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Lighting Up the MRX

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Things that Go Splash in the Night

We all have some special memory of paddling at night; or imagine some special would-be memory…. The echoes of a loon as you glide across a mirrored lake under the glow of a full moon. Snuggling in the bottom of a canoe with that favorite someone as you gaze on the constellations….

Then there’s the Muskoka River X….you’ve been pounding for 12 hours and shadows are creeping in at the water’s edge. You are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Its twilight and you know that soon you’ll be wrapped in a blanket of September darkness. There is no glow of city lights. It’s just you, maybe a partner, your boat…and mother nature. As the temperature drops, wisps of fog appear on the water.  The same autumn fog of the South Muskoka that makes Jack Sparrow cringe. You’ve trained on this river before. Can you remember every bend, every swift, every portage? You still have hours of racing ahead of you but there is one question that stands between you and the finish line….are you prepared to race at night?

Navigating and paddling at night is an amazing experience. It can also be disorienting and for some, down-right scary. With the darkness hiding typical landmarks, paddlers can become lost even within a closed river system where the shore may be only meters away. Just following the shoreline may become a challenge if the fog is working against you. Being able to see approaching hazards, portages, and following river current can be a challenge when your vision is compromised. Also, knowing where you actually are on the river or lakes can be difficult if you are not following your progress on the map with compass and bearings. In previous year teams have become lost on the North Muskoka, travelling upriver from Mary Lake to Fairy Lake. Only after they reemerged out of the fog did they realize they were back on Mary Lake and had paddled in a complete circle. Some, having not taken compass bearings, veered far off course adding several additional km to their trip; while others received a ride home with our safety crews.  Still some actually paddled in the opposite direction from their destination.

The goal of this article is to provide you with advice on lighting systems appropriate for the MRX.

And On The 12th Hour the Bow Paddler Said,  “Let There Be Light“.

As part of the Mandatory Equipment, every team paddling the Muskoka River X must be equipped with a lighting system sufficient for night navigation. As required by Transport Canada, lighting systems must be turned on at dusk and must remain on while travelling on the water, until teams arrive at the Finish Line, or sunrise.  The MRX rules require a signal light to be turned on at dusk and MUST remain on at all times until sunrise.  This signal light can be placed anywhere on the watercraft as long as it is visible 360 degrees, for example on the rear of a canoe.  A great light for this purpose would be a bright LED rear seat post bike light.  Turn it on and leave it on.  That way, we can see you when we need to, or if you need help.  (Note: Being non-motorized paddling craft, you are NOT required to have the red/green navigation night at the bow and elevated white light at the stern.)

For navigation, especially during portages, approaching take-outs, and navigating the complicated swifts on the North Muskoka River we do recommend a good quality, bright lighting system that has the potential of running all night long.  For race weekend, this translates into about 11.5 hours from sunset to sunrise; even longer if you are racing the Coureur des Bois. Additionally, each individual team member must be equipped with an emergency light.

So, where to start? Cruise the internet or walk into any outfitting store and you will soon become overwhelmed with options. No worries…the MRX Crew is here to help with a few basics that you should know before you start shopping and some recommendations on product.

The Basics

Lighting systems have come a long way in the a few short years. Gone are the days of “light bulbs”, halogens, and lead-acid batteries. Any light worth its salt will be LED and with new battery technology such as Lithium Ion, the improvements in lighting systems with their corresponding reduction in both size and weight is matched only by their overall retina-burning performance and long life.

The message? Choose LED. They are light, compact, very bright, and require little to no maintenance.

Lumen is the measurement of how bright the light is: Bigger numbers mean brighter lights. With LED technology, small pocket headlamps the size of an egg can start in range up to 250 lumen or more and are good for general camping or lower impact sports such as trail running. Performance oriented headlamps can easily range to well over 200 lumen or more. Then there are mounted lights typically used for mountain biking or with special head-harnesses that can push way into the 1000’s of lumen, lighting up the night like a freight train on steroids. Below are test photos from GEMINI that demonstrate how different lumen power compares on a common environment.
300 lumen
300 Lumen
1500 lumen
1500 Lumen

It’s pretty clear.  Powerful lights do make a difference!

Related to this discussion includes distance. Recognizing that different designs and technologies do change things, you can expect about 45 meters of light from a 65 lumens lamp while 300 lumens will push out to 100 meters and 760 lumens to about 170 meters.

But let’s not get carried away and rush out to buy the biggest and brightest lamp without considering how you will provide power to this puppy. You need to consider its application and the type of battery that is required. Modern headlamps can burn for days if you set the brightness low enough; however the same headlamp can suck a battery dry in just a few hours if you run it on max power. For example, one popular high-powered performance headlamp can run for up to 17 hours at 150 lumens. Ramp the same headlamp up to its highest level at 1500 lumen and run time drops to 1.5 hours. What is the risk you say? You’re in the middle of the race, it’s been a long day, you’re tired and you unintentionally run your battery down without being aware of it…and now you have no light. So, it’s not just the light itself that is important but how much power you have and for how long. The type of battery that is required and the battery’s amp-hours should be matched to your light and its application to maximize its full potential.

The amp-hours of the battery will determine how long you can run your light at a specific brightness: The higher the amp hour, the longer the run time. Review the specifications of the light you plan to use. Get the calculations of run time vs. battery specifications and make the adjustments accordingly. For example, a bike light reports that it will run at 1200 lumens for 2 hours on a 3.3 amp hour battery, or 80 hours at 40 lumens. The same manufacture has a 13.2 amp hour battery that is compatible with the light system you want to use: 13.2 / 3.3 x 2 hours = 8 hours of run time at 1200 lumen or 320 hours at 40 lumens, all things being equal. Message? Get the 13.2 amp hour battery. If you run the lights at low levels during dusk and dawn when you still have visability and save the power for when it’s really dark you will have more than enough battery life to last you throughout the night. Conclusion: It really sucks when you have to change batteries in the dark…in a canoe or kayak or standing on a SUP.  So, now that you have some basic knowledge  here are recommendations from the MRX Crew…

Lighting-Up the Bow: Navigation Lights

When considering your lighting system, we recommend you outfit your boat with your brightest and most powerful light on the bow or in the front. As with a vehicle, the “headlights” of your boat will illuminate not only your route but also the water that’s immediately in front of you; critical for spotting hazards, rifts/swifts, portages, landmarks, and provide some perspective of your surroundings; important for navigation and keeping track of your location. This bow-light should have a long burn time and ideally should not require a change of batteries during the race. Although there are custom systems that you can build from scratch, the best “out of the box” system for MRX application is a mountain bike lighting system. There are many different manufacturers of bike lights and many models with massive lumen, so do your homework.  The MRX Crew however is always doing homework and we love great gear especially when it’s at a great price.  This year, with the help of Algonquin Outfitters we were introduced to GEMINI. Not only does GEMINI make REALLY BRIGHT lights they also have the battery power to last; uncommon for most mountain bike systems.  AND if you’re racing the MRX, you can pick up a kit for a great price when ordered through Algonquin Outfitters.  A special MRX price just for our teams.

Mounting is important to consider and mountain bike lights are built for bike handlebars. Handlebars are very similar to the carrying handles on a canoe therefore these light sets are perfect applications for paddlers. As shown in the photo below, we see the GEMINI DUO LED with handlebar mounts:  Make sure you push the light as far to the R or L side of the thwart as possible to minimize any shadow that the bow may cause.  Kayaks/SUPs need not feel left out: GEMINI also makes a very worthy, durable and comfortable head strap so you can hang this little monster off your forehead.  A great single-light option.

