Events

Mountain Man Challenge tests competitors limit

A true test of physical and mental endurance, the Mountain Man Challenge is a triathlon that measures the determination of all soldiers who attempt to take on this mountainous challenge.

Held every summer, the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) will be putting on the event on Sep 10 this year. The challenge pushes its participants to the edge with a four-legged course that totals 50 km.

EN2014-0166-01 Participates of Exercise Mountain Man 2014 line up at the starting line for the race on September 11, 2014. Exercise Mountain Man took place in Edmonton’s River Valley. The 50 Kilometers competition consisted of a rucksack march, canoe portage, and a canoe paddle, The intent of this military competition is to challenge the limits of soldiers mental and physical toughness within 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. La course de l’exercice Mountain Man commence. L’exercice Mountain Man a eu lieu le 11 Sept dans la vallée de la rivière Edmonton. La compétition de 50 kilomètres comprenait une marche avec sac à dos, le portage d’un canot et du pagayage sur la rivière. L’intention de cette compétition militaire est de mettre au défi les limites de l’endurance mentale et physique des soldats du 1er Groupe-brigade mécanisé du Canada. Image by: MCpl Van Putten, 3rd Divison Support Group Edmonton.Copyright DND-MND @ 2014.
EN2014-0166-01
Participates of Exercise Mountain Man 2014 line up at the starting line for the race on September 11, 2014. Exercise Mountain Man took place in Edmonton’s River Valley. The 50 Kilometers competition consisted of a rucksack march, canoe portage, and a canoe paddle, The intent of this military competition is to challenge the limits of soldiers mental and physical toughness within 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group..
Image by: MCpl Van Putten, 3rd Divison Support Group Edmonton.Copyright DND-MND @ 2014.
EN2014-0166-03 Members from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment hold up the canoe for participate 19 in the transition area to begin the 3km canoe portage leg of Exercise Mountain Man 2014 on September 11, 2014. Exercise Mountain Man took place in Edmonton’s River Valley. The 50 Kilometers competition consisted of a rucksack march, canoe portage, and a canoe paddle, The intent of this military competition is to challenge the limits of soldiers mental and physical toughness within 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. Image by: MCpl Van Putten, 3rd Divison Support Group Edmonton.Copyright DND-MND @ 2014.
EN2014-0166-03
Members from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment hold up the canoe for participate 19 in the transition area to begin the 3km canoe portage leg of Exercise Mountain Man 2014 on September 11, 2014. Exercise Mountain Man took place in Edmonton’s River Valley. The 50 Kilometers competition consisted of a rucksack march, canoe portage, and a canoe paddle, The intent of this military competition is to challenge the limits of soldiers mental and physical toughness within 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.
Image by: MCpl Van Putten, 3rd Divison Support Group Edmonton.Copyright DND-MND @ 2014.
EN2013-0133 - 33 11 September 2014 Edmonton River Valley Parks Competitor from Exercise Mountain Man finishes the canoe paddle portion of the race at Capilano Park and starts the final stage to the finish line. Exercise Mountain Man took place on September 11th, 2014 in Edmonton’s River Valley Parks. The 50 Kilometers competition consisted of a rucksack march, canoe portage, and a canoe paddle, The intent of this military competition is to challenge the limits of soldiers mental and physical toughness within 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. Photograph by Robert Schwartz, 3 CDSG Edmonton Copyright Notice" © 2014 DND-MDN Canada
EN2013-0133 – 33
11 September 2014
Edmonton River Valley Parks
Competitor from Exercise Mountain Man finishes the canoe paddle portion of the race at Capilano Park and starts the final stage to the finish line.
Exercise Mountain Man took place on September 11th, 2014 in Edmonton’s River Valley Parks. The 50 Kilometers competition consisted of a rucksack march, canoe portage, and a canoe paddle, The intent of this military competition is to challenge the limits of soldiers mental and physical toughness within 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.
Photograph by Robert Schwartz, 3 CDSG Edmonton
Copyright Notice” © 2014 DND-MDN Canada

The horn signalling the start of the race promptly goes off at 5:00 a.m. kicking off a race that typically lasts the length of the day. Participants first run a 32 km footrace and then must undertake one of the most difficult parts of the challenge, a 3.6 km portage. Next the participants canoe along the North Saskatchewan River in the heart of Edmonton for 10 km rounding off the competition with one final leg of a 5.6 km foot race. Competitors take on all these components while carrying a ruck sack with a load of 15 kilograms.

“For people in uniform this is a great challenge because it really touches on quite a few things, fitness being the first one. It’s such a demanding event you need to train you need to focus and really fitness is extremely important in the military. Other than it also creates esprit de corps because very unit is competing against each other and it’s a way for us to bring some team spirit,” said Major Guillaume Grenier-Lachance the officer in charge of running this year’s event.

The attendance for this year’s race is expected to be 350. A small contingency of American and British soldiers is also expected to attend.

Back for a third time, Captain Richard Hayes is taking on the Mountain Man challenge hoping to move up a couple of spots from last year’s third place.

A heavy favourite for this year’s event, Hayes sticks to a strict training regimen that only gives him one day of rest. He starts the week off with a one hour run and spends the week doing various activities from spin class to portage training.

He’s been training with a group of individuals that he credits with being a source of motivation.

“For Mountain Man the group is very important. You need a strong group of people because people are hesitant or afraid of getting injured and wonder how I will ramp up for a race of this caliber. You’ll have a bad day and think you don’t want to do this anymore, but someone else will be having a good day that same day and so they pull you along and help you stay in it,” explained Hayes.

This encouragement carries through to the day of the race and is a key to making the race a success.

Hayes explains that the first half of the race is more physical for him while the second half becomes mental. Out of all the legs, he finds the last kilometre of the portage to be the most challenging.

“Maybe twenty-thirty minutes later you still have that canoe on, and it starts to sag into your shoulders it becomes like a pressure point especially since you’ve had the ruck sack on for a while too. It’s pressing on your chest so you can’t really get a full breath…your fatigued and mentally its very challenging. You’re very restricted in that moment, and you can’t hear and you’re very enclosed in your own mind and you’re in the pivot point of the race. If you get through that the rest of the race will be fine,” described Hayes.

As the day of the event inches closer, Hayes is eager to get a chance to test his physical endurance.

“The inspiration comes from trying to see what my body is capable of, and I am always looking for ways to validate my training. In my mind I debated, for the first race, can I finish this and how will I do and the only way to answer the question is to actually take part in the event,” said Hayes.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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