Exercise Mountain Man
Ex Mountain Man 2011 witnessed Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) field its largest team in Regimental history with a total of 68 personnel of all ranks. 2011 marked the first year in which a Strathcona placed first in the individual challenge. MCpl Felix Charette from Recce Sqn finished with a total time of 5 hrs 23 minutes and 19 seconds, finishing 2 minutes ahead of the closest competitor. MCpl Charette, originally from Rimouski, Quebec, has a passion for fitness which also saw him lead the underdog Strong Contender Crossfit team to a Bronze medal at the 2011 event. After Strong Contender he applied and was selected for the Cambrian Patrol Bde Team and given the honour of leading the patrol in Wales, UK. Tpr Landon Hall, also from Recce Sqn, finished in the top 10, finishing eighth overall. At the team level, the Strathcona's placed third overall within the Brigade, beating out two infantry battalions, the Gunners, and Service Battalion.
The Regimental Mountain Man Team began their journey training starting on the 2nd of June, ensuring that the team had 38 solid training sessions spread out over three months to prepare for the challenge. Members were given full support from the Chain of Command to train and ensure that members had proper equipment and supplies in order to compete. Training started with a 10 km run around base and the team quickly began to bond and rally together. Training ranged from 10-24 km runs; with and without a rucksack, PSP led cross fit circuits, canoe and portage practices and strength training. In an attempt to familiarize the team members with the race layout and conditions, training was moved to the Edmonton River Valley every Monday and Friday. This not only allowed the team to train on the race circuit, but allowed the team to bond and provided the troops the opportunity to feel that they were a part of something bigger than normal morning PT. These river valley training sessions helped the team to create its own identity based on their teamwork, hard work and the uniqueness of their mission. After every training event, all members of the team would wait until all other members had finished the training. This was best seen on the Fridays (long run with ruck), when members gathered together after the run to support the other members as they finished. Members began bringing BBQs from home so that they could cook up chicken and smokies, share stories and jokes and further build the esprit de corps amongst the group. This team cohesion was further noted during the mini-Mountain Man on the 16th of Aug when 49 members of the team, most still on summer leave, came in to compete in the final 'test' before the main event.
This year the Regiment also had the privilege of organizing and executing the entire Mountain Man competition on behalf of 1 CMBG. All Squadrons were well represented, not only through competitors, but through support staff working steadily behind the scenes to ensure success. Each squadron contributed soldiers to man Trail Sentry and Water point positions, keeping competitors on tracks and hydrated. Further, A Sqn was given the canoe pink-up and initial competitor enrolment duty, B Sqn was responsible for the canoe launch point, HQ Sqn set-up a C/S 8 to handle logistics, Recce Sqn was charged with Canoe recovery, and RHQ ran C/S 0 to coordinate all activities. After the very successful dress-rehearsal on the 16th of August, where Mountain Man competitors of the Regiment were put through a mini-Mountain Man, all sub-units were ready for the actual competition. Sqns deployed to their respective areas of responsibility on the 31st of August, in order to ensure an orderly start the next day. Support staff departed the Harvey Building at 0245hrs on the 1st of September, and after a fresh breakfast served in location, manned their stations for the race commencement at 0500hrs. Throughout the day, support staff not only helped competitors through there assigned duties, but cheered them on along the race circuit. As the last of the competitors cleared the various points of the circuit, Squadrons moved back to the Harvey building, with the last sub-unit redeploying at 1800hrs.