Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Baise Outdoor Quest in China...if Gary says it was was!

Team Mountain Designs comprising of Gary Sutherland, Leo Theoharis, Dave Schloss and Sammy Hemsley embarked on another trip to China to race against some of the world's best in multisport and adventure racing. The boys all had unfinished business following last years withdrawal due to illness, and Gary really wanted to go back and experience some of the China that he remembered from his early adventure racing years.....this is how it all panned out! 

Team Mountain Designs - sporting very flash 'China' red Flight Centre Jerseys 
Race report by Gary Sutherland

China's race was based out of a couple of Mountain villages surrounded by Sheer peaks springing out of the ground on all sides to elevations of 1400m. 
A view of some of those sheer peaks!
After getting the race instructions which inform us the race was in 2 section comprising of 2 x 2 day stages with an overnight camp in between of each stage and a hotel stay between the stages. We packed our gear boxes for the first 2 days of racing and our overnight camp and headed out on the bikes to get the lay of land.

Opening Ceremony....Adventure Racing is a really big thing in China look at the crowds!
Day 1 - Race day started with a nice opening ceremony with local traditions and then a 1km sprint to maps suspended 3m above ground requiring team work to retrieve. We could split up to get the 3 check points. Leo who was lame in 1 leg hobbled back to TA, Sammy headed to the out skirts of town for a CP , Schlossy headed to the abseil and I stupidly headed up a massive hill to a radio tower with all the mountain goats from the other teams and only just managed not to come last.

The Start - Day 1 - 1k sprint to get the maps!
We all joined up at TA and headed out for a hilly 22km run I thought would take us 3 hrs. Well the hills never ended and they were steep, we had a super cool cave in the middle which was even better as we finally went through a mountain instead of over it. We took 4:15hrs.  Onto the MTB for a 3hr ride which wound its way through villages full of cheering Chinese kids. This leg had a little Bike Carry section but we were rewarded with some nice single track. The final paddle was out and back and over 3 hrs exceeding my sore bum expectations. We counted we were in 14th out of the 25 elite world teams. 12hr day we were all smashed and soon had our tents up scoffed some Back Country meals and were pushing out zzzzz's.

Day 2 Course - Looks Epic!
Day 2 - 5am start - 120km MTB [ouch] 
We set off in 15 second intervals and were quickly passed by 3 teams with a puncture.We passed them all back and then a few more but this was no longer a race we were just surviving we had climbed over 4000m. Sammy started to wear her fatigue visually with a short display of tears, but quickly regathered herself to complete on of the hardest MTB legs I had ever encountered. How were we going to run 25km, well 1 step at a time of course. Poor Leo was in considerable pain with his nerve injury in his left leg. Schlossy still going strong towed him along while Sammy and I consoled each other as we crept through a surprisingly flat stage. We ended nicely running 900m and walking 100m. Onto a very nice inflatable dinghy section which took us through the most amazing natural rock arch I had ever seen. Over a 15hr day and now a 2hr bus drive back to the Hotel. 

Leo 'downhilling' the stairs....lucky for Hoka's
Sammy was done, she couldn't bring herself to suffer through another day and day 3 had 44km of running. This was her first Multi-Sport race and was filling for Jody who pulled out 6 weeks earlier. It was way out of her endurance and mental zone and she showed incredible toughness to get through the first 2 days. 

Gary would particularly like to thank Flight Centre for assisting him with flights to China to get the opportunity to race at this level once again, and for the kit they supplied for the team.  

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