The Red Bull Divide and Conquer is a slightly different take on relay racing, with the first team member running around 12 kilometres while gaining around 2,000 metres in elevation, the second team member mountain bikes 30 kilometres of the toughest North Shore singletrack and the third member kayaks six kilometres from the Cleveland Dam area to the Burrard Inlet and across the open water to Ambleside Park.
This year a team from Whistler called UmpaLumpa secured second spot overall out of 23 participating teams with a time of four hours, 36 minutes and 24 seconds. Team North Vancouver RCMP was first by more than 30 minutes in 4:02:02, while the Valley Boyz were third in 4:37:30.
Quentin Emeriau handled the mountain bike portion for the team, moving the team from ninth to fourth overall. It wasn't easy.
"Everybody had a crash (on the bike leg)," he said. "One guy broke his arm, another broke his pedal, I got a flat. I don't know if any of the kayakers went upside down or anything, but it was pretty intense and pretty hectic. The run was really hard, the bike was on some really hard trails and the kayak... the water was low, so the kayaker had to push off rocks with both hands all the way down to the sea."
The team's runner, Vincent Pagot, finished the first stage in ninth place, but in sight of several other teams. Emeriau passed a few riders early on, but lost about six minutes when he doubled back after thinking he was lost, and even more time after he got a flat. He still managed to pass around five riders overall. In the kayak leg, paddler Cedric Proeschel managed to pass one kayaker in the shallow river and then another on the open water to move the team into second.
"We were really going for it," said Emeriau. "When we saw all the people there and the team that won last year we were more aiming for around fifth place, but we all pushed really hard and pushed the descents, everybody on the team."
For the win, the team earned $1,250 plus three North Face tents valued at roughly $400 apiece — a nice bonus considering that the Whistler team didn't realize there were any prizes at all until the morning of the event.
UmpaLumpa wasn't the only Whistler content. Joren Titus was the fastest runner overall on Team The Full Dudemen in 1:15:32, over five minutes faster than the next runner.