Category Archives: Races
Read about events that I’ve recently been involved in and about how well I did or didn’t do ;-)
I’ve done this event three times before, all three times with Hamish and twice with Marcel and Simone. Although 2016’s version was very short (4 hours), it usually is reputable as a long one day race. Both 2014 and 2015 took 16-18 hours for us to complete.
2017 was a little different. Instead of breaking the stages up in to multiple ‘shorter’ sections, we were faced with long stages.
2015 version: 2km swim, 18km kayak, 20km inline skate, 60km MTB, 2km run+abseil, 33km kayak, 60km MTB, 35km Run.
2017 version: 2km swim, 128km MTB, 55km kayak, 43km run.
Logistically this is harder for nutrition and pacing/self-maintenance. But it proves especially hard to escape nearby teams due to drafting or slower paces due to the long distance.
We knew from the start who our competition would be. (We eventually ended up finishing within 15mins of each other)
It was two other teams who we knew would be challenging to beat:
Purao Biomedi: Alex Hunt, Daniel Jones, Jacky Boisset and Myriam Guillot.
Adventure Sport NZ team: Sam Clark, Elina Ussher, Richard Ussher and Dougal Allan.
Top 10 listed teams competing (next page had peak adventure Australia who came 5th in the end)
Here’s how it went:
6am start on the dot, the day was clouded over which was promising, it can be brutally hot here when the sun’s out.
2km swim: I didn’t rush off the beach and waded briskly through the shallow water without too much speed until the water was too deep. This method kept my heart rate low and walking in the deep water meant that I had efficiently kept near the front.
Once swimming I quickly got near the front and seemed to be leading the field. I was worried I was going too hard and looked up often to try and find Simone/Marcel who were swimming together (Hamish was right behind me). Because I slowed down Marcel and Simone suddenly came flying past.
I seem to often struggle to control my breathing and heart rate in any swimming event (in the very few that I’ve done) and today seemed to be no exception.
I began breathing nearly every stroke and decided to swim on Simone’s feet to get a break. But I couldn’t even stay on her feet (drafting). Either I was changing direction often, or they were, and I always seemed to be off to the side of them. About 1km I found the effort too much and let Marcel and Simone pull away from Hamish and I. It was too much for me and my energy to try and stay with them rather than my own rhythm.
To my left Team Adventure Sport NZ was catching up and I kept inline with them for a few hundred metres until I still couldn’t find a rhythm and was working harder than I wanted too, then I moved to the back of their team (Elina’s feet) and cruised easily in their wash to the end.
A good decision I thought but Marcel and Simone had to wait for us at the beach as we were probably 100m back.
Nevermind we didnt gain or lose any time and I was tired/dizzy enough after that swim.
We exited the transition last out of the three teams due to me dropping the whistle on the way out of the swim (a compulsory piece of equipment). Thankfully a Jacky of Purao team told me and I ran back.
I had no legs at the start of the bike so Hamish and Marcel led us out, doing the work and sprinting required to bring our team in touch with the front bunch of Adventure sport NZ and Purao Biomedi had grabbed a 100m gap on us.
From then it was pretty straightforward for the rest of the 128km ride. A fast course being mostly on road, some people worked on the front, some did not. Either way we averaged 35kmph and were often above 40kmph thanks to Dougal, Sam Clark and Alex Hunt from the other teams. Relatively uneventful apart from a couple of aggressive surges.
55km Monster Kayak: the top 3 teams all entered the water together and by this stage were a long way ahead of the next place team. Our team paddled well and were soon at the front.
Simone carries the mass amount of fluid and food required for the long paddle:
A strong easterly was blowing which meant we had large waves building on this lake, at the direction we were going (west) we were have a great time surfing them. By the turn around we had a bit of a gap on the other teams but now going into the wind, back to the start beach, we hoped to show our strength and pull away much further.
While we were still leading and still leaking
Straight away the waves were filling our boat with water. Splashing over the front and side. I was stoked. Why? Because I expected it and we had brought bilge pumps to save us. Something I knew the other teams hadn’t. I expected that the other teams would have far more trouble.
I was wrong. Not much water at all was splashing into their boats and Hamish and I were soon left behind pumping the water out. I didn’t understand!
Simone and Marcel had to turn around to find out what was going on. Very quickly Marcel pointed out that the back end was very deep in the water, it was clear the rear cavity/bulkhead was full of water and had a hole in it somewhere. We located it near the top of the boat so it must have filled while we were surfing the waves on the way over.
Hamish somehow managed to dig his fingers through the wall which was made of foam. The wall separated the cockpit from the bulkhead. Then the water flowed through to his area where he could pump the water out.
This process cost us a fair amount of time and the other teams had disappeared out of sight. Now able to pump the water out we were going faster and as we got closer to shore the waves were smaller and the wind even decreased.
In the distance we could spot the two front teams. Returning to the start beach marked about 23km into the 55km paddle.
We still had a long way to go. Time to make up some time!
Simone flicked on her waterproof speaker and started cranking some upbeat music to get the pistons cranking a bit harder.
4 more hours and 32 more kilometres later we closed the gap to about 5mins. These boats really do have a low hull speed and do not reward the efforts you out in.
43km run (god orienteering)
My hands were so soggy and blistered that as I rushed to put my running shoes on, holding the shoe open with my hand, my foot sliding in scrapped a lot of the skin off my hand. Yeowch.
We took off and I felt strong! We were clipping along at 4:30minkm and everyone seemed to feel great. Hamish led the charge with the GPS.
Surprisingly we passed team Adventure Sport NZ within 20mins. And flew past.
Soon we had Checkpoint 1 and it was a long way to checkpoint 2 on the other side of town. We were going well but could see Team Adventure were holding ground we’ll only 200m back.
Suddenly Hamish bent over and was throwing up, he was out of breath from the spewing and was determined to get something out of his belly. Turned out some olives weren’t digesting too well.
This was a big turning moment as Hamish is a strong team members and suddenly even though we were running again, it was not very fast and he seemed to be drastically low in energy.
Tow rope it was. I encouraged him to have a gel to to replace the missing fuel/empty stomach.
