Sunday, 21 September 2014

Hells Bells done and dusted, Gary’s off to the Wildside!

It’s been a while since we have posted on our blog as so much has been going on. Now that Gary and Sloshy have joined forces with their AR event companies, Sloshy has missed out on the Ridgeline Series and Gary has missed out on competing in his 10th Hells Bells, so it’s been more racing for Leo and me.

Following Geoquest there have been so many adventures had by the team… are a few highlights!

Ridgeline Race 3 

Leo & Kim and the Balloon Tower
‘The Culminator ‘– Leo and I teamed up for this one which was located at the base of Mt Tamborine at Cedar Creek. The course was a mixture of Rogaine style and traditional point to point navigation, despite the race being in the middle of winter, it was a pretty warm day making conditions on course fairly challenging. There was quite a unique start to the event with a balloon tower competition used to spread teams off before setting off on bikes. The navigation was quite challenging and with the rogaine format it meant you did not really know where you were placed, but got to see most of the teams out there on the course. There was a good range of maps including the two foot navigation sections which used orienteering maps. In the first foot Rogaine we made a pretty monumental error which had us go back to the TA and start again, so after losing about 15 mins we had to make no more mistakes.  The bike course  back to HQ before the final foot rogaine was challenging with plenty of hike a bike action and some gnarly technical descents, which suited perfectly….I was a little more cautious. We got back to the TA in 2nd 6 minuted behind Team Rogue (Paul Elby & Liam St Pierre). Somehow we managed to catch up to them with just 3 CP’s to go… the final control we made our move and outran the boys back to the finish….and solved the Clue ‘Octopus’ before they arrived at the finish.  This gave Team MD’s 3 wins from 3 races in the Ridgeline Series 2014.

Wild Women AR  

Kim & Gina on the Plank Walk Challenge
I had to ditch the boys for this one, being an all-girls event, however Gary and Sloshy were the event organisers, so it was still a big team MD affair!  I teamed up with Gina Dunsdon who had earlier this year raced for Team MD’s with Sloshy at the MDARA Sprint event at Mt Cotton. Gina and I had strong competition out there with almost 50 teams all taking part in the 3rd edition of this event, which was the ‘first ever all women’s AR event’ in Australia.  The event started with a few fun challenges on foot including a target throw, and team plank walk. This spread the teams out well before getting out onto the bike course. Were probably in 3rd place at this stage as we had had to line up for the planks, but that just added to the challenge. The bike was hilly and Gina and I did not mind the hike a bike section at all. We had an awesome ridgeline ride through the Dulacha State forest before heading to the trails around Ewen Maddocks Dam. Gina and I were in the lead by this stage but team Area 51 and tri Adventure Vintage were in hot pursuit.  We got a lead in the 1st paddle and maintained it on the Trek, and paddled back to the TA without another Team insight. Gina and I were able to really enjoy the ride to the finish, as we had plenty of time to note make mistakes under pressure. Thanks Gina for a great day out!

MDARA Woodford 

Gary, Kim & Leo drop bikes off at TA
This event was in a new location, flat and very fast one indeed. The event was located on the western edge of the Beerburrum state forest, on the same day as MTBO had an event on the East side of the forest. Sloshy was sick in bed so Leo, Gary and I teamed up as a three for this event. We started with a very short trek to separate teams before the bike. Just one set of maps so Gary was on the nav, I had the control descriptions and Leo the ferret. We took the lead early, and made it to TA 1 for a trek. Great fun was had bush bashing to most of the controls….not sure that it was faster, but just a good challenge, back onto the bikes for the super-fast fun ride back to the HQ for the mystery leg. As it had rained overnight the sandy trails were compact and fun to ride. The mystery leg was a Solo SUP paddle to 3 CP’s, so each team member had to go out & back to one each. The final leg was a short trek around the water ski park and the race was all over by 11am for us……so there was another event on that day….that I thought I would not get back in time for….so off I went!

King of the Mountain 

Kim interviewed after King of the Mountain Win
This is an iconic Mountain Running event held in the Noosa Hinterland town of Pomona and certainly one that has definitely contributed to my involvement in the sport of adventure racing. So I had time to get to the briefing at 2pm and the start at 3pm, and as the MDARA race was less than 3hrs long I did not feel too hammered. So I rocked up in my Team MD’s post event outfit, muddy race shoes and toed the line for the start. I was running 3rd -4th female in the run to the base and held 2nd spot most of the way up the mountain. With just 50m of climbing to go I get to the front and never looked back. I descended the mountain fast but cautiously knowing I was in the lead and just had to get to that finish line unscathed…..easier said than done I can assure you! I crossed the line in just over 30 mins and securing my 3rd King of the Mountain victory, somehow backing up after an adventure race that morning…..this felt like a dream! But I am off the NZ in October to Race up Mt Edgecombe in the King of the Mountain in Kawarau.

