One of my favourite shows this summer has been Bear Grylls "Get Out Alive". Bear is a British adventurer, ex SAS member and youngest ever Chief Scout. In "Get Out Alive", Bear took ten teams of two to New Zealand. There, they had to endure many physical and mental tests, including being dropped into a freezing lake from a helicopter, crossing a gorge on a rope, traversing a glacier full of crevasses, building a raft and riding it down a raging river. The winning team collected $500,000.
On Saturday September 21st I participated in the TransRockies Heli-Run, a sort of one day "Get Out Alive" Canadian style. This would be my 8th TransRockies event this year and give me 21 more kms towards my goal of 888 kms. Seventy courageous individuals had signed up for one of the most unique events around. The majority of the runners were in teams of two. My partner Ally Johnson had returned from a trip to the UK, just the day before, after having competed in the ITU World Triathlon Championships in London. Our team name for the Heli-Run was "Thunderbirds are Go!" and we were ready.
Early Saturday morning, the participants started to arrive at the Cline River Heliport, just west of the David Thompson Resort in the Canadian Rockies. The event required one team member to complete a 21.00 km route to the Lake of the Falls, an elevation gain of 3,900 ft. The other team member would take a helicopter ride to the Lake and wait for their partner. They then switch and the runner who went up would ride down on the helicopter and vice versa.
Ally had decided to run up and at 8.58am as the familiar beat of ACDC's "Highway to Hell" pounded out, she set off. While half the group were headed up the mountain the rest of us prepared for the chopper ride. On "Get Out Alive" Bear is seen riding outside the machine while standing on the landing skid. This is not recommended. Icefield Heli Tours had us go through a step by step safety orientation. I headed up on the 11.00am flight with Glenda, Richard and Derek Zamzow and another runner, Katie. We were put on a scale, weighed and then taken over to the craft.
Once strapped in, the rotors started and we were off. The flight up was only six minutes but it was exhilarating. We were dropped off at the edge of the Lake and the pilot immediately headed back for the next group. Ally hadn't arrived yet but as it was cold we were given the green light to head off on our leg of the race. The first 10.00 km were brutal. Flood damage had destroyed large sections of the old paths and we were scrambling up and down the river banks. Ally and I passed each other and I wished her luck.
At the mid-way point the terrain changed and we were running in the forest on a path of pine needles, my favorite running surface. I came in after 3 ½ hours and was ready for food. In "Get Out Alive" they had to eat deer heart, eel and maggots. We had BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob and Caesar salad.
As Bear Grylls says "Fortune favours the brave.