July 2015
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Jess
July 30, 2015

 

We recently caught up with Team Équilibre after their eventful, multi-day adventure race: Expedition Alaska. Find out more about how they coped with emergency situations and their approach to the team sport of adventure racing.

H: Hello team! What a journey you’ve been on! First and foremost, congratulations for completing the course. I hope you’ve all had a chance to take a breather and rest up.

E: Thanks. It was a journey indeed. Alaska is a wild place! We would have really liked to be higher in the rankings at the end, but that’s racing and the reality of team sport. We will be back stronger.

H: I’m sorry to hear one of your teammates dropped out mid-race due to unforeseen circumstances. The rest of you put up an amazing fight and completed the race successfully. Congratulations!

E: Well, we made the best of of it. Quite frankly we did not have much else planned than racing our best in Alaska, so that’s what we kept on doing. The course was amazing too. I’m glad we kept on going. In the end we managed to have a good time out there even if the circumstances were not what we had planned for.

© Perpetual Motion Events

© Perpetual Motion Events


H: Can you tell us a little bit about what happened before the decision was made that Chelsea had to stay behind?

E: Chelsea had an asthma attack [when] we were comfortably in 2nd place and planning how we would overtake 1st. After some rest time and many ‘revival’ attempts with hot food and gear swap, we managed to get to the next transition area were we had access to our gear and medics. After, again, extra rest time we unfortunately had to make the decision to keep going as a team of 3 instead of 4, as Chelsea was not fit to go forward.

In adventure racing, when a teammate cannot pursue with the team the consequence is that the team is either un-ranked or ranked in a lower category, which is what happened to us. So all teams that would manage to hang on together until the end, even on short courses, would be ranked in front of us, even if we would cover much more ground.

H: It must have been very tough to face an event like that in such a rigorous race as the Expedition Alaska. How did your remaining team deal with this situation and troop your way through?

E: I think the amazing scenery and one specific segment named the “Soul Crusher” (that was announced as “as epic as it gets”) are what motivated us to keep pushing. Race organizers did an excellent build-up showcasing how great and beautiful the race course would be, so we really wanted to catch as much as possible.

We also wanted to show what we could do to everyone around, including our direct opponents like Tecnu and Yogaslackers. The AR crowd is an amazing one and just hanging out with them is also a high source of motivation.

H: What were some of the most challenging moments of the race?

E: Having to deal with losing a teammate for sure, and all the consequences. It’s always the hardest in AR (Adventure Racing) and what you want to avoid at all costs.

Then definitely the end of the “Soul Crusher” segment. It started well with a trail run and then pack-rafting before climbing on a Lord of the Rings type of ridge. Coming down the mountain proved to be very challenging as there were not many routes and we got cliffed-out many times. We certainly lost a few hours, but in the end we had a very good run at it, completing it with the second fastest time. We left the TA in 8th place and got to the end of the segment 32 hours later in 2nd place.

© Perpetual Motion Events

© Perpetual Motion Events

H: How did you overcome the physical and sometimes emotional obstacles throughout this mega multi-day race?

E: The only way is to keep it tight together. Expedition races can be very wearying when the fight among teammates adds to the battle with the elements. Jean-Yves, Jonathan and I have been racing together for many years now, so we know each other (and ourselves) very well in those situations. We like racing together because we complete each other very well as we all have our AR role to play on the team.
We also slept here and there! There is a fine balance between not enough and too much sleep and I think we more or less had it right. The no dark time really helped [with] keeping us awake.

H: Were you expecting some of the obstacles that came your way? Was your team prepared for many different scenarios?

E: Yes and no. I was not prepared to lose a teammate, so it took me some time to deal with it. As for the obstacles on course we had made our homework and brought the right gear. We brought our Hillsound Trail Crampon for the “Soul Crusher” segment as we expected snow and ice on the top. It turned out to be very useful and many teams had issues, where [as] we could make our way much more easily and make good navigation decision[s].

I don’t think anyone was prepared to be that wet for that long. We shivered about 50% of  [the] race time. That’s certainly something one can hardly prepare for.