I took over for nav here forth and tried to get the team moving quickly again. We took a slightly different way to team NZ and were gutted to see them running towards us about 100m away from CP2. Now we had to turn around again and head back where we came from.
CP 2 was 20km in and there are 6 check points to collect!
It was very dark now and the rain was making me a little cold, which encouraged .e to also run faster.
The next few cps were all in a park which is a maze of trails, roads and ponds which do not go in logical directions.
We nailed all the cps in the park and had hope that maybe one of the other two teams made some mistakes as we had in previous years.
All that was remain was 5km of road running to the finish, the same place we had started the swim just 15 hours earlier.
We pushed hard and eventually we crossed the end of the race.
I felt quite angry at the finish line.
I was smashed but wanted to complain to the officials about our leaky kayak.
We had finished just 5mins behind 2nd place (Team Adventure Sport NZ) and 15mins behind 1st place team Purao Biomedi.
The officials just laughed and didn’t really understand what I was explaining (or maybe they did.).
Anyway I tried to eat and drink but struggled to get much down. Soon I found myself very weak and could bear to stand or even sit. So I curled up in the ground.
I felt nauseas and cold and dizzy.
I could compare it to being very intoxicated on alcohol and not wanting to move. Strangely nostalgic.
Not the most enjoyable activity 11pm at night after a monster event.
After a few days rehabbing in the Hilton in Chongqing we are now travelling to Zunyi for a two day stage race this weekend (9TH/10TH September).
Suqian is a place of flatness and quite warm when the sun comes out this time of the year. If the clouds cover we are look at a day averaging 24 degrees Celsius but if the sun shines then we have the burn and temperature of over 30 degrees.
Not so cloudy:
Above is the view from our massive hotel which in the past we’ve had to abseil off but not this year.
2km swim (starts in far the side of above photo and finishs at Ferris wheel)
128km mountain bike (described as all on road and flat and two laps of a 64km loop)
55km kayaking on the lake. (Known from previous times here as a hot and isolate place to be)
43km road/park run (navigation by GPS coordinates and a terrible satellite photo map)
The course ‘map’:
So the red line is the long kayak, the light blue line is the ‘MTB’ loop and the yellow dotted circle is the mystery run course.
Competing again with my great team of Hamish Fleming, Simone Maier and Marcel Hagener.
Top 8 teams:
We know what to expect from this course despite it being a new course to last time, the previous years were different but not by much.
We especially know what mistakes we have made in the past and therefore have a solid plan to ensure this day goes smoother than ever.
Race starts at 6:30am on Sunday 3rd September (10:30am NZ time)
Here’s some photos from the last few days here:
It’s been an epic season of pure focus. You can’t blame me too much for this race story being two weeks after the competition ended. Every second since I’ve been doing all the activities (or lack of) and consuming all the food and beverages that wasn’t so ideal during the Summer training block.
For those that haven’t been counting, this is my fifth Coast to Coast 1-day race. It’s a big day over rugged terrain and wild environment, everything is trying to slow you down. It’s a survival of the fittest. Who wants it the most, who’s prepared for it the most. Who really can trust themselves to do IT.
I want to build this day up a lot more but let’s just crack into it.
Usual 3:25am alarm, 3 strips of streaky bacon, 3 fried eggs, 1 fried tomato, 1/2 avocado. All carefully chewed by 3:50am. I hand-grind some beans and produce an extra strong coffee. By 5:15am I am unloading the bike from the van, checking the tire pressures and give Dad a strong hug.
The startline was different, we started on the road rather than the beach due to some steep erosion. I stood one row back from the front for the first time. I can run fine, I told myself, I’ll be in the front soon.
The start was right on time. 6:00am. The usual sprint to begin with and a small group of 5 guys get a 10m gap straight away, I hear Hamish just next to me tell someone: “Don’t worry they’ll ease off soon”. But, while I agreed that this was likely, it did not happened. 3:09minkm’s all the way to the uphill section. Hamish came flying past me when he saw that they weren’t slowing and I followed suit. I was kind of OK with the pace however I had not trained for this speed. As far as I was concerned it was ridiculous, but the fight within me to be in the front bunch was too big.
After just over 7 mins running we are on the bikes and storming ahead to create a front group of 9 guys. At least two notable athletes are missing (well who I expected to be there with us), Sam Goodall and Alex Hunt.
It was 5mins into this 55km road cycle that I made a mistake with dire consequences. I dropped my Leppin bottle containing all 3 gels I needed for the stage. If I cannot replenish the muscles fuel then I will have a hard time, especially after that fast first run. I told Hamish and he kindly offered me his spare Gel…Which I dropped. Idiot. So all I had for the ride was an Em power bar, a bottle of water and a bottle of electrolyte (no carbs).
Anyway the bunch seemed to work reasonably well to start with, better than last year at least. However soon some chaps kept riding off the front or some got tired and stayed at the back and the nice ‘flow’ became non existent. The next bunch back was closing in. I was keeping a close eye on my powermeter to make sure I didn’t spend too much time above a certain amount but hard to manage when it’s your turn on the front!
We came flying into the transition to begin the mountain run and still ahead of the 2nd bunch (I think only 2mins). Sam Clark had cycled with foot plates so didn’t need to change shoes, Braden Currie had worn his compulsory mountain run pack since the start line so didn’t need a bib change. Great tactical plans. I opted for simply a slick transition, Bib off, jacket off, running shoes on, pack on, bib on. Support crew nailed it so well I exited the transition in 3rd place, 30m behind Sam Clark, and 60m behind Braden Currie.
I felt awesome, I was floating. Priority number one, consume a gel. Oops I don’t have any water for 3 km to wash it down with.. doh! Caught up to Sam Clark and I considered passing but told myself off for considering. However by the time we reached the first river crossing I tried to push ahead and took a direct line to the main trail. I felt so good!
Clark snuck in front just as we entered the trail and he stayed in front here forth. I took slightly different lines and stayed only a 1min back for a long time. My rock running was better than ever so my heart rate was lower due to efficiency. I was happy with the splits I was achieving regardless of my position.
When I reached Goat Pass a couple of marshals yelled support to go faster, so I did, they loved it! They cheered loudly as I did a quick stride out across the top boardwalks however it built some nasty lactic acid in my hamstrings and I kind of regretted showing off.
