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Raid International Temiscamingue - ARWS Stage Race race report

Race report from the Northern Adventure Team from Finland. We took part in the second edition of Raid International Temiscamingue in Canada, Quebec Region

Last year, after the Raid Gallaecia European Champs, we decided on our main goal for the season, which is the upcoming World Championships in South Africa. We built our race calendar around that during the winter.

We raced in the Netherlands at Raid Lowlands in May and ended up in second place. In June, we participated in Expedition Estonia, and during June and August, we raced in smaller races in Finland. At the end of June, I saw a post from Sleepmonsters about the upcoming Raid International Temiscamingue in Canada. I was immediately interested since it was the first-ever ARWS Stage race and would be held in the Quebec Region. I was an exchange student in Quebec City back in 2016-2017. This was a race to do, and the best part was that the race organizers were looking for a few international teams to join. I sent our application immediately. Our team for the upcoming race was Lauri Hollo & Lauri Heinaro.

At the beginning of August, just before our own race, Endurance Quest, we received a message from the race organizers that we had secured a spot to race in Raid Temiscamingue. For the race, we needed our support crew to transfer our bikes, canoe, and other equipment during the event.

One message solved all our problems regarding the support crew. My host parents, Fred and Annie, immediately said yes and promised to provide everything needed for us to race. This would be their first adventure race!

We flew to Toronto via Chicago from Helsinki on Tuesday. When we finally arrived in Toronto, we found out that my bike box was still in Chicago. We spent one night in Toronto, and on Wednesday, we finally got my bike box. We packed all our gear into the car and made our way to Ville-Marie, a 5-hour drive from Toronto. On Wednesday evening, we finally arrived in the race area. We shared accommodation with Brazilian and Uruguayan teams, as well as Carriek “Pyro” Armer from Sleepmonsters and Wladimir Togumi from Adventuremag

We assembled our bikes and headed out for a short ride to shake out our legs after two days of traveling.

On Thursday, we drove to the race village in Moffet, and finally, I met my host parents after six years. On Tuesday, we had a mandatory climbing test, and we received our race bibs, and other race materials. At 6 pm, it was finally time for the race opening, and we received maps for Saturday and Sunday. The opening ceremony was really nice, with speeches from various local communities and a few music shows.

Friday, Day 0 - Prologue / Youth Raid

On Friday, there was a prologue stage, which was the highlight of the trip. The race staff did an amazing job creating the Youth Raid. Every race team teamed up with a local high school student team. Our team, Fight Club Boys, was made up of nice guys, although we had some communication problems since they spoke very little English, and my French is not very good. At 10:30, it was go-time. We started with bikes and collected a few CP's before the Trek, Zipline, and swim. It was sad that only one team member could do the zipline, as both of our boys were ready for it. After that, we rode back to Race HQ at Latulippe School, dropped our bikes, and headed to the canoe stage. The youngsters had special AR training before the race, where they learned canoeing, climbing, and other AR skills. Our boys did exceptionally well during the canoe stage; they really knew how to paddle. After the canoe section, we just had a short run left. Our boys got to experience what it's like to run with cramps and pushed to the finish line. It was an amazing day, and it showed that the future of AR is bright!

After the youth race, we headed to get the rest of our gear from our accommodation and then to the race village in Moffet to set up our camp. The race concept included a mandatory camping night, and personally, I think it was quite cool to sleep in tents with other racers and be in the same location as everyone else, rather than everyone having their own accommodation. Our support crew prepared a wonderful dinner, and we also discussed maps and plans for the next day. We went to bed at 9 pm since our alarm was set for 6:30.

Saturday, Day 1

Our support crew was already on duty, dropping off our canoe at TA1 when we woke up. We had a warm breakfast, changed into our race clothes, and had a chat with Fred and Annie when they arrived back in Moffet. We discussed our strategy for the day and received some last-minute instructions.

The race started with a short ride to the coastline, followed by a coast run to punch CP2 and then back to the start line. We started with running shoes and clip-on pedals, and after a short bike-run-bike leg, we quickly changed our shoes and headed towards TA1. We were in the leading group with the Uruguayan and Brazilian teams, as well as two local teams. At TA1, we dropped our bikes and ran about 2 km to TA2 to get our canoe. We started paddling with a good tempo to maintain our position. After a few CPs with the canoe, there was a second coast run section a few kilometers along the coastline before getting back in the canoe. We were in third position, but only 2 minutes behind the leaders. After about an hour of paddling, we were done with that section. We carried the canoe uphill to the next TA, where we did a really nice trek with nice trails.

During the trek, we passed the Uruguayan team. The trek went super fast, and we had a good tempo. After that, we had a quick transition to bikes and aimed to catch the leaders, who were only 1 minute ahead. The next CP had a rope section, with a nice rappel down from a cliff. We saw the Canadians here, but we had to wait until they were done with the ropes, so we still had a few minutes to catch up. The next section was a longer bike stage, about 1.5 hours. We put the pedal to the metal and soon caught up with the leaders.

