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Contenders Reflect On Gruelling Mountain Man Challenge

Marie Conboy


On September 8 just under 350 Edmonton, Wainwright and Shilo based soldiers challenged themselves in a grueling and unforgiving exercise called Mountain Man.

The gruesome endurance check challenge is held annually by the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in the Edmonton River Valley.

Shoulder-Shredding Canoe Trip

Competitors raced against the clock through a portage, a shoulder cramping canoe trip and a long blister-raising footrace while carrying a 15 kg army issue ruck-sack.

Photos submitted by the Canadian Forces.

Designed to test the limits of a soldier’s mental and physical toughness, the race starts with a 32 km footrace, followed by a 3.2 km canoe portage, then a 10 km paddle along the North Saskatchewan River and finishes with another 5.6 km race, while carrying an army issue ruck-sack with a 15 kg load the entire time.

“The portage was the most difficult and painful part of the race,” said Wainwright based Sergeant Junior Bahadur, who finished in 115th place.

“The weight makes your muscles go numb and stiff, it is hard to endure. Sometimes you to have to stop for a quick 20 second break to get the blood flow regulated and keep going. It’s definitely mind over matter, you just get in the zone and don’t stop!” said the 37 year old Sergeant.

“Personally, I do it for the challenge it offers and as I get older, I have kids and think it’s a positive influence for them to watch. I found that my ankles were really sore afterwards because we run it in sneakers. Your muscles cramp up afterwards but every year with more conditioning and training, the better you get. It is both psychically and mentally challenging; and as a soldier those are two things we enjoy.”

Mountain Man Pain Train

Wainwright Medic Alain Goguen finished in 80th place with a time of 6:54:23.

While it took some 10 hours to finish, the fastest person finished in 5 hours.

Wainwright based medic Alain Goguen, who joined the military a year and a half ago, said that as soon as he heard about the Mountain Man Challenge, he knew it was something he wanted to do.

“I couldn’t train the way I wanted to because of a nagging tendon injury to my right leg, which prevented me from running for most of the summer, but I maintained fitness in other ways to make sure I could still do the race. My goal was to finish in the top 20 and I finished in 80th place. I had a lot of bad cramping and my quad muscle seized up. The cramps were so bad at one point I had to throw down the canoe and then the canoe hit me in the head, but the military spirit of never giving up kept me going,” said Private Goguen.

The event, organized by the Canadian Forces, strives to encourage the professional development of soldiers through friendly unit rivalry, challenging a full range of ages, rank levels and genders.

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