Preparation for ARA Dark Side Championships had been progressing well, with the initiation of new team member “Nic Moore” who has taken over from Pikey (who is just going to concentrate on short races). Nic, a lifeguard, has been training on the Gold Coast with Gary and we did our first race together a few weeks back – this was a 6hr Foot Rogaine at Emu Gully, where we managed to snare the win, despite some hot competition from fast “all male teams”. Gary and I had been racing well together and had managed to clear the course in the iAdventure race at Mt Joyce in August ahead of any other teams. Meanwhile, Superman (back on deck after suffering head injuries in Rotorua and missing Geoquest) has become a father, and also just returned from racing in Mongolia where he picked up a nasty stomach virus similar to what plagued Pikey and I in XPD.
So the venue was once again the Interaction Learning Centre near Uki, so we thought “same old….same old…..too easy” but we should know better than that….as adventure racing is not usually the same..….even when you have an event in or near the same venue, it will always be different…..and this one certainly was! Logistics were challenging with a bike drop and boat drop both over an hour away from HQ with rego and dinner commencing before it was conceivably possible to get there…..so the planning for this event started early. I met Gary & Superman at boat drop early so they could head to bike drop, and be back for map handout on time. We ate dinner as we planned our course while superman enjoyed his 3rd bowl of chocolate pudding and ice-cream.
The 2012 ARA Dark side Championships commenced with a bus trip out to Brunswick Heads, where we found ourselves on the beach, sprinting for the first TA, where we had left our kayaks. We paddled against the tide up the very shallow Brunswick River to Mullumbimby, collecting 3 CP’s along the way with other teams “Rogue” and “Buggered if I Know” hot on our heels. We had a car move at this point to the Nightcap National Park, so we took advantage of the time in the vehicle, changed into dry clothes and ate lots of food. We had a MTB Rogaine where we had 5 CP’s to find in any order, Superman was on Nav duties and we managed to find all the CP’s even the one 30m E of track creek junction – that was actually South! On return to TA Superman got a flat……so we lost a bit of time, as it was a bit messy removing tubeless tyre and rim tape. So we got to the TA trailing Rogue by 10 minutes.
Leg 4 was a linear 3hr Trek along, up and down beautiful single trails and fire trails finishing with an unbelievable descent off the range which took us about 45minutes. We ran through private property to a point where our bikes had been transported; we had still not caught up to Rogue. We had trouble with CP 9 (West Side of Creek) looking for it on a west bearing instead of just walking along the creek and looking on our right! So after a quick ride to Clarrie Hall Dam we soon set off in the “Toy-Boys” and paddled to the small inlet to find CP G and CPH the “Black Boy Patch”! Here we saw that Rogue had not left, they obviously were having trouble locating the “Blackboys”. Gary was spot on with the Nav and we hightailed it out of there……managing to gain a lead of a few minutes, before the “bike portage”. Here we had 4 bikes loaded on a kayak, which superman paddled while Nic, Gary and I swam……we also filled our water here…..added puri-tabs……and managed to get way out of sight of following teams.
Leg 8 was a MTB riding through some familiar areas, similar to the previous two ARA events, so Superman was absolutely nailing every CP. We did have to climb a few hills though and I was stoked that I rode everything and did not have to get off on any of those steep hills on my GIANT XTC Carbon 29er…..and didn’t even need to get towed….so much fun was had by all! As we were descending back to HQ we saw Rogue and knew that we had a big buffer. The final leg was a Mystery Foot Leg, which required us to run about another 10k on foot! We put Nics’ Lifeguarding skills to the test as he had to swim out to collect the CP’s in the Dams! We raced each other down some of the hills and crossed paths with Team Rogue who were still on the MTB leg. We finished the race just on 3pm, some 15hrs after Midnight, taking out the 2012 Mountain Designs ARA Dark Side Championships. Congratulations to Team Rogue for taking out the all-male category and “Buggered if I Know” for finishing 2nd in the premier mixed category.
When we finished the race, we just wanted to relax, chill and put our feet up……but we had to collect our kayaks from Mullumbimby…….so Nic, Superman and I headed out for the 3hr drive, while Gary spent some quality time with the family - I believe in his tent…..sleeping! Mmmm why is it that sometime, there is that extra leg in Adventure Racing, that sometimes is tougher than the actual race……!
In2Adventure announced that Mountain Designs had signed up for another 3yrs of sponsoring the ARA series……how exciting is that! We are proudly sponsored by Mountain Designs and want to acknowledge the outstanding support that our sponsor gives to the amazing sport of Adventure Racing! Thanks once again to Robyn and Simon from In2 adventure for putting on the ARA series and for the effort they put in to creating such terrific maps and finding such great locations for events……which we all know can be a challenge!
I was also pretty excited that a new sponsor of the series “Goal Zero” had come on board, as their product “portable solar power” is linked to that great environmental philosophy that is a big part of adventure racing! http://www.goalzero.com.au/