Just after the Dudley Knob descent I kicked a tree stump really hard, dislodging my big toenail completely. I also landed on my face. Had to happen at some stage! A sign of wear. I limped for a bit but was able to push through the discomfort while thinking the toe was now broken.
I kept moving quickly however the last 5km was not as fast as I would have liked, muscle fatigue had set in and I struggled to maintain the high speed. Reaching Klondyke in 3hours 7mins, 5.5 mins behind Clark and 17mins behind Braden. I blame some of the excessive hamstring fatigue from the fast run at the start of the day.
Now onto the middle cycle stage, 15km. It’s time to top up on anything I didn’t get enough on the run. I enjoy a bottle of electrolyte, bottle of Fortisip (protein) and half an Em power bar. I pushed reasonably well on this ride so was surprised when I found I lost another minute on this stage.
The run down the kayak was a struggle in my head, I believe all the blood had left my head to try and digest all the food in my belly and felt disillusioned. The plan had been to eat more on this short run however I’d consumed more than enough. I had a salt tablet and another 1/4 of my oaty bar.
A slick as transition into the battleship, thanks to the support team. And I was off. It felt so weird and foreign to be kayaking. Nearly 30mins later the brain signals finally made its way to the right places and I started getting more consistent and powerful.
I knew roughly the right braids until 15km mark due to a few laps the week before however other than that I read and run it all. Reading the river on the run is a skill that takes a while to perfect but can be done with practice. The more time you spend on this river the better you understand the way it flows, fortunately my work with TopSport Kayaking meant I was well tuned.
Some awesome support from mates doing safety on the rock gardens (Tai Poutini Polytechnic) provided huge moral boost.
I had planned to make all my moves on this stage to claim back time and pull myself further away from those behind. My kayaking skill and fitness level was far better than ever and I really thought I could get the fastest paddle time. However some seat issues (typical eh?!) caused me to lean back and use just my arms for the paddle. I can still paddle OK like this but no chance for a record time.
Knowing this river better than my own driveway due to the many laps with TopSport Kayaking meant that for the first time I really enjoyed this stage in the race. I knew exactly how far to go and made the stage work for me.
Having Leppin Squeezy gels easily accessed kept energy levels consistent and strong throughout, along with a litre of Coke.
The sore arse meant I was happy to be out of the boat by stage end however my legs were now pretty fresh for a solid last stage on the bike.
I didn’t know how far anyone was behind me as no one knew, but I trusted my arms to have held myself ahead of any of the others I knew of behind me.
I wanted a fast transition so was ripping the kayaking gear off asap. The team worked well and I was changed quickly however the hardest part was consuming the Steak and Cheese Pie I had demanded before the race. The crew had worked hard to keep it warm but my poor stomach was not happy with idea of solid food. I forced down one bite.
On went the bike shoes and I tried to run away with the bike. I was yelled at to have another bite of the pie “I don’t want it!” “YOU’RE NOT LEAVING UNTIL YOU TAKE ANOTHER BITE!!”. Tail between my legs I took another bite… and it was sooo good. The juicy gravy was amazing. I realised the pie really was a GREAT idea.
Off on the Bike, 70 km of straight road to go.
I felt great and went off charging! About 40mins later, cranking the cranks, my energy had not worn off but decided to throw some food inside me just incase. 3X shots of coffee, a Leppin Gel and a mouthful of coke. Not a great result. It was too much at once and took over 25 mins to balance out the energy levels. Meanwhile I was still flying past so many 2 dayer athletes!
Just like the paddle the long straight roads of this cycle no longer bothered me, I was loving it, I felt fast and strong all the way apart from a couple of ‘moments’.
My power did slowly decrease but still maintained to a solid level.
I’ve never finished a Coast to Coast so strong! It felt powerful.
I finished in 3rd Overall in 11 Hours 37mins.
I need to say a massive massive thanks to my coach Cam Durno who I’ve been working with for 2.5 years. Together we’ve become a great team I’ve learnt a lot off you.
Another massive thanks to my support crews on the day. While only two were allowed to physically assist there were so many other people that helped make this day. Rod, Len and Kate from TopSport Kayaking, Kristin, Mum & Dad and my sister Bex, for coming all the way down from Auckland and Hawke’s Bay, Uncles and Aunties and Cousins, Grand parents and of course all my mates! Special shout out to Liam and Staycie for coming down from AKL to visit the show.
Thanks to my awesome sponsors:
Over two weeks later the Vanette is still tagged in celebratory ink thanks to my younger local cousins! I get some interesting looks everytime I drive it!
(See prelude to this post: the-most-important-team-race-for-2016)
You win some, lose some. We usually have the answer as to why our performance was what it was each time. Undertrained, Overtrained, Not enough sleep, or Too much beer.
Yet when we spend many weeks preparing carefully and precisely we can still not know until race day how it will exactly play out, China racing is a gamble. Variables such as sickness, bad course marking, punctures, bad teamwork will affect the result.
As per last post, this series in September was the most important of 2016 team racing. But again we were hit by the bad luck stick, right when we were fired up, in the lead, on Day 2 of the Wulong Mountain Quest (Stage Adventure Racing World Champs) and nearing the finish of the stage, an incident occurred. It happened in an incredibly short space of time but brought implications that would last indefinitely longer.
I can still visualise clearly, we were on the mountain bike section, only 2kms into it but we had been in the lead that day for nearly 4.5 hours, and therefore pumping with focused adrenaline. It was a gloomy day with light rain, all surrounding environment glistened in its wetness. We had approached a long downhill stretch of 4wd road that was layered with chunky sharp rocks the size of hockey balls. Hamish was in the front because he loves to go fast down the hills, and he rightly has the skills to do so. What made me remember the high speed the most though was that Simone followed Hamish and was pinning it at an equal speed, this inspired me as normally she is more conservative and obviously was in the right headspace to match the lead pace. We were spread out to create space for safety, wind ripping and whipping through our race bibs, switching from side to side of the road to avoid potholes, ruts and other obstacles, every second counts, using the brakes is wasted energy. We were going fast and I was feeling happy and proud of how our team was doing altogether.