Ridgeline Gold Coast Adventure Race (GCAR)

Gary & Leo at GCAR presentations
Gary, Sloshy and the Ridgeline Team have brought back their own version of the former Anaconda Gold Coast AR, which is actually a multisport event as it does not have navigation. This course is probably one of the toughest multisport events in Australia, and Gary made it tougher, with added single track on the bike. There was also a version that did not have a swim or ocean paddle, allowing for people to work their way up to the full distance course, with a river paddle only option. Leo formed a 2 person team with former MD team mate Nick More completing the paddle and the MTB legs, whilst I was up for the entire adventure. Great results with Leo’s team taking line honours, with fastest splits in the MTB (Leo) and run (Nick) and I was overall female winner.


Gary & Sloshy marking up maps
This was a 6hr rogaine style MTB event. Gary raced with Sloshy as they were missing being out racing and took overall honours, Leo teamed up the Brett Stevens and Ray Deetleefs and were on the podium, and I raced mixed pairs with Alex Austin (who was my team mate for the Ridgeline Step Up event) and managed to take the win in the mixed team category. Great results for Team MD’s again especially Gary and Sloshy who actually cleared the course in very wet muddy conditions… rained for the full 6hrs!

Straddie Salute 

Kim, the Cleveland Mayor and the Straddie Salute Trophy 
I was the only Team MD’s member rocking up to this off road triathlon event on the picturesque North Stradbroke Island. I still love a race with an ocean swim and as I am heading to Lorne for the 10th Anniversary of the Lorne Adventure Race (former Anaconda AR) in December it was a good chance to try a new off-road multisport event. The swim was rough and choppy and challenging, the bike was 60% road and the rest flat off road, meaning it was fast and furious, and the trail run was hilly but rewarding as there was beautiful scenery and plenty of up’s and downs mostly trails. I was crowned Straddie Salute Female Champion and took home the biggest most beautiful trophy ever!


Part of the skill of AR involves keep your Nav skills sharp, so instead of resting up after the Straddie Salute, I backed up the next day with a 38k MTB course at Wild Horse mountain. I was a bit tired and fatigued and when I lost my zinger (that’s the electronic timing stick) I just did the rest of the course with Jan……so we shared the nav decisions like you do in an AR event….great training!
6- 12hr Rogaine….Gary had a niggle, in his hamstring so he had to pull the pin on this event however Gary Palmer (Gary’s wild side partner … more about this later) was still up for some good navigation practice and competed in the 12hr event. I opted to race the 6hr in an all-female team with Jan & Gina to get some final navigation practice for Hells Bells and not have to race as hard as I do when I race with the boys. Leo was off in NZ skiing with his old school mates and Sloshy was setting the course for Hells Bells.

The Flight Centre Epic 

Kim receives trophy for Endurance Champion
The Flight Centre Epic is one of Queensland’s most iconic MTB endurance events and has been going for over 10 years……I opted for the 11k trial run on the Saturday (preparation for NZ) and the 87k MTB event on Sunday……good training. Somehow I ended up racing in the elite women’s field and had a cracker of a day finishing 3rd Elite female on a very tough day of racing especially backing up after the trail run the day before. I was shattered at the end as the mud on the course for the first 2-3 hrs, meant there was plenty of hike a bike and stopping to scrape the mud off wheels that had stopped turning. The trails at Spicer’s Hidden vale are pretty technical too, so it was a great chance to see how far I have come on the MTB since first having done this event as a point to point race back in 2005. A great tough weekend that definitely toughens you up! But will I recover enough for Hells Bells????

Hells Bells 

Leo & Kim set off on the paddle in shallow water!
Gary and Sloshy and the Dare You Team created another great AR event which lived up to its name and did not disappoint!  I was not recovered…..I was tired and exhausted from the Epic and a big week of work…. up late may nights making assignments (the end of term for a teacher is always pretty busy and stressful)…..and having had so many weekends of non-stop racing, I was not sure how the body would react, but at least now I was officially on school holidays….Leo was backing up after a big training weekend with Gary the previous weekend as well as a week of skiing in Queenstown! This year saw a change to an early start to Hells Bells which meant more racing in daylight, and thus more opportunity to see the spectacular scenery. The setting was Delaney’s Creek near Woodford and Somerset Dam, Mt Mee and the D’Aguilar National Park, a totally new area for adventure racing! Map handout was 6am and race start was 8am, so just 2hrs to prepare 5 maps and pack 3 boxes…..think we just had 2 minutes to spare before the start. The format was Bike, Paddle, Bike, Trek, Bike, Trek, Bike, and it was a big mass road ride out to CP4/TA1 for the start of the paddle, with not much chance for teams to split, so we had Adventure Junkies, Rogue, Area51 and Team MD’s all sharing the work at the front to the pack. The paddle was Rogaine style, so Rogue and just one team travelled anticlockwise and the rest of the teams clockwise, and again there was not much chance to split up, with all teams in full sight of each other. 

