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Mountain race a total body/mind workout

Second annual event takes over Burnaby Mountain

After a thrilling inaugural Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race at Burnaby Mountain last May, organizer Bryan Tasaka vows that this year's incarnation will be even better.

"We want to keep the adventure in adventure racing and we're going to make this year's event the best ever," said Tasaka of the June 2 event set to take over the slopes of Burnaby Mountain.

Defending champions Todd Nowack and Sarah Seads are scheduled to defend their crowns as they kayak, mountain bike, trail run, orienteer, and trek their way through a challenging course.

Teams can also compete, choosing either the 30-km sport course or the 50-km enduro course to challenge themselves.

Tasaka and his team are celebrating their 13th anniversary of hosting these adventure races and have put on 33 events in that time.

Burnaby got its first event in 2011, taking over from Squamish, which had hosted the event previously. Cumberland on Vancouver Island hosts the second and final event of 2012 on Sept. 22.

Last year's race, which attracted 170 competitors, took place at the end of May, but this year's event was moved a week later, into June, so as not to coincide with an SFU open house event.

More than 200 racers are expected this year.

The course takes anywhere from fourand-a-half to seven hours to complete. Nowack won in 4: 25: 00 last year, beating Bart Jarmula by eight minutes, while Seads completed her race in 5: 27: 00.

Nowack is a frequent winner of MOMAR events, but don't think it's easy for the resident of Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island.

Nowack blogged about his win last year and how intensely difficult the race was: "I literally was about to collapse. I don't mean this lightly nor am I trying to be overly dramatic. Mentally and physically, I was at the end. I had never suffered this hard in any other race and my body was about to shut down on me.

"I entered the finish (area) and for the first time in a MOMAR, I turned my run into a walk, gave a pathetic little fist pump, and didn't crack even the slightest smile... I walked a bit away from the finish (area) after a zombie finish photo, decidedly crashed on the ground and didn't move for over 10 minutes. Not sure how I came from not racing to racing to winning, other than I dug into a place that I didn't know existed. Regardless, I'll take it!"

Tasaka said course director and designer Gary Robbins has a mandate for 2012 to have an even more technically demanding course.

"Gary is a proven adventure racer himself so he knows how far he can push things," said Tasaka. "He's refining things and making it as tough a challenge as he can. We know that MOMAR is always going to be a big sufferfest."

Without giving away what the 2012 Burnaby course may look like, Tasaka said the kayaking portion will really test competitors. And with more time to look at the trails, expect all of them to be incorporated into the race in some way.

And the secret to success, according to the New Westminster resident?

"It's not always the fittest or the fastest, but the person with the most complete skills," said Tasaka. "You can't be great at everything but you have to be strong in each of the legs. You have to be able to kayak, navigate, orienteer and run and whatever you're not strong at, you have to always be improving."

Tasaka has been lucky to have Robbins taking on more aspects of the actual race, allowing him more time for business.

Tasaka recently had Merrell, an internationally known outdoor and active lifestyle apparel company, sign on for a second year of sponsorship, and Atmosphere is the title sponsor.

"This year we are really pleased to be able to give all MOMAR participants, both racers and volunteers, some Merrell gear," says Tasaka. "Each participant will receive a Merrell technical T-shirt, and an additional $2,000 worth of Merrell prizing will be given out at the races this year."

"Our sponsors have been great and they allow us to continue to grow this event," said Tasaka. "We will continue to build relationships with our stakeholders and make this one of the best events in the city."

After the race ends, everybody lets their hair down for the afterparty.

Read some of the comments on the race's website and you'll see that the people who take part in the race live life to the fullest: "The MOMAR is, bar none, the best sprint adventure race around."

"The race is unreal, the after paty is insane... the people we meet, volunteers and racers, are the kindest most genuine people you'll ever meet."

"The hardest thing I've ever done- ranks right up there with childbirth!"

For more information, go to Twitter: @AlfieLau

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