Although shes just 25 years old, Sea to Sky resident Jen Segger is quickly establishing herself as one of the top adventure racers in the world.
Her latest result is a first place with Team DART-Montrail in the Baja Travesia, a five-day adventure race that covers more than 400 kilometres of rugged terrain on the Baja peninsula. The teams were tested in stages that included kayaking, canyoneering, high alpine traversing, trekking, mountain biking and even auto rally orienteering.
Every team is comprised of three athletes, and had to include at least one female. For this event Segger teamed up with Matt Hart and Cyril Jay-Rayon from Team DART-Montrail, and they finished the course in under three days with a time of 69 hours.
The team also won the Explore California Champions title, which included a series of 24-hour races before wrapping up with the Baja Travesia.
Team DART-Montrail got off to a good start in the 57 km sea kayak on the Pacific Ocean, and headed into the trekking and mountain bike section in fourth place. Solid navigating carried them into first place in the canyoneering section, which includes almost 3,000 metres of technical descending into Devils Canyon.
"It was pretty dodgy. We were repelling off these cliff faces by anchoring on to shrubs and things, so you had to be really confident with your rope work," said Segger. "The whole way down at night we werent sure if we were in the right chute or not, and it was hard because it would be impossible to climb back up if we made a mistake. There were a lot of teams that did make that mistake, and it was probably lucky that a few teams pulled out before the canyon section because it was so easy to get into trouble."
Team Nike ACG and The King IN/BC team were tied for first place heading into the canyon section and took wrong turns. Both ended up cliffed out and had to wait until morning to figure a way out of their dead ends.
Meanwhile Team Dart was heading out of the canyon into the desert by the time morning rolled around, stopping to sleep for just 15 minutes.
Soon after they met up with a driver, who they helped to navigate a dune buggy along a section of the Baja 1000 Rally Race.
"The driver was necessary," said Segger. "After two days of racing and not sleeping you dont need to be behind the wheel of a car driving off-road."
After that section they made another long trek by night, before beginning the final kayak on the Sea of Cortez to the finish line.
"That was tough because we were struggling to stay awake and the surf kept washing us up on beaches that appeared in the middle of the sea. It was hard to navigate," said Segger.
"We were also hallucinating a little. We thought Team Silly Rabbit was right behind us, so we gaver and paddled like crazy. We didnt know the closest team was nine hours behind us."
The team won $10,000 U.S. for their efforts, something that motivated Segger to get to the finish in first place. In the past she has had to work three jobs while training in order to afford her races. Now, with the support of a professional team, and a little prize money, she can make it with just one job. Segger is now running the new Curves gym in Function Junction, which also allows her to get in some training on the job.
The low point of the race for Segger was on the 3,000 metre mountain bike climb. Segger was still battling a virus she picked up in her last adventure race in Florida just three weeks earlier, and felt like she had nothing to go on.
"I didnt know how I was going to hold up. I was in and out of the hospital until three days before the race, and there was one low moment on the bike leg where I just felt empty. My legs were fine, but my body didnt feel like it had anything left to go on," she said.
"Luckily it didnt last long, but for the rest of the race I was waiting for that feeling to come back."
Segger is taking a few months off of adventure racing, but has joined Team Yeti for the Yeti Canadian Snowshoe Racing Series this winter. There are events planned for Mount Washington, Mount Seymour, Whistler, Cypress Bowl and North Shore.
Last year most of the events were cancelled due to the lack of snow, but organizers are hoping to pick up where they left off the previous year with strong turnouts at every event.
For more information visit www.theyeti.ca.