Duo HandlebarDuo Headstrap

 

The DUO LED consists of 2 CREE LED XM-L2 U3 lamps – the most efficient, high power LEDs on the market measuring a total of 1500 lumens! Power up the DUO with GEMINI’S 5200mAh battery and the DUO will give you 450 lumens for over 19 hours and will still have enough juice to punch up to 1500 lumen for those times when you need it. This is one great lighting system at an amazing price. No changing batteries. Just plug and play. And what about the weight? The whole system comes in at an amazingly light 229 grams with the 5200mAh battery! The GEMINI DUO LED powered with the 4-cell battery is our choice for the MRX.  And even if you want an extra battery in the event of an emergency, you’ll still have lots of $$$ left in your pocket because we just can’t find a lighting system on the market that can compete with the price, performance, and weight of the GEMINI DUO.

Secondary/Backup Lights

Everyone will need a secondary light. The bow navigation light is important but it won’t help you when you’re you are the rear paddling trying to read a map, taking a compass bearing or reaching into the bottom of the boat to grab something to eat. Everyone needs their own light.

Headlamps will be critical for portaging, navigation, land marking, dealing with food/gear, and generally lighting up the night. That said, they are not recommended to be used for long durations when paddling. Anyone who has paddled with only a headlamp can attest to the very annoying and disorienting strobe-light effect that happens when your paddling hands flutter in front of your face and headlamp. It’s awful. Your eyes can’t adjust properly to the darkness and you are essentially blind. That said, you will need a headlamp and luckily there are great options out there: All the same principles apply regarding lumens, batteries, and run time.

For the gear junky, we recommend the Ultra Rush by Petzel. This performance oriented headlamp can run for as long as 38 hours at 65 lumen and ramp up to 760 lumen for 2 hours. Managing your brightness wisely between 65 lumen for normal use and up to 760 lumen when more light is required and you will have a very powerful and adaptive system for the whole race. Again, without changing batteries, which is very important.  For those who don’t feel they need massive amounts of light shining off their head, Petzel makes an economical Tikka. You won’t get the blazing brightness of GEMINI’S DUO or Petzel’s performance line but you will get 120 hours at 80 lumens without needing to worry about changing the batteries.

And my personal favorite emergency light that always goes with me no matter where I am or how many other lights I have is the Petzel e+LITE. Being about the same size and weight as a tablespoon of peanut butter this little guy will provide you with 26 lumen for up to 55 hours. Bright enough for safety purposes and small enough to fit in your life jacket pocket. 

Good Luck!

So folks, there you have it. The MRX’s top 4 picks. We hope you find this helpful in making a decision on which system to go with. Whatever system you choose, make sure to consider all the variables. Lumen vs. burn time vs weight. Bow light for navigation, headlamps for personal use, portaging, supplemental navigation, and an emergency light.  You can never be over prepared with light.  And last but not least, pay attention to your wallet!  Lights can get pricey.  So, before you buy give Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville a call.  Tell them you need the GEMINI lighting package for the MRX and they will fix you up with a DUO system, emergency lights, and the mandatory signal light at a price you can’t find anywhere else.

Cheers,

The River X Crew

 

Huntsville Paddler Hosting Paddling Clinic on May 3rd

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Huntsville MRX competitor, Steve Herr, is hosting a marathon paddling clinic in Huntsville on Sunday May 3rd. Details below…

Who

Coach Bob Vincent (first place in Muskoka River X 2013)

Coach Gwyn Hayman (expert  marathon paddler and holds the Yukon River Quest record for mixed tandem canoe with Bob)

What

Coach Bob and Coach Gwyn will be holding a paddling clinic on the Big East River, Huntsville, ON.

When

9:00 AM –  Sunday May 3rd, 2015

Where

Hutcheson Beach at 9 Hutcheson Road, Huntsville: https://www.google.ca/maps/place/9+Hutcheson+Beach+Rd,+Huntsville,+ON+P1H+1N4/@45.3353943,-79.2645825

Why

To improve our technique!

Requirements

1) You are encouraged to become a member of the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association (http://omckra.com) prior to attending the clinic.  It is through this association that the clinic is possible.  The clinic fee for members is $20 and $25 for non-members.

2) Bring a potluck lunch to be enjoyed after the clinic.  Everyone who has a Coleman stove or Barbecue is encouraged to bring it.

Please RSVP to Bob Vincent (bob_liz.vincent@sympatico.ca) and Steven Herr (steven@herr.ca) to reserve your place.

Shortlisted for the 2015 Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour

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Shortlisted-Film-Logo_300x294

Mike and I are thrilled that the mini-documentary of the 2014 Muskoka River X, directed and produced by Muskoka’s Andy Hansen (Pure Muskoka) has been shortlisted for the 2015 Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour. It’s a true honour to have Andy’s passionate portrayal of the Algonquin Outfitters‘ Muskoka River X marathon paddling race recognized and shared with thousands of paddlers at over 200 venues around the world!

Andy discovered the event in our first year almost by shear coincidence, showing up to film friend, Peter DeMos, compete in the solo SUP category. At 6:30am, he introduced himself and asked if it was okay if he filmed the race for the day. I don’t think he realized the epic nature of his chosen task! Following a race which covers 130km over 24 hours through the backcountry of Muskoka is a heroic undertaking. Andy was seen throughout the day jumping out of the woods to capture great moments all along the route. In that first year, Andy produced an inspired piece of filmmaking, drawing on his experience as a camera operator and videographer. He vowed to come back in 2014 to do it right! Using a drone, several GoPros and a DSLR camera, Andy became a one man filming machine – operating a drone, his tripod mounted camera and several GoPros, frequently all the same time. We assigned MRX alumni, Chris Near, to help Andy navigate the route and get him to all the best locations and attempt to keep up with the astounding pace of the front runners. There were many exciting moments for Andy in his 26 hour solo filming challenge. Quickly setting up  the drone, multiple cameras and keeping track of the storage of hundreds of GB of HD video meant maintaining an unwavering attention to detail. One heart thumping moment included, as Andy tells it, a near loss-of-drone emergency triggered when one of the drone’s antenna’s didn’t get installed for a flight over the Muskoka River in a remote location. This had Andy running through the dense bush to get close enough to regain full control. Fortunately, his quick thinking (and quick feet!) resolved the problem in a flash and he was able to land the several thousand dollar aerial drone without damage.

2014_andy_drone

Andy prepares to capture the MRX start in Huntsville. Photo by Andy Zeltkalns

The result of Andy’s astounding effort parallels the super-human achievement of the 2014 MRX competitors who themselves achieved course records in many categories. Glen Dawson and Mike Vincent finished the 130km course in a mind-blowing 13 hours 17 minutes in C2 Tandem canoe category.

Please support Andy in this recognition of his talent to capture the MRX story, by attending the 2015 Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour when it stops in your home town.

2015 Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour
2014 MRX Video – by Andy Hansen
LinkedIn – Andy Hansen
Pure Muskoka

2014 End of Season Summary

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We would like to thank all those who participated in the 2014 Algonquin Outfitter’s Big East River X and Muskoka River X. Being only our second year, we are again overwhelmed with the support we have received from the paddling community.  2014 has been an amazing year and the River X Crew has been privileged to witness some very impressive efforts put forth by the participants of both events. Not only did the winning times of both the Big East and MRX get shattered, Mother Nature was out in full force adding additional excitement for the teams. From the ripping current and high water levels to the pelting rain, strong North East wind, and freezing temperatures our racers demonstrated amazing levels of perseverance, strength, and an incredible ability to push through adverse conditions that normally would “shore” other paddlers. We are proud and honored to host such an amazing group of people and look forward to doing it again in 2015.   Thank you for supporting our events. The River X alumni is a community of amazing people and we look forward to seeing everyone again in 2015.

