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RAIN RAIN RAIN (I could go on!)
Jon and I had planned to do this race last year when we were looking back through the race calendar of events alternative to Haglöfs Åre Extreme Challenge. "It's the end of May, it'll be nice weather surely, we could make a weekend of it for the families," we thought. Well, it couldn't have been wetter (I'm sure!).
Early Saturday morning we arrived at the race centre hoping to setup early and not be rushed (raining). Dropped off the kayak (in the rain), put the transition boxes in the right spot (in the rain) but there was no coffee!! With plenty of time to spare, we jumped in the car and sped to Norrköping in search of a drive-through to grab 2 hot cups of caffeine to wake us. Plenty of time to get back to the kayaks although a short run was required to warm up and get there just on time.
Sitting on the water, the rain kept pouring.It was to be 12km of paddling in 2 sections separated by a short portage. Up the southern section of the lake to a buoy and return, short portage, then up the northern part of the lake and return. The wind was blowing from the south east so a relatively easy ride north and a pull against that wind on the return. Counting boats as they returned after rounding the buoys we were well placed in the 'sea-kayak' flotilla which was way behind all the surf-skis. There's such a difference in speed between the two types of boats you cannot compare time objectively.
From leaving the kayak after a short carry, it was a "200m" run (everything we were told was "about 200m" that day) - actually 1,1km run to the TA and a quick change to the running shoes.
It was still raining and the first thing to liven the legs and raise the HR was a trek straight up the ski slope lift...harder now as it was very wet and slippery so finding your footing as well as driving forwards was a challenge. The 12km trail run was fun / wet and a good challenge, lots of sharp inclines and descents and the trail took you through some beautiful woodlands, affording you with some spectacular views back over the lake (when the rain stopped for a few minutes!). It's a pity the clouds descended when we reached the highest point and all we got was a white fog ahead of us. Returning to the TA, a 25km MTB section awaited and again the start was a long slog up the 'easier' ski slope to the left this time...I say easier, it was like a river running down it from all the rain making it more slippy and muddy. Undeterred, we pressed on through some fine single track and forest roads. The course was awash with water everywhere making riding the puddles a concern, not knowing if there was a root, a rock or just a hole within them made the heart beart faster! It was also getting cold from being totally soaked through the entire day, riding slow you chilled, riding fast the wind chilled you more (even through a totally drenched windstopper as the wind chilled the fabric).