I never used to buy the professional photos from races when I did triathlon but with adventure racing I like to get the photos because the races are as much about the memories I am making with my sister as the racing.
See this post for race report.
I never used to buy the professional photos from races when I did triathlon but with adventure racing I like to get the photos because the races are as much about the memories I am making with my sister as the racing.
See this post for race report.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
Despite (or perhaps because of) the prospect of the powerline hills, my sister and I were having a brilliant time out on the course.
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.
Just as we thought we were nearing the finish of the race, the In2Adventure folks threw a really nasty surprise our way.
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.
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.
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.
As I sit here on Monday morning, it’s difficult to know how to start writing about the fantastic weekend my team mate and I had at the Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine. If all anyone looked at was the points on the scoreboard, they might think that Whoops Witch Way had a shocking race, scoring just 1670 out of a possible 3370 points, making us 34th of 45 teams or 14th out of 17 mixed teams. But scoreboards sometimes do lie. Both members of Whoops Witch Way agree that the Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine was one of the most fantastic weekends either of us have ever had.
At midday Saturday, we set off on the first of four stages: a 20km kayak down Yabba Creek. As with all rogaining events, all checkpoints are optional and teams may complete them in any order within a given stage. We had established a game plan intended to ensure we had an enjoyable and physically challenging weekend while also building our confidence for future rogaining events (this was only our second rogaine). So, instead of running off to CP1 with the other teams, we walked down to the kayak transition and set off on the water.
Yabbe Creek contained just enough water for us to paddle. The lowest recommended depth for paddling the creek is when 6cm water flows over the dam wall; we had 7cm. This meant we had a few little portages and sections where we had to get out so that the kayak could float over shallow sections of the creek. Though the lack of water also meant we could limbo our way under some of the bridges and fallen trees that crossed over the creek. There were even some small shallow and simple rapids for us to negotiate on our way downstream to add a bit of spice to the day.
Our tactic to skip the first checkpoint meant that we had the creek to ourselves for most of the stage. We saw the lead teams twice as they passed us in the first half of the stage and then again after they stopped to do the optional foot rogaine mid-stage. Both teams were friendly and didn’t complain when they got stuck behind us in narrow sections of the creek. Team Spin City Cycles even gave us a few tips to help us improve our paddling efficiency as they raced past us.
Our transition between stages 1 and 2 was slow and deliberate. We dried off with a towel, changed into dry clothing, laid out a picnic blanket and made chicken wraps, which we sat down to eat. All around us, teams were moving quickly to cram food into their systems and refill their hydro packs. It was amazing to be sitting there amidst some of adventure racing and rogaining’s elite teams to see how different their approach is to our’s. One by one, each of the teams disappeared into the distance, taking the northern route option out into the forest. About half an hour after we arrived, we too were ready to set off in the opposite direction.
We decided to focus our mountain bike leg on accuracy, rather than distance. We selected a 40km route that took us through some of the less hilly terrain. This was all part of our game plan to select a route suitable to our abilities that would allow us to really enjoy the weekend. We started the ride in daylight, enjoying some quiet forestry roads that ran along a bubbling creek. As the sun started to set, we came upon CP19, one of the most stunning points on the course. There was no way I was letting the moment pass without stopping to take some photos of the view and an obligatory selfie of our smiling faces.
As day turned to night, we cruised around the course collecting all the checkpoints we had marked up on the map. We only saw a handful of other teams as they either rode towards us or were stopped filling bottles at the water station. We even took time to stop and attach multicoloured glow sticks to ourselves and our bikes; such were our spirits.
We were the first team to arrive at Race HQ after stage 2, not because we were fastest but probably because we rode the shortest distance. The lovely Gary and Kim (from Team Mountain Designs who won the 8-hour race), and their friends came over to HQ to share a laugh with us. It sounded like they’d had a magnificent day on the 8-hour course and an enjoyable evening around the campfire. Their tips and encouragement were greatly appreciated as we prepared to head off onto Stage 3, a night navigation trek course that would prove to be a challenge.
