With just a compass and map in hand, it took a group of four people unfamiliar with B.C. a total of 73 hours to navigate the Okanagan’s toughest trails and win the world’s biggest adventure race.
Starting on June 5, 18 teams from as nearby as Vancouver to as far away as Brazil arrived in Kelowna to participate in a race that covered 580 kilometres of area across the Central and South Okanagan.
And, after days of non-stop racing with limited food supply and a backward sleep schedule, Team Bend, a squad made up of members from Oregon and Quebec, emerged victorious.
“After that, the Okanagan has become a very special place for us,” said Alexandre Provost, a member of Team Bend who hails from Montreal. “We’re very grateful to have done that, it’s just a different way to travel and a different way to connect with people.”
The objective was simple: the first team to cross the finish line after completing all 50 checkpoints from Kelowna to Penticton is the winner. How teams got to that goal, though, was anything but.
Teams were responsible for packing their own food during the non-stop race that featured snowshoeing at Apex Mountain, ziplining in Peachland and a paddle down the Similkameen River.
“We kind of just ate whenever we could,” Provost said. “It’s a 24/7 race, so you have to find the time and do some stuff at night like biking or hiking.”
The Montreal adventure racer described the food his team ate as “a mix of real food and more energy-type of food.”
As for sleep, that didn’t happen at all until the team completed a little over 24 hours of the course.
“We brought sleeping bags and got some rest somewhere on the side of the KVR Trail,” Provost recalled.
It took Team Bend exactly 73 hours and 13 minutes to complete the course, beating the second-place finishers by over eight hours. The map wasn’t revealed to any of the teams until three hours before the start of the race.
The event, Expedition Canada 2022, is sanctioned by the Adventure Racing World Series. This year’s race came after organizers held a “pilot event” last year in the Okanagan.
Team Bend, named after a city in Oregon, was represented by Karine Corbeil, Daniel Staudigel, Jean Yves and Provost during the most recent race.
“The Okanagan is so beautiful,” Provost said. “We’re going to make it a priority to definitely come here again.”