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Segger takes on adventure racing worlds

Squamish endurance athlete aims for top five in Brazil

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Jen Segger may not have competed in many events this year compared to past seasons, but the races she has competed in are recognized for being among the toughest in the world — like the 135 mile (217 km) Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, the 540-km Bull of South Africa adventure race, and the 400-km Baja Travesia.

Segger’s toughest challenge is still to come, as she heads to Brazil at the end of October for the Ecomotion/Pro 2008 Adventure Racing World Championship. This is the third time Segger has competed in Brazil, but it’s on a course she hasn’t seen before in Northern Brazil, where daily temperatures break 40 degrees Celsius.

“The heat is probably an advantage for me after racing in South Africa and going over every mountain range in that country and racing at Badwater,” said Segger, who is racing with Team DART-Nuun.

Training has been tough, however, as Segger contracted a nasty virus, called African tic fever, that has taken her two months to shake.

“For the last month I’ve really struggled through training. I had an enlarged spleen, I felt like crap, my heart rate was sky-high, but I pushed through with the training and I started to feel better last week,” said Segger.

That trip to Africa was also difficult for other reasons as her team, Team Cyanosis, was forced to pull out. They were in second place, 15 hours from the finish, and gaining on the leaders when one of the team members came down with bronchial spasms.

The world championship course is longer than most, weighing in at 700-km. The faster teams are expected to finish sometime on the fourth day, while the slower teams could take 10 days to reach the finish.

“It’s going to be different than other races, and one reason is the really long legs,” she said. “They just sent out a release about the course… and the two paddling legs total about 140-km, like 13 hour paddles at a time. There’s also a sailing section that looks neat where we’re teamed up with a local fisherman, around 300-km of biking, and there will be a lot of hard rope work, ascending and descending where we will have to be efficient.

“Going into a race with that kind of heat makes it a race of attrition, so you have to follow a strategy for sleeping and take care early on with hydration and electrolytes.”

While Segger’s teammates have won several prestigious races over the years, the world championships and $60,000 in prize money are attracting the best teams. Given the level of competition, Segger’s goal is to finish in the top-five.

After that, she’s planning a good break before focusing on her next race, in March.

“I might do the odd fun race just to get through the winter, and I do plan to turn my focus on Randonee racing and tackling a new sport where I will go out and be humbled — if anyone wants to teach me,” she said.

“My first big race at the end of March is the Rock and Ice race in the Northwest Territories. It’s -30 to -40 degrees and a seven day race where you have to be fully self-sufficient.”

You can follow Segger at the world championships at www.ecmotion.com.br. She also posts updates on her website, www.challengebychoice.ca.

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