Stage 3 was not our most productive in terms of points. We spent three hours trekking and only found two of the four checkpoints we attempted. However, with a near-full moon, cloudless skies and only the two lead teams out on the course with us, the late night trek was stunning. After wasting an hour desperately trying to find CP34, only to learn later that we had walked straight past it, we turned off our headlamps and trotted off down the gravel road. As we ran/walked our way along the road, we watched the lead teams’ head torches climb up and back down a mountain to CP33. It made us glad we hadn’t decided to head out for it because they had to go a long way uphill. We found the easy win at CP28 and then another easy find at CP32 along a fenceline before spending about an hour trudging around looking for the 100 pointer at CP31. We have learned that we were again mere metres from our goal. Had we stuck to our game plan we might just have found it but we made the tactical error of believing we were in the wrong place because one of the top two teams (who cleared the course) were somewhere different to us.
While we didn’t score many points in Stage 3, it did serve as a reminder for us to race our own race and ignore everyone else on the course, no matter how good they are.
We returned to Race HQ around 1am and decided to punch in, ending all thoughts we might have of returning to the stage 3 trek leg. With kayaks for the final stage being unavailable until 5am, we decided to hit the hay. My team mate did a fantastic job setting up camp so that we could both crash out for a solid three hour slumber.
At 4am we woke and prepared ourselves for the final stage: a kayak with optional trek legs around Booroomba Dam. The sleep was just what we needed to refresh our bodies and spirits, ready for a long paddle in perfect conditions.
We were one of four teams to launch their boats at 5:30am. With the lead teams taking off in opposite directions around the course, we were soon paddling alone enjoying the misty pre-dawn light. Visibility was limited as the mist hung thick in the air. For most of the first hour, the only colour in our world was the bright red boat, yellow PFDs, and orange and white checkpoint markers.
The dam was populated by armies of dead trees, standing eerily in the water watching silently. It wasn’t until we saw them that we realised why CP49 was a 100-pointer. The clue ‘on dead tree’ but the CP was hidden amongst hundreds such trees standing in a large clump. As we came out of the inlet from CP45, we could just make out the shape of a team paddling amongst the dead trees some distance away. We couldn’t tell whether or not they had found the CP, but we decided to head in that general direction to check things out. The other team left the area quickly without us being able to tell where they’d stopped. But between our angle or approach and the first rays of sunlight, we were lucky enough to spot the bright orange marker in the distance and made a beeline for it. A random kayaker we saw paddling around turned out to be one of the race directors who snapped a photo of us celebrating our successful find.
As the sun rose, the day just got even more beautiful. The black water reflected the shoreline and sky, as bright blue kingfishers flitted around looking for breakfast.
We found all the kayak checkpoints in stage 4 but opted not to attempt the trekking CPs because we wanted to remember the race for the successes and joys, rather than risking frustration.
There will be other races in which Whoops Witch Way race for the purpose of finishing as high on the scoreboard as we possibly can. But sometimes, you just have to go out to have fun. The Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine tested our physical endurance and was a huge confidence-builder in our first full season together as a team. We’ve never attempted such a long event and discovered that, with a few hours sleep, we can keep it together and keep our heads. All going well, you’ll see team Whoops Witch Way at the start line for the 2014 Rogue 24hour Adventuregaine. And, who knows, we might just have a little more experience, confidence and skills by then so that we can race a little further while still just having fun.
I leave tonight to travel to race HQ for the Rogue 24hr Adventuregaine. We have bike drop at 8:30pm, receive our maps from 10am and start racing at midday.
If you want to follow my team’s progress in the race, we are Whoops Witch Way (Race #1) and you can keep up-to-date over the weekend here.
So here we are…. a review of the race calendar and woohoo an obstacle course on the Saturday followed by an adventure race on the Sunday. I was sure this was going to be a killer weekend!!
After a quick confirmation the adventure race would be on the Sunday, I registered for the Saturday morning obstacle course. Now I was just left waiting for Ray to ‘get back’ so I could register for the Sunday adventure race when it opened.
Finally registrations opened for the adventure race. Oh no, the race has been moved to SATURDAY.
Ok, no drama’s, this is not a problem, just a hiccup. After a few emails I had managed to move my obstacle course to the Sunday and I was all registered. Now it was going to be a BIG weekend.
Friday night I was taking the 4 kids (under 8) by myself to the Broncos. Saturday saw a 4:15am start to make the adventure race up north, and Sunday had a 5:30am start for the 10ish-km obstacle course.
