It seems to be similar conditions to the previous day. Cold temperature and no sun plus lots of wet terrain. But little did we know it would change. This entire day had no course marking and were expected to follow a track of our GPS. Hamish and I had managed to upload it to watches so that made it easier to follow.
20km mountain bike. A staggered start dividing teams by 30 seconds. We scoot off 3rd and quickly catch Koosa. Just after a fork in the trail we see Purao running with with bikes back up the muddy downhill. They had made a wrong turn and we had followed the tire marks in the mud. This meant now all top teams had now either caught up or passed. It is hard to tell which fork to take on the trails due the gps track being very wide and no background.
Again the trail is very very muddy and even though we nearly make it back to the front of the field, we have several ongoing issues with the bikes chains and derailers clogged up with mud causing us to fall behind often. But we work very hard and actually begin the next stage very close to the two front teams still (Purao and Adventure NZ)
16km biathlon. This means we only take two bikes for our four team members and wear running shoes. Hamish and i initially run together and Marcel and Simone ride first. But quickly we realize the mistake that Hamish and I have both the GPS’s! We swap out and now I am running/biking with Marcel. After pushing ourselves for 40min we see we have caught the other teams and pass them because they took the wrong fork. By the end we finish together with Purao and just a few minutes ahead of Adventure NZ.
27km kayak. We have often proven to be the strongest paddling teams so planned to get some time on this stage. However because we enter the water together with Purao it is very different to escape due to the effect of drafting. Eventually we work together with Dan and Alex from Purao to share the front work. Here the sun comes out burning fiercely. A few kms from the end Adventure NZ manages to catch us and join the train of boats. Albeit I’m sure that they would have worked a lot harder than we had on that stage making us slightly fresher (if i can use that word) than them.
11km trail run. Last leg for the day. We hopped out of the kayaks first but we’re faced immediately with a steep staircase to the transition area.
Limping our way up and tearing race bibs and lifejackets we have a fast transition and exit in first. The sun is truly out now it’s burning. It’s all uphill for the next 3km and Purao, who are always running well squeeze past us. We make effort to not let them out of sight but once in the thicker bush trail they disappear. Eventually we climb out of the trail onto a road which traverses the high hills. Along the tops we can see Purao in the distance and keep moving quickly.
A big descent back to the farmlands it looks like we are only 1.5km away however they make sure we go up another steep trail over another saddle before descending more road and farm trail an eventually bursting out at the finishline.
Turns out we weren’t far behind! We claim 2nd and well ahead of the rest of the field.