With 2014 wrapping up, the MRX Crew is already looking forward and planning for 2015. Tentative dates for the Big East River X is Saturday, June 20, 2015 while the Muskoka River X is set for the September 11-13, 2015 weekend. Anticipate registration during the month of November 2014. With the MRX being capped at 75 teams register early to hold your spot.

PLEASE VOTE for the MUSKOKA RIVER X!

Voting for Get Out There Magazine’s 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards is now open.  If you think that the Muskoka River X is a great event, please vote for us by clicking the following link and entering “Muskoka River X” in the following categories.

#2: Best Adventure Race

#7: Best Event T-Shirt

#26: Best Post-Event Party

#27: Best Race Kit

#36: Best SUP Event/Race (Yes, this is the only paddling category…)

 2014 PHOTOS, VIDEOS, RACE RESULTS and MORE…

2014 Muskoka River X Live Tracker Map

2014 Muskoka River X Results

2014 Big East River X Results

2014 Muskoka River X and Big East River X Photos

Muskoka River X Race Summary by Hap and Andrea Wilson

Muskoka River X article by SUP The MAG

MRX Article by SUP Racer

MRX video by Team Cache Flash

MRX Video by Team Johnny and Sonny

FOR THOSE WHO LOVE STATISTICS, MRX 2013 vs. 2014…

2013 starting line numbers : 41 teams

2014 starting line numbers: 61 teams

Number of Paddlers in 2013: 73

Number of Paddlers in 2014: 111

Number of Countries Represented in 2013: 2

Number of Countries Represented in 2014: 3

Number of Canadian Provinces/Territories Represented in 2013: 3

Number of Canadian Provinces/Territories Represented in 2014: 5

Farthest Travelers in 2013: Yukon / Vermont

Farthest Travelers in 2014: Hawaii / South Africa

MRX Completion Rate in 2013: 66%

MRX Completion Rate in 2014: 54%

Fastest Time in 2013: 14hrs 14min

Fastest Time in 2014: 13hrs 17min

Fastest C2 in 2013: Savage River Susquehanna

Fastest C2 in 2014: Clipper White Water II

Faster C1 in 2013: Wenonah Advantage

Faster C1 in 2014: Wenonah Advantage

Fastest K1 in 2013: Epic 18X

Fastest K1 in 2014: Epic 18X

Fastest SUP in 2013: Starboard Inflatable

Fastest SUP in 2014: Starboard 14 Allstar

TO THE VOLUNTEERS

On behalf of the competitors, we wish to thank our Volunteers for all of the amazing support they provided to the events. Everyone should be aware that without our Volunteers, these events would not have happened. From CP staffing to patrol boats to portage crossings, and even tending bonfires, the Volunteers were invaluable. We can’t reinforce this enough. So, the next time you find yourself at an event, walk up and thank the volunteers because if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t be racing.

TO OUR SUPPORTER

Thank you for all the support you provided the Big East River X and Muskoka River X and in making our inaugural events a huge success:

To all owners of private lands through which portage routes pass; sincere thanks on behalf of all those who passed through your property.

Algonquin Outfitters; Rich Swift and his Crew for being there right from the start and in providing amazing prizing to the racers, logistical and safety support, rentals, and pretty much anything else we needed to get this event off the ground. From Grey Owl paddles, Salus life-jackets, Petzel Lamps, to all the little stuff, You Are Amazing!

Hand Crafted Canoes; for donating the beautiful Nith River ultra light Kevlar prize canoe. This is a beautiful boat made with love my master builder James Gjesing and is designed for expeditions such as the MRX or the backcountry. No off-shore building here. Designed and built here in Breslau, Ontario.

LUPINE North America; for donating the blinding Piko lighting system. The best in mountain bike lighting and designed for hardcore riding and racing LUPINE systems are uniquely adaptable to the needs of racing canoes, kayaks and SUPS. With multiple mounting options and their ultra-long burn times LUPINE is our go-to choice for expedition racing. Thanks to Dan Haus from LUPINE for supporting our event.

Canadian Ski Patrol Service – Muskoka Zone; for providing us with medical support at our check points and making sure everyone was safe and healthy.

The Cottage Waterfront Grill; for opening your doors and letting your home become our home, and for the amazing post race meal.

TrackLeaders; for providing the MRX with the SPOT gps units and live tracking map.   The MRX is truly a spectator sport.

Miss Nelles in Baysville and The Burger Shop in Bracebridge; for feeding our volunteers and race staff, and for providing outstanding food and service to our spectators.

King William Inn; for providing great accommodation to our competitors, including Gord Nielson who received a complimentary room for the weekend (early registration has it’s benefits). We loved seeing you’re parking lot full of canoes.

CLIF; for providing the event with a trunk full CLIF BARS . From 1st place prizing for the Big East to race kits and door prizes at the MRX, CLIF was everywhere.

Badger Paddles; for providing master craftsmanship in hand-carving paddle-medals and trophies for the Big East and MRX.

Aben Graphics; for attending to all our complex printing needs in a timely manner

Muskoka Outfitters; for opening your doors and letting us use your property for CP2.

The Tulip Inn; for opening providing us access to their beautiful beach on the Big East River for our check point and turn around.

We would also want to thank the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association for sanctioning the Big East River X and Muskoka River River X and accepting our events into their annual schedule.

We also wish to acknowledge the efforts and support received from the Huntsville-Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Huntsville, Township of Lake of Bays, Town of Bracebridge, District of Muskoka, Ontario Power Generation, Bracebridge Generation, Orillia Power, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Huntsville Fire, EMS, and OPP.

Big East River X Update

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BIG EAST RIVER X UPDATE: Paddled the Big East River solo today in my 18″ surf ski. Water level is still very high and the flow is strong and challenging, but not scary. No rapids. Teams can expect a great workout going upriver and can expect lightening fast returns. I averaged 5.9km/hr upriver and 12-13km/hr downriver. Teams will need to pay attention to the current and eddy lines. Keep the nose pointed against the current and avoid hitting the current line broadside when rounding bends. This won’t be a lazy day on the water and bow paddlers can expect lots of draw stokes. There is no more rain in the forecast and the trend slowing down but the forecast does call for sore shoulders. Hydrate appropriately. It can be hot on the water.

PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES: Mandatory for the full duration of the event while on the water. Inflatables will no longer by allowed. All teams MUST wear “life jackets”. This is for the safety of all teams and “single use” PDFs are just not appropriate given the conditions.

June 2014 Newsletter

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BIG EAST RIVER X UPDATE

11 days until the Big East River X and we are totally pumped to get racing season up and running in Muskoka. At the time of writing this newsletter, we already have 63 paddlers registered, exceeding our total overall number from last year and we haven’t even reached race day yet.  With paddlers coming in from as far away as Manitoba, we couldn’t be more pleased with the response from the paddling community. Thank you for supporting out event!

The weather in Muskoka has been beautiful and with a number of fairly dry weeks, the Big East River water level is a little lower compared to last year. We paddled the full river over the weekend and the current is running between 2-3km/hrs. Paddlers who competed in the 40km event last year will notice the last 4-5 km of the top end of the river section starts getting shallow with numerous sandy swifts. There is always a navigable channel but the upper section of the river will challenge teams in their ability to read the water; watching for submerged hazards and reading the current in order to make the best choice of lines. Once teams reach the turn-around point at Tulip Inn the down-river paddle will be a joy. Our downriver speed was clocked at a maximum of 12.4 km/hrs in a ProV1. Wicked fun, especially with the tight twisty sections of the top half of the river: It’ll make the up-river effort worth it ☺. Keep your fingers crossed for some more rain next week to keep the water levels up.

