What are the events in Medicine Hat Massacre?
The main events are orienteering (cross country hiking/running using a map), mountain biking, and paddling (NEW since 2013: Inflatable 2 man kayaks). We will sometimes add other short challenges such as a ropes section, but will notify teams well in advance if special equipment is needed.
How Long is each event?
The details of each race are kept confidential until just before the race! The specifics of how long each event will be, which order the events will occur, the elevation gain of each leg, etc. are part of the challenge of the race. Racers and teams should come prepared to manage roughly equal parts of hiking, biking and paddling; but some years any particular event may be longer or shorter than another.
How do I train for an Adventure Race?
The best way to practice, is just to get out and spend time doing the events! Spend time with your team mates outside hiking; go for long bike rides, and if possible spend some time paddling. Spending time with team mates helps you understand how you react when you’re tired, how to make decisions together, etc.
The next biggest part of training is general conditioning. Just getting out and running, biking or walking is great. The race is 8-9 hours, but not many teams are able to go full tilt for 9 hours! Our race is somewhat flexible as far as distances for each event so teams can match their energy level to the distances they can cover.
Another important part is orienteering – finding your way around using a map and compass (see “Compass Work” below). Get out and practice finding your way around with a map, preferrably a topographic map. Practice taking a bearing with a compass. Although detailed compass work is not usually required, being able to orient your map to the terrain is critical.
What is Score Orienteering?
Score-O, or Score Orienteering is a race system in which not every checkpoint is required. Checkpoints for the race are set out in an area, and points assigned to each. Teams have a fixed amount of time in each event to collect as many points as possible. Usually checkpoints that are harder to find, or more distant will have a higher point value. Penalties are applied to if a team arrives late at the next transition. The later you are, the greater the penalty. The challenge is to recognize your abilities to be able to choose a route that will allow you to collect as many points as possible without being late!
Using this system (as opposed to a strict point to point timed race) keeps teams from getting too spread out. This is easier from the race safety standpoint, but also adds more interest. Beginning teams may still cross paths with advanced teams all through the race and can learn from the skills they see demonstrated.
Why do you start at 4 a.m.????
One of the greatest challenges of longer Adventure Races is navigating in the dark. During the traditional summer Adventure Race season, most “sprint” races don’t get into the dark. We like to challenge our racers! Anyone who is really uncomfortable need only wait an hour or so for the skies to lighten before heading out.
What kind of maps do you use?
Racers may only use maps provided by Medicine Hat Massacre. The main maps are topographic maps. Other maps of different types (trail maps, street maps, etc.) may be provided as needed for specific circumstances. The maps are marked with magnetic declination (Variation), scale, and major features such as buildings, roads, etc.
Unfortunately, we have to rely on the best available base maps, and in Canada (and most of the US) the base maps are long out of date. Most of the base maps in Canada were made in the 1970s, and although the earth may not have changed much, some of the features have. We do try to update major features on our maps, but not all roads and trails that exist in an area end up on the map. Likewise, some features may have fallen into disuse and no longer be present, even though marked on the map. We do try to point out any major differences during the team briefings.
How technical is the compass work?
At least one member of the team should be familiar with the use of a compass! Having said that, the technical skill required to compete in the race is not that difficult. If you can orient your map towards North, and find out where you are on the map, you should be able to get through the race without too much trouble. More advanced skills do allow you to make more aggressive navigation choices if heading cross country, or through dense brush for example.
For a good primer on compass use try: REI Compass Video
Again, there is no substitute for practice. Many areas have active Orienteering clubs with regular outings where you can practice. In Medicine Hat there is a fixed orienteering course at Police Point Park. Take your compass, and ask at the Interpretive Center for a map!
In Calgary contact: Foothills Wanderers Orienteering Club
In Edmonton contact: Edmonton Overlanders Orienteering Club
What kind of biking can I expect?
Biking is mountain biking. We usually incorporate a variety of surfaces from paved roads to difficult singletrack, and sometimes no trail at all! Street tires would not be a good choice! The way the race is laid out, teams may choose their route. Teams wanting to be more aggressive may choose more aggressive trails. Teams who prefer a more conservative ride will choose wider, easier trails, even if it means going a little longer. Some advanced or higher value checkpoints may require more aggressive riding.
Any teams planning aggressive overland riding may want to consider puncture proofing (“sliming”) their tires with leak stop due to the prevalence of tire eating cactus in the Medicine Hat area!
How hard is the paddling?
Advance notice of the type of paddling required will be given by race organizers. Traditionally this has been still water (lake) or flat water (river, maximum Class I rapids). Weather and water conditions may change on race day and teams should be comfortable enough on the water to handle those changes.
What if the weather is bad?
The race goes rain (or sleet or snow) or shine! If severe weather threatens the safety of a particular event, race organizers may make last-minute changes to the race.
This means that racers need to come prepared for a variety of conditions. Weather in Southern Alberta in early May can change rapidly, even while you are on the course. It is a good idea to bring extra clothing and gear so that you can select the most appropriate gear at race time.
Where can I stay in Medicine Hat?
For a map of hotels around Medicine Hat, click HERE
Where can I stay in Elkwater?
Check the link under Registration to find the reservation link to stay at the YMCA Camp Bunkhouse style. (coming soon)
Campgrounds – Tent or RV. Although online booking is not available for these dates, the campgrounds will be open on a first come; first served basis (not likely to be a stampede for sites)! A map is available at: Elkwater Campground Map
Hotel Accommodations are available in the park at Elkwater Lake Lodge
What happened to the Canoes?
Medicine Hat does not have a place to rent canoes. In previous years we have had to go to extreme lengths to make canoes available for those who wanted to race. Each year we commandeered most of the available boats in the area! This year we will be providing inflatable 2 man kayaks (Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 or Dragonfly XL) to teams.
Do we have to use the kayaks? Can’t I bring my own boat?
The only boats that will be allowed will be the Lagoon 2 or Dragonfly XL boats. Teams who have this boat and wish to bring their own may do so and may request a discount on their registration. Teams of 3 may use an additional inflatable boat/dinghy tied behind their race boat. Of course the 3rd team member may paddle.
Teams who withdraw may be entitled to a refund under the following conditions:
- >60 days from race day – Full Refund less 10% service charge
- 30-60 days – 50% Refund, or option to carry registration forward 1 year.
- <30 days – No refund. Option to carry registration forward 1 year.