Your Questions Answered
Q & A
Q. Can you explain what you mean on the gear list by "Long-sleeved synthetic/wool shirt (in addition to any tops being worn)"
A. Each person must have: 1 Long Sleeve Synthetic/Wool Top (base-layer) in addition to the top you're wearing (short or long-sleeved) at the beginning of a stage. You must have both shirts at all times, either on your body or in your pack.
Q. Is a Waterproof Pack Liner the same as a dry bag?
A. Yes. Any waterproof bag will be fine including thick garbage bags so long as it keeps the contents of your pack dry.
Q. How much portaging will there be in the 2019 event?
A. Roughly 7000m broken up over several portages.
Q. Will packrafting be a possibility during the trekking stages of the 2019 event?
A. Packrafting is possible in 2019, however, there are numerous factors that could influence this decision, such as: Daytime travel vs. Night-time travel, Wind Speed and Direction, Foot speed vs. PackRaft speed, Type of packraft being used, Hand Paddles vs. Kayak Paddles and Air temperature to name a few. I would personally not choose to packraft, but there are some stretches where it could be undertaken.
For those not familiar with packrafting, see the following link.
Q. Should we expect to swim long distances on the treks in the 2019 event?
A. This depends on your route choice, but almost all teams will likely swim up to 100m during the 2019 event.
Q. What type of bivvy bags do you recommend?
A. SOL brand is recommended:
SOL Bivvy Bags at MEC
Q. How many transition areas can we expect (to plan our water and food transportation needs)?
A. An email will be sent to all the teams 2 weeks before the event that will describe the number of transition area’s and how long each leg will be.
Q. Will our bins be available at any checkpoints (if the checkpoint is not also a transition area)?
A. No, gear bins will not be accessible at any checkpoints that are not Transition Areas.
Q. Cell phone. Why do we need one? Most people have smartphones which means they have an integrated GPS. Are we going to ‘seal’ the phone and be expected not to open unless there is an emergency? Or do you expect us to find a ‘no smart phone’ and activate it for the competition? Please clarify.
A. Cell phones will be used in case of emergency. Yes, cell phones will be heat-sealed in a small black plastic bag before the event and should only be used in case of emergency. If we find that teams have opened the sealed bag unrelated to an emergency they will become “unranked”.
Q. Canoe section: are the paddles provided by the organization Kayak paddle type or are they traditional Canoe paddles?
A. Only canoe paddles are provided. If teams want to use kayak paddles, they must bring their own, however, we will transport kayak paddles for teams to the beginning and from the end of any paddling legs.
Q. Bicycle helmet. Do we need to wear or carry them for the full race or only for the bicycle section(s)?
A. Bicycle helmets are only required during the bicycle section(s).
Q. Can portage wheels be transported with paddles and PFD's, or do they need to go in the TA gear bins/duffel bags?
A. We can transport portage wheels if they are attached to your paddles and PFD’s, or you're welcome to stuff them in your gear bins/duffel’s. However, we do not recommend using portage wheels. The portage trails in the event are rugged, narrow and rocky and it would be very difficult to use portage wheels. Plus, the canoes used in the event are 16-17ft long and made of Kevlar, they will only weigh between 46 and 58lbs. Portaging them on your shoulders is the recommended method.
Q. Can the first aid kit be broken up amongst the team or must it be contained in one bag as a kit?
A. Yes, the first-aid kit contents can be split up amongst team-mates.
Q. Do you have any further requirements for the flares other than “launching” (I was thinking size of flare, burn time or launch height). Do they need to be nautical type flares fired from a pistol or must they simply be the launching type? I have seen some smaller backpacking type flares and I wanted to know if they meet your requirements.
A. There are no specific requirements for flares other than they must be of the launching variety. There are pen-style flares available that are the smallest/lightest I’ve seen.
Q. From a new-comers perspective, can you provide more detail on the skills and proficiencies required to participate in Wilderness Traverse?
A. For most adventure races in Ontario, you'll be doing three disciplines:
Trekking/running, on and off-trail
Paddling - usually in canoes but often using kayak paddles. Canoe paddles are usually provided by organizers but most of the serious racers bring their own kayak paddles.
At least one person on your team needs to be navigating while you do all of these disciplines, so that's your 4th discipline.
For each discipline, you need to develop both fitness and skills, not always in the same training session. The fitness aspect is a huge subject that I'm sure you already know something about, and there is plenty of information out there. On the skills side, you'll need to work on:
Running/trekking in rough terrain, including bushwhacking comfortably at a decent speed. Trail running on rough trails is good too.
Technical mountain biking - A lot of adventure races in Ontario travel on ATV or snowmobile trails so we often ride through mud and over rocks. If you develop technical singletrack skills at places like Albion Hills or Hardwood Hills, you will do better in an adventure race than people who mostly ride on roads.
Paddling - This is a skill that many adventure racers ignore. You want to be comfortable in a boat, and ideally, you want to practice paddling with the person you'll be racing with. Whether you use canoe or kayak paddles, you'll need to know how to steer a canoe properly and how to use your core and back instead of just your arms. There is a paddling school in Toronto on Lake Ontario called the Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre. That may be a good option if you live near the city and your team is looking to build its paddling skills. You also need to practice your portaging. Keep in mind that if you race as a team of three, you will need to paddle three in a canoe and figure out some kind of seat for the middle person. It is more comfortable to race on a 4-person team and use two canoes. For usefull information check out Paddle Toronto and see Ontario Canoe Kayak Sprint Racing Affiliation, for links to clubs in your local area. Clubs offer the best place for newcomers to gain access to great coaching and boat use. Also visit the The Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association for paddling events.
