Winter Wicked Adventure Race
Quest Race Team: Annie Hewlett, Brent Molsberry, Kellen Oetgen, Scarlett Graham
What makes adventure racing stand apart from all other types of races is that word adventure. And you can’t have an adventure without stepping out of your comfort zone. Our first ever Winter AR, the Winter Wicked Adventure Race by Krank Events, succeeded in stretching our edge.
The Winter Wicked AR in the Teanaway Valley near Cle Elum Washington was the first event of the Cascadia Race Series, a 10 part Adventure Race Series in Washington and Oregon. With a $3,000 series prize purse on the line, we wanted to get off to a strong series start.
The race would start and finish with a bit of a dealers choice. We could either do leg 1 and 3 on cross country skis or on fat bikes. Leading up to race day, there was lots of debate about the pros and cons of both options, and what conditions on race day would be like. After extensive debate, we chose the XC skis. Spoiler alert: We chose poorly.
Kellen getting in some practice
The day prior to the AR was spent practicing on our chosen mode of transport. This entailed several hours of skiing on snow packed roads (easy), snowshoe packed trails (harder), and untracked snowy slopes (hardest). Our skills improved throughout the day, and by the end, we were able to navigate small descents on breakable crust with only occasional face plants (a vast improvement). Now we were ready to race.
18 degrees, with high overcast, and a forecast of a sunny afternoon.
The gun goes off, and our miscalculations about the benefits of skis become readily apparent as the field is immediately split into fat bikes (way up ahead), and skis.
Quest Race Team getting our snowshoe on.
We persevere and and transition to snowshoes for the second leg of the race. This goes much better for us. We are navigating well and make up time on the field. The views are beautiful as you look to the north at the Stewart Range. The sun is out, the wind is light, and the sound of snowshoes constantly breaking through a breakable ice crust shatters the otherwise tranquil winter scene.
Back on skis, it’s now time to go down hill (not what xc skis were designed for it turns out). As our skis pick up speed, turning becomes only a fantasy. The immovable objects of the mountains (trees, shrubs, boulders, ect.) appear directly in our path and we are forced to bail into snow banks, or any other relatively soft surface that we can find. The howls of terror are only drowned out by shouts of joy and surprise when you make it down a hill still standing.
Skiing with great confidence across the finish line.
As we crossed the finish line and dusted the snow off, our efforts were good enough for 3rd place, and very much in the hunt. A very strong snowshoe leg kept us in contention despite our xc ski shenanigans.
It was a great weekend, and a great learning experience for us. The Winter Wicked AR proved to be a very adventurous Adventure Race.
Emily is a member of the Quest Adventure Race Team. She loves getting outside for adventures and sharing them with others.
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