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An off-the-beaten-track challenge!


The Raid Internatonal Gaspésie multi-stage race

One month ago, Émile Bernard, our Sherbrooke team’s physiotherapist, took part in a major event involving preparation, the intensely lived experience itself and subsequent post-event reflection. Here’s his overall assessment one month later!

“Preparing for a major event brings its own share of apprehension. It’s important to consider potential problems and plan accordingly. Last September, I took part in the 6th annual Raid International Gaspésie multi-stage race, which involved completing 300 km of trekking, mountain biking, canoeing and additional rope and swimming based challenges along a non-waymarked course in teams of two.We had to navigate by ourselves using topographic maps and a compass. As you can see, therefore, there were quite a lot of potential problems involved.Our preparation for this competition took almost a year and consisted mainly of cycling, running, cross-country skiing and strengthening exercises. The important thing was to do it gradually and maintain the progression.

Because it was a team race we were taking part in, we had to define our roles and have mutual confidence in each other. It was quite simple in our case: my teammate took care of the maps and navigation whereas I did the additional physical tasks such as the rope and swimming based challenges. We also had a technical team that made sure the transitions between stages, the food and the evening camps all went smoothly.

Looking back in retrospect, I’m satisfied with our physical preparation. We managed to cope well with the problems that occurred over the course of the weekend, bearing in mind that it’s impossible for everything to go as planned. With us both being physiotherapists, we luckily had the knowledge necessary to prepare properly and deal with any little bumps and bruises etc.The area in which we were most lacking was definitely the navigating aspect. But because this is a skill you develop through experience, practice can only make you better.

Nevertheless, I didn’t expect this challenge to be so energy demanding. We completed the three-day course in slightly under 28 hours, not counting the time spent preparing the maps, dealing with problems and reviewing our strategies. That’s part of the beauty of this race: time stands still and all your energy is directed towards the same goal. That’s what I like about sport, regardless of whether the objectives involved are major or minor: I’m in the present moment, with my only objective being to advance. I encourage you to first identify an objective you can realistically hope to achieve then consult your physiotherapist about the physical preparation and dealing with any pain that occurs. By doing this, you’ll be able you to train in a way that complies with the principles of progression and avoid injuries occurring due to overtraining.”