Adventure racers rank sixth in North America

By Chantall Van Raay, June 15, 2005

    From left, McMaster's Mike Waddington, Simon Donato and Mark Tarnopolsky train on McMaster's grounds every morning, seven days a week throughout the year. Photo credit: Chantall Van Raay
At 6 a.m. McMaster is calm, the deer and beaver are out of hiding and the dew begins to dry. Amid the calm are McMaster's Mike Waddington, Mark Tarnopolsky and Simon Donato, who train on McMaster's grounds every morning, seven days a week throughout the year. For them, the morning is the perfect time to train, before the heat and smog arrives, and on top of that, McMaster's campus is breathtaking.

"This morning when we were biking we almost hit a deer," says Waddington. "You'd be amazed at the kind of wildlife we see here at that time of the day."

Early morning, however, is only the trio's first training session of the day. Later there will be another one-hour bout, likely in the evening. It's a demanding schedule, but it is one that has earned them the distinction of one of the best adventure racers in North America.

Tarnopolsky, a McMaster physician, Waddington, a McMaster hydrologist and Donato, a PhD candidate in geology, are members of the Canadian adventure racing team EAS that were ranked sixth in North America by the Adventure Sports Magazine ranking system.

Adventure racing is a multisport, similar to triathlon except it primarily occurs in wilderness areas and involves navigation, hiking, running, mountain biking and canoeing.

"The races can last anywhere from four hours to one week and often involve minimal sleep," says Donato, who adds teams are usually comprised of three or four people, and can be coed or single gender.

EAS has won every race it entered since January of this year, including the Salomon Adventure Challenge, Canada; the Salomon Winter Adventure Challenge, Canada; Tubbs Snowshoe Winter Adventure Race, Massachusetts; and the Adventure Racing Canada winter race.

In addition to the number of successful races, the ranking system also looks at the difficulty of the races entered and the level of competition, Donato adds. "Since it is difficult for each of the top teams to race head-to-head frequently, this ranking system takes that into account. It has proven to be quite accurate, and currently, EAS is Canada's best sprint to 24-hour adventure racing team."

This summer and fall, the team will compete in adventure races across Canada and the United States, including a 12-hour race in Connecticut on July 10; an Algonquin Park sprint on July 23; a Vancouver sprint in August; a Salomon Adventure Challenge sprint championships in Ontario in September; and the USARA sprint finals in Florida in October.

Other members of the team include Martin Rydlo and McMaster alumnus Robyn Tindale and Allan Magi.