Sunday, 18 May 2014

Mountain Designs ARA Elite Sprint Race

With this Elite Sprint Race falling just 3 weeks before GEOQUEST it was the perfect event to have some of Team Mountain Designs members split and race head to head against one another!

Our Teams – Kim & Gary (Mountain Designs – Ridgeline), Sloshy & Gina (Mountain Designs – Dare You), Leo and Jenny (Mountain Designs – Tri Adventure)

Actually we have been splitting up a bit recently, so we can all hone our navigation skills!

Kim & Alex with Gary at The Step Up
Team Mountain Designs as a team opted not to ‘race’ the Rogue, as it was just a week after China, so Kim raced with Matt who is new to Tri Adventure, and Leo teamed up with Bec, whom he raced with last year……so for both of us our aim was to work on navigation in all disciplines. Meanwhile Gary and Sloshy were course setting for the Ridgeline Adventure – Step Up Race! Speaking of the Step Up…..Kim was minus Leo (as he was off at a wedding - Climbing Mt Maroon), so she paired up with Tri Adventure ‘Young Gun’ Alex Austin in only his 3rd ever Adventure Race.  He, too, was backing up from the Rogue the previous weekend, the pair managed to take out line honours in ‘The Step Up’ in just over 4 hours. The following weekend Kim & Leo both headed out to Stanthorpe for the Qld Mountain Bike Orienteering State Championships, where Kim took out the Women’s Open Long Course Title. MTBO is a great way to improve your navigation skills as you are on your own and are forced to make quick decisions, as there is no planning and preparation time like there is in AR and we are  thinking that there could be some really exciting course splits in GEOQUEST!

Sloshy & Gina - course planning

The Mountain Designs ARA Elite Sprint event was for teams of two mixed pairs – and was followed by a series of 3 shorter slightly easier ‘MD ARA Come & Try’ events that were aimed at novices and families. The course distances were very short compared to what we are used to, so we were prepared for ‘Fast & Furious’. We had just under one hour to plan the course, and be at the start for the pre-race briefing. The ARA events always have you thinking as there are lots of instructions, lots of rules and lots of CPs. In fact in this sprint event we had 5 Legs, 18 CPs, plus 5 extra CPs on Leg 1 as well as 2 ‘GOLD’ CPs.

Leo & Sloshy discussing route choices

The gold CPs and Leg 4 were ‘challenge by choice’ CPs and have an element of ‘surprise and adventure’ about them. So with the presentations scheduled for 9.30am following an 8.00am start, it meant that most teams were expected to clear the course in less than 90 minutes……was this going to be possible???? Time flies when you are having fun, and soon we were on the start line ready to race……but…..I had forgotten to put on my race bib! Lucky there was still 4 minutes till the start….so I raced to the car….raced back….now that got the HR up!

Off went the hooter and we were racing…..we opted for Gold 1 ‘Hit the High Life’ first, which involved one team member ascending a climbing wall with harness and ropes…..and if you ‘went all the way to the top’ there was a 5 minute time bonus on offer. Alex from Team Tri Adventure Young Guns set a cracking pace, however we were quick to get harness and helmet on so Gary was the first up and down (only one person had to climb). On Leg 1 we had to collect 5 CPs out of a possible 6, we opted to do C,B,D,E,A in that order, and as these were close to HQ this took no time at all.

When we arrived at the TA to start the bike Team Mountain Designs – Dare You (Sloshy & Gina) had already left… we were in hot pursuit. CP 1,2,3 were fairly straight forward, but when we got to CP3a we found Gina and Sloshy still looking! Gary and I scouted around and looked in the creek, as the description was ‘Gully’ we found it… then a few other teams had arrived and the CP was obvious! So now all the MD’s teams were together….and we all had planned for the bush bash with bikes to CP3b… we set and soon were in thick bush! This was probably a mistake, but we found the track on the other side and were still ahead of teams who had chosen the long way around! We rode to the spot for CP3b and thought I heard Gary say it was in a fallen tree……but that was CP 6…..anyway Gary spotted it in the Gully where it should have been! We were the first team out of there and opted for the long route this time, Gina and Sloshy took the short cut and almost caught us….with two other teams as well! CP5 was a bit tricky as there was no flag, but we did read the descriptions closely and saw the pipeline sign it was attached to and took off up the hill. Now at this point we were trying to make a break, and hammered to CP7. Unfortunately we had missed CP6, so we had to turn back and watch the other teams’ whiz by as we returned to CP 6 then 7 again. If you are going to make a mistake this is not the time, when you are trying to ‘get away’ fast! Anyway the return to the TA was simple as CPs 8 & 9 were the same as CPs 1 & 2.

Once back at the TA/CP10 we headed to the dam. Here we had a choice of going for X & Y in canoe/kayak or Z on rope & tube. We opted for the canoe. We marked up the map, put on our PFDs and just remembered to punch the CP10 TA before we set off. One other team was in sight and we were trying to make up a bit of time, so we paddled hard, got out and remembered to punch out!!! Lots of punching goes on in these races….and it is so easy to get caught out…..and we've been caught out before….!

Leo & Jenny
So off we set on Leg 5 the final trek with one Gold CP remaining. We had to get these in order CP12 Minor Trail, CP13 E side Knoll and then bush bashed down to CP14 –Watercourse Junction. It was coming out of this that Gary and I caught up to Sloshy & Gina, maybe the other team went to the wall climb???? We both approached the dam for CP 16 together and found both X & Y before we found 16. Oops so a few extra punches later (lucky we had realised) we headed for Gold CP2 ‘Get the Low Down’! This was a ‘low ropes challenge’ where team mates were required to start at either end and meet in the middle for a ‘high five’…one with a fixed rope support and the other with a loose support…..tricky….Gary and I managed to get onto this just before Gina and Sloshy……and got it first go! So we sprinted for CP17 – opted to run around the water hole and then to CP18 and the Finish Line! We finished just one minute ahead of Gina & Sloshy and some 5 mins ahead of the next team. Unfortunately Leo and Jenny were 4th across the line, but both them and 3rd place received time penalties for missed CPs…..easy mistake when it’s such a fast and furious race….and just to test us there were CPs out there from the ‘Come & try Course’ as well, so a few teams were a little bamboozled by that too! Oh and that brings me to the time……it took us 1 hour and 28 mins to complete the course………back in time for presentations!

Happy at the finish line!

Anyway we had a great day at Kindillan Outdoor Education Centre – Redland Bay. It was a perfect location for both the In2Adventure MD ARA ‘Elite’ and ‘Come & Try’ events. Team Mountain Designs enjoyed having the opportunity to go out on the ‘come & try course’ and help out some of the teams who needed a bit of assistance with their navigation. We stationed ourselves at tricky spots on bike and trek legs for the both the 10.00am and 12.00noon events and helped teams orient maps and get themselves back on track. It was great to see so many happy smiling faces out there having fun, trying something new! Some at the event took the opportunity to come along to one of the  ‘Mountain Designs – Gear Talks’ and learnt all about the specialist gear you need for adventure racing… don’t forget ‘Mountain Designs’ all the gear, for ‘places you’d rather be’.


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