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Frontier Adventure Challenge
Searchmont Resort
Sault Ste Marie, ON
Saturday, Sept 6, 2008

Slideshow Photos courtesy Bill Young, Sally Heath, and Tourism Sault Ste Marie

Race Video by Dan Missere (Searchmont Resort)

Photos by Bill Young (Facebook) - additional photos

Photos by Sally Heath (Facebook)

Race Report

by Sally Heath (Team Celliant)

What’s the furthest that you’d travel for a race? Normally, my rule of thumb is that the time to travel to the race has to be less than the length of the race itself. However, I broke this rule this past weekend to race in the 8 hours Frontier Adventure Challenge at Searchmont Resort in Sault Ste. Marie. What did I learn? That rules were meant to be broken...

I always relish the opportunity to race in new locations, and I’d never been to Sault Ste. Marie. This, coupled with the opportunity to race and visit with some good friends were enough motivation for me to fly from Toronto to Sault Ste Marie on Friday evening. Race day began bright and early as my teammates (one of whom I was meeting for the first time) picked me up at my hotel for the drive out to Searchmont. As the sun rose, I began to see how beautiful the area is, and how perfectly suited it is to adventure racing. It’s no surprise that an Eco-Challenge North American Qualifier was held out here in 2003.
What a fun race. I've just had the greatest day of my life. I'm happier than I've ever been!
- Seth Casden, Team Celliant
We arrived at Searchmont by 7:00 am and started working on our maps. In addition to meeting one of my teammates at the last minute, I also found out that I would be navigating for the race, something that made me a bit nervous in an entirely unfamiliar location. I wanted as much time to work on the maps as possible. After plotting our CPs and route choices, we got our gear organized. As the race start time approached, both of my teammates, who had little to no adventure racing experience, began to get really nervous, and I tried to assuage their fears by promising them that I wouldn’t get them too lost in the woods, but told them to bring extra food just in case.

The race began promptly at 10:00 am from Searchmont Resort. After a short run to the Goulais River to get the blood pumping, we squeezed ourselves into a TomKat (no, not the celebrity couple – an inflatable kayak) for a 7km paddle down the windy river. The Goulais was a little on the shallow side, which meant that there were plenty of opportunities to get out and stretch our legs during the paddle.

Once out of our boats, we hopped onto our bikes for the first of two biking sections. We had finished the paddle in the middle of the pack, but trouble arose as soon as we hopped on our bikes and found out that the rear derailleur on the bike I was using had been bent, along with a couple of chain links. One of my teammates did a quick repair and we were on our way again. The first bike section was a mix of gravel and forest roads. At CP2, we decided that we’d tackle the advanced course by doing an extra biking section and trying to get all of the trekking CPs on an orienteering stage later in the race. We found the advanced biking CP with only minor difficulty, then proceeded to CP3 to ditch our bikes.
The Searchmont race was so worth the drive to Sault Ste Marie area. The course was challenging yet very rewarding – I wasn’t expecting a CP near the top of a 250ft cliff, or paddling / trekking across awesome rapids on the Goulais River. Sign me up for next year! Thanks to all your efforts, the volunteers, and Searchmont for hosting!
- Adrian Makurat, Team KURA
After the bike drop, teams traversed above some incredibly scenic rapids on the Goulais River on foot before accessing the trekking bags. One of my teammates provided entertainment for our team (and the photographers) by falling down in the river then allowing us to take pictures of him lying in the water. After changing into our trekking gear (and being teased mercilessly by course designer Lawrence Foster for bothering to change our socks), we devised a route plan for the 6 trekking CPs, which could be found in any order. We nailed our first two CPs, which did wonders for my confidence, then proceeded through the section with only a few mishaps, such as wading through what we thought was the Goulais River but turned out to be a smaller stream, for about 500m.

The highlight of the trekking section was CP5, a control that was placed at the bottom of a set of rapids on the Goulais River. Even though our route choice on the way down to this CP was questionable in terms of its efficiency, the views it afforded, and the opportunity to trek across the flat rock of the Canadian Shield, were well worth the trade-off. After finishing the trekking section, we hopped back on our bikes for a short biking section back to Searchmont. I was having so much fun that I found myself sad that the race was almost over, but, reinvigorated by the fact that the finish line was just a few kilometres away, we hammered home down some beautiful secondary roads. We finished the advanced section in 7.5 hours, well behind the solo race winner, but fast enough for 2nd place in the co-ed division and 6th place overall.

A yummy dinner at Searchmont, some great prizes, and a bar capped off an awesome day of racing in Sault Ste. Marie. This well-organized event reminded me of why I adventure race in the first place: because there is nothing better than spending a day running around in the woods with some super fun people and a pack full of my favourite snacks.

Frontier has plans to make this race an annual event, so mark your calendars early for next September’s race. If you’ve never been to the area, you will find that it’s well worth the drive (or flight!).

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