But then Hamish was suddenly on the ground, Simone yelled out something and all I saw was him lying on the ground on his back, middle of the road with his bike nearby.
He wasn’t saying anything and was somewhat motionless except for his chest rising and falling fast, along with a twisted expression on his face.
DRSABC was my first thought, and tried to get him to talk to me, get some response and find out what bits he’d damaged. ‘Talk to me mate!’ ‘Can you hear me?’ ‘Say something!’ ‘What hurts?!’. It turned out he was super winded and couldn’t catch his breath.
We didn’t know why he’d crashed but we saw a clean snap in his handle bars. There was blood oozing everywhere and he wanted to get moving again which we uneasily supported, until Marcel spotted the thick piece of skin hanging off his right forearm which had taken the majority of the impact. Duct tape. He hopped onto Marcels bike and coasted the downhill, Simone supervised while Marcel and I looked for options on fixing the handle bars. I spent a few minutes in the bushes while he rode it downhill. No luck. 200m later I searched again. No luck. We discussed more ideas and then I chased down Hamish to get some cable ties off Marcel’s bike. Then I found the perfect sized stick. Leant it against my pedal spindle, snapped it in half, jammed the stick into the hollow opening of the broken bars and jammed the other broken piece over the stick. It was an stable interference fit. Every single bump that shook though Hamish looked to be extremely painful and I think his body was in shock for a long time.
Read the rest of the day and details from Hamish’s perspective here: www.hamishfleming.com.
Basically it was bad, real bad. Despite optimistically preparing all the boxes and gear for the next day of racing, at approx 2mins until the bus was scheduled to leave for the start line of day 3 we pulled the pin and withdrew from the main event and switch our racing minds off. We were all pretty gutted, we were going so well, Hamish was incredibly strong and we knew the team would had produced an excellent result. But now it was time to care for our team mate who was in the most difficult situation of all. We wanted him to get better, to stop feeling the pain, and get him the best healthcare possible. The team bond was a strong as ever and we dealt with the situation really well.
We spent the last 5 days in one of China’s largest cities, Chongqing, so we had access to the best hospital treatment before the next event. Here’s some photo’s from Chongqing hospitals and city life:
Right now we are 600km south of Wulong in Weng’An. The last race of the series and after some intensive rehab we plan to have Hamish racing with us! He is healing well!
Dates 19th-21st of September. Distances below:
Fly fox 20m
Climb rope 10m
Happy Chinese Mid-Autumn Mooncake festival!
It’s difficult to type as the ferry sways every direction while it scoots across the Cook Strait. For the fourth year in a row the Vanette joins me in this trip to the mainland, this time it is loaded with everything I own. And there is no return trip booked. Of course I am participating in the Coast to Coast multisport race once again hence the annual trip but the primary purpose of this trip is change. Change of job, change of home, change of routine. After nearly Six years I have left my job with the RNZAF.
Here’s a few paragraphs on the time between now and the successful September of China racing:
I obviously returned home on a high. It felt pretty good and whilst I rested from proper training I remained very active still by heading out on the same disciplines for the pure pleasure and recreational side of it. Not long after, I returned briefly to my home town of Wairoa to spend some time with family over Labour weekend. Squeezing in trout fishing with Dad and a challenging 30km run in the Urewera’s including a climb over Manuoha. Check the GIF and Video below.
On return to Auckland I developed a flu/chest infection. That next weekend was the South Head Challenge. I wanted to race and support my local club. But I never should have started. I took off on the third and final stage, a 10km run, in the lead, within 600m I stopped and walked back. I knew I’d over done it. I was suffocating, like breathing through a blocked straw whilst sand paper grated my throat and lungs. From then until the week before Xmas I canned most events and was sick in constant bouts. Still training when I could but that might have prolonged it! But it meant I didn’t lose too much fitness.
Xmas arrived and I was finally cured! Running Goat pass on Boxing Day with the Uncle.
Competing in the 55km Clutha Classic kayak race on the 28th and then drinking with my Airforce mates in Queenstown for the next 6 days to celebrate the New Year. On 3rd Jan, five mates and I ran the Routeburn track. They found it humorous that I suffered while dripping with alcohol sweats.
10th Jan I competed in the Rangitikei River kayak race (52km) coming 2nd to Sam Clark. 20th Jan I had my last day in uniform. The very next day I was on the plane to Wanaka for the Redbull defiance race.
Redbull defiance, I teamed up with Hamish Fleming. You should know this guy already, he’s pretty famous these days, if not read previous posts. We even found ourselves in the Otago Daily Times before the race even started.
Everyone raced in two person teams, and we were in the Elite male category. I was in the middle of a heavy training load for Coast to Coast 2016 and Hamo who is not doing C2C this time round was simply training as he felt suitable (although that guy is pretty quick most of the time regardless).
We still were confident for a good race. My confidence was blown a bit not long after the start gun. First up was a 45km Mountain bike down the west side on Lake Wanaka. Full of steep climbs and decents over spurs, river crossing, hike-a-biking and a strong tail/cross wind. 1km into the start the front group of riders crawled further away while Hamish looked at me with a question mark on his face. I also noticed my main source of water had bounced out of its holder. My legs had very little to give. It was frustrating but as hard I pushed I couldn’t go faster. He pushed me up some of the steeper climbs but by the time we reached the transition area we were 8mins behind the leaders. Now a 12km run over and around rocky mountain by Glendu Bay. I was happy on the flats but the team mate still towed me up the steeper climbs. I knew I was pushing hard because I even struggled on the descents with no sense of co-ordination, not normal for me. At the big abseil we checked in and were allowed a max of 5 neutral minutes to get harness and safety gear on. We sucked it dry and I knocked back food, water and a bit of rest. It was supposed to finish with a 17km kayak to the water front of town but strong winds had it cancelled. We paddled a token 4km across Glendu Bay while two teams rode our wash and I fiercely cramped up in both legs.