We got back to TA and out on the bikes in 2nd behind Adventure Junkies and headed to CP6 – Fig Tree. We found the tree but not the CP hidden in the massive roots… the three teams were soon all together again, however we managed to get a slight advantage out of CP 7 from Area 51 and in and out of TA 2 – CP out before they arrived. On this foot leg we had to locate the first CP to find the location of the next and so on….we overshot the first one, and had to backtrack in the creek, so did Adventure Junkies and Area 51, and many of the Fairy Bells Teams….we basically did this leg alongside Adventure Junkies working together to find CP G at the base of the cliff. We both arrived back at the TA and set off on the bikes together again, and we in for some serious climbing……now I was starting to feel the previous weeks of non-stop racing, so Leo and I settled into a good rhythm, sharing the bike navigation and happy to be in 2nd place. Going a bit easy meant we did not blow up on the hills and made no mistakes, and arrived at the TA CP15 just 6 minutes behind Adventure Junkies…..and were now more than 7hrs into the race. 

We then set out on a foot navigation leg that proved to be very challenging for every team. We nailed CP O, M, and L then had a pretty horrendous bush bash out to the trail up to P. We were then stumped at this point as we could not find P, we checked and cross checked and were 100% sure we were in the right spot, so had to abandon and keep moving…..had the Adventure Junkies found it???? We had no idea… we headed for CPK at the lookout. We got to what looked like a lookout….no CP….progressed to another lookout……no CP ….now starting to get worried we checked the map again and realised it was a bit off the high point….and were relieved to see Somerset lookout in daylight and find the punch with no flag! We ran all the way down a great ridgeline and overshot the track to CPN and so went the long way in and found it no worries and hightailed it back to the TA to find that we were ahead of Adventure Junkies and had a 20 minute lead on Area51 going into the leg……but we had to report that we had not located P. 

Mystery Leg that challenged many a team!
We were then informed of a mystery leg….more CP’s on foot which we had to draw on our map. Now as I was going to mark up the map and Leo was having a feed, I noticed that Leo had trimmed map…..but luckily it had 99.9% of the part we needed. I personally never like to crop any of the maps as you just never know in AR what you are going to get……. Anyway it was just getting dark so on with the Ay Up’s and we chose to get CP Q by following the trail to the track creek junction, then walk in and out up the creek….spotting a beautiful Owl along the way. Unlike many of the team we had no troubles locating CP S & R although we did note that the hike up to R would certainly test teams. Just as we were heading back to the TA we noticed lights and knew the Adventure Junkies were hot on our heels…..and we were about to find out if CP P was misplaced or if other teams had found it. 

Leo and Kim at the Finish....whats in the mug? Beer!
To our delight it had been hung in the wrong spot, and we were credited the CP, so we had a lead and just had on bike leg to go, it was now almost 7.15pm. Knowing we did not have much of a lead, we raced hard all the way to the finish and enjoyed the great lights of Brisbane from the top of MT Mee, and crossed the line at 8.19pm after 12hrs and 19 minutes of Hells Bells. A great result for us to make it 3 in a row on the Trophy for Team MD’s ……now Leo gets to put this on his dining room table! Rounding off the podium were Adventure Junkies (1st Male Team) at 8.44pm and Area 51 (2nd Mixed Team) at 9.45pm. Now I get to relax and enjoy 2 weeks holiday! Oh and the Prize for Hells Bells this year was  a free entry into the X-marathon Adventure Junkie Race on 13th & 14th December in Eildon Victoria , so  I have lined up Sloshy as my Team MD’s partner!

Leo hugs the very special 'Hells Bells' Trophy with Kim!

Wow…..what a year for Team Mountain Designs, so many great places visited and so many awesome adventures!

Jodie & Darren prepare for Wildside
What’s Next ……well Gary is off to the Wild Side……..This is an all new AR Expedition 5 Day event based in Forster NSW. He is teaming with one his original race partners Jodie Miekle & her Geo half partner Darren Harrow from NSW. Jodie now a mum with 3 kids has had some time away from the sport, but is back into it again
having competed at the past two Geo half events, alongside Darren. They have been preparing by doing some of the Kathmandu Adventure Races in NSW and putting in some big training weekends.  Also joining the team is Gary Palmer one of Queensland’s more experienced adventure racers, who races for Team Cyclezone who have finished top 5 at Geoquest in the past 2 years. So Gary Sutherland has been training the house down, when he has not been running around the bush setting crazy courses for all of us. Although this Team MD’s line up will not have raced together as one unit before, the experience and strength of Team Leader Gary Sutherland will certainly be a force to contend with at the Wildside!

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