Sierra Designs' Raid the North - Ontario
May 29-30, 1999


Canada's Ultimate Adventure Race Series kicked off May 29-30th with the Sierra Designs' Raid the North - Ontario held in the Madawaska Highlands around the Bon Echo Provincial Park. A total of 39 teams from 4 provinces and 3 states gathered for yet another successful and very challenging event staged by Frontier Adventure Racing Inc. They trekked, mountain biked, canoed, paddled through whitewater and rappelled a total of 160 km within 36 hours to reach the finish line. Relentless mosquitoes, thick bush and wide temperature swings greatly added to the challenge as teams pushed their physical and mental limits.

This year's course started with a relatively easy 12 km trek. Despite there being no trail markings to follow, the bush was relatively open and teams were able to move quickly. With a fast but technical 25 km mountain bike section and 15 km of whitewater paddling following the trek, the first day brought many thrills, some exciting competition and high spirits. All this changed abruptly as teams swam across the Madawaska River at the end of the whitewater section, where the accomplishments of the first day may have ill-prepared some teams for the harshness of this region as they descended into some of the thickest bush and most challenging terrain many of them had ever experienced. Temperatures plummeted as night fell, adding to the misery of navigating 14km in the dark. The pace slowed to a crawl for what was certainly the toughest part of the course as teams struggled with exhaustion and hypothermia. Race medical staff consisting of Emergency Medical Technicians and a Paramedic were kept very busy dealing with the cold and weary and several teams decided to withdraw at this point as one or more team members reached their physical or mental breaking point.

Competition was spread out considerably by the end of the trek with two teams pulling away into the lead. Team Canuck, captained by 3 time Eco-Challenge veteran Mano Krueger, and Team Continuum, a team of first time adventure racers, both completed the trek and headed out in canoes for a 25 km paddle just as the sun was setting. They and the rest of the teams were treated to a beautiful paddle under a clear sky and full moon, a spirit lifter for those weary from the trek. By midnight, Team Continuum was off the water and heading into a grueling 65 km mountain bike ride made up of non-stop rolling hills and finishing with 6 km of very technical single track on an old overgrown trail. Teams that took a little longer on this section had to ride in the sweltering 30 degree heat and several teams were forced to withdraw here from heat stroke and dehydration. The seemingly perfect weather conditions proved to be a harsh setting for an adventure race.

At the end of the mountain bike teams headed into a short but challenging bushwack to get to the top of a beautiful and thrilling 150 foot rappel that would drop them into Mazinaw Lake and leave them just a short paddle from the finish line. Team Continuum and Team Canuck were in sight of each other at the start of the bushwack but Team Continuum managed to pull away and take the victory. They crossed the finish line in a burst of cheers and tears. They were absolutely blown away by what they had accomplished in their first ever adventure race. All told, only 8 of the 39 teams officially completed this grueling course. However, regardless of where they got to on the course, all team reported that they had learned something, be it about themselves, their teammates, or simply gaining a better understanding of exactly what is involved in adventure racing.

Some of the competitors couldn't wait until they got their official survey and sent in the following comments:

"Our team had so much fun doing this race! Frequently, we were saying to each other how beautiful the park was, and how lucky we were to appreciate the moon in the canoeing section! Our goal during our training and during the race was always the same, even [though] we were first at many checkpoints: to finish the race. We respected that and "it paid us"! My partners are three extraordinary men and I think that "Raid the North 99" was just the beginning of an incredible friendship..."

Sophie Brisebois, Team Continuum

"You frequently mention that your goal is to drive each competitor to the point of self-doubt and quitting. It is only days after completion of the race that the rewards begin to show themselves. I wanted to quit during the race, but I battled through it and have been rewarded with feelings of accomplishment. I really enjoy your courses and think that they provide an arena to truly test one's convictions and limits, which lets you learn more about yourself than previously possible."

Simon Donato, Team Pathfinders

"I and my teammates are big fans of the Raid the North series. Both races I've been in have been well-organized with a superb course. The course is what really attracts me to the event."

Real Perriard, Team Phoenix

"Although my team did not complete the course, I enjoyed all aspects of the race and learned a lot. I'm looking forward to my next race. Our team worked well together and had fun along the way."

Deborah Slaunwhite, Team Oasis

"I wanted to thank you and commend you on an excellent race. The three other members of my team had no adventure racing experience at all. Your course was perfect - it pushed them to their limits and gave them a great first-timer experience."

Joe Decker, Team Oasis

"We had a wonderful time at your race. It was fun, very difficult, and for sure the most organized event we have ever participated in."

Rose Richards, Team GLAR

"Thank you for the awesome job you did on the race. We all had the adventure of a lifetime and can't wait to do it again. It was a well thought out course, covering some great terrain, and as far as any suggestions, we have no comments except keep them coming!"

Randy Richmond, Team White Light Adventurers


1) Team Continuum 29 hours 59 minutes Finish
This team of first time adventure racers were an inspiration to everyone. They worked extremely well as a team and kept a smile on their faces throughout the entire race. Their steady pace and great morale paid off for them.

