Whistler athlete second in Squamish adventure race 

Top teams finish less than two minutes apart

click to enlarge Happy Plunger Gary Robbins negotiates a technical section of the Powerhouse Plunge, just ahead of teammate Todd Nowack. They were first out of this section, but lost the lead in the next section.
  • Happy Plunger Gary Robbins negotiates a technical section of the Powerhouse Plunge, just ahead of teammate Todd Nowack. They were first out of this section, but lost the lead in the next section.

Participants in the Squamish Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race on Saturday called the course one of the hardest ever in the MOMAR series, with challenging bushwhacking in the navigation sections, long and technical mountain bike trails, and some seriously uphill trekking.

The defending champions, Gary Robbins and Todd Nowack of Team Helly Hansen/MOMAR, were in first place coming out of the Powerhouse Plunge, about two and a half hours after the race start, but they were pursued closely by Justin Mark and Jeff Riemer of Team Helly Hansen Vancouver Island. Mark and Riemer caught up on technical Crumpit Woods sections of trail, and the teams were neck and neck heading into the trek and rappel section.

Mark and Riemer pulled out ahead and rode to the finish line in a time of four hours, four minutes and eight seconds. Robbins and Nowack were a close second in 4:05:50.

“We went into the last running section at the same time, and had a little faster rappel and pulled to about a minute in front at the last transition,” said Mark. “We had to hammer on our bikes to the finish, because we knew the other team was nipping on our heels the whole way.

“We know every time we come out that we’re going to race against each other, and we have a good rivalry going on. Last year it was them by a hair, and this year it was us. It really pushes you to have that kind of close competition, which is probably why we’re so much faster than all the other teams today.”

Mark wasn’t bragging — after the first two men’s teams it was 10 minutes before the first solo racer reached the finish line. The third place men’s team, Pain is Temporary (Garth Campbell and Shane Ruljancich) finished in 4:32:51.

For Riemer, it was a good, challenging course.

“This event was really different from a physical standpoint,” he said. “It wasn’t harder, and there weren’t any mystery events to tax the brain, but the relentlessness of the climbing, whether you were on your bike or on a trekking section, didn’t really quit. Even at the finish line, we came around the corner to (Quest University) and thought we were done, but no, we had to keep going, running up the hill to the finish line. That was the hardest part of the day for me.”

For Robbins, the Mind Over Matter Adventure Race (MOMAR) series still has two events remaining, and his team plans to defend their title this year by making up the lost time in the next two events.

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