This past Saturday, the Regina YMCA once again held the event I look forward to all year: Echo Challenge. Our team, Thunder, competed in 2007 and 2008, and with three original members and three new ones, we were up to the challenge.
For the second year in a row, my Wednesday evening ride before Echo Challenge was marred by a bike crash. This time, it was on the cool-down part of my ride around beautiful Wascana Lake. As I came around a corner, a woman on another bike going the opposite direction was in my lane, coming right for me (she wanted to turn left but didn’t check for traffic first). We both tried to veer out of the way, but ended up side-swiping each other and down we went. My left wrist hit her bike, smashing my watch, spraining my wrist, and leaving a watch-shaped bruise. We both made sure the other was OK, and I continued on my way home. A couple of hours later, my right knee tightened up. By morning, I could barely walk because I could neither bend nor straighten my leg. Stretching and ice helped, but I figured Echo was no go this year, which really bummed me out. Fortunately, with lots of stretching, the knee loosened up a fair bit over the next couple of days, so I was able to ride after all.
Saturday started out cool and a little rainy, but by mid-morning, it was beautiful: about 24C (75F), cloudy, and some wind. I had a chance to meet our new team members, including our swimmer who’s only 12 (but a member of a local swim team).
The swim event was first: 750 m in the cold lake waters. That has to be the toughest leg, but Jamie did great, finishing in 13:34, good enough for 11th of 18 teams and almost nine minutes faster than last year’s swimmer. He tagged Lisa, our hill runner, who finished in 5:15 (placing her 10th) despite struggling with a sudden flare-up of asthma.
Here’s a photo of Nick and I waiting for the cycling leg to start. You can see the lake and the hills where the cycling route goes in the background.
Lisa tagged me and off I went. Although my knee was a little stiff, I managed a speed of about 45 kph (28 mph) for the 1.5 km to the start of the hills. I passed seven other cyclists, all in their twenties, and went down the final hill at over 50 kph (31 mph). However, I was significantly slower than last year: this year’s cycling leg was longer, but my time over the hill part of the race was 21:11 vs. 16:29 last year. Part of it was the knee, part was a head-wind we didn’t have last year, but the major part was I wasn’t in as good shape as I was last year. Here’s a shot of me at a relatively flat part of the hill section:
I ended up finishing 8th, which was pretty disappointing. However, there were a lot of new faces in the race this year, many of whom are serious athletes, and I was the second oldest cyclist, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad.
Here’s a shot of Nick and I at the end of the race:
I tagged Bob, who finished the 7 km run in 34:30, 1:30 faster than last year, 16th of the 18. Finally, Mike and Adrian finished with the 1.6 km canoe event. Their time of 32:33 was two minutes faster than last year, putting them in 17th.
Overall, we finished 17th out of 18 teams, not as good as last year, but it’s for a good cause. Unfortunately, donations were down this year, but hopefully we can get more teams out next year and get donations back up again.
Congratulations to the YMCA staff and volunteers for putting on a well-organized and fun event once again. I’m already dreaming of next year’s event!