To finish the day we now had a 15km run along a lakeside track to town. Soo much running. Once I found a way to exit the boat and get my shoes on while cramping in my arms now too (I don’t usually have this problem!) We took off chasing 2nd place who were only 50meters ahead at this stage. However after towing me all morning Hamish was now cramping in his hamstrings. I was keen to chip along at my pace, my rhythm, But Hamish couldn’t quite keep up and I had no energy to tow. We fought with 2nd place all the way finishing behind them. However due to our clever rest at the abseil our time meant we were still 2nd! Buuuuuuut 28mins behind 1st!
This is a two day event and the local boys at 2bar8 cooked a magnificent chicken pie that night in prep for the next day. First up on day 2: a 20km kayak across the lake and down the Clutha River. We led for a bit but soon realised that sitting behind another boat required little or no effort. We exited in the front group of six teams for a 2km run down the river bank to the Clay bird shoot activity. Leading the field until the last 200m where Dan Jones and Alex Hunt (Leaders of Day 1) passed us. Hamish hit the clay on first shot while I quickly knocked back a red bull drink. Now a 26km Mountain bike with over 1000meters of climb over Mt Criffel. We were back in the lead but soon passed on the first climb by the same boys. Speeding across a paddock the guys in front told us it was the wrong way so we spun around and went back to the last marking to investigate, some 400m away. I decided to ride over an irrigation hose and promptly was thrown to the ground heavily smashing my knee and twisting the jockey wheel guide on my rear derailleur. Gears now clunky but still working… except the lowest gear which would have been nice for the big ascent ahead. Within the hour of constant uphill we were in cloud and the buzzing choppers that had been following us all weekend could now only be heard.
The massive descent which was tricky for me. I had little confidence in this wet terrain, struggling to hold onto the handle bars tight enough and avoid hitting rocks. Olly Shaw and Sam Shaw caught us near the bottom who are both very talented riders (and full suspension bikes!). The Shaw boys were the team we were battling for 2nd place. We exited the transition in Cadrona Valley on our feet heading out for a very steep 30km run. The Shaws got out ahead of us and so did top mixed team, Simone Maier and Marcel Hagener. Hamish advised often to slow down and pace ourselves better, we had a big run ahead. Naturally you want to pass those in front so I had to resist the urge. Near the top of the first mountain (Mt Alpha) we sneaked past the Shaws finally but they dug deep too and stayed with us while we traversed the ridgeline. Mt Alpha was only 10kms into the run, over 1600m high and had taken us 1.5hours to get there. We had a long way to go still. Soon over Mt Roy at 16km in and the descent began. The Shaws decided to smash the downhill (over 6kms!) but we held back and decided to pace better. The never-ending downhill came to an end and now all that remained was 6.5km of flatish track to finish. I felt very comfortable on the flat and happily took off after 2nd place ready to give it all. Within a kilometre we passed them and didn’t look back. Eventually crossing the line, claiming 2nd place. Huge credit to the top mixed team, who I mentioned earlier, Marcel and Simone. They beat us overall too and actually had 2nd place OVERALL but obviously out of our category and a convincing win in theirs. And of course to Dan and Alex who made it clear who were the better team on the weekend with their huge lead of 50mins to us.
Now in the week after I’ve spent it packing bags, driving, massages, cold showers and eating well. A solid mix of attempted recovery in time for C2C and travelling to the South Island. Annnnnnd…. I’ve picked up the chest infection again. More rest required..
One more post on nutrition prior to Coast to Coast to follow soon.
This is my 2nd time competing in the Wulong Mountain Quest. Funnily enough it takes place on and around a mountain in Wulong County in central China. My first time racing it was in 2013 and was also my first ever trip overseas.
The event is the most competitive for stage adventure racing worldwide, this year proved no different with the participation of the worlds best athletes. In fact knowing who we were up against was pretty intimidating. Not only did our team have to line up against the best, but we were one of the few teams who had chosen to compete in a 24hr race in Suqian, China just 10 days before hand. We had to compete with fresh legged athletes and could only do our best to recover before the day.
Our team is ‘Torpedo7’. Made up of Kiwi’s Marcel Hagener, Simone Maier, Hamish Fleming, and myself. I’ll say it now: a very big part of our reason for winning is the team bond we have. Not only are we all good athletes (because physically some teams had very very strong athletes) but we get along extremely well, are open/honest with communication during, before and after racing. We work incredibly well together. An important attribute to team racing. You can be the fittest but if you can’t work as a team you will not win this race. But yes we also had super strong athletes in our team.
The HQ and hotel was based up at 1800m on the mountain where we spent the most of the week in the clouds/mist. Really wet and averaged about 19 degrees. Wulong township itself is down at 300m.
Day 1 is the Prologue. This is usually quite short in comparison to the main 3 days following. About an hour of high intensity racing. It began with a 7km run. Within 3km we were leading the field but not by much. A sharp turn onto muddy single track slowed the pace lots and it was a good gain for us to lead at that point. Next a 500m chair carry. Then a 3km road run, we were now neck in neck with Swedish team Thule (Martin Flinta, Helena Erbenova, Jacob Roberts (Aussie/Kiwi) and Sam Clark (Kiwi) . Next a 4km Biathlon (we are 4 person teams but are only given 2 of our bikes for this stage, leaving us to chose who rides and who runs and for how far before swapping as necessary). Team Thule and Team Toread (NZers Richard & Elina Ussher, Stu Lynch, and Trevor Voyce) finished the Biathlon ahead of us and all that was left was a 10km mountain bike. By now my lungs were really screaming but we seemed to be actually closing the gap on those in front. By the end Team Thule won in 1:13:30, Team Toread 1:13:42, Team Torpedo7 1:14:05, Team NZ adventure (Dougal Allan, Jess Simson, Glen Currie, Jarad Kohlar – Australian) 1:15:10, Raw Advenure (Jackie and Mimi Boisset (France), Klayton Smith (Aussie), and Alex Hunt (Aussie). N.b: Top 5 teams.
