By Jenn Watt
Upwards of 700 people will be storming the Highlands this weekend competing in an adventure race in the water and on the trails. This will be Storm the Trent’s second year in Haliburton County and area residents can expect to see waterways filled with canoes and runners jogging through forests with their distinctive competition vests.
Though exactly which lakes and trails participants will be paddling running and cycling is a closely guarded secret.
Sean Roper race director and founder of the event said part of the attraction of adventure races is you can’t plan for it ahead of time.
“Part of the concept is you don’t know what you’re doing until you get there” he explained.
Adventure racing became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the TV program Eco-Challenge: The Expedition Race created by Mark Burnett of Survivor fame. It combines several disciplines usually mountain biking trekking and paddling though others can be incorporated and typically is on unmarked routes requiring use of a compass and map.
What makes Storm the Trent different is that it includes races for varying levels of experience allowing those who want to try it out or who want a lower-intensity race to take part.
“We presented this concept of a very entry level get-your-feet-wet concept of the disciplines involved in an adventure race” Roper said. Participants can compete individually or in teams.
As the name suggests initially the races were held in the Kawartha Lakes area but after exploring that region for many years organizers wanted to branch out.
“We approached the municipality at the end of 2017 and brought forward the concept of bringing the event north and suggested that we had about three years’ worth of course designs that we could potentially piece together if there was willingness. The [Haliburton] region welcomed us with open arms” Roper said.
Of the 700 people participating on Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26 there are only eight local teams. Competitors are mostly from Ontario but also the United States. Because adventure racing is the kind of event people often think about as a “bucket list” item Roper says there aren’t many repeat participants – so likely those coming to Haliburton this year are different from the ones who were here in 2018.
At the same time there are certainly many dedicated returnees. You can tell who they are by their green vests.
Storm the Trent takes place May 25 and 26. Find out more by going to stormthetrent.com.