From Muskoka River X to the Big East River X and Back Again – Part 1

I blame my friend Shayne for the chaos that I’m now in. Ok, blame maybe isn’t the right word. It was way back in December of 2013 when it all started. He sent me an email about this race that took place the past fall. The Muskoka River X. I did a quick look up on the internet and as soon as I saw the details my response to him was, “You have got to be nuts to do this. I’m in.” We had been paddling for years but have never undertaken anything like this before. Needless to say we were registered and ready to go in 2014.

We were fortunate enough to paddle the route a few weeks earlier, over 3 days, so we at least had an idea what we were up against. The day of the race the conditions were, well…crap. 5 degrees, cold, raining, and windy. Let’s just say Lake of Bays was no picnic. In 2014 there were 66 entrants in all the categories. 33 boats finished. It was a gruelling 22 hours and 16 minutes for us. (That’s us to the left of the SUP paddler.)

Muskoka River X LOB1

Now I have to tell you. My oldest daughter is a huge fan of camping and canoeing. So much so, that really since the beginning of talking about doing MRX, Bronwyn wanted to join in and do it with me. After completing MRX in 2014 with Shayne, it was a very clear, “No way. Not until you are much older.”

Unless you have a tween daughter, you will never know how annoying, I mean persuasive, they can be. Bronwyn was relentless. Every time there was a hint of the word canoe, it was “When are we doing it Dad?” There were discussions about how difficult the upstream portion of MRX is and paddling without rest. Both her mother and I agreed that MRX was still too much for her.

Over the summer the kid worked hard. And I mean hard. Bronwyn went on trips with me, spent 2 weeks at YMCA Camp Pinecrest in Gravenhurst and did a significant out trip with them. Bronwyn was also very proud to say that she was the only one that was able to carry a canoe for 2.4kms with only stopping once. (I’m not even sure I can do that.) Bronwyn got her own bent shaft paddle for an early birthday present and didn’t give up on working on me to go racing.

After a long very cold winter in 2014/2015 the registration came out for the Big East River X. After some private discussions with her mom, we decided that she and I would compete in the Big East River X. Bronwyn was over the moon. Then, the next bump in the road came up. There was a minimum age limit for entrants. Bronwyn was devastated that she was too young.


I told her that we would see what we could do.

After a few emails back and forth with Rob (left) from Muskoka River X, they agreed that if Bronwyn would be able to put together a list of her paddling experience and other qualifications, and if they were satisfied with her experience, they would consider allowing her to enter.

A few weeks passed, the email finally came, and they gave Bronwyn the go ahead to enter. With her not giving up, she opened up the field for a younger group of paddlers. I couldn’t have been prouder of her for the hard work she had put in to get into the Big East River X before the boat even touched the water.

During the registration process we needed to enter a team name. I asked Bronwyn to come up with one really quick as I didn’t want to have to cancel the registration and start over again. You have to understand a bit about Bronwyn, she has many things that she likes, but almost at the top of the list is bacon.

Bacon or Bust was born.


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