Map and Compass Navigation - This is a skill that is new to most adventure racers. On some teams, only one person learns how to navigate. On other teams, everyone learns. You only get one map in AR so there will be one person at a time reading the map. However, there is a lot more to navigating than that, e.g. while you're reading the map, your teammate can be up ahead following a bearing that you've given him/her and choosing a good line through the forest while the rest of you follow. Another teammate can be double checking the first guy's bearing while another is measuring time or paces to help you estimate the distance you have traveled. It is helpful to have at least one other navigator on the team so you can bounce ideas off him/her if you run into problems.
To become good at adventure racing, you need to become good at the disciplines, and a great way to improve is by racing against people who are specialists in those disciplines. So you could practice your trail running by entering races in the 5 Peaks, or OUTRace Series. There are various mountain bike races around, including those offered by Superfly Racing and Chico Racing (see the Summer Solstice event in June, which is a great event to practice riding at night with lights). There are paddling races or you could just plan a canoe trip weekend with your buddies where you'll also do some paddle practice.
For navigation, there are a few things you can do. There are instructional clinics but not until the spring. In the meantime, there's nothing to stop you from attending orienteering events and learning what you can by trial and error. Newbies are always welcome. Adventure racers often attend the inexpensive events and you can learn about upcoming public orienteering events on the Orienteering Ontario website and you can also "like" the Facebook page.
While you're there, be sure to "like" the Wilderness Traverse Facebook page! :)
The Toronto Orienteering club invites newbies to join them for their Summer Series on Wednesday nights in parks around Toronto, including Sunnybrook. I think that starts around April and is dirt cheap - like a dollar or two.
Orienteering maps are more detailed than the ones you typically get in adventure racing. That doesn't mean that orienteering is a waste of time; it is a great way to learn nav skills. However, you will also need to become familiar with 1:50,000 topographical maps. In the past, Bob Miller has offered two-part spring navigation clinics - classroom session and field practice . He is one of the best adventure race navigators in the world so it's well worth spending some time with him and picking his brain. The 2016 schedule isn't posted yet but Bob will be offering a similar group of clinics again.
While you're on that page, you will definitely want to attend the free "Introduction To Adventure Racing" clinic. Bob and Barb are both there for a couple of hours. He gives a Powerpoint presentation and we answer tons of questions. It's also a great chance to meet other adventure racers and make some contacts. Bob brings his race pack and empties it out to show people what he carries for an overnight race. Really useful!
I've just mentioned gear, and that is a *huge* topic. You'll want to get a good quality backpack, shoes and technical clothing layers. You obviously need a mountain bike, a PFD (life jacket) and possibly a kayak paddle unless your team decides to just use the canoe paddles supplied by the organizer. If you read the Mandatory Gear section of the WT race rules, you can see what you'll need to buy. The gear lists are different for every adventure race but a lot of the items are the same. Check out the Wilderness Traverse gear list.
One of the relatively expensive items you'll need is a bright light suitable for mountain biking at night, along with sufficient batteries to get you through the night. You don't know which discipline(s) you'll be doing at night so you need to be prepared for anything. Biking requires the most powerful light because of the speed you're going. For trekking or paddling, you can use the same super-bright light but you can get away with something less powerful.
Aside from the mandatory gear, you'll probably do some other shopping and preparation. For example, a lot of teams carry an elasticized tow rope so that a faster racer can pull his teammate along, usually on roads or trails that aren't super-technical. Some people use bike tows as well, although those *really* require practice and can cause accidents if you're not careful.
One of the key rules is, "Nothing new in a race". That applies very widely. You don't want to wear new shoes or even new underwear that might chafe. You don't want to drink a sports beverage you haven't tried before or eat a big sandwich if you've never done that before a bike ride. When you get lights, you want to get to know them well by using them after dark. What this all boils down to is that as often as possible, you need to train the way you're going to race. Test out your clothing layers and your pack. See how your body handles certain types of food. Practice changing the tire on your bike. Even practice doing the things you will need to do in transition, e.g. "remove helmet", "take off bike shoes", "change socks" (or not), "put on new trekking shoes", "add food to pack", etc.
I'd suggest that your team try a race or two before Wilderness Traverse if you are able to fit them into your schedule. See the Adventure Racing Ontario website for a schedule of shorter events taking place in the province.
Both Storm the Trent (May) and SCAR (June) are good races for first-timers. SCAR is open to solos, teams of two and three while Storm the Trent is open to solos, teams of two and four. RockstAR in late July is one of the most fun races in Ontario - a party atmosphere with some good navigation challenges.
You may find it interesting to review old Wilderness Traverse courses to get an idea of how we think. :) The maps are posted online on our Course Description pages.
A number of the adventure racers in southern Ontario log their training through an online community at Attackpoint.org. There is an adventure racing discussion forum and we often comment on each other's logs. It's free to try it out and if you like it, you can donate to help the developer (a young athlete) and get some extra features. Barb uses hers as a training blog where she talk about other things too. You can see it here at Attackpoint.