Given my aversion to training, I don't really possess a great deal of "run fitness" right now, so my partner, Sylvie D'Aoust, and I chose to compete in the 2 hour event. Likewise, all of Sylvie's fitness has come from cycling and has very few run miles on her legs. Once we received our map, we worked together to choose our route. We decided to warm up by running on the road to the furthest set of checkpoints at the south end of the Wakefield Village. There was one checkpoint that wasn't worth that many points out in that area and we decided to skip that one since we didn't think it likely that we would be able to acquire all the CP's anyway.

So we banged off our first couple of checkpoints, and then ran over the river and past the Wakefield Mill to the backside of the Vorlage Ski Hill. I was enjoying the running to this point, but running up a ski hill was a different matter for this near-Clydesdale competitor. Little Sylvie was skipping up the hill, while I laboured for every breath. But one by one, the CP's were located, our cards were punched, and we continued on. Fortunately what goes up, gets to come down! Now it was Sylvie's task to keep up with how gravity effected my mass!

With 20 minutes left we had one lot of CP's to check off on the far side of the Gatineau River. There are time penalties for finishing the course late, so we were going to have to hustle. First we waded through a marsh to grab the first CP, then it was up a small hill through a horse pasture to the next CP, then I took a good spill running back downhill on the slick clay and horses**t. Sylvie got a good laugh at that!

So at this point we had acquired all but the one CP we intentionally skipped AND one more that was located right behind the hospital which is just up the hill from the Vorlage Ski Resort. At the Vorlage parking lot entrance, the question was "could we run up the hill, to the hospital, find the CP, and be back to the Finish under the time limit?" (we had 7 minutes!).

I said, "Let's do it!" And off we went. After 1 hour and 53 minutes of running and climbing, Sylvie and I attacked the last hill, I concentrated on keeping my heartrate under 220, while Sylvie watched the time and counted down the minutes. We found the CP with no problem and sucked it up for the last 500 meter sprint to the finish. My tights were covered in burrs and Sylvies Goretex shoes were sloshing with water, but we made it in with 30 seconds to spare.

What a fun race! It was so great having a reason to run. We had to find the CP's as quickly as we could. The faster we went, the more CP's we could acquire, and the more points that would be awarded. And as it turned out, it was even more worth in the end as Sylvie and I won the co-ed category outright, and actually weren't all that far behind the solo male winners. And thanks to Bushtukah Great Outdoor Gear for sponsoring the event I went home with a great pair of socks, and Sylvie went home with a brand new headlamp.

So if you have trouble staying motivated during your runs, I would highly recommend you check out some of the Ottawa Orienteering Club events. This 2 hour event only cost me $20 (race day registration!). Had I wanted to compete for 8 hours it would have cost me $25. These fees are even less than I charge for the Mad Trapper events! Okay the post race food spread wasn't quite up to the Mad Trapper standards, but it was certainly better than any of the road races I have ever competed in. Check it out, the Ottawa Orienteering Club certainly adds a dimension of fun and purpose to running.

Oh yeah, and this is a bit off topic, but if you have a chance I'd really appreciate it if you could visit and vote for Photo #7. It's a really cute pic I took of my buddy's 7 year old son gunnel bobbin' "au naturel" on the Gatineau River. If I win the contest, I'll be able to take him and his 3 sisters to the Camp Fortune Aerial Park when they come visit next summer. Thanks a bunch!

Mike Caldwell