Friday finally rolled around and the weather was horrible! It could not be looking worse to head to the Broncos with 4 kids! Luckily the Broncos (and Cowboys) heard my prayers and the right team came through with a nail-biting win together with the weather staying dry over Suncorp Stadium! Excitement in the household and a short nap later I was back in the car heading up the coast to the adventure race.
This was to be the first race of the season for my teammate. It was wet, cold and dreary, but that was not going to spoil our spirits. The discussion on the way up consisted of the lack of breakfast that I had had and whether the boogie board (no body boarding happening here) was going to be last or not. We were both gambling on ‘surely it will be last to head to the finish line’.
Bikes dropped off … maps in hand and back to the car to mark it up before the rain set back in. We read the first line … oh, we are ‘getting wet’ straight up! Wow, no beating around the bush with that one!
We soon had our optimistic route marked up on the map and headed to the toilets for that mandatory ‘pit stop’ before ALL races!
Before long we were lined up on the start line, ready to brave the water in the cool wind and ‘hoot’ off we went. I brought my son’s little board because I decided it would be lighter to carry for 2kms– it worked a treat. The disadvantage was that I was completely drenched straight away but found the water was quickly quite alright. I watched a men’s team go racing into the distance very quickly. I think I managed to keep up with them for the first 10m’s. The rest of the pack strung themselves out across the dam quickly and I soon found I had totally lost my teammate and was left kicking away by myself.
Luckily for me another person had also lost his team, so we kicked together and decided to wait ‘on the other side’ for our respective teammates to catch up. I was jealous of him as he appeared to be ‘high and dry’ on his blow-up-looking-device. He later advised me that I looked much warmer than he was and that he was quite wet and catching a lot of wind. Maybe this was the point that I should have told him that that is what you get for going so fast – and that was with NO FLIPPERS!!!
I finally found my teammate, who I discovered I was looking straight at but not recognising, and out of the water we stumbled. A quick trot over the grass to grab the first checkpoint, a flipper-shoe change and up the slippery wet hill we trudged.
We quickly found the next few checkpoints. As one would know, these ones are generally easy when you are mid-pack because you have the beauty of practicing your much-played primary school game of ‘follow the leader’. (Something that my regular teammate and I have noticed has often landed teams in quite a mess in adventure-races).
Soon we were wading … swimming(?) through the tunnel with the world’s biggest spider and out the other side. A quick rethink of tactics and off we went behind the rest of the teams to the ‘right’ (along the highway).
Passing checkpoint 6 to get to 5 proved valuable for us as we did not have to ‘look’ for checkpoint 6 later after taking the time to look for it as we passed by. Checkpoint 5 down … checkpoint 6 down … and much to our surprise we found ourselves ‘in the game’. Yes – this was purely based on noticing that we had managed to get checkpoint 5 and 6 before team Mountain Designs. This will forever by my claim-to-fame for this race (haha).
This lead over them was VERY short lived as they raced past us before we were even close to checkpoint 7 and we never saw them again – oh wait yes I did — when I was eating my sausage at the end!
On to the bike we went and from here it was all down-hill. Unfortunately this was not in a literal sense but more-so in a sense of my teammate realising it was much wetter and harder than she expected. I think the late night was catching up on her as we found ourselves rerouting our entire course to eliminate ALL small tracks and sticking only to the major track.
The highlight of the bike leg was probably when we hit the bitumen! Yes – that was FANTASTIC!!!
My poor teammate struggled on listening to me telling her to change her gears up-down-up-down continuously. If it wasn’t that it was me telling her to walk up the hills with me because we were walking faster than riding or praying she would make it through that ‘next huge puddle of water’. Oh wait – that was a river I think! She is a champion and somehow put up with my constant nagging without complaining at all (at least not verbally!)!!!
We decided to ditch checkpoint 21 and head straight to 22. By this point I had no more brakes on my bike but wanted to push on as much as possible. The decision was paying off for us until we had to cross a fast flowing swollen creek – in which my teammate lost her footing and had a massive rock smash into her leg.
At this point I was ready to go back to the main road and call Gary for him to come get us and give us a feed. My teammate decided she would be right to push on and on we went – welt on leg and all. Checkpoint 22 down and back to the tunnel we headed. By this stage we just wanted to get back and were quickly running out of time. Ok, lets be honest, there was 15 minutes left till it was 2pm!