Day 2: The first full day. My legs were really sore from the day before and was a little concerned about performance. It started down in Wulong township at the river 300m altitude and we knew the finshline was ontop of the mountain near our hotel at 1900m. It was going to be a tough day. First up a 1km run in our kayaking gear across the bridge and down to the kayaks by the river, then a 12km paddle in fast flowing water. Hamish and I paddled together in the double kayak and lead the field for most of the section (obviously with our team mates right behind us too). We exited the water in the lead but Team Toread were right behind and we exited the transition together. Now a 4km run straight up steps and steep slippery footpath. Our pace was strong but a few looks over the shoulder showed that not only was Toread right behind, but NZ adventure and Raw Adventure were gaining on us. Next a 8km Biathlon. By no means was it flat. Sometimes carrying the bikes up steep section of farmland. I haven’t mastered the art of bike carrying and nearly blew myself to pieces on this with intensity.
Next a 30km Mountain bike, with A LOT of climb, over 90% upwards I’d say. We began this bike in 2nd place with Team Thule ahead. By now we entering the cloud layers on the mountain and the air temp was dropping. Simone and Marcel set the pace on this ride, Hamish and I were not feeling our best and simply ‘hung in there’ just behind them. Toread were getting closer to us. We took a slight left hang split in the road and through the mist could see Thule heading straight for us. They exclaimed that it was the wrong way. Sure enough some course marking was in the wrong place. Now the battle was on but my legs really weren’t firing. We finished the bike in 3rd place in fog giving only 20m visibilty.
Now a 6km run, which the whole team suffered a bit on, managing a very slow pace, then anothe run:11km but all Orienteering ontop of the mountain.
Well prepared since our major mistake in Suqian we found all the checkpoints mostly flawlessly. While clipping checkpoint 2, Team Thule came out of the bushes and had obviously made a navigation error. Now we ran together stride for stride. Not a nice way to finish a tough day but somehow we piped them by 10secs at the finishline to claim 2nd place behind Toread. By far the toughest day of all 4.
Day 3: After such a tough previous day, this one seemed a little less daunting with more kayaking, some stream canyoning, and even a swim. First up was a 1km swim in the lake,
we went reasonably well and exited the water in 4th place behind Raw Adventure, NZ adventure and Thule.
However we got on the next stage 30km mountain bike before Thule because they had to strip their wetsuits off (we didn’t wear ours). Hamish and I had much better legs today and the whole team rode faster. Thule crept past us during one hill climb but soon after in the biggest hill climb we caught up to them and Team NZ adventure and passed them both just before the decent.
Technically we rode the downhill well and soon caught and passed Raw Adventure putting ourselves in the lead as we finished the stage. A quick change into our life jackets and harnesses but Thule beat us out of the transition. We now ran 5km downhill after Thule before 5km of Cayoning down a steep slipper rocky stream.
At the start of the canyoning shortly after a waterfall we squeezed past Thule as our team of NZers with ‘coast to coast’ running skills was a sweet advantage. The steam was fun but still mentally demanding. Lots of bombs off waterfalls but also a few painful slips on the rocks.
Now a 17km Kayak across the lake where no one was in sight, we all dug deep and tried to extend our lead. To finish was a 2km run straight up stairs into an amazing cave full of more stair. After crossing the finishline first it was 5mins before Team Thule arrived and 24mins before Team NZ adventure arrived. We had a massive lead and it felt good!!
Day 4: Woke up this morning feeling like my eyelids were tied down with bricks and the body had been run over by a train. Overall we had a lead of 5mins on 2nd place. Today was the day to seal the deal. To not panic and do our best to keep ahead.
The start was supposed to be 8km of caving down a stream but due to all the bad weather and rain it had to be cancelled. Just as well as it was a cold day anyway. We had a staggered start of 30 seconds per team and because we were in the lead we started first. The pressure was on and I was feeling it. First up was now a 30km mountain bike.
We were going consistently and strong but made no special effort and maintained our lead until halfway when Raw Adventure came past. They started 2mins behind us at the start line so had obviously gained that back and more! We stayed close behind them until the end of the ride where they had around 1 min lead. Now we had a 14km run, the first half hilly through wet bush. Occasionally glimpsing Raw Adventure ahead of us and even Thule behind us (about 1min 30secs). The last 6km of the run was all paved road and slightly downhill. This is about the point where we as a team transitioned from conservative racing to proper racing and took off hard and fast. We enter the transition soon after Raw Adventure and now was an 8km ‘out and back’ kayak. Here it was clear what team was where. We couldn’t get any closer to Raw Adventure with our tired bodies but seemed to make a couple of seconds on Thule, and Thule, in the overall table, were our only concern for the day. Finally to finish was a 7 km technical trail run, predominantly downhill, down a valley under some enormous cliffs and the famous ‘natural bridges’.
In classic China racing fashion the run finished with stairs all the way up the cliffs, slightly over 100m vertical climb. A nice end to the day.
Final overall results:
1st- Team Torpedo7: 18:16:46
2nd- Thule Adventure Team: 18:21:57
3rd- Team Toread: 18:41:54
4th- Raw Adventure: 18:44:54
5th- Team NZ Adventure: 19:21:23
6th- Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team: 19:39:32
7th- New World St. Martins: 19:53:53
8th- Germany-Switzerland: 20:17:07
9th- Thule Adventure Team2: 20:22:07
16th- Wanaka NZ Team: 23:47:16
Let’s take a step back, I began this blog to record something interesting. Yes about ‘me’ doing my thing but more towards the journey from average healthy guy to racing to win the prestigious Speight’s Coast to Coast. I’ve promised that by following this blog you will see me win this race, and therefore point proven – it CAN be done, you just have to make the choice(s). I feel like I’ve achieved a lot and am real proud of some of the things I’ve done in the past few years. However getting the cherry on top is trickier than just training right and being motivated as hell. What scares me is that three times I have arrived at the start line to that race utterly convinced I couldn’t have trained better, nor be more prepared. I said it last year: ‘time’ itself is a huge factor in this game. This is the third time I’ve raced the longest day and the first time I have not felt a huge wave of achievement. Competitor and friend: Flavio Vianna and I chatted about it a few nights ago, we are at the stage in our fitness where we know now we can finish it and do a quick time too, we’ve just about covered it on training days! It’s about getting the FASTEST time! Call us greedy but anything less is not as enjoyable as it used to be :-).
Being seeded 2nd gave me some limelight leading into the event.
I wanted to be modest (and still think I was a bit) but in the end I enjoyed playing the game of being the supposed guy to watch out for. Saying anything other than that I was in ‘perfect condition’ was not on the cards, this time it was fun to try and let my competitors worry a little. The media attention helped this. Keep them guessing I reckon.
