Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Challenges of Adventure Racing

Recent SEQ Adventure Races have certainly provided many challenges as Team Mountain Designs prepares for GEO Quest. As we get set for the most prestigious Adventure Race on the calendar I have certainly been reminded of why we all keep coming back to these events – it has to have something to do with being challenged!

The Step Up – Ridgeline Adventures - Event Directors – Gary & Ray

Leo and I had a ball in the mud at Ewan Maddock , yet the biggest challenge for me was navigating under pressure, because I usually leave that up to Gary!  So a few times when I tried to get away from a team, by choosing a sneaky route, I stuffed up …..well it was either a dodgy track, or I just made a small nav error! So after 5hrs of boogie boarding, mountain biking, trekking and even tubing we had been challenged physically and navigationally and despite the atrocious weather could not imagine being anywhere else! I spent hours pouring over the maps….reflecting on my decisions….looking at options…..working out ways of being better next time……setting myself a challenge for the next time I have map and compass in hand!

The 8hr Rogue - Rogaine Association – Event Director – Liam (aka Gigantor)

Gary and I were back in business, choosing just the 8hrs option. Why not 24??? Well  I truly believe that we often underestimate the recovery time required (both physical and psychological) following big adventure races, so  with GEO less than 6 weeks away we chose the fast and furious 8 hr version. The course at Imbil was just awesome, absolutely spectacular and just a really nice comfortable event, as the campsite was beautiful and the weather perfect, and all those hills out at Imbil that I remember from Hells Bells, well, we did not have to summit! To be honest we did not think the course was clearable……but therein lies the challenge… we just had to have a crack! We had no choice but to paddle first which left us just 5 hrs to complete the other two legs and as the run course seemed impossible to clear we opted for the bike. We both had maps so we were able to set a fast pace and keep check on our route, and cover each other as we went along. Surprisingly we got back in 3 hrs so we had 2hrs left for the Trek……can you belie we could not find the first CP…..we searched and searched, found pink tape but no flag…..wasted 20minutes….and were basically about to drop it, when friends Mandy and Jules and found it….so back in we went… and found it……phew!!!! There were a few serious hills to climb and descend before we would return to HQ but would we clear???? The lantana cleared, the travel in the open paddocks was faster than we anticipated and we finished with a swim across Yabba Creek to clear the course with just under 5 mins to spare! We sit around the fire….compare maps and route choices with our friends….setting ourselves up for the next challenge!

ARA Noosa Hinterland – In2Adventure – Robyn and Simon

Mt Cooroora has always been a very special mountain for me, when it comes to setting yourself challenges! I first tackled the mountain in 1985 and entered my first ‘King of the Mountain’ back in 1987, this year is the 20th Anniversary of my first ever win in the event back in 1993, and the 10th Anniversary  since my comeback win (following many years in triathlon) in 2003. So I was so excited when we got to finish an Adventure Race with our photo being taken at the base of such a famous location……one I will be visiting again on July 28, 2013.

Anyway back to the ARA…..Following map handout we were scratching our heads….thinking…..there has got to be more to this…and there was! We got a map as we boarded the bus and soon we set off at an absolutely cracking pace in Ringtail State Forest…..with me somehow keeping up with some of the fastest guys around…..(yes I have been doing a bit of secret training ) The rogaine style start was meant to spread the field, but most chose the same route….so it was just frantic! We got to the paddle TA, I dropped the dibber, and found it again…..and soon was paddling with Garry in the back….I still had the dibber so was in and out like a Yo-Yo stamping through the reeds and lilies on the lovely Lake Mc Donald. As we had BIG Jase with us in t a team of 3, he got to sit out and just watch… he was ready for action on our return we were in second. Onto the bikes it was really muddy (on the Mac n back trail) and I had a huge stack in a creek, but luckily landed in a soft bed of thick grass and not the rocks in the creek! We were riding flat pedals, so quite challenging in muddy conditions, but fast for transitions – so we were in the lead again, but it did not take long for Guy and Dave to catch up. 

A risky nav option paid off for us, and we were once again lead, find out at CP 11 that we have a MTB rogaine before CP 12. This was just awesome riding and we absolutely flew through it….it was pretty tricky, however a bit of local knowledge does help. Little did we know that we had not drawn CP J on our map…..yes, a critical error that cost us the win! But at the time we had no idea, so we just were ‘in the moment’….and I was on fire on the Cooroora Trek….almost leaving the boys behind…..and must have been too excited to finish….as I forgot to punch out,  again - had no idea at the time. We searched for CP 19 but the flag was not there on the East  bank of the creek near trail marker number  5 so we were just beside ourselves…..and this was a real low point for us….as we could just no see anything at resembled a CP, we must have spent 15 minutes attacking the exact same point from every possible angle just to be sure we were in the right spot. So we arrived at HQ, did some shooting (it took 15 goes to get 5) and raced around the grounds finding Bronze, Silver Gold, and finished the race a bit upset…..because of 19…….and then to find out we had missed J……well what a blow…..what seemed to be a perfect race….was far from it for team MD’s and on this occasion we opened the door for Justin and Howie (Team Bikeon) the opportunity to have that sweet taste of success…..a feeling that we never ever take for granted!!

So we walk away with more to reflect on, more to learn, and more to think about…..and look forward to adventure racing at its best

What's the next challenge for Team Mountain Designs!

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