Sierra Designs' Raid the North - British Columbia
Host Site: Sun Peaks Resort
June 26-27, 1999


At 1:30am on Saturday, June 26, two buses full of competitors and a convoy of 25 vehicles pulled out of the Sun Peaks Resort parking lot to begin the 3.5 hour drive to the base of Pukeashin Mountain and the start line of Sierra Designs' Raid the North - British Columbia. The rain and fog made the drive slow and set an ominous tone for the 150km wilderness race that was about to begin.

The race started at 6:00am with 22 teams charging off on foot to find their way to the first of 12 checkpoints in the race. Starting from the valley floor they found their way up into the snow covered alpine region of Pukeashin Mountain. The very low cloud brought visibility to near zero at higher elevations and made navigation extremely challenging. There were no course markings or even trails to help guide the teams, only their maps and compasses. Some teams were lost very shortly after the start of the race and did not even reach the first checkpoint. One of those teams became so disoriented they required a search and rescue team to bring them back to safety. After 7 hours of scrambling through the snow of the wrong mountain they broke out their emergency radio to ask for assistance. This disqualified them from the race but gave rescue crews the necessary information to locate them and bring them back out of the mountains. Despite being taken out of the race at such an early stage their spirits were high when we found them and they thoroughly enjoyed their adventure.

This first trek section proved to very challenging for everyone in the wet and foggy conditions and virtually every team admitted to being lost at some point. One other team became so confused they had to use their radio to get assistance and eventually had to set off an emergency flare to help rescue crews pinpoint their location. Most teams persevered, however, and were treated to a 150 ft. rappel on a sheer cliff overlooking a 2000ft deep valley. The scenery was spectacular and very intimidating. It was a true test for some to lean back and drop over the edge when the only ground you can see below is 2000 ft down. Set up by a Rescue Canada ropes instructor with the assistance of 11 rope rescue-trained firefighters from the Kamloops Fire Department, the rappel proved to be thrilling, but extremely safe and went off without incident. There were also plenty of ropes in place so there was virtually no waiting time for teams.

At the end of the trek teams loaded into canoes to begin a grueling 28 km paddle down Adams Lake. They paddled through the night to reach the end of the canoe leg and first transition area in the race. This was the halfway point in the race and the first time teams met up with their support crews to re-supply and change gear. It proved to be a good test of strategy for those considering longer races as some teams traveled more than 20 hours unassisted to reach this point.

From the transition area teams headed out on their bikes for an easy 20 km mountain bike ride on logging roads where they met their support crews again to leave their bikes and begin the final trek of the race. Although only about 8 km in length, this trek was, for some, the toughest part of the race. The bush was incredibly thick as they ascended a steep slope to the final transition area. They then got back on their mountain bikes and rode roughly 30km through old trails and roads over the shoulder of Mount Tod to reach Checkpoint 12, the final checkpoint of the race, located at Sunburst lodge at the top of the Sun Peaks ski hill. They were then treated to a long downhill ride to the finish line 2000ft. below, located in the village of Sun Peaks. Team Ravenwolf, who took the lead in the first trekking section, ran a strong and consistent race. Their adventure racing and mountain experience kept them in the lead right to the finish line, although Team North Q'West made a valiant effort to catch them. North Q'West closed the gap to little more than 20 minutes heading into the final two checkpoints but lost ground again as Ravenwolf charged to victory.

This grueling course combined with the extremely difficult weather conditions took its toll on many teams. Only 7 teams reached the finish line as officially ranked teams, with one other team crossing the finish line unranked. As they had lost their maps and race passport in the final trekking stage. They were given replacement maps at the next checkpoint so that they could finish the race, but this outside assistance meant they were no longer officially ranked. Despite this, they were thrilled to reach the finish line. The sense of accomplishment they felt from completing their first ever adventure race was far more important than their official ranking.

Here are the final results:
1 Team Ravenwolf Vancouver30 hours 55 min
2Team North Q'west Seattle, WA31 hours 42 min
3Team Austin Vancouver35 hours 23 min
4Team Eco Spirit Coquitlam35 hours 44 min
5Team Lakes Burns Lake, BC35 hours 55 min
6Team Bike Barn Penticton, BC37 hours 5 min
7Team Tantrum Vancouver, BC38 hours 10 min

This race was a true wilderness experience. From snowy, unmarked, untracked alpine regions to the dense bush in the lowlands navigational skills were tested again and again. Teams were also required to plan their pace and gear accordingly as a significant portion of the race was done without seeing their support crews. And if that wasn't enough, the weather conditions and the frequent bear sightings forced teams to be alert at all times. Rounded out with some thrilling highlights such as a rappel overlooking a 2000 ft valley and a long mountain bike descent, this race was a perfect taste of what teams can expect in longer races as well as a spectacular challenge in itself. As expected, British Columbia proved to be an excellent venue for type of race we want to offer and we are already excited about planning our next course out there.

As with our Ontario race last month, we are encouraging all participants to write their own stories about their experience in the race and post it on our website, unedited. We are very proud of the races we have put on and think the best way to let people know how exciting and challenging they are is for the competitors to tell you themselves. Keep watching the BC results section of our website ( for the inside scoop. We should have all of the results up on the site next week.

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Congratulations again to everyone that took on Sierra Designs' Raid the North - British Columbia. It was an enormous challenge and it is rewarding for us to see so many great teams take it on. We hope to see you again.

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