Swamp Donkey 2007
Build It and They Will Come
"Build it and they will come" could not be truer when people who are passionate about adventure racing set out to create a memorable race experience.
In the weeks leading up to Oct. 13th 2007, the organizers were busy planning and inevitably succeeding in holding the first ever true adventure race in Manitoba, all the while keeping their fingers crossed, given the unpredictability of October in Manitoba. The Gods were smiling on Falcon Trails Resort, host site of the inaugural Swamp Donkey Adventure race. From start to finish the conditions were absolutely perfect.
Volunteers and teams, nervous with anticipation, began arriving on Fri. evening. The positive energy continued as teams did mandatory gear and navigation checks throughout the night. Later, some chose to relax in the beautiful cabins while other opted for a true outdoor experience and spent a glorious evening under a clear spectacular star-filled sky.
As the sun rose on a gorgeous weekend bleary-eyed participants, volunteers and race staff began preparations for what lay ahead. Packing, repacking and sometimes unpacking gear, food and clothing teams spent the last moments leading up to the racer briefing pouring over what it would take to finish the journey that lay ahead. Race manager: Rick Shone then outlined the rules and regulations and distributed the master maps to awaiting teams. Getting their first look at the course the racers began plotting their maps with compasses and finding the necessary CP's they were required to pass through on their way to the finish. "You can cut the tension and excitement with a knife" race organizer Heather Arnold was overheard saying, as teams perfected their routes.
To the surprise of many the micro-nav map which would assist them in the first leg of the race was not given in advance upon which time, Rick announced that they would have to run up a daunting hill at the start of the race in order to receive the mystery map. "Orienteering right from the start" groaned some teams while others figured this would separate them from less experienced racers.
The invaluable volunteers and medical staff began to depart to what would be sometimes lonely posts. Race staff went through last minute communication checks ensuring safety and fun for all involved. With everyone in place the excitement had built to amazing proportions.
The sight of all 126 competitors/ 42 teams jockeying for position in what was a clue of things to come (wet soggy feet) was truly an awesome picture. As Race director: Chris Fenlon-Macdonald shouted a countdown over the PA it was officially "Game On" for Swamp Donkey '07.
Throughout the day teams would push themselves, volunteers would cheer on and offer assistance to racers and the Swamp Donkey "sweep team" consisting of John Ford and "Macgyver" Mark Arnold were kept busy right to the final moments of the race. In the hours that followed, every story of teams' journeys to the finish line is as original as it is incredible. The day would bring triumphs for some and tears for others. Unmistakably all who participated were tested and rewarded with a tremendous experience. Many individuals being first time adventure racers challenged themselves and created lasting friendships with teamates and fellow participants.
After the event everyone was treated to a Swamp Donkey sized meal and a much deserved beverage or two in what has been called a legendary post-party. Prizes and awards were distributed to excited racers and laughs were shared by all in attendance. To cap off the evening, the Ski Patrol staffers contributed a spectacular fireworks display. Stories and cheer flowed into the wee hours of the night
We would like to congratulate all the participants and volunteers of Swamp Donkey '07 who quite literally "got their feet wet" to the sport of adventure racing. The success of this event was due to the incredible excitement and enthusiasm of all who shared in the day.
The Swamp Donkey team wish to take this opportunity to again thank everyone for their hard work and effort that made the race such an overwhelming success.