by Sgt Gerri-Ann Davidson and Lt Alex Young

In the early hours of September 7th, 208 competitors from across 1 CMBG lined up at the start line for what is known to many as the gruelling Mountain Man Challenge… ready to represent their Units and to accept the personal test, with a blast from the air horn they ran off into the darkness. Ex MOUNTAIN MAN (MM) 2017 was underway.

For those who have competed before, let the race details haunt your shoulders, lower back, and sore/blistered feet with terrible memories. For those who have yet to compete, Ex MM is a 32km run that seems to go on forever, 3.2km of pain-inducing canoe portage, a paddle that varies in length depending on your GPS (roughly 10km), and ends in a 5.6km sprint to the finish line; all with a 15kg ruck sack.

Training started with a much larger team this year, and there was a wide range of goals and experience. WO Steve “The Guru” Eddy volunteered to coach the team; a passionate and experienced runner, he provided a variety of new, interesting, and intense training methods that not only challenged the team, but pushed people to new heights of fitness in preparation for the race. Despite operational tempo, as the summer progressed it became clear that the Regiment would be supporting OP LENTUS to fight the forest fires in BC. This meant that much of the team would not be able to compete on race day, as they would be in BC. However, as the day of the race arrived, the remainder of the team prepared their packs and shook out the nerves before lining up for the 5am start time. Fortunately, the team had some last minute additions to bolster the numbers. The Adjutant, Capt Justin “Who Practices Portage?” Salter, and the Operations Officer, Capt Gord “It Was Fun for the First 25km” Elliott, competed at the front of the pack despite joining the team just days before the race.

Following the 32km “intro” to the race, the portage was enough to take any soldier through the depths of determination. As with any year, competitors could be seen resting their canoes upright on anything available along the course with hopes that frustrated shoulders could catch a break. For our team, it was a great boost to see fellow Strathconas as event staff, specifically at the canoe launch point to help get the canoe off our tired shoulders and into the water. Similarly, there is no better feeling than coming over that final bridge and hearing the cheers of the spectators to motivate a valiant final ”sprint” across the finish line. After a long, punishing race, it felt great to finally take the ruck off, receive our coins, and get refueled with big plate of pasta served right at the finish line.

Overall, the team did very well. The team can be proud of finishing such a demanding race and all Strathconas can be proud of the team who represented them. This year, several younger soldiers eagerly joined the team and had strong races; with the fighting spirit of Tpr Ben “ The Rabbit” Hogan (who finished 16th Overall) and Cpl Josh “Big Man” Rourke, the future looks bright for the Regiment in future competitions. Not to be out-done, WO Steve “Still Got It” Eddy showed the ‘kids’ how to do it by placing 3rd in the Male Masters Category and 22nd Overall, while Sgt Gerri-Ann “The Machine” Davidson placed 3rd in the Female Competitors Category.

Congratulations to the team and all competitors on another great year. It was truly a test of Perseverance!

2017 Regimental Ex MOUNTAIN MAN Team:

Capt Gord Elliott
Capt Justin Salter
WO Steve Eddy
Sgt Gerri-Ann Davidson
MCpl Joe Bremner
MCpl Grant Skaarup
Cpl Justin Green     
Cpl Tom Lauterbacher
Cpl Josh Munro
Cpl Josh Rourke
Tpr Ben Bogaert
Tpr Mark Cyr
Tpr Tanveerjot Gill
Tpr Ben Hogan