Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Podium at Geoquest for Team Mountain Designs

The week before Geoquest:-
Kim and Superman (Luke Haines) are in Rotorua for the Australasian Multisport Championships, an event we both could not miss given the wonderful trails over there. Unfortunately for Superman, his bike front wheel collapses on him and he ends up knocked out and he is unable to race, and this puts him out for Geoquest too. 
Kim was feeling fantastic and was in a great position to finish in the  top 5 women until she went the wrong way on the run…….but ends up finishing 3rd in her category.

Back home in Australia Gary (Monster) and Pikey (Princess) are in fine form and having better luck in Melbourne for the ARA Creswick Victoria, where they take line honours and win the all-male category. Wearing their Mountain Designs and Salomon race kit this was an outstanding performance against some of their Geoquest rivals from team Peak Adventure, Adventure Junkie and Macpac.
So the hunt is on for someone to fill Superman’s shoes????? With both our Godzone team mates Robbie & Sloshy being unavailable (Sloshy racing with ROGUE and Robbie still in Cairns recovering from Ironman Cairns) we delighted to find that Leo Theo……was prepared to step up to the plate and tackle his first ever overnight race! Our luck turned at this point as we then managed to get the support crew of the century Gary’s wife Kylie (and extended family) training buddy Ray (and family) and Brett (Gary’s original team MD’s racing partner)……We were now ready this year get Princess Pikey and Lucky Leo across the finish line at GEOQUEST………no matter what!

Forster and the Great lakes was home to Geoquest “Australia’s Premier Adventure Race” a fitting location for the 2012 event which proved to be the 3rd longest event on record.
Team Mountain Designs had their own little HQ at One Mile Beach an absolutely stunning location where you could sit on the balcony and watch the dolphins playing all day……but not for the team and support crew……who were testing out tubing options, paddle portage strategies, and completing competency checks……..Gary and Ray even found some time to team up with their young families in the Kids Adventure Race just prior to the course being revealed. 
Strategy – Adventure racing is all about course planning, team work and good communication as well as being pretty hard-core…… so, not long after receiving our maps were all back at the house working out our course, route selections, food and gear options for each leg of which there were eleven. Our whole team worked together like a well-oiled machine and I truly enjoyed the home cooked delights that were on offer, unlike the night before GODZONE where we had none. Looking at the course we worked out that we would be very lucky to be finished before daylight Sunday………… we retired to our bunk beds for a good night’s sleep before race day…..poor Leo barely slept a wink………he kept asking Brett…… “Hey Brett, sure you don’t want to race….come on Brett you know you want to……” 

Geoquest – The Full Course – Trek/Tubing, Paddle, Trek, MTB /Tubing, Paddle, Trek, MTB, Trek, Paddle, Trek - Total Distance 245k.
Can you believe that along with Team Mountain Designs there were 50 other team of four were about to embark on a similar journey…..or well at least two thirds of it for those competing the Geo Half Total Distance 165k (they missed the middle paddle/Trek/Mtb).

So it was a cold wet start in the Tubing/Trek Leg, as we had to leap into the freezing cold water on the siren……..lucky for us we had opted to take our paddles as well……so we had a rather cruisy ride on the tubes…….which saved us from getting totally wet and cold…….I was definitely glad I had long lightweight paddle pants on and my trusty Salomon Speed-Cross shoes as it protected me from the millions of oysters that lined the edges of the tiny Islands that we were crossing……Gary punched CP1 and we were on our way to the TA, but passed by the Peak adventure Raft on the longer water  crossings as their method (lying on tubes, paddling with pool swimming hand paddles) proved to be a few minutes faster than ours……and definitely faster than the poor teams that had to swim due to tube failure…… Mmmm oysters are like razorblades! 