Please print off the Competitor Document so you have a copy of the race itinerary and all the rules. We are starting earlier this year to make the most of early morning conditions. With that in mind, there is limited time for same day registration. We do recommend coming in the night before as we will be set up behind Algonquin Outfitters until 9 pm.  See the Competitor Document for details and maps. Also be mindful, there is a large downtown festival going on that weekend. Main Street will be closed so please access River Mill park via Caroline Street East / Queen Street (see Competitor Document for map). If you are looking for accommodation, we recommend either the King William or the Tulip Inn. Check our web site for the links.

After the event, enjoy a relaxing lunch at The Cottage Bar and Grill. Under new management, The Cottage has refreshed with a brand new menu. Try the ribs, fish tacos, or even the Falafel Burger. Everything is yummy at The Cottage. With every registration, you get a Big East Meal (Burgers/Sausage/Veggie Burger, fries, drink) OR you can use the voucher for $10 towards any menu item, which ever you prefer. With the best waterfront deck in town, you can’t beat The Cottage.

 

MUSKOKA RIVER X UPDATE

Teams are still lining up and registration remains open for the Long Single Day Expedition Paddling race in the world. With the current roster at 175% the number of those who paddled last year we are close to doubling the fleet in our second year! Thank you very much for your warm reception and we look forward to putting on another amazing event for you.  We still have spots open for this year’s event so don’t wait.  Register your team now.  Spots are limited.

With paddlers coming in from as far away as Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska, and Nova Scotia the MRX is spreading it’s wings and it’s reputation. This year’s line-up looks to make 2014 an epic event. As expected, most teams are paddling C2 however we’ve seens a huge increase in the number of solo paddlers. So far, 20 have chosen to go it alone: 8 SUP solos, 7 K1s, and 5 C1s. We can’t wait to see how things will shake out at the finish line. Here is the breakdown from last year’s winning teams: Including actual paddling time, 20 portages, checkpoints, and whatever else teams did or did not do over 130km the average fastest pace according to “the clock” is as follows;
C2:                9.1 km/hour
C1:                7.1 km/hour
K1:                7.0 km/hour
SUP Solo:      5.2 km/hour

That’s your benchmark. Start training!

Muskoka River X Merchandise and Attire
If you are already registered, you will have received an email detailing the offerings we have. Soft shells, ball caps, beanies, and long-sleeve tech shirts. Check your “in-box” and place your order. You only have until July 25th. After that, you’ll have to wait until 2015 since these are all special orders, just for you! We will also be posting the details on the web site shortly.

Post Race
Did we talk about how much we love ‘debriefing’ after 24 hours of racing? Well, if we haven’t and you weren’t here last year you should know that the MRX is not only know for being the Toughest single day canoe race in the world, the best SUP race in Eastern Canada, or one of the top ultra distance paddling races in North America. The MRX is also known for having one of the best post race meals around!  Back again at The Cottage, imagine that you just finished 130km of paddling across 4 lakes  and 2 river systems, navigating 20 portages, fully self supported and carrying enough gear for a back country trip, all in under 24 hours.  Now imagine yourself sitting on a waterfront deck, feasting on a BBQ of chicken, ribs, fish, corn, potatoes, salads, vegan options, and yes…..washing it down with an ice cold pint of ale or a glass of wine, whichever suits your palate…including other drink options as well.

Paddle like a Voyageur and Feast like one too!

And adding to the ambiance will be Tobin Spring, playing an unplugged session of the best tunes to mellow with. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8wJJO6giNw.

Welcome to the Finish Line…MRX style!

(It’s all included in your registration…)

Coming Up
In the next few weeks look out for our blog on “making water”. As part of the event, teams are responsible for being fully self-sufficient, including making drinkable water. This challenged a few teams last year so for 2014 we will be providing some advice. Also, we will also be blogging on options for lighting up your MRX experience. Muskoka in September gets pretty dark so expect to spend at least part of your MRX experience being nocturnal. We have some advice, including some technical recommendations. Look for both in the near future.

That’s it for now. If you do have any questions, please do not hesitate to send us an email. We do our best to keep on top of things and will get back to you as soon as we can. If you need to rent a boat, refer to our rental page in the Registration drop-down for options from Algonquin Outfitters and Hand Crafted Canoes. Lastly, don’t wait to reserve your accommodation. There is a big weekend music festival going on in Huntsville so we do anticipate rooms to be in short supply. Again, King William is the best place for the MRX.

Cheers,  Mike and Rob

MAY 2014 NEWSLETTER

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BIG EAST RIVER X

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sanctioned by the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association, the 2nd Annual Big East River X is only 5 1/2 weeks away. It will be a great day on the water for families and recreational paddlers enjoying some friendly competition along a safe and sheltered 9km route. The Big East River X will also be a great day for competitive marathon paddlers looking for a longer early season race. At 40km, the Marathon race will have teams paddle into Lake Vernon and up the Big East River to Arrowhead Provincial Park, returning along an out-and-back route. With plenty of categories, everyone is welcome including family teams, bantams, and adults. Try your hand racing canoes, kayaks and  stand-up paddle-boards. Located in the heart of Muskoka, this event starts and finishes in downtown Huntsville, Ontario. Whether you’re looking for a fun day on the water or to get into marathon paddle racing the Big East River X is the event is for you. Please make sure that you check out our web site and review the Competitor Details for event registration details, itinerary, parking, rules, and maps at http://muskokariverx.com/big-east-2014/. Register in advance on-line to avoid the rush of the registration lines early on Saturday morning.

Important Updates: Big East River X

Inflatable PFDs are allowable for the Big East event, as long as they are Coast Guard/DOT approved: They must be worn at all times. Please see the Big East River X Competitor Document for specific details.

Self-draining systems integrating into the bottom of the hulls do meet the requirement of a bailer, as long as the watercraft is participating in a competition/racing event. A bailing device is still required for the same watercraft when used for recreation or training. This has been confirmed with the marine division of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Please be advised that there will be a large community event being held in downtown Huntsville over the June 21-22, 2014 weekend. Main Street (downtown area) will be closed. To access River Mill Park we recommend that you use Centre Street and follow Caroline Street East to Queen Street. There are parking lots near River Mill park. Arrive early to get the best parking! (See Competitor Document for map of downtown.)

Activities for Families and Friends: Big East River X

June 21, 2014 will be a great day for paddling in Muskoka but there are tones of other great activities going on in Huntsville for your families and friends. No need to feel guilty for spending 5 hours on the water.  Downtown Huntsville will be hosting a full weekend of food, wine, gardening and renovations called “Live It Getaway”. Check out the Chamber of Commerce for all the activities happening in and around Huntsville over the June 21-22 weekend. (http://huntsvillelakeofbays.on.ca/m/events/view/Live-It-Getaway)

MUSKOKA RIVER X

September 12-14, 2014

The Longest Single Day Expedition Paddling Race in the World! After its inaugural year, the MRX has received some very respectable accolades:

  • Toughest Single Day Canoe Race in the World
  • Best SUP Race in Eastern Canada
  • Top 25 Summer Adventures in Canada
  • Top 20 Ultra-Distance paddling races in North America

For 2014 we’ve increased the number of available teams from 50 to 100. Already approaching 70% capacity, we can’t be more pleased. With paddlers coming in from as far away as Hawaii, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Vermont, Ontario should be proud to know that Muskoka is a world-class watershed and provides some of the best expedition racing around.  It’s also very accessible; being only a few hours’ drive from most points in Southern/Central Ontario, Quebec, and the northern States.

