Being there for each other took on a whole new meaning for local high school instructors Chad and Jennifer Oatway.
The Burnaby/New Westminster school district teachers won the coed division for a second straight year at the recent Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race held in Burnaby.
The win was a repeat performance for the husband-and-wife team at the second annual race through Burnaby Mountain and ending at Barnet Marine Park.
The Oatways' time of 4: 16: 49 gave the pair second place overall on the 30-plus-kilometre sport course, which included sections of kayaking, mountain running, mountain biking and orienteering. Last year, the couple placed third overall in the shorter sport course.
"We just find ways to work together to get things done," said Chad, a physical education instructor at New Westminster Secondary School. "I think it brings us closer together. You have to remain calm and not overreact to things. When you're at a stage where you are pushing your limits, you have to understand that your partner is likely experiencing the same stresses as well."
"We set rules. He navigates, and I'm looking for the checkpoints or features, but he's making the decisions with the map," said Jennifer, who teaches PE at Byrne Creek Secondary in Burnaby. "I've got to trust him."
The two met while attending the University of British Columbia - he on a football scholarship with the varsity Thunderbirds - she helping the UBC women's field hockey team win three CIS national championships in five consecutive trips to the final.
Chad turned to adventure racing after football as a way to remain active and pursue his love of the outdoors.
"I like finding other avenues to fitness," said Chad.
Trekking and mountain biking appealed to the 35year-old, but the problemsolving skills associated with orienteering had a mental element that both enjoy.
The pair have both since joined the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club.
Jennifer, 30, had to get comfortable on a mountain bike before joining Chad in a competitive race.
"There's still a lot of on and off. It's better than taking a fall over the handlebars," she said.
The Oatways are good orienteerers, and they excel in the transition between stages. Their competitiveness also shows up in their ability to pass other teams in the more demanding uphill sections of a race.
The two have also done a few 10K trail running races as well.
But the first question their friends always ask is 'Don't you get frustrated with each other?' "No, we don't," Jennifer said.
At one of the latter stages of the race in Burnaby, Chad was growing tired and got a little disoriented while trying to find one of the final remaining checkpoints.
"I got a bit frustrated," Chad said.
"I handed the map to Jen, and she took over the orienteering map and found the spot nearby."
Their willingness to concede to the others' skill at a crucial stage of a race is what make them a real team, they say.
"I'm the quiet competitor," Chad said. "I always played hard. I liked the guy who talked back to me. He was the guy who never saw me coming on the next play."
Jennifer is the consummate competitor. "I don't like doing things halfway," said Jennifer. "Who goes into something with the attitude it doesn't matter the outcome?"
Pushing themselves to the limits of their endurance fills that competitive need for the young couple.
"I don't do enough things that really test my limit," said Chad.
"It's a good feeling to have that you are physically able to complete something like this," Jennifer added.
"It's like the prize that pushes you to that sense of urgency. At every point you feel your muscles want to give out and that you can't keep going, but you can."