I got dropped off the front bunch during the Greymouth multisport race on January 17th, the thought of the same being repeated at C2C haunted me right up till race morning.
2.2km run off the beach, all uphill, my watch said we averaged 3:27min/km. A great way to wake you up in the morning. Quick transition to bikes and the front group had formed. Still pitch black from the early morning, the red blinking lights blinding you as you rode behind another cyclist.
The 55km road cycle stage began, in our group was Hamish Fleming, Pete Smallfield, Braden Currie, Sam Clark, Dan Busch, Sam Goodall, Flavio Vianna, JP Donovan, Trevor Voyce, Simon van Rossen and me. (I think I have forgotten one person?)
As the day light broke through the air warmed a little but not much, I was rocking my classic tri top with arm warmers combo and feeling fine. The direction and strength of the wind was not so nice. It made some of the group delay their turns at the front a bit too often. Our time of 1hour 36mins showed the clear extra struggle – 10mins slower than last year.
Another quick transition – rack bike, drop GPS tracker, run back pick it up, slip on running shoes and clip running pack on as running away. I had no idea where to run through the farm as it wasn’t marked great but in front was Braden Currie and Sam Clark so I followed their lead while trying to limit their distance from me. The first river crossing painted the picture for the rest of the run, bloody cold river! Shocking the muscles, the next few minutes after every crossing was clumsy footwork while my stabilising muscles warmed up and worked properly again. I had trained for this but still no good. Trevor Voyce came up behind me while I choked on a thick peanut butter sandwich (bad race food idea), “When you’re ready Sam..”. I swore in my head. Pulled over and let him pass.
Sam Clark was still in sight but Braden had disappeared. I took a far right hand line while Trevor took the centre line up the river. I gained back about 50m. Flavio appeared and passed me. This all within the first 25mins.
This continued. I stuck strictly to my lines up the river and kept Trevor and Flavio well within reach, mostly because of my different lines, I knew they were running faster because they kept getting further away until we went different ways. Hamish Fleming caught up and passed me just before Big Boulders, exchanged friendly words, I slipped back past him while he ate some food later.
By the top section before the final climb to Goat pass, Trevor was still taking very different lines and seemed slower too, Flavio right behind him. I took this chance to make a move and got ahead for the climb to the pass knowing I wanted to get into the compulsory gear check at the hut first.
Now I was back into third place behind Clark and Currie. And I made an effort to really try and shake off the guys behind me.
Arriving at Klondyke at 3hours 10mins, a few minutes faster than last year but well off the front two guys. I felt pretty tired again like last year but knew I could deal with it.
Jumped on the bike, cranked the gears up high and stood up out of the seat to launch myself out of the area fast. Ceeerrrunchkkk! WHAT THE $#@! My chain has slipped off… wait ..that doesn’t look right. Ahhh shit. It is snapped. Only 30m away from transition I yelled back “I need a bike!! Someone get me a bike!!”
Thinking hard in my head… what can do, what should I do… should I run?? Someone yelled that another person was running to get a bike for me. I did all I could think of and gulped down some electrolyte drink, better keep the fluids up! Someone across the road offered me their bike, I said yes!,
and they quickly removed it from the back of their car. I only put on my water bottle and dropped food and forgot electrolyte. Seat height was ok but the pedals… half the size of mine, the cleats definitely wouldn’t fit. I balanced ontop of them and locked the muscles trying not to slip off them.
Control entropy must have been through the roof. Trevor Voyce caught up and passed me. I cranked the speed up to a low 30kmph and passed Trev back. Odd I thought he must be tired, But he soon passed me back. He’ll be easy to catch on the last ride I thought if remained behind him. Then Hamish passed me. I was getting cold now too. The Southern wind was more pronounced. I no longer felt a part of the race. It took a long time to reach the end of that 15km ride.
The run down to the river, I felt awful. I felt I was in a really bad way, not thinking properly, slightly under fed, the cold meat pie didn’t go down well either.
I knew the kayak section would only get colder after previous experiences and opted to put a spray jacket on. Once in the boat I set off. For the first hour my arms felt like thin air. I could not rotate nor produce any power. My hands were numb. My vision was blurry, I was moving slow and I hated my whole situation. I wanted to stop and lay down on the rocks and rest. I made a plan of what I was going to tell everyone about why I pulled out. BUT then I saw Hamish in the distance. Something ticked and I went for him. Soon I warmed up and I had more power in my stroke. I was stoked that I caught him so quick but being a good friend too I was annoyed for him, He is faster than that but unfortunately had gotten really cold.
The rotating in the seat got the better of me quick and soon my arse was agonisingly painful on the left side. No choice other than to stop using my legs and then use my arms/shoulders only.
Then Nathan Fa’avae came flying past near the end of the gorge, we had a quick chat and I struggled to comprehend that we were in the same event. “You’ll catch me on the ride Sam, I just want to beat Buschy!” he yelled over. Yeah I will I thought. I still tried my best not to let him get away.
7kms from the end of the kayak, Dan Busch caught me, I let him go in front but I was not going to let him get away. We finished together.
The transition up out of the boat and to the road was wobbly. Another cold meat pie and this one tasted worse. I was full of fury. “I’m going to pass Dan, then Fa’avae, then Trevor and I will finish third. I will do this”. I took me 30mins to get past Dan. But I was so confident that this last stage – a 70km road cycle to the east coast would be my fastest ever. I kept pushing hard. All the attaching parts to my aero drink bottle snapped, luckily my aerobars were narrow enough to stop it from falling to the road. My heart rate was low, 135bpm. I pushed harder knowing I can handle a hell of a lot more than that but the fatigue in my body wouldn’t allow it. I had to catch Nathan and Trevor! I pushed and pushed and blew up into pieces with about 20kms to go. It wasn’t long until the 10km to go sign appeared. I thought stuff this, I am in a miserable state but it is not miserable enough to be proud of. I stepped really hard on the pedals for the last stint.
