Adventure Race Australia, Qld 2013

Bike drop

Bike drop

After camping out at the Pomona Showgrounds, we woke early to clear starry skies. Sure, it might have been cold, but that was good news because it meant the day would be perfect for adventure racing.

It was still dark when we left camp to drop our bikes near Lake McDonald, just a quarter hour drive away. By the time we got there, the kookaburras had finished their dawn song and the sun was shining; it was still cold though. We found a spot near the edge of the park to make it easy for us to find our metal horses and drove back to race HQ to collect our maps.

Using my shoelace as a map measurer

Using my shoelace as a map measurer

The maps seemed a little strange at first review. There just didn’t seem to be 6-7 hours of racing there. And some of the transition areas were too close together with no checkpoints in between. We and the teams around us were asking each other whether anyone had extra maps. But it was all a ploy: the In2Adventure course setters were up to tricks that would test teams’ navigation skills later in the day.

We had bought a map measurer just before the Rogue 24 Hr Adventuregaine in April but after the race I threw it in the wash with my dirty clothes. So I was left measuring out distances on the map with my shoelace for ARA (my shoelace was the only string I could find). We found it worked quite well: our navigation was almost all spot on during the race. Though I will be buying us a new map measurer before next season.

Ready to race

Ready to race

We packed our gear, attended race briefing and then boarded the bus to race start. As we boarded the bus, a marshal handed us an extra map containing a surprise foot rogaine leg. We still didn’t know where we were going to start the race and the map was only a small extract of the larger map we’d been given earlier. But we quickly identified where it fit into the large map and developed a plan of attack.

We pushed ourselves right from the start by running more than we walked in the trek legs. Our navigation was spot on in the first foot rogaine and we hit all the checkpoints fairly easily. Instead of following the crowd, we stuck to the game plan we had devised on the bus and it worked for us. The other teams’ plans seemed to work for them too but for us the important thing we have been working on is sticking to our own game plan.

We love to kayak

We love to kayak

The foot rogaine took us to Lake McDonald where we could see iAdventure’s kayak trailer waiting for us. We quickly carried the heavy and awkward Voyagers out of the steep trailer down to the water to collect the checkpoints around the lake’s edge. We worked hard to overtake other teams in our strongest leg while still enjoying the scenery. We’re quite fortunate that I’m a little bloke because many teams with bigger men in them (especially the all-male teams) really struggle with these Voyagers the cockpits are quite small and they tend to take on water quite easily. Being small means we can get a rhythm and paddle properly.

The water was cold so I was glad my sister is our paddle ferret. She did an awesome job jumping into waist deep water and fighting her way through water plants to attack the checkpoints instead of making us wait until other teams had moved their kayaks out of the way. This way we could stay out of the melee and I could turn the boat while my sister grabbed the CP. She is great at getting back in the boat in waist (and sometimes chest) deep water.

It was muddy

It was muddy

After a short run to the bike TA we hit the trails. It was a mud-lover’s dream out on the course. While my sister just barged her way through all the mud and water, I have to admit to riding like a nanna (actually, I ride slippery tracks so poorly that it’s an insult to nannas to say that 🙂 ). During the race I decided to take the clipless pedals off my bike and to ride with flats for a while to build confidence and skills. I still had a ball though.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking

When we first checked the map at HQ we thought we’d be in trouble today with so much of the course being on the bike. But as we made our way around, we realised that it was definitely a navigator’s course. Through some good tactical decisions and strong navigation we were able to keep up with teams who would usually be far ahead of us in the course (i.e. teams who ride like pros and who don’t have to wait for my nanna-like riding).

Urgh! Not the powerlines again

Urgh! Not the powerlines again

Much of the course traveled through trails and bushland that we traversed in last year’s Adventure Race Australia. Unfortunately for our legs, we had a repeat of the hills along the power line. But at least it made the navigation here easy because we knew exactly where to turn off (after pushing the bikes up of the nasty hills).

