The first event on the China Stage Adventure Racing calendar has begun. The 2016 Baise Outdoor Quest. Many Kiwi’s have once again placed themselves in some elite teams from around the globe. Countries competing include New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, France, Russia, Czech Republic, Finland, Taiwan, Germany and China.
Kiwi’s competing are Marcel Hagener, Simone Maier, Hamish Fleming, Myself, Corrinne Smit, Daniel Jones, Milan Brodina, Andrea Peebles and 2016 Multisport World Champion: Sam Clark.
The event is four days long and each day the winning times are expected to be between six and four hours. Stages will include Mountain biking, running, kayaking, swimming, caving, orienteering and abseiling.
Here is a brief run down:
Today the sky was blue again and air temperature expected to soar well above 30 degrees. The race began in Leye town (section of Baise) with a fast paced 5km road run, zig zagging through the streets to show off to the locals. Team Raw adventure (Jackie and Mimi Boisset, Dan Jones, Alex Hunt) took off in lead very quickly followed by Team O2B (Hamish Fleming, Simone Maier, Marcel Hagener and Myself) and Team Thule (Martin Flinta, Sam Clark, Helena Erbenova and Clas Bjorling) then the rest of the teams in pursuit. Next stage up was a 34km Mountain bike with 1km bike carry up muddy and steep bush track, Team Thule over took Team O2B during a technical downhill section leaving O2B in third position. In the last 10km of the mountain bike O2B had to battle it out against Team Swedish Armed Forces who had caught up, during which I stopped twice, once for a twisted chain and again for a loose front through axle. Last stage up was a challenging 23km run that was very steep and technical. Included was four deep caving sections lasting up to 1km. Total climb was about 1900m. The day had become very hot and the expected time to complete the run was misinterpreted causing for a few dehydrated teams. The run ended with a spectacular 120m abseil into a cave.
My day of ‘bad legs’ and cramps and Simone’s battle with a chest cold made the day slower than team O2B had hoped for. (Despite some hard towing from Hamish and Marcel).
Day 1 results:
1st place Team Raw adventure – 5hours 17mins
2nd place Team Thule – 5 Hours 33 mins
3rd Place Team O2B – 5 Hours 44 mins
A long bus ride to the start put the teams in an isolated and pristine part of the Baise area. The race began with a 15km kayak on a lake with a mass start.
Hamish and I led the field early on and the team broke away from the the wash riders just before the halfway mark. O2B finished the kayak stage with about a 1min gap back to Team Raw Adventure and other teams further back on the water. Next up was a 15km Mountain bike stage with a 5km section that was to steep and technical to ride so we had to carry the bikes. Knowing the details before hand, Team O2B opted to ride with platform pedals and running shoes. Total ascent for the ride was 850 meters. Raw Adventure passed OB2 early in the stage but once it it became bike carry section the teams were together until the end. It was very hot and sticky and a small breeze was begged for. Last up as a 3km run to finish. O2B managed to enter the transition just in front of Raw Adventure and because they already had running shoes on they just had to stack bikes and run off, the others had to change from their bike shoes. An intensive battle to the end Team O2B finished 1st place just 1 second in front of Raw Adventure.
Day 2 results:
1st place Team O2B – 3hours 20min
2nd place Team Raw Adventure – 3hours 20min
3rd place Team Thule – 3 Hours 33min
The teams packed up and departed at 7pm on route to a new hotel where the next 2 days are based. Hence the short 2nd day.
Day 3 was expected to be the longest outing of the four day race and it did not disappoint. It was also one of the most mesmerizing and scenic of the trip. The surrounding land geology is primarily limestone creating unique mountain shapes and enormously deep caves and valleys.
This day began with a Mountain bike stage 37km. Each team started 15 seconds apart in order of current overall placing. We were 2nd to leave behind Team Raw Adventure.
I had been having trouble with my leg muscles in the previous days and this day was no exception. By the first hill I found myself breathing far too hard, muscles burning with an unusual amount of lactic acid pumping away. The teams pulled away from me and I was quickly on the tow rope from Hamish or Marcel. We managed to stay with most of the top teams bar Raw Adventure who had their own pace. The bike has awesome climbs and even better descents, long and fast. Sometimes on very narrow single track. We entered the transition along side Team Thule with many close behind. The air temp was high and made it hard to concentrate.
