Mother Nature added an extra layer of complexity to the Atmosphere Raid the North Extreme (RTNX) challenges as racers worked their way through the Valhalla Park and down the Arrow Lakes.
The weather fluctuated between brilliant blue skies and epic proportion downpours throughout the day and well into the night Wednesday.
Current race leaders, Team WildernessTraverse.com are living up to their reputation as a team to watch during this RTNX event as they have a commanding lead over the next ranked team.
According to RTNX’s website tracker, Team Wilderness Traverse.com were paddling down Upper Arrow Lakes with Team Wild Rose about six hours behind.
Chasing after them are Atmosphere MOMAR and Gear Junkie/Yoga Slackers.
Team Cellular were in second place Monday but forced to retire at a high elevation and cold, wet, icy conditions exacerbated a previously existing medical condition in one team member.
Meanwhile, local team Kootenay Kaos arrived at checkpoint eight, Ice Creek Lodge, Wednesday morning and looke to be in about sixth place.
One report from a race director read, “Dustin seems to be filling the role of team motivator, pushing them through a quick transition and on their way into the Valhalla trek to Ice Creek Lodge, the crux of the race.
“I asked them about any secret local route choices, but it seems they plan to tackle the same route as the lead teams have attempted – south of Beatrice Lake and along Demers Lake.”
The leading teams are expected at the finish line at Gyro Park as early as today.
A few gear, navigational and medical issues affected some of the teams, and they have elected to withdraw or do a shorter version of the course, while others forge ahead.
To track teams go to raidthenorth.com.
Event medical staff kept busy attending to blisters, scrapes and bruises from the trekking section. The overgrowth of aggressive plants like Devil’s Club and Alder are making the treks very arduous in some places. As they changed clothes, fueled and got organized for the paddle, more teams continued to arrive by headlamp in the dark, damp night. Despite the challenging conditions, teams’ spirits were amazingly high with anticipation of the paddle and subsequent stages that lay ahead.
As weather conditions deteriorated throughout the night, more and more teams were suffering from the side effects and were spreading more thinly throughout the course. A few teams lost racing companions due to injury so substitutes were made (or in some cases not) to enable teams to go on and complete the course as uncategorized or unranked. Some injured or sick racers elected to press on, with the commitment of first aid check-ins at each possible checkpoint and transition area.
At the Silverton transition, some teams opted to wait out the weather and get some rest before moving forward. Other teams were gone within 30 minutes.
The next series of challenges arise in the much-anticipated Valhalla Park area where racers will be visiting heli-accessible Ice Creek Lodge high in the alpine. And snow.