Words: Ico Schutte | Photos: © Red Bull Media House
Solo category race winner Paul Romero tackling the slopes of Grouse Mountain. Photo credit: © Mason Mashon / Red Bull Content Pool
IN THE THIRD RENDITION OF THE RED BULL DIVIDE & CONQUER EVENT, A MULTI-DISCIPLINE ENDURANCE RACE, competitors have the option of braving it as a solo race. "A bit terrifying," said adventure athlete Will Gadd. And terrifying it was!
BEAUTIFULLY BRUTAL RED BULL DIVIDE & CONQUER 2014
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HELD ON 8 JUNE 2014, THE RACE CONSISTS OF A 12 KM MOUNTAIN RUN, WHEREBY RUNNERS ASCEND MORE THAN 2,000 M OF GROUSE MOUNTAIN AS THEY MAKE THEIR WAY UP TWICE.
It is then followed by a 25 km mountain bike ride on the legendary North Shore trails of Vancouver. For the final stretch, athletes paddle their way down the canyons of the Capilano River.
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First up was the mountain running portion of the race that began from the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver. Photo credit: ÂŠ Dan Carr / Red Bull Content Pool
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WE STARTED AT THE CLEVELAND DAM, A SCENIC AREA IN THE MIDST OF TOWN. THE RUN TOOK US UP GORGEOUS TRAILS THAT MEANDERED THROUGH THE BEAUTIFUL FOREST ON GROUSE MOUNTAIN. Although I suspect that not many athletes savoured the views, as the run was physically violent and difficult. The last two kilometres went straight up a steep trail and just when you thought you'd reached the top, it just kept on going. After two hours of battle with the mountain it was time for a new weapon, exchanging running shoes for my Cannondale mountain bike.
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Ed McCarthy nears the end of the running stage during Red Bull Divide and Conquer. Photo credit: © Dan Carr / Red Bull Content Pool
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Once racers summited Grouse Mountain, next up was the mountain bike portion of the race featuring some of the North Shore's most famous trails. Photo credit: © Mason Mashon / Red Bull Content Pool
THE MOUNTAIN BIKE LEG STARTED OFF WITH AN EASY 5 KM DESCENT DOWN FOREST ROADS BEFORE ENTERING THE FIRST TRAIL, APTLY NAMED 'THE EXECUTIONER'. THE TRAILS WERE OF EXTREME DIFFICULTY AND ALL MARKED BLACK DIAMOND. Going down and
going up was equally tough, as the trail is littered with rocks and roots. By this time the magnitude of the run was wearing on my legs and I struggled to make progress on the hard climbs. I lost focus for half a second on the downhill and ended diving over the handle bars on a steep drop, which resulted in some minor cuts and bruises. Exhausted, I got back on the horse to finish the bike leg with a brutal hike-a-bike section, to arrive at the second transition after five hours of total racing.
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THE KAYAK LEG GETS THE ADRENALIN PUMPING WITH A MASSIVE THREE-METRE SEAL LAUNCH INTO THE GLACIAL WATERS BELOW. This year, unfortunately, the
water level was very low, making the paddle easier on a technical level but much harder physically, as there were long stretches of flat water to power through and many rocks to scrape over. The Capilano River makes its way down pristine canyons and through coastal rainforest, to the finish line at the beautiful Ambleside Park. To add a final touch of brutalness, we had to paddle out into the ocean and around two buoys before heading back to shore for the finish. Exhausted but satisfied I crossed the finish line after just over six hours of racing. In true Red Bull fashion, only two competitors out of the seven that started in the Solo category finished.
Ico Schutte kayaks down the Capilano River. Photo credit: © Bill Hawley
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After conquering the waters of Capilano River, racers had to come ashore at West Vancouver's Ambleside Park and make their way to the finish line. Photo credit: ÂŠ Dan Carr / Red Bull Content Pool
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Podium celebrations for the winning teams of Red Bull Divide And Conquer in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on June 08, 2014. Photo credit: © Dan Carr / Red Bull Content Pool
WHEN THE DUST HAD SETTLED, THE TOP THREE PODIUM PLACES FOR THE TEAM CATEGORY WENT TO THE FULL DUDEMEN, ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIKES AND TWO COLIN'S AND A NICK, RESPECTIVELY. THE SOLO CATEGORY WAS WON BY PAUL ROMERO, FOLLOWED BY MYSELF IN SECOND PLACE. • For more information about the race and full race results, visit www.redbull.com
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