Paul and Gayle are taking a year from their roles in Picton and Belleville and will be teaching at the Maple Leaf International School in Trinidad. We will use this blog to record some of our edventures!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Fusion Adventure Race

On Saturday, June 6 I participated the Fusion Adventure Race. This is the biggest race I've heard of here and people have been talking about it and planning for months. It is a 4-person team event that organizers take about 9 months to plan. Details, including location are kept secret until a few days before the race.

Fusion is touted as a very difficult competition. The race tag line is "When you cross the finish line, you will know more about yourself". Some good athletes that we play Frisbee with have tried it and said "never again!". Leading up to the race, I ran in the Fusion Lite race (an 18 km and over a large hill). That was tough, but definitely doable. Later we did a hike 4.5 hour hike in Chaguaramas that I was told had been one leg of Fusion a couple of years ago. We were planning for 3 longer stages and one final short stage.

Our team was made up of 4 Frisbee players: Reed (who organized the team), Jamie, John and Me. Jamie, our lone female, was concerned that she'd be holding us back. Believe me, she was the only one concerned about that!
 
Jamie picked me up at 1:30 am and we arrived at the race site an hour later to set up our rest area. The first stage was to start at 4 am an teams were arriving at a steady rate. We checked our gear and warmed up.

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The start of the race. In the dark.
Just slightly after 4 am, about 110 teams (that's over 400 athletes) began stage one. We had to carry our "Fusion Friend" -- an awkward 4ft piece of 2 inch PVC filled with sand). We knew about the Fusion Friend from stores of previous races, so we brought along some straps to make carrying it easier. Leg 1 was 8km with a 590 metre ascent was dubbed the warm-up. It took us about 1:20 to complete it entirely in the dark.

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Jamie and Reed near the end of leg 2 with the "Fusion Friend"

At around 7 am we began leg 2. That saw our team split into to 2 runners and 2 cyclists. Jamie and Reed went on a 2.5 hour run with the our "friend" -- which had other "F" words added to it's name after that leg. John and I took our bikes and headed to Brasso Seco. It was an out and back route described by Fusion as: "The hardest cycle leg of Fusion to date, 2 persons from each team had to cycle from Lopinot to Brasso Seco and return via the same route back to Lopinot covering a distance of 27.5km with a total elevation of 1,753 metres". I'd walked this route before in one direction so I knew it was going to be brutal at the beginning because no one would be able to ride up the hill. It stated to pour rain at about 7:30 which made the already rough road a really slippery mess. We finished our "walk and ride" in just under 3 hours.
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After some rest and re-hydration we stated leg 3 at 12:30. This time we left the Fusion Friend at home. Jamie, unfortunately was not feeling well and by the start of the leg had me concerned that we were going to have to go without her. We started with a slow jog, but Reed started to cramp, so we had to walk the first 4 km along the road until we reached the mountain trail. We started up the mountain in a slow single file with about 30 other teams visible as the course was not suitable for bush whacking. For about 10 minutes we used roots and rocks as stairs. Jamie's condition improved greatly and Reed's cramp worked itself out. We decided to make run for it at our earliest opportunity. John was going to be challenged by the hill, so told him to grab onto some straps I had put on my back pack and up we went. We passed at least 20 teams, but probably a lot more.

There was a very steep and technical descent back to the road. We completed the descent very quickly as John loves to go down hill. We had a hard time keeping up to him. Once we reached the road, we thought, "cool, only about 3k and we are back". OOPS. We rounded a corner and the race marshals sent us up a second hill. Not quite as steep, but higher!
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Here Fusion's description: "Leg 3 aka the "Camel Back" was a technical course that tested teams ability in ascending and descending. The first "camel hump" was a 506 metre (1,653 feet) ascent and a very daring descent. Teams then went onto the road where most would have thought that it was the end of hills... but it wasn't... Teams then had to ascend the second camel back which was taller at 552 metres (1,809 feet) but wasn't as agressive as the first, however, the descent was also as technical as the first downhill."

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John, near the end of Leg 3.
By the time we reached the top, John and Reed were struggling. We weren't able to descent nearly as quickly. After a short run on the road, we finished the stage by crawling in the sand under a 30 meter cargo net. The whole thing took just under 3 hours.

At about 5pm the race organizer announced that they would cancel the 4th stage due to time constraints. It was to be only a 4km loop, but most of the teams were not sad to hear this news. Jamie and I could have gone for another 4km, but I think we'd have had trouble trying to get John to put his shoes on!

All in all, it was a great day and I had a lot of fun with my team. Special thanks to Todd (Jamie's husband) who came later in the afternoon with his barbeque!!!

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Near the end of stage 3. Every part of me is wet!

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