First of all, if you haven’t already, sound out the acronym for this race. Yes, this is the “neuter” race. My kids still can’t stop giggling over that one. What the title actually stands for is “Natural Obstacle Off-Trail Race”. The premise of the race is anything you would normally go around when running through Mike Caldwell’s woods, you instead go through, over, under, up or down. You don’t run this race; you crawl it, slop through it, slide down it and climb up it. And believe it or not, you have a great time!
I had three goals for this race:
- Not get injured
- Have fun
- Not get injured
One scratch, one bruise and a big smile later…mission accomplished!
I was heading into this race with a mixture of excitement and, well, fear. I had seen the video of last year’s race on the Mad Trapper Facebook page, so I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. I was quite aware that this was well out of what I consider my comfort zone. But in my last post, Orienteering, ,Trail Running and Life in My Forties, I wrote about how I am spending less time being self conscious and more time trying new things. This event certainly qualified as something new for me. Besides, given the fact that my husband and sons were going to do it, I really couldn’t back out. I have a lot of testosterone in this family to keep up with.
I’ve been to lots of small races where the organizer gives pre-race advice and instructions. These talks, however, have never said things like, “Go too fast in the creek and you WILL break your leg,” or, “If this sounds like you have signed up for more than you bargained for you can skip it and ask for a refund.” Actually, I might not mind hearing that last statement when I line up for the Road2Hope Marathon in November! The fact is, while the course certainly had the potential to be dangerous, it truly was completely manageable if you were smart about your approach. This was not a course to go all out, though I’m not entirely sure my kids got that message. Yes, they finished well before me as did my husband. As for me, I just took it slow and steady and to be honest, was slightly disappointed when I turned a corner and realized I was heading down the hill to the finish line and the race was almost over. I may pay for this next year, but I think I would be happy if the course was even longer! (Upon reading this, Mike Caldwell will be plotting an extra loop for me to complete next year.) The course was a little under 4 km but it took me an hour and 20 minutes to finish it!
This course had virtually no flat spots. We were only on trails briefly, most of the time we were just working our way through the hilly forest. Up, down, up, down, up down. Forget what you are picturing in your head – I don’t mean running up a 5% grade. I mean dig your hands in the dirt and try to haul your butt up a hill, using anything you can grab – saplings, roots, rocks, thistle plants (still pulling out splinters). As for downhills, my quads got quite a break – largely because I did most of the descents on my behind (almost always on purpose). There were two big mud pits to get through, one of which I did manage to stay upright in, the other not so much. There were also big rocks to climb over, trees to go under and a creekbed to stumble along. Often you couldn’t see what you would be doing next, but you know something major was coming by the groans or cursing you heard up ahead. This was not a serious race though. We were all told that if you hit any obstacle you weren’t comfortable with, simply go around it. Using the honour code, you could even tack on a couple of minutes to your final time if you felt appropriate.
Hmmm, am I selling this race yet? Honestly, from start to finish it was hard work but pure fun. We grown ups need more of this in our lives; it is so completely opposite of the ordered, safe lives we lead. We need to get dirty, we need to fall, we need to scare ourselves just a little. Kids inherently know this, though our current society is doing a lousy job of encouraging it. While it is going to become tiresome finishing everything last in this family, I was so proud that my kids headed out ahead of me, ready for the challenge. Shouldn’t all kids be doing things like this?
If I haven’t sold this yet, just a reminder that Mad Trapper races have real food at the end thanks to Mike and his wife Monique. In this case we had hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, chips and of course homemade brownies. Seriously. all races need to have brownies at the finish line. I don’t care if bananas are full of potassium, brownies make me happy.
As with all Mad Trapper Races, prizes were for the most part random. The winning male and female each got first choice from the prize table, and quite surprisingly I discovered I was the first woman to cross the finish line. Actually it was such a surprise that when Mike started saying the first place prize winner was a running blogger, all I thought was, “Hey, there’s another blogger here, I’ll have to meet her and exchange blogs.” I picked out a Salomon running backpack which I will be testing on a trail run soon.
Mad Trapper races seem to be the best kept secret in the Ottawa/Gatineau area, but now that you are in on the secret you need to check them out. I love the fact that they provide my family and I a completely different racing experience. Personally I can’t wait for their next race, a women’s only trail run called Power in Pink on August 29. Be forewarned, if you know me, and I know that you are capable of hiking a 3k or running a 5 or 10k trail (that should be everyone I know), I am going to be hounding you to join this race. I just have to decide if I am doing the 5k or if I am mad enough to do the 10!
BTW, in an upcoming post I will review the Salomon S Lab Ultra SG trail shoes that I had a chance to demo during – yes during – the mud-fill, rock climbing, creek crossing NOOTR race.