Unfortunately, only one member of team Whoops Witch Way was ready to race today and, embarrassingly, it wasn’t me. Forgetting my hat and sunglasses on a hot sunny day was just the start of my bad decision-making. Things got so ugly out on the course today that I handed the map and compass over to my team mate and became a passenger in our race.
It’s not that it was all bad. I just had one of those races; we all have them sometimes.
The course for the iAdventure Spring Adventure Race in Nerang was tough. It suited the mountain bikers, particularly those familiar with the Nerang mountain biking trails. For the third or so of the field who are not mountain bikers, the two mountain bike legs were more ‘bike push legs’. The hills were plentiful and steep. Whether uphill or down, there were plenty of teams walking their bikes due to the challenging nature of the course (actually, more teams were pushing in our section of the field than riding).
Early in the course, we got to ride some nice single tracks. But with 59 pairs of riders all having to take the same trails, there wasn’t much opportunity to ride them smoothly; it was all stop, walk, start, walk as the 118 riders rode in both directions on single track. And then there were the racers who were rudely calling out to “clear the track” as if they should have right of way over the 50-odd competitors riding towards them.
I wish there was something positive I could say about the two bike legs of today’s course but it was quite farcical really. Especially when you consider that the maps were blurry and scaled at an awkward 1:16,000. The trails on the map were labelled but they weren’t labelled on the ground; so those familiar with Nerang could just follow the trails they knew, giving them an unfair advantage.
The run legs were tough because they were hilly but at least they were fairly straight forward. We had a few wet moments as we crossed creeks and puddles. At one point I thought I was stepping into ankle deep water but misjudged and went down waist deep; it was funny.
There was a fantastic “surprise” swim leg in which we had to collect pool toys off the bottom of a swimming pool and swim 25m in our clothes. That was fun and refreshing.
The kayak leg was okay. We had an average paddle but by then we’d been on the course for almost four hours and were tired.
Usually, I like to give races glowing reports, even if my performance isn’t up to scratch (e.g. the Upside Down Rogaine was a tough race for us but the event was fantastic). But today I can’t. I will be doing another race by this company on 1 June and hopefully it is a more enjoyable race experience than today.
The things that annoyed me aren’t the way we raced or even the tough course. The things that need improving are:
- There was a significant mistake in the route directions, which listed the wrong checkpoints for the second run leg. This was only corrected after my sister asked about the mistake and is unlikely to have been corrected if she didn’t.
- The maps were of poor quality (many experienced racers commented that they are the worst maps they’ve ever seen).
- When we came to TA4, we were in the bottom half of the field. The teams who came in the top half dropped their bikes near the entry to the TA and there were gaps between those bikes but the RD ordered (not asked but ordered) us to take ours right to the back of the TA, which would have involved a 50-100m walk. We disobeyed because neither my sister nor I like power trips, dropping ours between the other bikes (there were no further bike legs after TA4).
- The crowded riding conditions after TA1 could easily have been avoided by having a longer and more creative first run leg.
- At presentations, the random prizes were only given to teams who were willing to use the microphone to tell a story about their race. Given that most people are more afraid of public speaking than of dying, this was inconsiderate to the competitors who would probably have been more fairly able to win prizes if numbers had been drawn out of a hat.
We had a fun time at the race despite the frustrations of a tough day on the course and a race that wasn’t quite at the standard of races like Kathmandu Adventure Race, Adventure Race Australia and Rogaining Queensland events.
If you were one of the 30-40% of the field who did your first adventure race today; don’t feel disheartened. Give one of the other series a try because adventure racing really is a lot of fun. We heard a lot of racers saying that they were returning to triathlon and running, rather than giving adventure racing another go, which was a shame because adventure racing really can be a lot of fun.
Result: 4hr 15 minutes + 10 bonus points but we have to add a 30 minute time penalty for two mountain bike checkpoints we decided to skip.