Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Despite being my 10th GEOQUEST it was mentally the toughest!

Geoquest Race Report  2015 -  Kim Beckinsale
Losing Leo our super strong team mate just 2 weeks out was a bit of a bummer, however we still  arrived at Hawks Nest with collectively 33years of GEOQUEST racing experience. Joining Gary, Sloshy and me was Mr Rapha himself, Pikey our 2011 Tassie XPD Team mate! So we were all set for a fun race. We rocked up at rego in Pikey’s Jaguar looking a bit too flash with new MD team gear and very pink Rapha caps making ourselves very noticeable indeed. It was all part of the fun, as we caught up with all of our AR friends that make the annual pilgrimage to this event called GEOQUEST, now in its 15th year!

Team Mountain Designs looking all Rapha!
The competencies were over and done with pretty quickly this year.  Gary didn’t have to do them but he took Pikey out for a bit of a splash in the Fenn XT as Pikey had not paddled since Tassie, meanwhile Sloshy and I jumped in the Fenn Elite and tested out leg lengths with running shoes on. I was quite relieved to have brought my full wetsuit as I decided to use it today, for the swim but not in the race, so it didn’t matter if it got wet. Soft or smart???

Kim and Pikey exit the swim with the Cowgirls - Tri Adventure
The course was revealed at 3pm and from that point on it was all eyes on the maps and course notes until we finished all the planning and contacting. Meanwhile our support crew in charge of nutrition - Kylie & Dersley, cooked up a storm and provided plenty of homemade delights for the crew while we were doing this, as the meal before race day is such an important one. Blowney and Lucas our logistics crew were with us on the maps, planning gear and transitions, as with 12 legs there was always going to be so much going on – 4 paddles, 4 treks, 3 bikes as well as a snorkel and rafting section.

Team Mountain Designs are far off to the right....just out of the picture!
Race Day at Hawks Nest looked picture perfect, with a bit of a shore break but nothing too nasty. We were told the course would be shortened, due to rough conditions around the Island. This ended up being a blessing, as after Sloshy and I made it out through the break and looked back, Gary and Pikey were not through. The rudder malfunctioned and they had to complete the entire leg without a working rudder, so Gary was the engine on the front and Pikey steering from the back. Sloshy and I could not then paddle at full speed as we needed to stick close to our team mates, so conditions were even more challenging in our tippy ski! I must say I was very thankful for all of the ocean paddle training I had done to feel so confident. I was in awe of what Gary and Pikey were pulling off though so it was such  a good feeling to get off the paddle just behind Rob & Catherine Preston and start the first coastal trek!

Pikey at the end of the paddle - glad to be on dry land!
We soon warmed up again and in no time at all had caught a few teams including ‘Dynamite’ and ‘Buggered if I know’ then before we knew it we were at the TA to get ready for the MTB-Snorkel leg. I carried a shortie wetsuit but the boys opted just for goggles. Along the way we had to collect just 3 of 6 CP’s so this would see teams split then come back together. We were pretty stoked to get into the water in the Snorkel CP’s with all the lead teams – Peak Adventure, CBD Cycles, and Thought Sports- Shotz Nutrition (once were Macpac). After a bit of sand riding, we at the next TA in the lead.

The view of the Snorkel from above!

Transitions were not our strong points in this race, but I think that was my fault! I loved the coastal trek, it was spectacular coasteering around the headlands and running over the sand dunes with all lead teams, even having a bit of a chat to each other along the way. Three teams arrived at the raft leg within seconds of each other and it was just perfect conditions, heaps of sun and no wind. As we were pumping up our raft it suddenly split at the seam and air started pouring out! Lucky we had a patch kit, but it was unlikely to hold…..so we just took off as that was our only option. Our 4 person raft barely fitted all of us and with our leaky boat it was like paddling in a bath! We made the first crossing, portaged to the CP, re inflated the raft and took off again…..just making it to the other side without sinking! My 47yr old knees did not seem to want to move as I tried to get out and start running again. We had lost over 25mins to Peak Adventure but were really just happy to make it.
At the TA we had hot chips and cheese toasties to go, which was so awesome! Upon setting out onto the Trek we were told the canoes may not be at the creek crossing and that we might have to swim. We arrived just as the CP was arriving on foot, punched our wrist bands and got ready for the swim. Time to get wet again! I took off my shirt and thermal top and put them in a dry bag, so I would at least have some dry clothes at the other side, as there was not too much daylight left and I did not want to get too cold before the paddle. Little did we know that CBD cycles were right behind us at this point and saw us before we headed into the bush to CPJ NE side of creek. We were so relieved to pick this one up in daylight, as it was just so hard to spot. Out of this CP we then spent what seemed like hours and hours walking in circles. The track and creeks made no sense and despite Sloshy and Gary trying so very hard to find our way, we had to end up just going on a safety bearing to get out of the mess. So as a result we knew that many teams would have passed us and it was funny when we finally arrived at the TA at the end of the leg,  Blowney said to us….do you really want to know when the top team came in…..just after 6pm….it was now after 9pm???

Leg 6  Map 6 - Looks so simple????

There was still plenty of the race to go, so now we just had to keep going. Knowing it could be a bit cool, I put on jacket, cag pants and thermal top, and was really enjoying the paddle until I fell in the water getting out at the bank on the way to the high point CP. I was pretty mad and cold and wet. I had hoped the climb would warm me up but I was soaked to the core….paddling hard did not seem to warm me up!