The glacier segment was more challenging than I expected, with many crevasses at some point[s]. We had two days of crevasse rescue course pre-race but still that was something. Thankfully we held on very well with our Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro!

H: You’ve mentioned to me that Alaska is an amazing place and that you highly recommend a visit. In the midst of all the hectic adventuring, were you able to take in all the beauty of nature that Alaska has to offer?

E: Hell yeah. Especially when racing you get to these incredible places that are most of the time very hard to access to most. Plus, this time around [and] unlike many other races, we actually did get to see everything as there was no dark time! That’s something everyone should experience once! And, in the end, I think we only got a glimpse of what Alaska has to offer. It’s so wide that we will have to go back for sure. We heard of another potential [race] even in 2 years [time], so maybe we will get another shot soon!

ExpAk-Julbo11

© Perpetual Motion Events

H: What was the most enjoyable part of the race?

E: It’s hard to say. There was always a mountain with snow cap or a glacier in sight. The forests were green and rivers raging. Just non-stop awesome views for as long as we were awake. I think biking Resurrection Pass and Lost Lake Trail are definitely highlights above highlights. Some of the best mountain biking we have ever done. Jean-Yves was screaming like a little boy while riding Lost Lake Trail! Rafting on Six Mile Creek in successive R5 was really astounding!

All that said, just hanging around [like-minded] AR people also provides some of the most enjoyable memories.

H: Each race and each journey is very different. What is the biggest thing you learned through this race?

E: That we can truly fight for the win in these races.

H: Thanks so much for sharing your precious memories with us. We really appreciate it! Let’s keep in touch and let us know what your next adventure is! Congratulations again.

E: Anytime. Thanks to you guys, we are lucky to have you on our side. Our sport is one of passion and drama and it’s great to work closely to communicate all this with such passionate partners like you guys at Hillsound.
Next I’m racing Raid International Gaspésie this fall which will provide a different and very fast-paced race. Jean-Yves, Jonathan and I will define another target soon for next year!

You can see more adventure photos of the team here. © Perpetual Motion Events.

Jess
July 23, 2015

A 7-day adventure race through Alaska’s wild and mountainous terrain is not for the unprepared.

Pack-rafting, glacier travel and mountain biking are just some of the activities entrants can expect on the course, with details of the obstacles not revealed prior to the race. If ever there was a race where participants need to be ready for anything, the 350+ mile Expedition Alaska is it.

A large part of the necessary preparation for a course of this nature is mental: entering the race with a positive outlook but allowing room for adjustment of expectations as circumstances change.

When team-mate Chelsea suffered an asthma-attack in the middle of the 2015 Expedition Alaska course, Team Équilibre were faced with a tough decision in an already challenging environment.

“In adventure racing, when a teammate cannot pursue with the team the consequence is that the team is either un-ranked or ranked in a lower category, which is what happened to us,” said team-member Alexandre Provost.

With Chelsea not fit to go forward, Team Équilibre made the hard decision to continue as a three-person team. Coming from a comfortable 2nd place position prior to Chelsea’s asthma attack, the situation was understandingly hard to accept. But as Alexandre explains, it’s all part of adventure racing and the reality of team sport.

“Well, we made the best of of it. Quite frankly we did not have much else planned than racing our best in Alaska, so that’s what we kept on doing,” said Alexandre.

“The course was amazing too. I’m glad we kept on going. In the end we managed to have a good time out there even if the circumstances were not what we had planned for.”

Drawing motivation from the adventure racing community, Alaska’s amazing scenery and a desire to show the competition what they were capable of, Team Équilibre battled on. Strong team-cohesion from the Quebec, Canada- based group helped the remaining members complete the race.

“Jean-Yves, Jonathan and I have been racing together for many years now, so we know each other (and ourselves) very well in those situations. We like racing together because we complete each other very well as we all have our AR role to play on the team,” said Alexandre.

Team Équilibre needed every bit of their training and strength to successfully tackle some of the more daunting parts of the course. With the tag-line “as epic as it gets”, the Soul Crusher segment of the race was the next biggest challenge for Team Équilibre after losing a team-mate.

