Do organizers go out of their way to keep the adventure in Mind Over Mountain Adventure Racing? Of course.
On one of the hottest days of the Comox Valley’s delayed summer last week, MOMAR founder and race director Bryan Tasaka and course consultant Liz Tribe were combining their expertise to lay out the route for this year’s Island MOMAR in Cumberland.
The second race in the two-race series goes Saturday, Sept. 22, and once again new challenges will test participants both mentally and physically.
“Every year we change the course design just to keep the adventure in the adventure race,” said Tasaka. “Racers don’t know the course until the morning of the race. We hand the race map out about 90 minutes before the start … then they plan their strategy for the rest of the day.”
Based in New Westminster, Tasaka looks after the course for the Mainland MOMAR, which is held in Burnaby in June. Tasaka values Tribe’s input on the Cumberland circuit.
“Liz is a big help. She has the local knowledge that’s key for me coming from Vancouver. It makes it much more efficient. She’s able to run a lot of it, knows the quirks of each of the trails and the different options and she’s great at presenting all the possibilities and working with me to figure out the best way to go.”
Tribe, an avid outdoors enthusiast, enjoys helping plan the course. “Our MOMAR scouting team of four ventures out and hikes and bikes a potential course.
“We usually end up getting distracted finding new trails or viewpoints that would benefit the overall course. This includes bushwhacking and going in circles sometimes. We like to find a route that is challenging, with fantastic scenery, and to venture ‘where no locals have gone before,'” she said.
Tasaka notes Carl Coger of the Victoria Orienteering Club also works on the Cumberland course. “He designs the final orienteering stage. He’s a big part of our event.”
A MOMAR sees solo entries or teams of two or four (who compete as a team, not in relay fashion) kayak, mountain bike, trail run, orienteer, trek and bushwhack their way around one of two courses.
There is a 30km Sport course for beginners, and Tasaka encourages newbies to come out and give the adventure experience a try. For the more experienced there is the 50km Enduro course.
Both courses are winners. “The trail network in Cumberland is phenomenal,” Tasaka said. “There’s new trails built every year and those trails are getting better and better, which is great because it allows me to have a lot of different options to change things up.”
The main challenge for participants is figuring out the fastest way to get from one checkpoint to the next. “We look for a course that has route options. You can either go up this trail to the left, or bushwhack through to find the CP (checkpoint). There’s definitely a best route, but there’s definitely multiple ways to do it.”
That unknown adds to the adventure. “You can be really fit, but make a few wrong turns and end up in the middle of the pack,” Tasaka said. “Or the middle of the packer just makes all the right decisions and ends up being in the top 10 (finishers).”
Cumberland’s world-class bike trails and spectacular terrain pull in competitors from near and far. “People love it. It’s a fantastic event that way,” Tasaka said. “We draw heavily from Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, and get a good chunk of people from all over B.C. and Canada.”
Tasaka estimates 10 to 15 per cent of people come from the Comox Valley, the rest from out of town. “It’s a great sport tourism event. The community gets two nights of reservation times – a lot of room nights get booked, especially Mount Washington and the hostels.
“The restaurants all do well on the Friday night when the racers come into town and have their pre-race dinner.” The award winning after-race party goes Saturday at Mount Washington. “On Sunday they fill up with cheap gas, grab some breakfast and a coffee and maybe explore the area, then head home,” said Tasaka.
“MOMAR, and all events that happen in Cumberland, do a great job showcasing the area to people who wouldn’t normally choose Cumberland or the Comox Valley to come to as a toursim destination,” Tasaka added.
Tasaka said things are looking good for this year’s 12th Cumberland MOMAR. “It’s just a matter of vetting the course with some time trials and making sure everything’s totally dialed. It’s going to be another epic event.”
Complete details on the race, including how to volunteer, are available at www.mindovermountain.com.