Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Team Mountain Designs – ‘Off to China’

Gary, Kim, Leo and Dave are about to set off to China to race in the ‘Wenzhou Outdoor Challenge’ from April 12-16. Gary has raced in China before, but it will be a new experience for Leo, Dave and I. The event is a ‘stage race’ unlike most of the events in Australia such as XPD, Geoquest, ARA Darkside Championships. What this means is that you race a set course each day, you get to stop, rest, refuel, sleep, and back up again the next day. Gary and I have quite a bit of experience with this style of racing having both competed in 5 day stage races including the Keen Adventure Race and the Mark Webber Challenge. Competition in China is said to be very fast and furious, as the event attracts some of best adventure racing teams from all parts of the globe, who embark on this event on a yearly basis.  

Each day includes the usual disciplines of kayaking, mountain biking and running, however every stage also has a few extra disciplines added including rollerblading, abseiling, flying fox, 200m fishing net and a wall climb…...just to make it exciting and fun even more challenging. We are lead to believe that there is not as much navigation involved as we are used to here in Australia, but it does seem like ‘stage 1’ is all navigational, there is some navigation with GPS on the paddle leg in ‘stage 3’ and on the ‘final stage’ a orienteering section with an optional team split.

Preparation for the event has been rather challenging in more ways than one. Firstly, we did need to find some extra time to incorporate rollerblading into our individual and team training sessions, which has provided us with a few laughs and many weird looks from onlookers…..especially when we were towing each other in one of the man streets of Caloundra! Our second challenge was arranging Visa’s, as this takes quite some time to get all the paperwork and documentation together. We finally got our passports back last week with our Chinese visa stamp! Phew! The next thing was vaccinations…. Yes, I think I have had more visits to the doctor this past month that I have in the past 3 years! So, 6 needles and some $600 later, vaccinations are complete…. hopefully this will be enough to keep any nasty diseases at bay! Then finally, just as we are getting all ready to pack our bags, we realise that our Airline only accepts bike boxes 100cmx60cm x 40cm. Who has a bike that can break up into that size????? So, after a few frantic emails between our travel agent and the airline, we are relieved that they will accept them….but we need to be prepared to be stung with an excess…..maybe $180 ouch!

Anyway we have had some great local events to prepare ourselves and sharpen our skills for the Wenzhou Outdoor Challenge, including the 8hr Upside Down Rogaine, Mini Rogue, Ridgeline - Step Up, Kathmandu Adventure race and a couple of MTBO events. During these events we have been trialling some new race gear that we intend using in China. The boys have been running in the new Hoka ‘Rapa-Nui’ and I have been testing out the female version called ‘Kailua’. They have been fantastic on the technical trails and definitely prevent muscle soreness following tough sessions, so we have all packed them for China. Our sponsor Mountain Designs have kitted us all out with the new Berghaus Vapour 15L Day Sacks…. they are super lightweight, have bungee for carrying shoes on the outside and a special compartment underneath for carrying a water bottle, and these awesome packs also have food pockets at the front. Thanks also to Skatebiz in Brisbane who took the time to kit Leo and I out with our rollerblades and do us a really great deal…..

China here we come! Oh….you might not get much of a race report until we are back as internet access and social media are quite restricted in China!

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