Unknown challenges await in adventure race


Dusty Caseria

PHILIP A. DWYER — The Bellingham Herald

The path competitors take during the inaugural Kulshan Quest Adventure Race is of their own choosing.

The course itself won't be unveiled until 30 minutes before the start, leaving those like Dusty Caseria just minutes to plot a path of least resistance on the up-and-down Chuckanut Mountain terrain.

"Chuckanut Mountain has some pretty rough trails and a lot of steep climbs, so that's going to make it a physically-challenging course," said Caseria, who has a history of competing in adventure races, in a phone interview. "Every trail on that mountain is either going up or down."

Caseria is partnering with his girlfriend, Emily Morehouse, as they compete on behalf of the Kulshan Brewing Company in the inagural Kulshan Quest Adventure Race on Saturday, June 21. The race features two classes - a six-hour division and a 12-hour division that can feature groups as large as four. It blends together three stages of competition - sea kayaking on the Bellingham Bay, trail running and mountain biking.

Registration is open until Thursday, June 19, with prices varying depending on which division and how many competitors.

This particular race will also serve as a Northwest regional qualifier for the 2014 U.S. Adventure Racing Association National Championships.

It's a race unlike anything else, Caseria said, acknowledging the unique challenges it presents.

The Chuckanut Mountain terrain is familiar to both he and Morehouse, although the location of the specific checkpoints in each portion are entirely unknown. That's where the 30 minutes before the race stresses its importance. All competitors won't be allowed a GPS, but merely given a compass to stay true to their given path.

In Caseria's first competition in such a race, the balance between being quick and being true to a path found him straying from his pre-defined route.

"Last year we forgot which trail we had planned to take at one point and we just charged off on the wrong trail, and that cost us a bit of time even when we planned it out properly beforehand," he said. "In a race, there's a lot more pressure. So many checkpoints during a race you want to pull it (the compass) out and make sure you're taking the right trail because it's easy to lose track of what direction you're facing when you have to use it that frequently."

And unlike a traditional defined course, Caseria, when competing in the 2013 San Juan Quest, recalled everyone peeling off in different directions, seeking the fastest, quickest route.

In taking on the Chuckanut Mountains, he expects much of the same, especially in the mountain biking portion where competitors will have to weigh the option of a longer, less-hill filled route versus a more-direct, steeper path to certain checkpoints. Tactics and planning will be more important here than anywhere else, he said.

"There may be sections where you have to hike your bike on some trails because they are too steep to ride," he said.

Caseria and Morehouse, whom both have extensive experience running the trails of Chuckanut Mountain, know there's little both can do to prepare for the course Brent Molsberry created. But then again, that's the intrigue quest races present: everything's an unknown.

Reach Alex Bigelow at alex.bigelow@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.


When: Saturday, June 21

Where: Fairhaven

Registration: Final day is Thursday, June 19, with the amounts varying given the division and the amount of partners.

For more information, go to http://www.recreationnorthwest.org/

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