Loving life on the course

Loving life on the course

Despite (or perhaps because of) the prospect of the powerline hills, my sister and I were having a brilliant time out on the course.

Marking up the map for the surprise bike rogaine

Marking up the map for the surprise bike rogaine

The race had plenty of surprises for us, including five surprise rogaines (three on foot, the kayak leg and one on the MTBs). My sister did a fantastic job marking up the maps for us. This has been a big development for us – being able to share the navigation. In our first few races, I was in charge of the maps but over time my sister’s confidence has increased and now she navigates us on the bikes and kayak while I navigate on foot. We split it based on our strengths. I am our rear seat paddler on the water and she has better eyes than me on the bikes (I wear reading glasses), while I love navigating and find my eyes manage ok on foot.

A beautiful day for trekking

A beautiful day for trekking

Just as we thought we were nearing the finish of the race, the In2Adventure folks threw a really nasty surprise our way.

Climbing Mt Cooroora

Climbing Mt Cooroora

We had to climb Mt Cooroora of Pomona King of the Mountain fame. To make things more interesting, they placed a checkpoint half-way up the mountain on the main hiking track. Unfortunately, we were one of many teams who took a steep shortcut up the mountain only to realise we had to run about 700m back down to get the CP on the main hiking track and then trek all the way back up. It was a piece of course setting brilliance.

Mt Cooroora from Race HQ

Mt Cooroora from Race HQ

Once we were almost near the top of Mt Cooroora, we got to stop to take on the best adventure leg of the race: a happy snap by a professional photographer. We played silly buggers for ours so I look forward to seeing how it turned out. The views from the top were fantastic (as you might imagine from the photo of the mountain above).

From Mt Cooroora we ran back to our bikes, rode to Race HQ. The final surprise foot rogaine was a short sharp effort, culminating in my turn to swim when I ended up waist deep in water to collect a checkpoint in the middle of a creek. That was heaps of fun and had me laughing.

Wet and muddy shoes are a sign of a good day out

Wet and muddy shoes are a sign of a good day out

We finished strong and had a great day out on the course. We have no idea how we went results-wise but it doesn’t matter. We know we raced hard and had loads of fun. We stuck to our game plan and did our own navigation, rather than following the crowds. This is our last adventure race before November. There are only three or four more races in South-East Queensland in the coming months but we have commitments for each. So now we have a few months to hone our navigation and mountain biking, and improve our fitness.

Total: 6 hours of adventure racing made up of 29.1km MTB, about 12km trail running and 4km paddling.

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10 responses to “Adventure Race Australia, Qld 2013

  1. That sounds fantastic!! I’m terrible with a map but I still think I’d love to try something like this. It sounds like you had a really excellent race 🙂

    • Adventure racing is really excellent fun Max. You definitely should give it a try. Find a friend who can read a map or take a crash course. I bought a couple of books that are brilliant but do you think I can think of the titles?

      Many adventure races have beginner / novice categories that are good for building confidence and require little more than the ability to read a street directory.

    • This looks awesome! I’d love to try something like this (was big into orienteering at school, now mountain biking and water sports) but I don’t think there’s much like it in England unfortunately
      Glad you had fun though

      • I’m not sure. I got the impression there was a good adventure racing community in the UK. I follow Rosemary Byde’s blog (Planet Byde) and she seems to do a few adventure races / multisport rogaines. Perhaps it’s worth checking her blog out to see what info you can find.

      • I’ll check it out, I’ve never seen anything advertised or what not (mind you, i’ve not been loking for it specifically..)
        But yeah, i’ll look at her blog, thanks 🙂

  2. I love your adventures!! 🙂 Looks super cool! 🙂

    • LOL 🙂 I have a lot of fun doing them. I’m just about to write a post about something that I’ve applied for that is even cooler than an adventure race …

  3. Pingback: More photos from Adventure Race Australia 2013 | Transventure

  4. That sounds like a great race Andrew. It also sounds like a lot of fun. I’d like to do some MTB endurance rides after my IM.

  5. Pingback: Rest day reflections | Transventure

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