 In and out of the TA at Wallis Lake in a flash……and soon we were paddling….again….but this time in more comfortable and much drier conditions ……thanks to & Julian from  Paddle to Fitness and  Tri Adventure for the Fenn XT’s. Only one CP to collect at Coomba Park and then across the beautiful lake heading towards Boomerang Beach…..we sight Peak Adventure very far distance. We feel like we are out there on this massive lake alone …….but before long Pikey and Leo were glad to get onto dry land….as paddling is not their forte! So we leave the TA in 2ndplace…… we see no other teams ……only the very excited support crews anxiously awaiting the arrival of the other 48 or so teams!
The trek to Seal Rocks was a bit of a disaster for MD’s! We nailed the first 2 CP’s and then headed out to the beach and up the headland into what seemed like pretty nice trekking country…….but soon we came across many unmarked tracks…….and lots of features that looked like nothing we could see on the map…….we visited every high point in that forest I think except the one with the CP… we went back and retraced our steps……we had been passed by many teams……but soon found an elephant track right to the CP……but rather than dwell on our disaster…we just hightailed it out of there…..and to our surprise we made the TA in 4th place…….but we knew there was a herd of elephants coming …… we were on the bikes in a flash…….and Princess Pikey was off…..and racing!!!! Can’t believe the two rope didn’t break, Pikey was absolutely motoring, and I was just hanging on, Leo was happily sitting my wheel and Monster did a few turns too……we caught team Rogue by surprise and got to the Raft section in no time….....soon Pikey and Monster were swimming across the creek, whilst Leo and I had a bit of a rest…….but we had to keep moving cause it was starting to get dark and cold. Boys forget lifejackets for  us….so they have an extra run back to the TA, meanwhile ROGUE passes us, but our raft is faster so we get to the other side at the same time, and Gary is so nice he helps their team gets their bikes off their raft!

In the TA at we have a great hot meal of “Lamb Shanks” which was a great thing to have when we were a bit cold and about to paddle as it would fuel us for the next two hours. So onto Leg 5 and about 11hrs into the race……..the Nav on this section was bit tricky as it was now dark …….we were looking for the second creek as we crossed the Bombah Broadwater……..we luckily managed to find the right one and before long we were paddling Nerong Creek up to the township of Nerong……..Team ROGUE were privileged to have us as an escort service on that paddle as those AYUP lights shine very brightly! In transition I  can’t believe the food I am getting……but this time it’s Cauliflower Soup……I drink the whole lot……and so does the rest of the team……actually we were lucky to have Ray and Brett at this TA as they accidently went to the next Bike TA instead…..but we would never have known…….they were so efficient ……everything was still there laid out in a little spot for each of us… it was at every TA.  The night trek through Myall lakes national Park, looked pretty straight forward, a few route options and a few very steep climbs ahead of us……after the first climb and descent back to the track for a bit of a run we found ourselves spending most of the trek along the ridge from CP13-14 with ROGUE…….yes we are now beginning to think we are the only two teams in the race. It is tough nav up there trying to stay on a ridge and find a saddle in the dark……but we get there and find our way to the bike Drop TA.

I notice that my bag is missing stuff  (the support crew took out anything that they thought I  would not need….sunglasses, arm warmers, windproof gloves, waterproof pants) so…….maybe I like to just be on the safe side… Gary says….I didn’t need it and we made it through the rather cool night on the MTB. We all had a bit of an attack of the sleepmonsters on this leg between 3 & 7am, the trails were heavy and it felt like we were climbing for 20k…… the sun starts to rise, we see Team ROGUE on the out and back section,  and then to our surprise we finished the leg with an awesome fast downhill single-track…..which even got a bit too steep for Leo……so after convincing himself that he could easily end up with a broken collarbone….he had to dismount and run the really, really steep sections! 

We arrive at the TA Brett and Ray had a raging fire going for us just in case we needed warming up before heading onto the TREK Rogaine. More totally amazing home cooked food – “Butter Chicken” this time…and coffee……Leo and Pikey are still is still talking about Ray’s coffee!  Now Leo is just starting to get the hang of all this overnight stuff……he made it through the night and he is absolutely on fire……he is so excited that he is still going……Pikey can’t wait to get back on the bike again……but we have a big trek ahead…..Gary has his head on the maps…….few of the marked trails exist…, bush bashing, here we go……into and out of creeks ….in search of those hidden CP’s…..we nailed our first 2 quite well…..moving nicely along! But then lost quite a bit of time due to a “schoolboy nav error”, that’s exactly what Gary called it! So we then took the safe route to the CP which possibly added almost an extra hour to our time…....and if not we would not have seen this rather large Black Snake sitting right in the middle of the grassy track …..We saw it on our return….it was obviously not scared of us at all. 