Back at the TA at Karuah I had to completely change my clothes, and tried so hard to warm up. I had hot chocolate and chicken pasta and put on plenty of layers. I was definitely a bit slow in this TA, but I knew we had at least 10hrs ahead of us and it was going to be a long cool night so I wanted to be  prepared. We set off on the bikes and the first 10k was all on flat roads, so it was not warming up one bit, and the temperature was dropping 11, 10, 8, 6, 5 degrees…..I was freezing and had to put on my jacket and hood, over my vest, top and thermals. Once we hit some small inclines and technical riding, I started to warm up to a comfortable temperature but then I started falling asleep. Nothing I could do could get me out of this state. I spent the next 7hrs on the bike struggling to keep my eyes open and not crashing. This was really hard for the team, as usually this would be a strong part of the race for me. Yes, I get the occasional sleep monsters like everyone does, but this was different, I was like a zombie zoning out and it was such a struggle to get through the leg. As the sun came up I thought I would be okay, but clearly I was not. Physically I felt great, I could ride some really steep and technical parts of the course, but then the next second I would be almost falling off……pretty scary! Sloshy did a great job navigating this section.

Finally at around 7am we arrived at the final trek. Only one team had arrived back – Peak Adventure, and all the others were still out there, so we set ourselves up for another epic! Pikey was hurting big time by now and there was no way he could run, so we decided just to walk…..good XPD training anyway! Sloshy had the maps and we pretty much nailed every CP spot on. CP U that was 100m east of where the circle (map correction) proved a bit challenging. As we interpreted the corrections differently,  we looked for the CP in both directions and eventually found it more than 250m to the east. We saw Liam and ‘Quality Nude Time’ on our way out of this one, so we gave them the heads up, as well as ‘Damaged Goods’ a bit later on.
Leg 9 - Trek - We walked the whole way and nailed it!
We were pretty stoked to get back on the bikes, I was still yawning bigtime, bit at least managing to stay awake. We had a bit of a climb out of the TA followed by a long descent…..which was fun, I think Gary was now a bit sleepy, but Sloshy was out the front pushing the pace, so I was now doing my bit to help the others stay alert….just like they had tried to do for me all night. Just seconds before a creek crossing Pikey’s tyre started spewing out sealant! We tried to gas it, but the hole was too big, so we put in a tube and soon we were off again. Sloshy set a cracking pace all the way to Bulahdelah.
We were in great spirits going into the long final paddle, and enjoyed the hot meat pies that the support crew had for us! We decided to mix things up a bit, so Pikey joined Sloshy in the XT and Gary and I paddled the Elite. Sloshy and Pikey set off at lightning speed, meanwhile Gary and I seemed to be going nowhere! We were thinking are we this stuffed??? But then I said maybe we have weed on our rudder. We pulled over and the biggest clump of weed came off…phew! We set off again, caught the boys and sat on their wash most of the way along the river. We were all struggling a bit to stay awake, so we were chatting as much as we could to stay alert. We shared a coke at halfway, and pulled in to the bank for a stretch just before the final lake crossing. Both Gary and I tipped in as we were landing the ski….oops, it certainly woke us up, but now we would have to paddle really hard to stay warm but hey, at least the sun was out! Conditions on the lake were perfect and a slight cross wind provided a few runners to catch, making it a pretty fun paddle wash riding Sloshy and Pikey!

Team Mountain Designs - Finish Geoquest 2015
The final TA was a bit slow, as Gary and I had to put something warm on. Even though there was only 18k to go and everyone was saying how warm I was still freezing cold…..Sloshy was ready to go…..but had to wait for me again! We hightailed it to the final CP,  crossed the creek, followed the trail then bush bashed onto the bitumen as Sloshy sat on the front and set a cracking pace all the way to the to the finish!
I was totally overwhelmed by the supporters we had at the finish line! Despite us not finishing on the podium and certainly not having our greatest race, to see all the smiling faces as we crossed the line, was just so special and so rewarding.

Thanks to our support crew Blowney, Lucas, Kylie, Diggie & Dersley, you were always in high spirits even when we dropped off the radar!

Thanks to all my Tri Adventure buddies who all raced / supported the GEO Half yet made the effort to be there at the finish to watch Team MD’s cross the line this meant so much to me. I was so excited when I heard the news that Tri Adventure Mixed had placed 3rd and the Cowgirls Tri Adventure had won the all-girls category, and that all the teams entered had finished. As coach I am so proud of you all!

Thanks so much to Pikey for stepping in at the last minute to enable us to race at this amazing Adventure Race called Mountain Designs GEOQUEST. Gary and Sloshy were both strong throughout with Sloshy demonstrating he is on fire to race in Alaska in June, then back up for XPD in August!
Thanks Pikey!

Thanks to Ay Up Lights, Hoka Footwear, Flight Centre Active Travel, Tri Adventure and Mountain Designs (our major sponsor) for kitting us out with race gear and equipment.
Mountain Designs have been supporting Geoquest for 15 years and their support for Adventure Racing in Australia over this time has been pivotal in ensuring that this sport that we know and love is going from strength to strength.

Geocentric Outdoors (Craig & Louise), once again you have given us an experience to remember forever!
Will we see you at GEO next year???


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