If you love paddling, check out all the details at www.MuskokaRiverX.com. Visit our 2013 year end wrap-up blog for all the links to photos, race videos, results, and more. Check out the documents section and read up on the heritage of the MRX route, study the maps, organize your weekend itinerary, and read everything you need to know to participate in the MRX.  Race it solo, with a partner, or as a relay team. Paddle a canoe, kayak, or SUP. Don’t miss out on the experience of a life-time. Challenge Yourself!

Important Updates: Muskoka River X

Mandatory Gear – New Requirement: All teams must carry means to repair the hull of their watercraft. This is a new requirement of the OMCKRA for the Muskoka River X. The means to repair a damaged hull depends on the type of materials used in manufacturing the watercraft. For example, carbon fibre vs. vinyl inflatables vs. plastic will all require slightly different methods of repair. We will be flexible on the supplies used as long as the method of repairing a damaged hull enables the watercraft to be seaworthy. Professional hull repair kits can be purchased directly from Hand Crafted Canoes (james@handcraftedcanoes.com) or you can build your own. Be mindful that dampness, dirt, residues, temperature, waterline and even types of gel coat or vinyl affect the degree to which adhesives like duct tape/Duck Tape, red sheathing tape/Tuck Tape, MACtac, and other “go-to” items will be effective. Make sure you test you kit in advance and be confident that it works. We also recommend that you contact a local boat dealer, builder, or repair shop if you have questions. Two great boat doctors recommended by the MRX crew are James at Hand Crafted Canoes in Breslau, Ontario (www.handcraftedcanoes.com) or John at Johnny’s Boat Shop in Huntsville, Ontario (www.johnnysboatshop.com/).

Bailers: Self-draining systems integrating into the bottom of the hulls do meet the requirement of a bailer, as long as the watercraft is participating in a competition/racing event. A bailing device is still required for the same watercraft when used for recreation or training. This has been confirmed with the marine division of the Ontario Provincial Police.

PADDLING GEAR AND RENTALS

Located at the start line, ALGONQUIN OUTFITTERS has everything you need to get to finish your adventure. Contact Gord (info@algonquinoutfitters.com). Whether you are racing 9km, 40km, or 130km Gord will give you all the advice needed to make sure that you are properly outfitted.

Hand Crafted Canoe is also a preferred partner and is offering a pretty sweet deal on canoe rentals: Train and race an HCC canoe for the entire season for only $600. Available only to River X competitors. Eamil James at james@handcraftedcanoes.com.

ACCOMMODATION

Both the Big East and Muskoka River X weekends are going to be quite busy this year in Huntsville. There is a large downtown festival scheduled for June 21, 2014 and there is a weekend long music festival being held in Huntsville on the MRX weekend. Except accommodation to be in short supply. Don’t leave it to the last minute to book your room. Our preferred accommodations include the King William Inn, situated only 600m from River Mill Park, as well as Tulip Inn, the turn-around point of the Big East. Reserve now!

SPONSORS and PRIZES

The Big East and MRX are not money races. Don’t expect a prize purse of few thousand dollars split between 30+ racers. You’ll just end up getting gas money and maybe a burger at McDonalds.

The MRX crew loves their gear…and the MRX is all about the gear! This is great for you because that means amazing prizes! What you can expect from the MRX are some pretty sweet prizes for the top competitors AND some even sweeter prizes for everyone else! You don’t have to be a top place finisher to win. The MRX recognizes that anyone who finishes this race is a winner. Last year we gave away over $4500 in prizes.

For 2014, it’s getting even better. Already the MRX Crew has given away free accommodation for the MRX weekend valued at $290, a custom MRX embroidered Salus Ungava life jacket valued at $150, and two HI-TEC Hard Rain Shells each valued at $109.95. Those paddlers who have registered before Feb 28/2014 and paddle both the Big East and MRX are eligible to win a $2400 Kevlar Nith River canoe from Hand Crafted Canoes. Additionally, the fasted HCC boat to paddle the MRX will win a pair of custom cedar-glass bent shaft paddles valued at $500.

But with prizes don’t stop there! The MRX crew has just signed up Lupine Lighting Systems as a product sponsor: This means that anyone who paddles the MRX is eligible to win one of their 1200 Lumen PIKO systems mated to a 13.2Ah battery providing upwards to 12 hours of daylight, including all the mounting hardware. Value? Over $1000.00.

ALGONQUIN OUTFITTERS: What more can we say about our Title Sponsor. Rich Swift and his crew at AO have worked their magic again for 2014 and that means really great gear for you! The North Face. KEEN. Petzel. Salus. Sea To Summit. AO is adding to this list of product sponsors as we speak. Expect nothing from the best from Algonquin Outfitters. They deliver and all you need to do is finish the race to become eligible for some of their great prizing.

Stay in touch by checking in our FaceBook for updates, as well as our blog.  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.  We try our best to respond as quick as we can.  We look forward to seeing everyone again and can’t wait for June 21st.

Cheers,  Mike & Rob.

 

 

2013 RIVER X WRAP-UP

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First, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who participated in the 2013 Algonquin Outfitter’s Muskoka River X and Big East River X. We have been genuinely overwhelmed by everyone’s support. After 1.5 years of planning, we could not have imagined a more positive reception.

We would also like to express how proud we are to have been part of this event and able to witness such an overwhelming display of strength, courage, perseverance, positive attitude, and ability to push the limits of body, mind and spirit. It is not a matter of winning or loosing. For us, the Muskoka River X and Big East River X is about engaging in a personal journey throughout an amazing watershed. Everyone who was part of the River X Series, whether a racer, volunteer, or spectator had a unique experience that you can call your own. You are all finishing the 2013 season with unique memories that you can cherish, and new goals that will fuel the fire for next year’s events. And it is from this perspective that we wish to congratulate you on your courage to paddle to the start line.

And to quote Allyson MacDonald when asked why she signed up for the MRX,

…If you don’t keep living, you end up dying…

Well-said Allyson. Keep on living and hopefully we will see you all on the water in 2014.

Registration for the 2014 MRX and Big East River X opens November 2013.

Voting for Get Out There Magazine’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards is now open! If you liked our events, give us your vote under #36.

But before we snuggle down for a long post-race nap, we would like to make a few final comments…..

(Mike & Rob after the Awards on Sunday, and with only 9hrs sleep in 3.5 days of MRX’ing.)Race Directors Mike & Rob all for a long winter's nap: 9hrs of sleep in 3.5 days of the MRX weekend.

2013 PHOTOS, VIDEOS, AND RACE RESULTS

2013 Big East River X and Muskoka River X photos  (MRX photo credits to Bill Lanning)

2013 Big East River X video race report by Brad Jennings/Get Out There Magazine

2013 Muskoka River X video race report by Brad Jennings/Get Out There Magazine

2013 Muskoka River X short vignette by Pure Muskoka’s Andy Hansen

2013 Muskoka River X pre-race article by RapidMedia

2013 Big East River X results 

2013 Muskoka River X results

2013 Muskoka River X tracker map: Click on “All Boats”, then choose your team name to see your SPOT trail and details.

If you were wondering what we were playing at the start of the 2013 MRX, here is our playlist.

MRX Playlist

SWAG

If you’re looking to wear your badge of honour for everyone to see, you can still get yourself one of our comfy and functional North Face Bionic soft shells or fitted ball caps.  The jackets are in-stock with M and L sizes while the caps will be made to order in S/M, M/L, L/XL sizes.  Jackets are $150 and caps are $35 (up a bit due to custom orders).  Christmas is coming!  We will put in one order for caps at the end of October so if you want one, let us know before then.  After that, you’ll have to wait until next year.  We can ship them off to your door for the cost of your preferred method.

