Ultimate Challenge 2001

It was a fantastic weekend.

Six brave Gonzos had a tough choice. (Love these kind of weekends) Would we go to Nictaux and do a marathon canoe race - 2 hours of agony( you forget about the pain shortly after the event or a somewaht fun sounding canoe orienteering type race in Pugwash. Well Pugwash won. Leaving the marina at 0800 (Bernie was on time) we headed off to the nearestTim Hortons for a coffee (we do have priorities) then to Pugwash. Beautiful drive, Sun out, what more could we ask for? Getting to Pugwash we stop to ask directions to the nearest Yacht club (Isn't it funny how women will never stop to ask directions?) and the start of the event. We are faced with 4 options

a) paddle to the island and find the control points amd paddle back

b) paddle to the left and find the 6 or 7 controls

c) Paddle to the right and find the 6 or 7 controls or

d) the ultimate challenge do it all in a very tight 3 hour time frame

Heck we ain't no sooks, we didn't drive 2 hours for a half meal deal, we came for the full meal deal. THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE Three Gonzo teams Imax and The Sun God, Dipper and Sean( we do need a name for him), and Mountain Goat and yours truly The Viking. We get our maps and now comes the strategy. What is your plan? Mountain Goat and I decide to take "the path less travelled" and head to the right. We also think there is a potential portage point that will save a chunk of paddling. They are off.

We immediately head to the right - opening up a short lead on a nice cedar strip canoe with a mixed team in it and a team from Bridgewater. The other 13 boats have headed to the right. (Who would want to race 13 boats to a check point anyway?) We pick up the first 3 controls rather easily, while opening a bit more of a lead. We head to a point that has a control on it and beach the canoe and nab that one, Then Mountain Goat heads across the little spit of land to get the one on the other side. Only it is a little farther away than that. Finally (getting a bit wet) he nabs it but the mixed team seams to have cut into some of our lead. To the island, I drop off Malcolm, Who is a runner, and head around to the right to pick him up. I expect him to be about 15 minutes,so head back a bit on the trail(?) a bit of bent grass to find #4 in order to show Malcolm where it is. 15 minutes, Here's Malcolm, "can't find two of the controls ( he is such a good runner he runs right by them), I'm a much slower runner so I go back and find them- One on wreck and one on foundation(?)

Back to Malcolm. "The last one is right in line with canoe and the tripod in the water" Off he goes. Meanwhile I have talked to the male half of the mixed team -Ian Folkins who tells me that the the female who I at least recognize as an athlete is in fact quite an athlete, She is Pam James, world class orienteer, North American Champion etc Now coaching the Canadian Military Team. Well by the time Malcolm returns our 5 minute lead (Based on canoeing skills) is gone and we are behind about 5 minutes. Across the bay, Strong wind at out side "Malcolm keep the paddle in the water" "Can't, the water is too far away", there must be 3 foot waves we are trying to get through. No "huts" here to change sides, we can hardly keep from going sideways The arms are on fire but we finally make it to control 17.

PORTAGE. Up the bank, along the old rail line back into the water. Guess who's just in front of us Yes Ian and Pam. We have made uip the difference Work Work Work. They cross the river and beach the canoe and Pam runs back for one while Ian paddless to the next one. We stay right and pick up the two that are on the left, then go down the river. On the way back up river we pass Ian and Pam W must have a two or three minute lead but we have to pick up two that they got on the way down. We get the second one and still can't see them. Now back into the wind and the last two points. Oops -at stapler ta the # 10, I see it in the water. Malcolm reaches it without tipping us over and recovers it.

Punch, tie it up for those that are behind us then to the last one and home. It was every bit as tough as a marathon canoe race but a heck of a lot more fun. We managed to beat Pam and Ian (who it turns out is a big cheese in Orienteering Nova Scotia) by about 5 minutes. Not surprising,This is a canoe event with a bit of map reading in it. It was a blast, Great organization, good prizes, everybody went home with memories and an award. You just can't beat that.

Thanks to Greg Nix, and extended family, and to Orienteering Nova Scotia.