One more CP to go before the long run back to the TA where we were greeted by our whole entire support crew (yes about 10 of them) chanting Pinky Pinky come on Pinky!…..( well the kids were) next Gary yells out….. “Come one Princess they are calling your name”!  Gourmet TA this time includes some yummy toasted ham and cheese sandwiches and all our gear ready to go……

The final MTB leg we prepare ourselves for 50k like the last one…….but this time we have a split….me and Pikey get CPY and Gary and Leo go for CP Z…..Pikey and I get the cruisy route….so pikey gets a few minutes to rest his tired legs……We met up at CP 19 and set off again…….this MTB leg is awesome, fast flowing fire trails and some really great more technical 4WD trails….we are so happy as 30k is gone in no time……and the end bit looks not too bad…….we do get one small Hike a bike……but nothing too savage….so in less than 3 ½ hrs are ready to Kayak the Wallamba River. Now just in case you think I have had to starve myself throughout the past 35 hrs of racing we are greeted by our support crew who gather us into a nice cosy hall and pull a massive serve of Fish & Chips straight out of the oven…… my new nickname is little Miss Piggy! Mmmm....... I wonder why? 
Well just two legs to go…..a CP in a graveyard and a run along the beach…….5hrs to midnight……how hard can it be???? Well……we had a bit of trouble finding the graveyard……a local gives us poor advice and send us further up the river……it turns….not good says Gary and back we go about 1k……Pikey and Leo are not loving this bit……think they really would rather be asleep……me too! But we paddle back take a punt on where to exit and finally locate the graveyard……we race around madly…..but do you think we can find the grave we are looking for???? I thought I had memorised the picture….but……obviously not…….so freezing cold we wet…….we try to get our course notes out of the dry bag……then Gary yells….I found it….we can’t see him……he is up a little track that lead straight to the grave……freaky stuff! Gary says “I hear Liam……let’s get out of here”…….but as we got back to our boats….we could see the lights of ROGUE approaching… were tried to make a quick getaway…….no time to sleep now……and there was a thunderstorm approaching….so we wanted to just get off the water fast! We thought we near the finish, we could see flashing lights……it was our support crew……we hoped but as we got closer we thought no it’s just a channel marker…..we thought the sleep monsters were coming back…….but as we got closer and closer it was Brett and Ray on the bank. It is now raining rather heavily, the exit is steep and rocky…..but we are out of those ski’s in a flash. No food at this TA just a coke and a few takeaway snacks!

The Final TREK – nothing can stop us now…….can it! Well there was this very tricky creek crossing…….it may have been OK in the day….but trust me at night it was slippery and scary. Leo and Gary crossed the old bridge remnants like trapeze artists… well……I baulked at it many times……and ended up straddling the thing and using my arms and legs to get me to the other side… was dark and murky a long way below……I did not want to fall in……now Princess Pikey opted to use my technique too…..better to be safe than sorry I say….hey Pikey!  Now we were looking for a trail to the beach……. A little vague at times but it lead us to the CP……now just two to go…….following a trek up the beach and a short jog out to the rock walls that protect Forster & Tuncurry at the river mouth. Leo couldn’t believe we had to run “all that way around to the other side over the bridge”……I said you can swim if you like……..but no one took that option……(not meant to anyway) but it was a very long way around but did provide us some time to reflect on what we had just achieved.
We crossed the finish line at Forster Main Beach at 12.15am Monday 11th June 3rd Place behind winners Macpac (who we did not sight once on the course)  and Peak Adventure (who we only really saw on leg 1)  …….40hr and 15 minutes worth of Geocentric Adventure….and a fantastic result for Team Mountain Designs. 

Thanks to our Sponsors Mountain Designs, Salomon, Hammer Nutrition, Tri Adventure 

Thanks to our awesome Support Crew 
Ray & Sherryn, Brett, Kylie, Diggy, Dersley and all the kids….. We could not do what we do without you……thanks for being a part of the team!

Support – Events like Geoquest were you have a support crew are such fantastic events as not only do the racers and volunteers get to be a part of the event, family and friends can get out and about, go to spectacular locations and find out why we adventure racers get such a buzz out of doing what we do! I also reflected on the quality of the food that we could consume to keep our bodies going. I think it really makes a difference to have such good healthy fresh food as it helps us to perform well and recover so much better that in unsupported events.


  1. Awesome result guys to climb the Premier mixed podium! It was fun racing crossing paths the whole weekend, Liam

  2. Great write up Kim. Congratulations to the team on the result.

  3. Well done MD's. I was surprised we never saw you on the course either. It was certainly a challenging race. Classic Geoquest.

  4. So what's next on the AR calendar foe Macpac? Are you and Catherine coming to Noosa for Anaconda AR in August?