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TO THE VOLUNTEERS
On behalf of the competitors, we wish to thank our Volunteers for all of the amazing support they provided to the events. Everyone should be aware that without our Volunteers, these events would not have happened. From CP staffing to patrol boats to portage crossings, and even tending bonfires and marshmallow roasts, the Volunteers were invaluable. We can’t reinforce this enough. So, the next time you find yourself at an event, walk up and thank the volunteers because if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t be racing.

WE REGRETFULLY ACKNOWLEDGE
1. We didn’t have enough portable toilets at the Start Line: We will do better next year.
2. We should have hung the portage signs closer to race day: Unfortunately, a few local residents weren’t overly neighbourly and decided to remove the signs telling you where the MRX route was around High Falls. We will do better next year to reduce the risk of portage signs being vandalized prior to the event.

TO OUR SUPPORTER
Thank you for all the support you provided the Big East River X and Muskoka River X and in making our inaugural events a huge success:

To all owners of private lands through which portage routes pass; a sincere thanks on behalf of all those who passed through your property.

Algonquin Outfitters; for being there right from the start and in providing amazing prizing to the racers, logistical and safety support, rentals, and pretty much anything else we needed to get this event off the ground. From Grey Owl paddles, Go-Pro, and Garmin to all the little stuff, you are amazing.

The Cottage Waterfront Grill; for opening your doors and letting your home become our home, and for the amazing post race meal.

CLIF; for providing the event with a trunk full CLIF BARS and CLIF SHOT Blocks. From 1st place prizing for the Big East to race kits and door prizes at the MRX, CLIF was everywhere.

Miss Nelle’s in Baysville and The Burger Shop in Bracebridge; for feeding our volunteers and race staff, and for providing outstanding food and service to our spectators.

King William Inn; for providing great accommodation to our competitors, including Team HCC who received a complimentary room for the weekend (early registration has it’s benefits). We loved seeing you’re parking lot full of canoes.

The Tulip Inn; for allowing up to set up our CP on the 40km Big East River X.

Canadian Ski Patrol Service – Muskoka Zone; for providing us with medical support.

Avantura and TrackLeaders; for providing the MRX with the SPOT gps units and live tracking map.  Over 21,000 page views for the MRX!  That’s double the average for a 1st year event.  The MRX is truly a spectator sport.

HI-TEC; for providing 10 pairs of their new Zuuks as door prizes. The MRX Crew love the Zuuks. Perfect footwear for your paddling adventures.

Badger Paddles; for providing master craftsmanship in producing paddle-medals and trophies for the Big East and MRX.

Salus Marine; for supporting our event with limited edition Ungava PFDs. We love these jackets. Salus: The best in marine wear.

Aben Graphics; for attending to all our complex printing needs in a timely manner

Muskoka Outfitters; for opening your doors and letting us use your property for CP2; and for the prize maps.

We would also want to thank the Ontario Marathon Canoe and Kayak Racing Association for sanctioning the Big East River X and Muskoka River River X and accepting our events into their annual schedule.

To Muskoka Futures, thank you for the financial support necessary to get our first year events of the start line.

We also wish to acknowledge the efforts and support received from the Huntsville-Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Huntsville, Township of Lake of Bays, Town of Bracebridge, District of Muskoka, Ontario Power Generation, Bracebridge Generation, Orillia Power, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Huntsville Fire, EMS, and OPP.

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2013 sponsor clip

AUGUST 2013 NEWSLETTER

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There is only about 5 weeks left to the start of the Muskoka River X and we (Mike & Rob) would like to THANK everyone for supporting this event.  First, we would like to thank all those who will actually be showing up at the starting line to paddle non-stop over 128km of wide open lake and river, 19 portages totaling over 6000m, completely self-supported:  You are all truly adventurous folk who love a challenge and we are humbled by your enthusiasm for Expedition Racing.  We look forward to meeting everyone and sharing in our love of paddling and the amazing paddling route, which is the Muskoka River system.  We are confident that you will find the Muskoka watershed an amazing place: With the race format and routes being linked up in manner that they are, we are confident that the MRX will deliver in everything that is “Expedition”!

Here is a summary of some high points that we have experienced along the road to developing the MRX:

  • March 2011:  Planning for the MRX begins
  • September 2012: Algonquin Outfitters becomes Title Sponsor
  • October 2012: Badger Paddles becomes a sponsor.
  • November 2012: Pre-Registration Opens
  • January 2013: Salus becomes a sponsor
  • January 2013: MRX is show-cased at Huntsville Banff Mountain Film Festival
  • January 2013: Clif Bar becomes a sponsor
  • March 2013: All 50 Pre-Registration spots are filled / We start building a waiting list.
  • March/April 2013: Muskoka River X is chosen by Get Out There Magazine as one of the Top 25 Ultimate Summer Adventures in Canada to participate in for 2013
  • April 18, 2013: MRX reaches 8,755 viewers on a single Facebook post.
  • May 2013: Front page profile in What’s Up Muskoka magazine
  • May 2013: Muskoka Outfitters becomes a sponsor.
  • June 2013: Inaugural running of the 40km Big East River X: A huge success!
  • June 2013: Awarded Muskoka Futures Grant
  • July 2013: Hi-Tec becomes a sponsor

RACE DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN UPDATED

The Competitor Document (“The Rules…”) have been revised and uploaded to the web site.  You are strongly encouraged to read this document thoroughly so you are aware of how the event actually works.  This is not your traditional paddling race: This is a unique event that blends elements from both marathon paddling and adventure racing, so, it is best that you familiarize yourself with the race format so you know what to expect.

The Mandatory Equipment list has been revised to provide clarity around a few items that have consistently generated questions.  We have also added Cell Phones as a mandatory item.  Please see the Competitor Document for details.

Check point cut-off times have been finalized!  Check out the Competitor Document and the Itinerary to see what the benchmark is.  Paddle hard!

The Infractions and Penalties section has been more fully developed so you are aware of what constitutes an infraction, as well as the corresponding penalty.

Lastly, an itinerary of the race weekend will detail all times and locations of where you need to be and what you need to do; again, a must-read document. (Monitor for revisions as we get closer to race day.)

COURSE UPDATES

The course has been paddled and it looks great!  The water levels have fallen significantly since the flooding of April 2013 and the rivers are now safe and navigable.  We still expect river levels to reduce a bit further, consistent with seasonal flow.  The portages are all in great shape but please be mindful that many are “rough”.  Also, be prepared to get wet on many of the take-outs and put-ins: Sometimes there’s just no easy way around it….

The first 10km of the South Muskoka River after Baysvilles will deliver in spades: Expect downriver swifts, shallow gravel bars, rock, and rough portages: A true expedition!  The North Muskoka River between the Duck Chutes and Balsam Chutes will be even more interesting: Going against current, you will face a series of very shallow gravelly swifts that will challenge and frustrate even the best of you, all under the glow of headlamps!

For safety reasons, we have added a mandatory waypoint on Lake of Bays thus ensuring teams follow the safest route possible: This will add approximately 2km to the overall length of the course.  So, the event is actually measuring in at around 130km following river center.  A bit less it you cut corners…

All the details will be listed within the Course Instructions, which you will receive at On-Site Registration on September 13, 2013.

ON-SITE REGISTRATION

As indicated in the itinerary, On-Site Registration opens at 9am, Friday, September 13, 2013.  Please print off and complete the waiver, medical forms, and team form prior to arrival.  This will help you move through registration much more quickly.  The earlier you arrive the more time you will have to prep your maps and gear, get organized, relax on a river-side deck, eat a burger, have a beverage and consider why you are actually doing this event!

Also, make sure you bring a $50 (CAN) fully-refundable deposit for the SPOT GPS transmitter: Bring the deposit in cash and you will move through registration more quickly.

Lastly, you must bring your mandatory equipment to On-Site Registration: A gear check will be completed as part of the registration process.