ExpAk-Julbo5

© Perpetual Motion Events

“It started well with a trail run and then pack-rafting before climbing on a Lord of the Rings-type of ridge. Coming down the mountain proved to be very challenging as there were not many routes and we got cliffed-out many times. We certainly lost a few hours, but in the end we had a very good run at it, completing it with the second fastest time. We left the TA in 8th place and got to the end of the segment 32 hours later in 2nd place,” said Alexandre.

Physically completing the route is only part of the equation when it comes to adventure racing. Planning and packing the right equipment to be able to travel light yet be prepared for the host of activities that can be thrown a team’s way is part of the challenge. Hillsound provided the team with pairs of the Trail Crampon Pro and Trail Crampons for training and use on the higher altitudes of the course.

“We brought our Hillsound Trail Crampon for the “Soul Crusher” segment as we expected snow and ice on the top. It turned out to be very useful and many teams had issues, where [as] we could make our way much more easily and make good navigation decision[s].

“The glacier segment was more challenging than I expected, with many crevasses at some point[s]. We had two days of crevasse rescue course pre-race but still that was something. Thankfully we held on very well with our Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro!”

For Alexandre, the experience wasn’t all a hard slog either. Set against the stunning backdrop of Alaska’s mountain ranges, the course was an adventurer’s dream for new mountain biking, paddling and trekking terrain.

“There was always a mountain with snow cap or a glacier in sight. The forests were green and rivers raging. Just non-stop awesome views for as long as we were awake. I think biking Resurrection Pass and Lost Lake Trail are definitely highlights above highlights. Some of the best mountain biking we have ever done. Jean-Yves was screaming like a little boy while riding Lost Lake Trail! Rafting on Six Mile Creek in successive R5 was really astounding! All that said, just hanging around [like-minded] AR people also provides some of the most enjoyable memories,” said Alexandre.

So will Team Équilibre be back for another adventure race? Absolutely, according to Alexandre. “We will be back stronger.”

Jess
July 21, 2015

We are once again thrilled to celebrate our brand ambassador Stevie Kremer’s recent victories in the Ultra Sky Run Madeira, Vertical KM Race, Whiteface SkyRun, World Mountain Running Long Distance Championships, and Kendall Mountain Run. She has yet again shown us that she is an unstoppable athlete through this summer race series.

Kremer was the first female to finish and 10th overall in the second annual Ultra Sky Run Madeira in Portugal on June 13, known for its dramatic change in elevation, and one of the toughest endurance races in the region. Fellow ambassador, Marshall Thomson also competed in the race and secured an impressive 9th place finish.

At the Vertical KM race on June 27th, Kremer was the first female to cross the finish line after 2.5 miles of intense elevation gains totaling 3,300 feet in Whiteface, NY. The following day, Kremer finished first in the female category at the Whiteface SkyRun, an event featuring 19 miles of rolling trails and two of the sharpest vertical ascents and descents of any race.

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Photo Credit: Stevie Kremer’s Facebook Page

On July 4th, Kremer flew to Zermatt, Switzerland along with 2,000 other runners representing 22 countries to place fourth among women in the 12th World Mountain Running Long Distance Championships. The grueling 26.2-mile race gained over 6,300 vertical feet and over 1,400 feet of descent. The USA men’s team earned a silver medal and, with Kremer’s extraordinary finish, the USA women’s team secured a bronze metal.

Kremer was again the first female to cross the finish line at the Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton, Colorado on July 19th. The 12-mile race began at an altitude of 9,318 feet and gained over 3,500 feet up scenic Kendall Mountain.

We are so proud of Stevie! She is such a resilient athlete and these are unbelievable accomplishments that few athletes ever attempt. We are so excited to celebrate her wins.

Kremer has been competing in endurance races for over 5 years, and has been among the first to place in highly regarded races, including the Jackson Hole Skimo Race, Grand Targhee, and Wasatch Powder Keg mountaineering races. Kremer was also named the Skyrunning World Series Champion in 2014.

See additional information about the Ultra Sky Run Madeira, Vertical KM Race Whiteface SkyRun,World Mountain Running Long Distance Championships, and Kendal Mountain Run.