The 2011 Pain In The ASSiniboine Urban Adventure Was Anything But a.... you know...
By John Ford
PITA can mean many things... Is it a a flat round bread that can be opened to insert a filling? It has nothing to do with campaigns against fur or meat consumption. But now it is best known for Pain In The ASSiniboine... Only the 2nd year and the popularity of this event had grown to epic proportions.
A near sell out crowd of true adventures gathered outside the Forks, a true Winnipeg landmark, with anticipation of the near 70km journey they would embark on. Smiling for the cameras one nervous team commented "I hope rubber stays on the road and my round side down" joking that biking or canoeing they just wanted to finish this expedition.
Instructions were given by race organizers John and Rick, role call of some hilarious team names were shouted, support crews were speeding on route to the paddle transition and all that was left was "THREE... TWO... ONE... The 2011 Pain In The ASSiniboine Urban Adventure was underway. As the "PITA Peloton" of riders followed bike marshals Craig and Big Al it was anyone's race right from the beginning! The race was on, down past the legislative buildings, through gorgeous Wolesely and on to Assiniboine Park, everyone wanted to be the first to arrive at beautiful Beaudry Park.
Teams and solos flew past cheering volunteers as race organizers and family and friends feverlesly attempted to catch the pack. Photographer Kelly Morton caught smiling racers on the vast Harte Trail that didn't look like they had just biked over 20km, less than 1/3 of the distance they would have to travel. Along the route a few teams took an unintentional turn that led them off course and into John who was "Fair but Firm" in assessing minor time adjustments (don't worry... no team #'s).
Picture the scene, Beaudry Park filled with watercraft to transport the 144 racers down the rapid flow of the Assiniboine River... It looked amazing! Friendly volunteers helped arriving participants check in at the Transition Zone and get on the water. Safety was top priority with Kurt and his staff on hand to make sure all was well and offer assistance if needed. As the last racer arrived time would only tell who cross the finish line first back at the Forks.
At bridges along the waterway safety spotters, friends and onlookers marvelled at how proficiently everyone was paddling the fast moving water. Weeks before it was anyone's guess whether or not the water levels would drop on the river leaving many to wonder if there would be a race or not? The race was on as the lead changed hands along the 34km return route.
Finally with great anticipation the first teams and solos were spotted approaching the finish line. In a sprint to the finish team "A Couple Of Old Guys" surely didn't live up to their name and crossed the line after only 3 hours and 28 minutes, with Solo racers Mark Leclair and Karla Cybulsky not far behind. Some of our youngest racers could be seen shortly after with a cheer from the crowd. Following that, racers came flying into the Forks to not only finish but be the first to celebrate an awesome achievement and enjoy a beverage at the Beachcomber patio.
Again as always the racers amaze us with their will and determination and the ability to take on any challenge that we throw their way. Hats off to you! As always the appreciation that we have and every participant shares for our great team of volunteers who without their assistance these events would not be possible. Thanks to you!!
The sport of adventure racing has surged in Manitoba which is a testament to the fun and competiveness you all posses!
Until next year...
Pain In The ASSiniboine Photo Slideshow by Kelly Morton Photography