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"My Best Bonk" Contest Entry - John R. Hiley
By:  John R. Hiley   (2005/03/03)


Here is a bonk story from a not very athletic weekend warrior. No, it's not about XC skiing, biking or ironman triathlons that you serious warriors indulge in - would you believe marathon canoeing.

Now, I know that some of you engage in this sport and maybe some have even done the North Bay to Mattawa Race. For those who haven't, let me explain a little about this race. It's a beautiful 60 km weekend canoe trip compressed into 6 - 10 hours on the last Sat. in July each year.

Starting in North Bay you paddle the 12 km length of Trout Lake, then through narrows and small lakes to the first portage at the 20 km mark. Another small lake and portage bring you into Lake Talon and a 10km paddle to the "Portage from Hell" around Talon Chutes at the 35 km mark. Now, this portage is indescribable and has to be experienced to understand, as any of you who have done it well know.

We are now on the Mattawa River proper and a number of rapids follow in quick succession. Most of these can be run if water levels are sufficient - otherwise more short portages. The last 20 km is broken only by a couple of sometimes runnable rapids and 3 km from the end another horrendous portage around the Hurdman dam.

I guess it's time to get to the part where his 70 year old geezer decides that in the millenium year of 2000 he has to do this race one more time. Never one to overtrain, I did do quite a few laps around our cottage island during July, but as usual, generally relied on my much younger and fitter partner to provide most of the oomph.

So, off we go at 7:45 am with some 14 other canoes in our class. A beautiful July day and we cruised along at a respectable pace. Arrived at Talon Chutes and the "Portage from Hell" to find that my forearms and FINGERS were cramping up. BONK! I'd had plenty to drink too, honest. And, I had another 2 litre bottle of Gatorade stashed at the end of the portage. The adrenaline rush of running the ensuing rapids eased the pain somewhat but once we hit the seemingly endless final 20 km every switch of sides (approx. every 10 paddle strokes) found my fingers snapping shut and requiring flexing before I could re-grip the paddle. Canoes started to pass us regularly, even those two girls we had left in the dust!

Anyway we did manage to finish, some 45 minutes later than planned.

Interesting Reading. . .
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