Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Raid de Grenoble INP: Mud, mud and more mud

I've been waiting to write this post because I was hoping the pictures from the event would come out (I didn't bring my camera). But the race organizers are taking their own sweet time about it, so I'm going to go for it without pics. You can, however, watch this movie of the first day to satisfy all your multimedia needs:

My team appears at 2:00 crossing the enormous suspension bridge. Unfortunately I'm in the back pushing a bicycle so you can't really see me. Our team leader, Sylvain, is the guy waving his arms around and posing as he runs across the bridge.

Two days before the 2013 Raid de Grenoble INP, it started to rain. It rain cats. Then it rained dogs. Then it rained St. Bernards. Luckily, just before the Raid, it stopped raining. And left behind a world of mud.

I firmly believe that there are many types of mud in the world. There's deep, wet mud. There's a thin layer of slippery mud that covers rocks and turns them into booby traps. There's sticky clay. There's thick, black mud that seems to enjoy jumping up onto people, especially into people's mouths.

So when I say that I experienced all types of mud last weekend, I want you to really reflect on what that means.  Because there really was all the mud at the Raid last weekend.

This escalated the Raid, a multisport, multiday race, into what I shall now refer to as An Epic. It was also the funnest thing I've done all year.

We rode bikes. We ran. We orienteered. We shot biathlon guns. We shots bows and arrows. We went swimming in a freezing lake. We stopped at all of the aid station and finished most of their food (hey, isn't that what the people at the back of the race are supposed to do?).

The running joke was, "I only signed up for this because of the mud. If there was no mud, I wouldn't have come."

The Raid was so big that I don't feel like I can sit down and give a full description of what happened. So here are some of the moments, good and bad.

The happiest moment: When we arrived at the lunch aid station on the first day, and spent 20 minutes stuffing our starving faces.

The scariest moment: When I had to swim 200 meters in Lac de Monteyard, and I completely forgot all swimming technique I ever had and swallowed a bunch of water by accident. I couldn't breath, and I thought I was going to die. That was pretty bad. And pretty much turned me off triathlons forever. And Nico on my team swam twice!

The wierdest thing I asked for during the race: "Excuse me, can I borrow your scissors, I need to cut this loose piece of sole off of my shoe." (See: LaSportiva Quantums. They have been officially declared dead.)

The low point: The descent at the end of the second day. It was super technical and muddy, and I was sooo hungry. Tears of frustration may have appeared. I thought downhills were supposed to be the easy part!

The hero: Fabien on my team, who pushed my bike, running, for 10 kms when I broke the chain, while I rode his, until we found a replacement bike.

The worst bit of trail: The creek crossing followed by a steep, muddy uphill. I slide down the entire hill, bike in hand, on my first try, coating my running tights in mud.

The best bit of trail: A dry, flowing single track on the first day. Riding bikes is fun, as long as you can stay on the bike!

Strangest sight seen: 20+ athletes shivering in aluminum foil survival blankets as they wait for their turn at the archery post. This is what happens when you run and bike for 3 hours straight, and then stop all of a sudden without a lot of extra clothes to put on.

So, to the organizers of the Raid de Grenoble INP, thank you for an extraordinary weekend! And to my teammates, thanks for an unforgettable experience! And who knows, maybe I'll show up next year?

- The Wild Bazilchuk

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