Ice Donkey's Don't Complain... They Embrace Winter-peg!
Race Report by John Ford
Firstly, again thanks to all our great volunteers who faithfully come out and make these events possible. Without your enthusiasm and dedication we would just have a bunch of crazy racers running around not knowing where to go! Also thanks to Kelly & Trish from Kelly Morton Photography who did a great job capturing the spirit of the racers on their journey to "Do the Donkey"!! Check out all the amazing shots HERE
Now, not to say we have a special deal on "perfect winter weather", but seriously... 2 years in a row and beautiful winter temps have made this an amazing race! However, during the weeks leading up and planning the Ice Donkey Winter Adventure organizers met the challenges of redesigning yet another race course. Fluctuating water levels and fff-frigid temperatures left everyone asking themselves, what were we thinking planning another winter race.
As racers began to arrive at the Forks on the morning of February 13 a sigh of relief could be heard instead of the chattering of teeth that was expected. While everyone rushed through registration and hurried to pack the last of their gear in transition bags, the excitement of what was in store for all made it too much for some.
The immortal words of Freddie Mercury... "Get on your bikes and ride", was the phrase going through the racers heads at the start line. At precisely 8:30am John & Rick officially got the race underway. While the main pack of full course racers peddled away, the Family Fun participants strapped on snowshoes for their first leg. Biking on the ice was a blast and the snowshoe loop added excitement to the beginning of the race course.
This years course took solos and teams from the Forks in the heart of Winnipeg to a great kept secret, the Seine River. As racers biked a section of this little known waterway and transitioned on to cross-country skis, Ace Burpee described it best as "A magical place"! With volunteers anxiously awaiting participants at TA1 the announcement came over the Prairie Mobile radios that the first racers were arriving with the pack not far behind. Some rushed through quickly transitioning from one to the next discipline, while others took the opportunity to grab a snack and take a layer or two off with the useasonably warm temperatures.
With a portion of the Red River un-travelable, racers would have to herringbone up the Seine riverbank to enter Whittier Park en route to TA2 at the Festival du Voyageur site. Smiling racers arrived and were directed to carry their snowshoes on a short running section until reaching the beautiful Esplinade Reil Bridge. From here they donned snowshoes and trekked back to the Forks to complete a challenging snowshoe loop. Up until this point it was still anyone's race with the top finishers arriving at the last transition within moments of one another.
From here on it was down to whom ever could dig down deep inside and muster up that last bit to skate the full distance of the Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail to the ICE Donkey finish back at the Forks. As racers arrived they were greeted by the crowd of people that had just come to the Forks to enjoy some winter activity on this great day. "What is and ICE Donkey", and "They had to travel how far... on bike, ski, snowshoes and skates"? They commented in disbelief!
As the last participants arrived many had stayed to congratulate each other, gingerly skating around the port where the Red and the Assiniboine meet. As if they hadn't had enough after just completing the 30km course. Sipping hot chocolate and high-fiving one another and recounting their adventure from start to finish.
Afterward the weather was so absolutley gorgeous that the post race prize ceremony was moved outside to enjoy this great winter day. Top finishers were awarded and draw prizes were given away. Sunshine, smiling faces and with spring just around the corner... you couldn't ask for anything more.
Till next year embrace the winter, keep your sense of adventure and the spirit for this great sport alive!