumberland MOMAR, a post race party raged into the night.



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