Next, there was a short run section with a swimming part to reach next CP. We had a few minutes' lead over the second team. After this, we completed a few checkpoints by bike and another short swim. There were only 10 kilometers left with the bike and 4 kilometers with the canoe. After CP21, we took the right trail but missed the turn and ended up on a trail that wasn't on the map. We biked 2 kilometers on the wrong trail, realized our mistake, turned back, and suddenly the chain broke. It took a few minutes to fix that, and then we were back on the bikes. Back to CP21, and we saw Brazilians and Uruguayans. The Uruguayans started following us when they heard that our trail was a dead end. Well, we took another trail that wasn't on the map, and again, we were super confused about our location. Again back to CP21 and let's head out in the direction where we were first. Now we took another trail, which wasn't the one we saw before. It was a smaller trail than the main one, but it turned out to be the correct one. In the terrain, there were many extra trails.

Finally, we punched CP22, but 25 minutes were spent being lost. We continued the rest of the section knowing that victory on day 1 was not possible.

We took our canoe for the last paddling section and finished day 1 in fourth position. We were 25 minutes behind the leaders but only 11 minutes behind the second position, so everything was still possible for the next day.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, enjoying the sun, and having a massage from a local massage company that came to the finish line to ensure that racers were in good shape for the race the next day. They provided excellent service!

Day 2, Sunday

The alarm went off at 5:45, and by 6:30, we started driving to the starting line for day 2. At 7:15, we met Fred & Annie at the starting line, had a short meeting to clarify our tactics and everything else. We knew that there was no room for any mistakes, and it was going to be a full day of racing.

At 8 am, we started with the canoe, with the first two checkpoints in free order. After the canoe, nine teams came off the water before us. We helped our support crew with the canoe and then took our bikes for a short loop. We rode with the Brazilians and arrived at TA2, where we heard that we were now in third place, only 2 minutes behind the leaders. We quickly changed our shoes and started running. Once again, we made a short mistake, missing a trail turn, resulting in an extra 500-meter run. However, the leaders also made a mistake, so we caught up with them and headed for the next running section. We decided to increase our speed, and that's what we did. I had a bit of trouble keeping up with Lauri's pace because he was really on fire.

After the run, we managed to pull ahead by a few minutes. We took our bikes and rode a short distance to the next trek. This time, we had biking shoes and encountered a somewhat technical trail, so our pace was slightly slower. The Canadians almost caught up with us since they took a bushwhack option, while we followed the trail. But we arrived 30 seconds ahead of them at a 200-meter-long zipline, so this time they had to wait. The zipline was super cool, crossing a river. After that, it was back on the bikes to the next canoe. We paddled for about an hour in a loop and had a 5-minute lead over the Canadians. In the last biking section, we didn't push as hard as we should have, but the gap remained the same.

The final leg was about 1.5 hours of paddling in the Ottawa River, and it was beautiful. We paddled at a good pace and kept a steady rhythm. We carried our canoe a few times to the next lakes, and at CPR1, one team member jumped from a 5-meter-high deck. The Canadians caught up with us, and after the canoe section, the difference was only 1 minute. With about 1 kilometer left to the finish line, we gave it our all and managed to keep them behind us, securing victory on day 2.

The finish line was in the small town of Angliers. After interviews with the TV crew and chatting with the Canadians, we headed to the showers and camping area. Tony, the head of the camping area, offered us cold drinks.

Afterward, it was time to say goodbye to Fred & Annie, as they still had a 10-hour drive to Quebec City. Special thanks to them for doing an amazing job, and it was really special to see them again!

We jumped to our car and headed to our accommodation in Ville Marie to pack our bike boxes and other gear, getting ready for an early wake-up and a long drive. On Sunday, we visited Niagara Falls, so the total driving time was 8 hours.

At 17:30, we were back in Angliers for a banquet, and it was a surprise how big the party was. All the youth racers, 150 volunteers, other race officials, and many local people were there. Speeches were given, and the food was absolutely amazing; everything was locally produced, including the drinks!

We ended up taking the overall second position. Without the mistakes on day 1, victory would have been possible, but at least we had a good reason to come back to Raid Temiscamingue next year!

I recommend Raid Temiscamingue to every racer who wants a different experience in traditional Adventure Racing and wants to try a stage race. The race was very well organized, the atmosphere was super nice, and there were a lot of people cheering you on during the course and at every TA! And don't worry, you don't have to know anyone in Canada to get a support crew. The Uruguayans found a local guy to help them who had built a camper inside an old school bus; how cool is that! As for the area, it was quite similar to Finland for us, but still incredibly beautiful with nice trails and the most beautiful canoe sections ever!

Now, it's time for some training with the team, and in 5 weeks, it's off to South Africa!"

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