Suqian Luoma lake 24hr Challenge
I’m writing this in Nanjing Airport at 5am. Arrived here at Midnight and cannot sleep. Too awkward and painful in the plastic chairs, floor too filthy to lay on, and so many bits hurt. At least 6 blisters on each hand and foot + a back covered in seeping chafe. Wounds from long kayaks against a back rest and rubbing running pack, all shirtless from protection.
Too hot to wear a shirt. Way too hot.
Muscles arn’t too sore so good news there.
It was only yesterday that we finished the race at 12:20am. 18 and bit hours on the go. Suqian is a new adventure race event in China, they called it a Quadrathlon but there were about six sports: 2.5km lake swim, 20km kayak, 20km inline skate, 55km mountain bike, 2km run/abseil, 35km kayak, 60km mountain bike, 40km road run.
Our team mate Ailsa had been sick and resting in bed for the last week and still suffering from the symptoms. Yet she still dragged herself to the start line. It looked to be a long day ahead, she has always been a tough chick, which is why she is a great multisporter and team mate, we would do anything to help her finish with us.
Sorry not much photos of during race yet. Will upload when they come through. Video to come too.
6am start on the beach, goggles were fogged up, smog across the entire lake, visibilty was low. My swim training paid off (ranged from two sessions per week to zero) surprisingly. Tangled amongst weeds and other racers, we made it in 50mins.
The kayak was an out and back with only a GPS coordinate to follow. The Lake was abundance with fishing net farms that rose up to a meter from the water, fencing off just about the entire lake in sections the size of small paddocks. Mixed with thick smog and low visibility meant a less than direct route. Seeing other teams heading back gave plenty of motivation to crank up the intensity and catch a few of them before the end of the stage.
On with dry socks and the 20km inline skate began. Hamish towed Luke, Ailsa cruised behind and I gave out max effort and pain to hang in further behind. My technique was not efficient. Eventually we came up with a setup that worked well keeping us up over 20kmph till the end of the skate.
55km mountain bike, like the entire of the province we were in, was entirely flat. Mixed between fast sealed/paved road and muddy/rocky stock banks amongst hundreds of poplar trees that almost reminded me of home. Keeping an eye on fluid intake was important as it really was hot, at least 28 degrees with a very high humidity. My tire came off its rim going sharply around a corner letting out air and leaving pressure very low for last 5km.
Back at the TA (transition area) we then ran 1km to our Hotel, up the stairs 29 floors to the top and abseiled off. Ailsa was really feeling the impact of her sickness by the end of this and we settled down for a long transition. No one enjoys watching or making someone suffer and I felt so bad. But onwards we went! Ailsa was silent and clearly uncomfortable, China racing is reknown for situations like this, it was a case of keep going until someone makes it absolutely clear. A difficult situation for everyone. Amongst the pain, we knew she wanted to finish so we continued on.
35km paddle, all GPS points again amonst the thick smog. Horrifically hot, with compulsory spray decks on. We were out on the water for 4 hours paddling hard. Apart from the end of the last stage it was one of the hardest parts of the day for me, it was just too hot. By the time we were 5km from end the wind picked up and blew the smog well enough for us to see the ferris wheel where the end TA was, we cut the corner, ploughing through fishing nets. Hands were a soggy blistered mess by the end.
Back onto the bikes I quickly pumped up my tire from the air lost on the first ride. Removing the pump uncrewed the valve core, the tired broke its bead. A hand pump cannot fix this, so an inner tube went in. Lights were attached by this stage and an hour in it was night time. 60km ride. Ailsa was weary and had a few crashes, from there we stopped towing her on anything technical and took it pretty easy letting her set the pace. A river crossing up to our shoulders was refreshing for the bodies just past halfway.
We came into the final TA for the 40km run to finish. It was easily the least desirable stage. We started off at a walk but Ailsa kicked it off by running first. Hamish did the navigation with the map (which was a google satellite picture on a large scale) and Luke and I shared Ailsa on the tow. A very very tough run. Nav was so good we covered only 32km. The last 5km was painful for everyone, Ailsa’s body must have must have been in an unimaginable stage. The boys of team are so proud of her efforts and mental strength amongst so much discomfort for so long. There were plenty of times where I wondered if we’d make it as a team.
The finishline was extremely relieving. Satisfied and happy are probably not the words to describe it though. So much pain. It was more like: get me out of here, I’ve had enough.We were so tired. It hurt to sit down, it hurt to stand up, it hurt to lie down. Forced myself to have a shower before laying heavily on the hotel bed staining it with blood, seeping blisters and chafe. Not my favourite type of race.
A few days off to repair myself and my bike before Taining Outdoor challenge. 3 day stage race in a two person team. Very high speeds expected. Bring it on.