The First Ever Pain In The ASSiniboine Urban Adventure Was a Huge Success!!
By John Ford
With a name like "Pain In the ASSiniboine" you're sure to turn a few heads and ruffle a few feathers! The concept for this great event started over "beverages" and was the inspiration of fellow Swamp Donkey teammate and course designer Alex Man. Who would have known so many would have embraced a crazy event with such a crazy name! And who would have known just weeks before the race the skies would open and the heavens would "rain down". This act of mother -nature changed the course of the adventure to come.
Congrats to team Hartebreakers (Dan & Tim) and solo men's winner David Holder and solo female winner Karla Cybulsky who raced their "Hartes" out in the longest Urban Race Winnipeg has ever seen. With almost 70 km of biking and paddling, the times these racers laid down set the bar high.
The morning began with bleary-eyed race staff doing last minute duties to get ready for the 34 teams and 14 solos to descend on the Forks Market. "We need coffee (and chocolate!)" was overheard by the crew more than once as excited racers prepared their maps and bikes for the mass start. Volunteers hurried out to marshal positions in key locations to cheer, prepare check points and transition areas moments before the event began.
Rick and John gave the "weekend warriors" their last minute instructions and Kurt made each and every racer know that they would be safe along the long course. The bullhorn was readied, and with the countdown looming everyone put on their best race-face. Arriving just in time, Kaleigh Hamilton and her CityTV crew caught the final seconds before......
WHOOOOOOOOP... and the first Pain In the ASSiniboine was underway with a neutral start behind "pace bikers", Craig & Rachel. The photos of near 100 racers clearing the designated cross-walk crossing (due to a submerged river walk) was one to behold as traffic honked and cheered on the participants. In what was described as a "mad dash" the cyclists mashed the gears and tore up Assiniboine Ave.
The speed of the opening of the event left volunteers and Kelly the photographer chasing the pack and leapfrogging all the way to the Transition Area at Beaudry Park just past Headingly. Teams tore up the limestone Hatre Trail in an attempt to be the first to arrive while others marvelled at the shear length of this section of The Trans Canada Trail.
Coming into the TA race organizers had a few tense moments as they were informed that some of the teams and solos support crews had not arrived to drop off boats and gear for the fast approaching racers. With literally seconds to spare the last boat was unloaded as the first teams arrived for a quick transition from bike to boat. The recent rains had also exponentially increased the mosquito population which assisted teams to rush through the transition quickly and find reprieve from the pests. Racers continued from road to waterway all the while being loudly cheered on by friends, family and volunteers. John and Rick gave participants high fives and kudos for racing so hard but this urban adventure was only half over. A 33km paddle still remained before participants would reach their goal.
Well to say this was a "pleasure paddle" as the race description boasts is an understatement! 3-4 hrs. of paddling a canoe or kayak after biking 35km brought out the true grit of each and every racer. The determination that these people had on that fine afternoon was truly inspiring. As the racers paddled down Winnipeg's' swiftly moving waterway, shoreline spotters called out encouragements, waved and kept a watchful eye for any safety concerns.
You could feel the anticipation in the final moments when Rick and John stood at the port of The Forks straining to see down the Assiniboine. Liz and Karen prepared the finish line and Kelly got into position to snap photos. But who would cross the finish line first? A voice came over the radio; it was spotters on the Osborne Bridge... "We have visual on a canoe. At 4hrs and 10min, team The Hartebreakers (aka Sax & Bitsy) would cross the finish first!
Within minutes, solos and teams would begin arriving at the Port where the "two rivers meet", arms raised triumphantly in the air. They had achieved their goal of finishing and being a part of the inaugural Pain In the ASSiniboine. Prizes were awarded to top finishers as others completed their journey and were congratulated by the crowd of spectators that had gathered to witness the amazing sight with Kaleigh and CityTV catching all the excitement of the event.
As the last boat entered the finish, the exuberant crowd of participants that were enjoying a much deserved meal and maybe a few celebratory beverages cheered loudly. Just finishing their outstanding voyage was reward enough.
The race crew would like to extend a big congrats to all racers who participated in the first Pain in the ASSiniboine Urban Adventure. We heard many reports of sore butts after hours on the bike and in the canoe but despite the long race, 100% of the racers crossed the finish lines with smiles on their faces!
Until next year... keep the "rubber on the road" and the "round side down"!!