Team Quest AR, drawn from nine adventure racers from the Puget Sound area of Washington, are entering Expedition Oregon 2019. The team for the event consists of Emily Casiera and Dusty Casiera, who have raced together for more than five years, and Jason Popilsky and Chad Spence, both of whom have long AR experience. After a very close run in Expedition Oregon 2018, which all went wrong in the last few hours, leaving them in third place, the team is looking forward to getting out there again this year. They took time out to answer questions below as they set off on the race.
Expedition Oregon is an expediton-length adventure race for mixed teams of four (with some places for pairs and trios), held in the north-western US state of Oregon. The 20 or so teams, from Canada, France, Sweden, Argentina and of course the States, can expect a highly technical 250 miles course which will include white-water paddling, single-track mtb, hiking lava fields and ropework as well as demanding navigation. Teams have 4 ½ days to complete the course and the winners are expect to finish in 72 hours. This is the second time Expedition Oregon has been staged and it is a qualifying race on the Adventure Race World Championships.
First a bit of Form
Emily Casiera: Quest Racing was started by Brent Molsberry several years ago. As a former competitor in Primal Quest, he decided to organize a local adventure race out in the San Juan Islands to get others into the sport. Dusty and I entered and ended up winning a spot at USARA Nationals - since we needed a third team member, we got Brent himself to race with us. The team now has 9 members, all of which are from the Puget Sound area, and the majority from Bellingham.
The first race for Dusty and me as part of Quest was at Krank Events’ Cle Elum 24 in 2014, as our warm-up for Nationals that fall. We placed 1st in Cle Elum and 6th at USARA Nationals. The following year we raced the Bend 24. Godzone 2016 was our first expedition-length race (Editor: Wow, some first race…!). A couple of fellow Western Washington ultra-runner/ultra-adventurers (Gavin and Richard) asked us if we would like to race since we had some AR experience. We had a great race in Queenstown, despite our inexperience as a team over the distance.
It got us fired up for more expedition-length races, so when the ARWS World Championships were held in Wyoming the following year, we were able to race with our fellow Quest teammates, Brent and Annie Molsberry. Unfortunately that race didn’t turn out to be our best performance, …but we learned a lot about nav, fuelling, managing nagging muscles, and how to find shelter in an open field in the middle of a lightning storm (use your packraft as a tent!).
Expedition Oregon 2018 was our third race for the Quest Team (first for Mitch Harter, a fellow Quest teammate). We raced to our potential and led the field for the majority of the competition. Finishing third was a bit of a let-down to say the least, but things happen… especially when there is excessive heat, low water intake, and lack of sleep. Needless to say, we learned to pay better attention to our cognition levels and for the team to be more aware of where they are and where we are headed.
Why Expedition Oregon, why now?
As veterans of the Bend AR, when rumours surfaced of an expedition race coming down the pike, we were ready to sign up as soon as it became a reality. Having an awesome expedition race within driving distance for us is huge.
Jason: My first 24hr was Bend AR, so I'm fond of Bend Racing courses and I love the area.
Dusty: Emily and I raced Expedition Oregon last year and have raced several other Bend Racing events over the years. They are some of the best events we've done anywhere in the world and are always high quality, challenging, and well-organized.
Is there some unfinished business…?
Emily: YES. After some mishaps at last year’s race, we have some unfinished racing to do!
What training have you done for the event?
Emily: Dusty and I have been training over the winter. Not super-specific training, but just making sure to stay healthy, lift regularly, get time on our butts in boats and on bikes, and time on our feet. We have ramped it up the past couple of months, getting our backs ready for heavier packs, doing more paddling and more rock climbing. Dusty has been focussing particularly on nav, by competing in orienteering events.
Chad: With a busy family and demanding job, training is squeezed in whenever possible. Weekend warrior stuff when time allows, and when it doesn’t, on the basement trainer after the kids go to bed.
Jason: Mainly run, bike, bushwhack, with an occasional paddle. Just trying to have fun in the woods and pushing myself.
Emily: Dusty and I work together all of the time with planning and training and we make a good team. We haven’t worked with Jason and Chad as team before, but they have huge experience, so we hope that we will work pretty well together.
What will be the most challenging thing? And what team challenges do you foresee?
Emily: Whitewater packrafting. I would like to say I/we have worked really hard to improve this this year, but we haven’t had as much time as in previous years, especially since the race is earlier. Bend Racing always throws some tough water in the mix, so I have been working on at least mentally prepping for it.
Dusty: It's tough to pick one thing, but I think the length of the race, combined with the necessity to repeatedly adapt to unforeseen challenges along the way, is the biggest challenge I anticipate going into any expedition race.
Chad: We haven’t raced together before, so quickly learning how each teammate ticks, so we can work together efficiently.
Jason: Just doing an Expedition this time of year is a challenge. We are still in winter at home.
What roles do you have in planning and on the ground?
Emily: Dusty is a really good communicator and researcher. He is usually the main nav. I try and help fill in gaps where I can and manage logistics for the team. Jason and Chad both have nav experience and are experienced racers, so they will be a big help to Dusty with the maps and be good teammates on the ground. We will see where our roles end up as we get into the race.
Jason: whatever the team needs. Navigation, back up nav, mule, and sometimes my job is just to hang on!
What does success look like?
Emily: Pushing past limits as a team and individually, while keeping communication amongst teammates open and understanding when things get tough.
Also crossing the finish line with confidence knowing that you did as much as you could to help your team reach their potential.
Dusty: Reaching the finish line as a complete team, still friends, and feeling good about the effort we just put in and what we accomplished. Placing high is ideal, but isn't solely how I measure success.
Jason: Finishing and having fun, but also getting on the podium.
Chad: Great memories with team goals achieved.