2) Team Canuck 31 hours 2 minutes Finish
Team Canuck took the lead several times in the race, only to lose it again due to a few costly errors. Their strong adventure racing experience and physical abilities pushed the pace for the race but, in the end, they made one too many mistakes and finished second in a very close race.

3) Team SPC 33 hours 39 minutes Finish
Comprised of 3 military search and rescue technicians from Halifax and an Eco-Challenge veteran, this team kept a steady pace throughout the race and stuck to their race strategy. They resisted the urge to 'race' against other teams in the early stages when teams were grouped tightly together. Their focus and strategy brought them to the finish line in an impressive third place.

4) Team Phoenix 34 hours 15 minutes Finish
Team Phoenix came very close to finishing last year's Raid the North but had some trouble in the initial navigation section which ultimately caused them to miss the time cut-off for the final stage. It is inspiring to see a team like this come back so strong this year and finish just out of the top 3. Great work!

5) Team Olympia 34 hours 57 minutes Finish
This team from Winnipeg finishes strong in every race they enter. It's great to see them persevere through yet another challenge and we wish them the best of luck in their preparations for this year's Eco-Challenge.

6) Team Pathfinders 35 hours 4 minutes Finish
Pathfinders were one of the last teams to reach the start of the whitewater section after having spent several hours off course. With that behind them, they made an amazing charge for the finish line. They are a true example of the power of commitment and perseverance.

7) Team Trailhead 36 hours 30 minutes Finish
A team that gained experience from participating in our Ontario Retailer Race earlier this spring, they leveraged the strengths of each of their team members to a strong finish in their first collective full-length adventure race.

8) Team Timbuk2 38 hours 5 minutes Finish
Despite making changes to their team only weeks before the race, this team was able to stay focused on the goal of reaching the finish line and really worked together to make it through as one of only 8 teams to officially finish the course.

Team White Light Adventures 35 hours 28 minutes Finish (Unranked after CP9)
Although one of their team members was unable to continue onto the canoe section of the course due to exhaustion and hypothermia, this team pressed on as three. They had fun, worked hard, and were able to make up a lot of lost time to be the only unofficial team to reach the finish line.

Team SOAR 34 hours 10 minutes CP14
Team SOAR was halfway through the final trek to the rappel when they decided to turn back because they thought they would miss the cutoff time. It was a simple miscommunication that kept this team of first-timers from achieving their goal. Their teamwork brought them this far and we hope to see them back next year as the same great team.

Team Synergy 34 hours 42 minutes CP14
Synergy were within reach of the finish line when one of their members had to withdraw from extreme dehydration. Up to that point they had been a model of efficiency. They did not run at all through the race, they simply maintained a steady, efficient pace and moved from the back of the pack at the start of the race to being one of only 12 teams to reach CP#14. They are a testament to the fact that completing an adventure race does not require blazing speed or incredible physical fitness - just a strong will to succeed.

Team OAR 30 hours 15 minutes CP13
Team OMNI 32 hours 52 minutes CP12
Team Intrepid Wolf 33 hours 45 minutes CP12
Team Gusto 36 hours 30 minutes CP12
Team Mad Cow 36 hours 50 minutes CP12 (Unranked after CP8)
Team Risorius 37 hours 40 minutes CP12
Team Oasis 28 hours 27 minutes CP11
Team Drifters 28 hours 53 minutes CP11
Team Canadian Outback 29 hours 55 minutes CP11
Team G.E. 30 hours 50 minutes CP10
Team Summit 31 hours 20 minutes CP10
Team S.C.C. 32 hours 15 minutes CP10
Team Rainstorm 32 hours 20 minutes CP10
Team Titans 32 hours 40 minutes CP10
Team Southpaws 33 hours 7 minutes CP10 (Unranked as of CP7)
Team Pure Endurance 33 hours 55 minutes CP10
Team Wolfpack 34 hours 10 minutes CP10
Team GLAR 16 hours 2 minutes CP9
Team Nomad 18 hours 22 minutes CP9
Team Tribe 20 hours 42 minutes CP9
Team Whisper to a Scream 22 hours 37 minutes CP9
Team R.A.D. 22 hours 38 minutes CP9 (Unranked as of CP4)
Team Solstice 23 hours 12 minutes CP9
Team Equinox 28 hours 57 minutes CP9
Team Terra Firma 16 hours 30 minutes CP8
Team Quake 16 hours 50 minutes CP8
Team I Can 17 hours 10 minutes CP8
Team Six Packs 11 hours 51 minutes CP7

There are many stories from this year's race, all of them worth telling. Many teams completed more than they would have thought possible and experienced some remarkable things. Many competitors learned very valuable lessons about preparation and team dynamics. We want everyone to be able to benefit from the lessons learned and the valuable experience gained so we have created a new section on our website where teams can post their own account of the race and share their experiences with the rest of the adventure racing community. We encourage everyone, including support crews to write down their experiences in the race, good or bad, and send them to us so we can add them to our site.

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Congratulations again to everyone that took on Sierra Designs' Raid the North - Ontario. 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.

Mountain Biking
Time Sheet