Next up was a 12km trail run. It was a tough one with lots of ascent up steep rocky faces. Chinese Team Kolumb stayed behind us and pushed our pace throughout. We dropped into a gigantic cave at one point which took 20mins of uphill to climb out of.
At the end we entered a time neutral transition where two of us put harnesses on for an abseil. There was slight confusion as to how long you could stay in this transition area as we only stayed 5mins after been rushed out where as other teams relaxed for over 30mins. (This made the finishline very confusing for placings until chip timings were known). Anyway the whole team had to run down a steep rock face to the lake where half the team jumped into the water and swam to an island 600m away and Marcel and I climbed up a 80m cliff face with dodgy bamboo ladders to commit to an abseil back down to water before pursuing our swim. An obvious gap between us and the other two in the team meant we pushed hard in our helmets and abseil gear to swim and catch up.
Next stage was a 22km kayak on the lake. After the turnaround checkpoint we were convinced we had a great lead on chasing teams but a not so achievable gap to bridge to the 1st place team, Raw Adventure. Happy to exit the boats we mucked around due to confusion with the marshalls. Soon we figured out which direction to head and a 2km run uphill tarmac took us to the finish line. I was truly worn in the legs and dragged myself at the back while Hamish once again set the pace at the front and towed Simone and himself away from me. After crossing the line we found out while waiting that we had in fact finished in third place after Swedish Team Haglofs Silva’s time splits came through. Haglof’s Silva had New Zealander Corrinne Smit racing with them.
On paper this day looked simple but of course it would be as challenging a day as the rest. A 27km Mountain bike followed by a 28km run back to town then 3.km orienteering around the village to finish.
The bike stage was a mass start and it was easy for me to stay with everyone… until the first hill. I pushed as hard as always but like every other day the output for my legs was pathetic. I was back on the tow line from either Hamish or Marcel and even Simone gave be a few nudges from behind. The first hill was a big grind to the top eventually topping out at 1100m.
We stayed again in sight of Team Thule who we had an overall lead of 5mins on and knew to keep 2nd place overall we just needed to finish with them. The first descent was very technical with big consequences. We didn’t get on the track far enough ahead and ended up being held up by fit teams who sucked at technical riding. We had one bike mechanical issue where Simone’s rear derailleur cable came loose so she was stuck in top gear (No doubt her power legs could have managed it!) Marcel fixed it very quickly but put us again behind slow teams on the technical and narrow track. At transition we had caught up to Thule again and exited on the long run stage just behind them. We knew it would be a tough long run so paced ourselves accordingly and allowed Thule to disappear expecting to see them again. The weather was much cooler today and more bearable however we still sweated profusely and all carried around 4 liters with the time on our feet unknown. With climbed some very big hills, once over 1400m before descending and doing it over again up to 1200m. Bashing through thorned vines and stinging nettle. Marcel pointed out a big black snake on the trail at one point. While I was unable to push the pace hard I was fit and full of endurance so this stage suited me a bit better. Able to stay well with the team. Two Chinese (who are very good runners) passed us during the run but we caught one of them again before the end who had gone too hard.
At final transition to the orienteering stage round town there was certain exhaustion on everyone’s faces. Hamish and I got hold of the GPS coordinates and had two units. While we ran to one checkpoint the other person was typing in the coordinates for the next. One check point involved us clipping our harnesses into a rope taut across a river and ‘flying foxing’ across.
Sprinting across the line we could only hope that we’d managed to keep the gap close enough to keep 2nd overall. We hadn’t and Thule had been ahead by 7mins.
First finished was Raw Adventure again however they we penalised 30mins for misunderstanding and doing the Orienteering check points out of order. Leaving Thule in 1st place for the last day, Chinese Kolumb in 2nd and us in 3rd.
However in the overall standings Raw Adventure had gained such a big lead over the four days that the final penalty did not affect them from claiming 1st overall. That team should be commended for their awesome and convincing result.