Swamp Donkey 2008
The Spirit of Adventure Racing Lives In Manitoba
Swamp Donkey 2008 will truly go down in the record books as the biggest "full on" adventure race, Manitoba has ever seen. While the journey for some began shortly after last year's event, just making it to the starting line was a challenge for others. With 72 teams of three vying to be the "Top Donkey" in the ultimate challenge of Man (or Woman) VS Nature, racers had no idea what awaited them as they began to congregate the evening before the big event.
As an early morning mist gave way to an incredible day, you could cut the excitement with a knife. Veteran teams and "Newbs" alike crammed into the chalet at Falcon Trails Resort to receive maps and last minute instructions from Race Manager Rick Shone. Nervous racers began plotting UTM's and bearings in an attempt to find the fastest route to the finish, but the clever course planning team of John Ford and Rick had a few tricks up their sleeves. Some of the maps needed would not be distributed until they were en route to necessary Check Points (CP's).
As staff, organizers, and volunteers hustled to be in position, racers began the journey to the start area at the top of the ski area. A breathtaking view awaited all 216 competitors, as photographers and Shaw TV jockeyed for the best shot. At 10am sharp, Race Director Chris Fenlon-MacDonald announced over the PA,"Racers ready, Set, Go!", and Swamp Donkey '08 was officially underway. The awesome sight of the mass of adventure racers "pouring" down to the Bike Transition Area (TA) was indeed a spectacle to be experienced.
Throughout the day teams would navigate around the Falcon Lake area by way of bike, canoe and at times foot, in some locations that could quite possibly have not seen human feet for centuries. While the competition was fierce up front with the leaders, it was teams just attempting to finish the course near the back that had something to prove, not to others but to themselves. In the true spirit of sportsmanship Team 66 assisted a team on the road when they had a flat during one of the biking portions. In another instance Team 73 retrieved a pack left on the canoe portage and returned it to a very grateful team. These teams truly embrace the spirit of adventure racing.
Encouraging volunteers shouted and cheered as racers made their way from Check point to Check point. While back at race HQ, Mark and Heather Arnold kept tabs on the progress and Cam diligently tracked the standings of all 72 teams. All along the course, at strategic locations the Ski Patrol did a great job ensuring that all racers were safe and tending to minor abrasions. The sweep team tirelessly assisted in making certain, teams were never lost (but sometimes momentarily misplaced) with help from Joel and Darryl on comms.
Each teams quest to cross the finish line had many stories, but with one common goal; to finish not only as a team but also to finish as friends. The exuberance by some was evident as they passed under the Swamp Donkey banner as was the relief by others, just to finish their epic journey. One thing is for certain that everyone who participated can proudly call themselves "Adventure Racers"!!!!
The team of Swamp Donkey organizers would like to say "Thank You" Barb and Craig and the staff at Falcon Trails for allowing us "crazy adventure racers" to run amuck (or "in muck" I guess). We would also like to thank all our sponsors and volunteers for whom without your assistance this event would not be possible.
All that's left to say is "Train hard, because Swamp Donkey '09 will kick your A**