More walking and shitting myself down-hill without any way of stopping other than the mercy of mud at the bottom; the chance of an uphill and otherwise it was going to be a“JUMP and pray”! Checkpoint 23 proved to exaggerate just how ‘vertically challenged’ we were; so we decided to have a bit of a laugh at the fact we really thought we could reach it for a fleeting moment and continue on our way. Checkpoint 24 was out of the question and off home we headed.
Across the dam-overflow creek we waded. Ok ok I almost lost my bike here as it started floating away on me before I managed to grab the rope and readjust midstream.
Out the other side and heading straight for the food! Forget the finish – we wanted food!!!
Oops, clearly we made a wrong turn and forgot to keep navigating because we somehow ended up on the wrong side of the fence. I still have no-idea what the ‘correct way’ out of the fenced area was. But, we ended up next to the beach and got some kids that were fishing to come help up ‘chuck our bikes over the fence’ before clambering over ourselves.
Presentations at this stage were well underway as we snuck in the ‘back entrance’ to the finish line and chowed down on some cold sausages and hot Sprite.
Yes, we were one of the teams that got ‘punished’ for not doing all the checkpoints but, on the other hand, we did manage to finish the event in a timely manner. No, I didn’t say timely as in ‘on time’ but timely as in ‘took our sweet time’ – approx 2.15pm!
The day was great and the only thing that would have made it better would be if the teams, like us, that finished really late could have had a warm to luke-warm sausage to eat rather than ‘scraps’. Afterall, it’s the ones that finish last that usually need it the most.
A quick ‘check in’ with Ray and then in the car we jumped to head home. The drive home was quiet but we were still in high spirits and definitely ready for a sleep.
I enjoyed myself immensely. I loved the random tube activity – although my teammate was the one that did it. Maybe that made me like it all the more as I had time to relax; show someone a new trick with ‘counting 100m’s’ (which I only learnt at an event earlier this year); and have a good drink before continuing.
The Sunday race was another early start. I was late awake but still managed to get up. The event was the Jurassic obstacle race. This was by far the BEST obstacle course I have done yet. It was a reasonably small event and set in a beautiful natural area with many different obstacles; which was spread out nicely throughout the course.
My teammate from the day before came too and we both found that the event was a great way to stretch after our long race on the Saturday.
I highly recommend BOTH events that I did on the weekend. The only things I would change is
Great events to all the organisers over the weekend; shout out to my teammate for surviving and
Suwati (Team: Not another hill)
Thanks to Ridgeline Adventures for the photos.
Team Whoops Witch Way had our Thursday night trail run tonight. With each of us having challenging events this weekend (she has an adventure race with her friend Saturday and a women’s obstacle race Sunday, and I have the 200km 2 Lumps Audax ride), we decided to take things easy on our run.
I had to borrow Mum’s ute (pick up truck) to get to the Audax ride on Saturday so I rode my MTB through the bush to my sister’s place. I just took it easy for the ride and enjoyed the experience.
Our trail run was easy. We walked up the hills and jogged slowly for the rest of the run. Our pace was just 7:30mins per kilometre (12:00 mins / mile).
Tomorrow I’ll be taking the whole day off training. I also have no plans to train on Sunday after Saturday’s Audax ride. But I will be picking the Purple Monster up from the shops tomorrow after getting the front forks replaced (they are seriously bent from when the bike fell off the car in December). More on the new-look Purple Monster tomorrow.
Total: 7.1km night MTB and 5.36km night trail run.
Whoops Witch Way went out trail running tonight with our third team member, M. We had a fantastic smooth run along some beautiful flowing single track and across some shallow creeks. The 7.05km flew by so quickly and easily that I’m wondering whether the trick to my running is to do it infrequently and well. Because every time I try to run more than once or twice a week I start to feel the old injuries flare up. But when I run once or twice a week, those one or two sessions always feel so good; like I could run all day or night.
I probably won’t blog again until sometime Sunday because I’m going on a two-day kayak camping trip out on Moreton Bay with my son. He and I haven’t been camping together since September 2011 so we’re well overdue for a father-son weekend away.
Total: 7.05km night trail run