POST-RACE MEAL and AWARDS at the COTTAGE WATERFRONT GRILL 

We are very excited to host your Post-Race meal and Awards Ceremony at The Cottage Waterfront Grill.  This location is situated across the river from River Mill Park and is centrally located in downtown Huntsville.  Let’s hope for good weather as they have the best deck in town, overlooking the river, and it would be great if we could all eat outside!

We are most excited about the food:  After paddling 128km (or should we say 130km) you deserve a great feast!  Bruce, the owner of The Cottage will be serving up a BBQ of beef kabobs, chicken and fish; along with baked potatoes with all the fixin’s and corn on the cob; bean, potato, and garden/Caesar salads and breads.  As a participant, this feast is included in your race registration.

If you would like to bring along family/friends, we are selling thirty-five (35) Meal Tickets on a first-come/first-serve basis for a price of $35/pp including tax and gratuity.  If the weather is expected to be good we will sell an additional fifty (50) tickets but we won’t know this until the day before the race.  If we are able to sell these fifty (50) meal tickets, they will be available for purchase at On-Site Registration.

If you want to purchase one of the thirty-five (35) Meal Tickets that are available now please email Mike at mike@muskokariverx.com, indicate your name/team name and how many tickets you need.  They will be included in your race kits and you can pay for them at On-Site Registration.  Again, these thirty-five (35) Meal Tickets will be reserved on a first-come / first-serve basis.

ACCOMMODATION

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to book your weekend accommodation!  September in Muskoka is world renowned for it’s amazing colours (…the trees…)!  It’s all very beautiful however with these amazing colours come bus-loads of tourists that fill up hotels and motels.  Don’t leave this to the last minutes or you’ll be sleeping on the sidewalk.

Looking for a place to stay?  We love drive-ups as you can race-prep out of the back of your car: No hauling gear up and down elevators.  With that in mind, we highly recommend the King William Inn.  The King William is a very clean, modern and comfortable drive-up that is only 600m away from River Mill Park, and even closer to The Cottage Waterfront Grill.  This is your best park-and-race accommodation in town.  If you are looking for a quiet, rural setting or something with an efficiency unit, choose the Tulip Inn.  If you are looking for a boutique inn setting, look no further than the Portage Inn.

 NAVIGATION and MAPS

Please be advised that the google course maps shown on the web site are intended only as a general idea of the course route and are in no way intended to be used for navigation purposes.  They do not explicitly detail the exact route, including the portages that teams will be required to take.  We have received several inquiries about the accuracy of the maps: No need to be concerned!  We are very familiar with the course and you will all receive very precise course details in the format of UTM coordinates; and you will have the opportunity to plot these UTM coordinates on the race topographic maps.  These UTM coordinates have been crossed referenced both by GPS, in-person and on-site and finally, adjusted to make sure they appropriately represent the course routes according to the topographic map land features.

If you do intend to pre-run the course, please be mindful of and respect the private property along the course and only use the established portage routes, which are quite obvious.  PLEASE, stay away from and outside of the hydro dam prohibited zones: Travel inside these zones will ultimately jeopardize the future of this event.  These zones are strictly prohibited.  The MRX has worked hard to develop positive relationships with the landowners.  Please do not jeopardize these relationships.

If you haven’t already read our Blog on Navigation, we suggest you do so.  It will help you understand the concepts associated with plotting UTM coordinates on topographic maps: With 18 course maps, this is a basic and simple skill that you will need to do use.  You should also be mindful that we have increased the scale of the maps from 1:50000 to 1:24000 thereby improving navigation along the river routes; although there are a couple lake maps that remain 1:50000.  When reading our Navigation blog, you will need to adjust the scale, so, instead of each square on a 1:50000 being 2cm by 2cm, each square on the 1:24000 is 4cm by 4cm: One (1) square equals one (1) kilometre, or 10000 metres.  This will result in an 8-digit UTM for the 1:24000 and a 6-digit UTM for the 1:50000.  All other principles remain the same.  To help you plot the UTM coordinates, we strongly suggest that you invest in a compass that has both 1:50000 and 1:24000 scales already printed the x- and y-axis.  Check out our Blog on navigation (point #5) to see a photo of a compass with these UTM scales.

LIGHTING UP YOUR LIFE ON THE MRX

Paddling at night under the twinkling of stars and haze of the moon is quite a romantic experience.  However, that’s NOT what you’re here for.

By the time the sun goes down you will have been paddling for 12.5 hours…and most of you will just be starting the challenging upriver paddle, against the current of the North Muskoka River; littered with rough portages, swifty and shallow gravel bars, and windy rivers that will confuse the best of you when the shadows start creeping in.  If you haven’t considered the issue of “lighting”, we recommend that you put this on your to-do list ASAP!

When it comes to traveling at night, we like it to be bright.  Things just don’t seem so scary when you have light.  You can see things that go bump in the night (or should we say, you can avoid things that your boat might bump into in the night).  The moon is only going to be half, and if we have clouds…forget about it.  Muskoka in September is not that Land of the Midnight Sun.  It gets really dark.  So, if you haven’t got the message, light is your friend.  Start planning your lighting system.

Some things to keep in mind: A penlight won’t cut it.  You need significant lumen power in the range of 200+ to be effective for navigation.  There are tones of options out there ranging from conservatively priced headlamps to ridiculous units that can burn the retina out of a bull moose at 1000 yards.  Do your research.  Consider how you intend to use the lighting system: On your head?  On the front of your boat?  Also, make sure you find the best balance between power (lumen) and burn time.  Unless you’re the fastest boat on the water, consider the fact that there is about 11hrs between sunset and sunrise.  How will you power your navigation lights?  Rechargeable batteries are great, but will they last through the night?  What will you do if they drain early?  And yes, you do need at least one navigation light per team and one emergency back up light per person.  If you are a tandem for example, we suggest that each of you have a lighting system sufficient for navigation and carry a small emergency headlamp.  An ideal set up for a C2 is 200+ lumen headlamps per person that can take replaceable batteries plus an additional navigation lighting system attached to the bow of the boat to light up the waters in front of your bow (or see the rock you are about to hit!).  Mountain bike lighting systems work well on canoes since they are designed to mount on handlebars; and handlebars are very similar to the carrying handles at the bow of a canoe.  There are many options for the emergency light.  Plan and choose wisely.

Lastly, practice with your lighting system before the race.  Make sure it works.  Test the set up.  Test the battery life.  Don’t be the team that goes into the race cold, never testing their lighting system.  Our Search and Rescue team won’t meet you with smiles if they have to do an e-vac because of dead batteries…

If you do have question or are seeking advice, please feel free to drop us an email.  We are here to help and assist in making the MRX a positive experience for you.  Lastly, if you don’t have access to lighting systems or don’t know what to use, touch base with Algonquin Outfitters.  We work closely with them and can have a lighting system waiting for you at registration that will be more than adequate for the race.

STAYING WARM on the MRX

All we really want to say on this issue is that the average night-time temperature for Muskoka in September is 6.5 degrees Celsius.  Not quite freezing but still cold, especially when you’re wet.  By the time the sun goes down, you will be tired and you will be wet.  And let’s hope the wind isn’t blowing.

Prepare wisely and bring a warm set of cloths.  You will probably be hot and sweaty over Stage 1 and 2 but by the time you hit Stage 3 and the sun goes down, things might change drastically: A nice dry, warm change of cloths will be just what the Search and Rescue team orders.  Thus, the mandatory equipment list is not just to make life difficult.  It’s for your own safety.  Hypothermia is a real risk on this race.  Prepare wisely.

