By Sue Tiffin
Published May 29 2018
Storm the Trent made its Haliburton debut avoiding forecasted thunderstorms and hosting hundreds of athletes in the water and hills surrounding Head Lake Park this past weekend.
Organizers of the 17th annual adventure race advertised as being Ontario’s best-known and longest standing adventure race and Eastern Canada’s largest called it a “great success” after three courses saw full registration.
About 700 people racing solo or in teams of two or four completed race courses of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. Races included a 7 km canoe or kayak paddle around Head Lake mountain bike stretch of 26 km to 60 km and a trek of 7 km to 13 km taking up to nine hours to complete.
“These types of races play mind games with you” said Haliburton resident Angela Andrews whose all-women team placed second in their category. “They make you curse one minute and then the next you’re on a high when flying down a hill on your bike or finding a checkpoint while out running through the woods. So much adventure and so much variation.”
Andrews alongside fellow locals Joleen Thomas and Darby Bayly and friend Kelly Wallace of North Bay ran a 7 km trek 7 km paddle and 26 km bike during the May 27 race on what she called a “stinking hot day.”
“I was unsure being so early in the season considering I skied on a little lake just over a month ago” said Thomas during recovery from the race. “It went really well considering how hot and hilly it was.”
Both Andrews and Thomas spoke to their pride in their team for fitting the race into their busy lives.
“My teammates are the best” said Thomas. “We each have different strengths and just generally are out to have a good time and get up the next day for real life to parent work etc. We work so well together it makes for a fun time – despite the other challenges of the event.”
“The teammates you have make all the difference” said Andrews. “We feed off of one another and encourage one another to keep going and to push your hardest. You all have different strengths and although it’s a team sport those strengths really help you in the long run. We laugh and talk and complain to one another and everyone understands. We remind one another to hydrate and to eat and to hydrate more.”
Thomas participates annually in the Storm Racing Rockstar event held in July at Bark Lake but was a first-time Storm the Trent participant. She said it was great to be in the event in her own neck of the woods and that the team got to cover a lot of ground some of which was new to them.
“I heard rumblings [from other athletes] of how well organized the race was and how beautiful Haliburton is even with its gigantic hills” said Thomas who noted her friends bed and breakfast was booked solid for months for the event.
“On my drive to town this morning there were cars with boats and bikes everywhere. So neat to see. As well as the familiar faces in the crowds cheering and in the most surprising locations. That certainly made it feel cozy like home.”
Andrews said paddling Head Lake running around Glebe Park and riding [bikes] to Wanakita was “fantastic.”
“The paddling on Head Lake and seeing local friends hanging over the bridge and cheering you on was amazing to see” she said. She credited fellow local teams including one made up of Maggie Brown Dannie Foisy Kristin Lang and Becky Fahrun who had never done an adventure race before and won third place.“They all did so great and it inspires me to see other women particularly moms getting out and adventuring and challenging themselves.”
She also credited Ela Snodden and her husband Cam for participating in the longer race on Saturday and then competing in the race again on Sunday with their daughter Hannah who is five years old.
“So proud of them for doing the race two days in a row and little rockstar Hannah for finishing” she said.
Organizers of the event including Sean Roper were heralded online and also by Andrews and Thomas.
“Overall I think everyone had a great time” said Andrews. “The consensus was that the second half of the course was more challenging with the hilly sections on the bike in the heat of the day but lots of chatter about the challenging sections and fun sections at the end of the day and everyone smiling and laughing and feeling exhausted. That’s adventure racing for you.”