While the field generally spreads out on an adventure race as long and challenging as the Ecomotion Adventure Race World Championships, just two hours separated third place from 12 th place at the finish line this year.
At one point Team DART-nuun, which includes Squamish’s Jen Segger was ranked 14 th at a checkpoint, but they knew they were still in the running.
“We might have been 14 th , but we could see eighth place which was good,” said Segger. “It kept the pace really fast and kept you focused and going at a good pace. Sometimes when you’re out there and you haven’t seen another team for hours and hours you get into a groove and the pace drops off because nobody is pushing. When you see people coming up behind you, you move a lot faster.”
Segger said it was frustrating at times because they could look back and see a team on their heels. “Turn around a few minutes later and there are two teams there,” she said. “We didn’t really look back that much, but tried to catch the leaders.”
From 14 th at about the midway point, DART-nuun moved up to sixth at the end of the race. All of her teammates had minor problems with the heat — temperatures varied from 35 degrees to 45 degrees in the afternoon — and Segger’s teammate Aaron Matski got seasick on the four-hour sailing leg, but he only had a 10 km trek to the finish line after throwing up all of his food and fluids.
Overall, she said it was the best her team had ever raced.
“We did set a goal of finishing in the top-five, but really any of the teams in the top-15 had a chance of winning and all the top teams in the world were there so we’re happy with sixth,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen, and when things click like that it’s pretty nice. There was never a time when we thought we might have to pull out, and we were pushing to the end and passing teams the whole way.”
The tight race made it crucial to stay on course. One navigation error at sunrise cost the team just 45 minutes, but was enough to get behind three teams they passed during the night. “Your navigation had to be perfect, one little mistake could bump you back five places,” said Segger.
Her team did best on the second paddling stage, which was 17 hours, as well as all of the mountain bike legs. They also reached the first checkpoint with Team Nike and the top Brazilian team after a strong start.
“It really came together for us as a team, everybody gelled,” Segger said. “It wasn’t a perfect race, but it ranked up there as one of our best races when it came to things working well for us.
“We have a good history. We all worked our way up from amateur races to the level that we’re at, and I love racing with these guys. We’re good friends and we have a good time out there, which isn’t always easy to do.”
Each team had four members, one of which had to be a female. Segger’s teammates are Aaron Rinn, Aaron Matski and Cyril Jay-Rayon.
Her team is meeting this week to go over the calendar for next year. They will definitely be returning to the world championships in 2009, which take place in Portugal, and are looking at other races in China, Ireland, and Costa Rica.
Segger’s next big race will be a solo effort, the Rock and Ice Ultra in the Northwest Territories in March. This is a 225 km race on snowshoes or cross-country skis, broken into six stages.
Over the winter she is also planning to get into the sport of randonee racing, which is basically competitive ski touring. She plans to enter races in B.C. and Alberta, and perhaps in the U.S.
“It’s something new for me that I’m excited to try out, so I’m switching gears a bit to get ready for that,” she said.
With her season officially over, she thanked her sponsors at Salomon, nuun, Corsa Cycles in Squamish, Kinesys, Ryders, Cowichan Bay Kayaks, Sole Custom Footbeds, Light and Motion, and Turner Bikes, as well as everyone else who supports her.
“I’m always amazed at how many people around here follow these races and take an interest in my career, and I just want to thank everyone for their good wishes over the season,” said Segger.