SPECTATORS

The Muskoka River X isn’t just a paddling race, it’s a Spectator Sport!  As you’re on the water, your family, friends, and kids can spend an fantastic day following your progress throughout this amazing region.  There are so many things to see and do.  They can sight-see, spend time on a hiking trail, paddle, or bike.  The MRX route is overflowing with artisans, and Muskoka is knows for it’s shopping: Cloths and jewelry, pottery and art, furniture makers and boat makers….the list goes on.  And your spectators won’t go hungry.  From bakers and jam makers to burgers or sushi, Muskoka has it all.  We even have our own breweries that would love for you to come in for a sip.

Your race kit will be filled with information, incentives, maps and advice for your spectators.  As you’re prepping your race maps, they can be planning their own race route.  So, bring your own personal spectator crew and let them enjoy their own Muskoka, MRX-style.

VOLUNTEERS

We still need a few extra people to help out at various points along the race course.  If you know of anyone who is excited about the Muskoka River X, isn’t paddling, but is wanting to get up close and involved in the experience, please have them contact us (mike@muskokariverx.com).  Volunteers will be rained with praise, thanks and appreciation!  And they will also receive an MRX race shirt, voucher for the Post Race BBQ and Awards, and 10% personal discount off of next year’s event.

PADDLE with the RACE DIRECTORS

If you’re in Huntsville on Wednesday, August 14th or 21st, come on out and join us (Mike and Rob) for a paddle.  We will be heading out around 7pm from River Mill Park for an hour or so and then will be spending some time at Algonquin Outfitters answering questions about the event, required equipment, etc.  Hopefully we will see you there.

That’s it for now.  If something else comes up that we need to share, we’ll be sure to make another post.  Otherwise, “Like” our Facebook so you receive all the latest Posts.  Keep an eye on the web site as we will posting the Waiver/Medical/Team Form for you to fill out and bring to On-Site Registration closer to race day.  Other than that, train hard, prep well, and we will see you all on September 13th.  Cheers,  Mike and Rob.

June 2013 Newsletter

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MUSKOKA RIVER X: SPOTS AVAILABLE FOR NEW TEAMS!!!
We are pleased to announce that we have a few new spots available for teams who wish to race the Muskoka River X on Saturday, September 14, 2013.  Register Now!  Only a few extra spots available, so, if you’ve been thinking of racing the mighty MRX, now’s your chance.  Don’t delay.  These spots are sure to fill up quickly.

 

BIG EAST RIVER X
We want to send a warm Thanks to everyone who supported the inaugural Big East River X. The event was a great success and we look forward to hosting it again next year; making it an even better experience for everyone.  Check out the Big East River X 2013 Results.

For those who weren’t able to participate, Brad Jennings from Get Out There Magazine was on hand to participate in the 40km C2 Rec: Check out his video race report. Check out our Facebook photo album for images of the day.  Here are a few photos of some MRX paddlers that showed up for the 40km Big East.

DSCF9803 MRX C1 paddler, Steve Varieur arrives in style

DSCF9883 MRX C2 paddler Bob Vincent (R) and his partner Dean Brown.

DSCF9904MRX C2 paddlers Chris Scerri and Dave Peacock

DSCF9914MRX C2 paddlers Peter Dobos and Susan Iori

DSCF9893 MRX C1 paddler Chris Near

972128_10152892457605142_1918206728_n We were very excited to see the race SUPs out for the 40km.  Can’t wait to see them take on the full 128km.  With the likes of Bart de Zwart coming in from Hawaii, it’s sure to be an amazing race.

 

MUSKOKA RIVER X is picked as one of the TOP 25 ULTIMATE SUMMER ADVENTURES in CANADA for 2013
We are pleased to announce that Get Out There Magazine and KEEN footwear has picked the Muskoka River X as one of the Top 25 Ultimate Summer Adventures in Canada for 2013!  Get Out There and KEEN will be sending Brad Jennings and his partner Nick Schwass to compete in the C2 category of the MRX.  We look forward to Brad’s video race report.

 

MUSKOKA RIVER X SWAG
If you paddle 128km in 24hrs or less, haul your boat 19 times over 6km of portages, have no resupplies, and have no support team, you deserves to be proud of their accomplishment: You deserve some BLING!
Limited Edition North Face Bionic soft shell jacket with a 60,000 stitch embroidered MRX logo. ($150: medium/large available)jacket

Limited Edition Salus Ungava PFD with custom MRX embroidered logo. ($100: all sizes)Salus

Fully fitted custom pro-style baseball cap with MRX embroidered logo. ($25: s/m – l/xl)hat

There are limited quantities on all of the items, so, it’s first come – first service. Send an email to mike@muskokariverx.com detailing what you want and we will email an invoice back to you with payment instructions. Your items will be waiting for you at the registration desk on September 13th, 2013.

 

SMART PHONE RULES UPDATE FOR MUSKOKA RIVER X
As indicated within the Competitor Document teams are encouraged to carry cell phones: Cell phones are yet another safety device that may be of assistance in the event of an adverse event and teams needing to call Race Support for assistance.  Complicating this option is the issue that Smart Phones are GPS-enabled with software that would allow teams to pin-point their position during the race. Doing so goes against the spirit of the race; being that teams will navigate solely by map and compass. In response to the circumstance whereby a majority of individuals have Smart Phones, we will allow smart phones (i.e, iPhone/Blackberry/etc) to be accessible for emergency response needs only. Therefore, teams who wish to carry  their GPS-enabled phones for emergency purposes can do so by carrying them in a waterproof container, turned off.  Prior to the start of the race, the Race Directors will inspect the phones and place a seal over the container marking the phone as unopened.  Should the team need to use the phone for emergency purposes, then the seal can be broken and the phone can be accessed.  Phones will be checked upon arrival at the finish line to authenticate if the seal remains unopened or not.  Teams that have used their phones for non-emergency responses purposes may be subject to a time penalty.  We hope that this adjustment to the rules is a good compromise for those who are wanting to bring their phones. (Note: The competitor document will be updated in the near future to reflect this change.)

 

RENTALS & GEAR
Racing the Big East River X or the Muskoka River X?  Need something to paddle?  Missing a requirement off the Mandatory Gear List?  Algonquin Outfitters has everything you need to get to the start line.  Not sure whether to rent a Swift Winisk, Temagami or Keewadyin?  Contact Gord (info@algonquinoutfitters.com).  He will give you all the advice you need and make sure that you are properly outfitted for the 128kms of the MRX!

 

ACCOMMODATION
Need a place to stay over the Muskoka River X weekend?  We recommend the King William Inn.  It is only 600m from River Mill Park (registration & start line): No driving required!  Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve your room: Book early because September is “fall colour” time in Algonquin Park and Huntsville’s motels and hotels get booked up quickly with the bus tours.

 

SPOT TRACKER ~ Huge Sale!
Avantura has been selling and renting SPOT trackers worldwide since 2008.  Avantura is our supplier of SPOTS and our Live-Tracker map.  Now you can get your own SPOT.  Share your adventures with your friends and family and have piece of mind in the event that the unexpected happens.  Our friends at Avantura are offering you a “Muskoka River X Special”.

  • SPOT-2
  • Free Shipping (valued @ $15.00)
  • Free Flotation Case (valued @ $19.00)
  • Free 1 year tracking (if activated before June 1/13) (valued $49.99)
  • $109.00

Contact Avantura directly at www.avantura.ca or aleks.gusev@gmail.com

SPOT_Logo_2color_tag

 

Stay tune and keep watching our Blog and website for new and important information as we close in on race day.  We will be preparing some helpful details, such as an information package for spectators, as well as some other advice for racers.  Hope everyone is getting excited and training hard.  See you all in September! Cheers,  Mike and Rob