There is a photo that lies about me as I ran to the finish line. I look happy. I am not happy. I smiled for the crowd. I have never lost control of my mind so much before, anything remotely near that feeling would be being really drunk, really drunk, I was a complete mess emotionally and physically.
Steve Gurney shook my hand, I just wanted to lay down. And I did. Bad idea, they immediately tried to carry me to the medic tent. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want attention for just being tired. I stood up quickly and congratulated the guys who beat me then searched for a seat and water. I’m am exhausted. It was really tough out there and my day didn’t go to plan like it didn’t for many. I was pretty upset about it. Luckily for me everyone that has backed me for this race are supportive no matter my result. Just two days on I’d nearly forgotten the day already!
Here’s some food stats:
Breakfast: Porridge, banana. (Before 4am)
2km run – Nothing
55km Cycle – 500mls water, 600mls Rline Guava electolye drink, 3X High5 Gels
33km Mtn run – water from stream (unknown amount), 7X High5 gels, 1/8th of a peanut butter sandwich, 1X Em’s power bar.
Klondyke transition – gulped down some Up&Go.
15km cycle – two sips of Rline electrolyte drink and about 200mls water. (somehow dropped banana)
Mt white transition – 1/4 of a cold meat pie, sip of water
72km Kayak – 2.5Litres of Tailwind Raspberry Caffeine drink, water from river, 1X roast potato, 1.5X Ems power bar, 1/2 OSM bar, 4 prunes, 5 serves of Leppin Squeezy gels.
Gorge bridge transition – 1/8th of a meat pie, sip of water.
70km cycle – 3X high5 gels, 750mls of Tailwind Raspberry Caffeine drink, 400ml water.
Finishline – Hots Chips then a massive buffet at Nan’s!
I’m now in Wanaka, having a feet up holiday with friends until Godzone Adventure race. I’m racing with Flavio Vianna, Ailsa Rollinson and Pete Smallfield. We are going to have an awesome time! A huge thanks to our Sponsor: New World St Martins (in Christchurch), they have helped us enormously.
Playing catch up since the last blog. Check it out to see how flat-out things have been. Some exciting news but not revealed until end.
The race in Aussie – Augusta Adventure fest has been and gone long ago. I came 5th place in a huge field and struggled to raise the heart rate all day. LOVED the race but a shame I couldn’t give my best result when challenging Aussie rivals. Especially since I was given THE number 1 bib! and it was specially marked with a kiwi silver fern to reflect my NZ representation – what an honour! The world best multisport athletes – NZer’s Braden Currie and Dougal Allan took 1st and 2nd place so NZ was still made proud. Olly Shaw – World class triathlete/Xterra athlete from Rotorua was also there to represent NZ, however like myself he also was suffering from a disobedient body – placing a still admirable 8th place. Pretty good consider he doesn’t paddle at all normally.
After the race Olly and I congratulated Braden Currie and Dougal Allan on their top placing, at the same time both were thinking about our own results: bugger this – time for a blow out. We drank beers till late that night, I dropped Olly at the international Airport two days later then I had a week in Perth clubbing at the bars till dawn and chilling at the local parks/beaches with my long lost cousins.
After getting to bed one morning at 6am I ended up borrowing a boat and entering a surf ski race 13km in the open sea that afternoon. I came nearly dead last but loved it. I could live in Perth – what a life!
As soon as I got home, one week of work then I ended up travelling to Queenstown the following weekend to compete in the Southern Lakes 24hr Adventure Race. Didn’t go quite to plan but we finished. I spent most of it half asleep ( from lack of sleep obviously) but the real issue was the part where we got very wet and cold… more than once.
Anyway.. one more week at work then again I was away that following weekend to Christchurch. This time to take my uncle on a guided trip over Goat pass (you know- the run section the Coast to Coast). Still lacking in sleep. Strong NW annnnd rain galore up in Arthurs Pass= rivers way to high.
We ran Avalanche peak instead (don’t get out of a planned run session that easily). Planned kayak trip down the Waimak the following day also cancelled due to high levels so I had a lovely paddle in a sea kayak around Godley Heads and Lyttleton harbour for 3 Hours…
ONE MORE week at work, orientated around it was squeezing in beers with the boys, early morning training and late night packing away gear to move out of my flat… That’s right I’ve moved out.
A person who wants a super serious crack at C2C needs to have good quality training right?.
I have taken some serious time off work, unpaid of course to train full time until race day.
Exciting and scary, but damn exciting still. What is my body capable of? Will I over-train? Will I make the most of the time available to me now?
One the way down to Hawke’s Bay I detoured to Whangamata to compete in one the coolest mini Multisport races around – The Whangamata Multisport Challenge. 8km kayak, 9km Run, 25km Mountain bike. It was going well until I missed a few markers on the on the run section… bugger, tried to make up for it and then did the SAME on the bloody Mountain bike!! ended up 3rd place to JJ Wilson from Christchurch and old mate Luke Osborne(aka 2nd Dad) from Hawke’s Bay. Amazing local seafood feed at the prize giving after too!
Now I am in Hawke’s Bay for my December training block. Staying in Wairoa in the house I grew up in, absolute paradise here. Amazing being with the family, must resist the temptation to keep drinking all the beers in the fridge and Hokey Pokey ice cream in the freezer!! Arrr!
Day after New Years I’ll be straight down to CHCH to live there until race day – live and breathe the Southern Alps and the Canterbury plains.
Cheers for reading team, for watching me move around (backwards, sideways and sometimes forwards) and standing by me.
Please remember that the purpose of this blog is to capture the rise (and sometimes fall) of someone from a rather ordinary life to world class athlete in a shortish amount of time (four years so far!) through simply commitment and self-belief.
To prove that anyone can achieve anything so long as they want it enough. Who knows how I will cope with this 3.5 months off work full time training. Though may as well give it crack!
Don’t get too lost in the silly season. Stick to your goals. Stay inspired. Watch this space, big things are happening.
I competed in The South Head Challenge October 5th (11km Kayak, 26km Mountain bike, 10km Run) and Motu Challenge on October 11th (65km Mountain bike, 17km Run, 55km Road bike, 27km Kayak, 8km Bike, 3km Run).
I arrived at both of them underprepared, overworked. However keen to do some proper nz multisport racing after pounding the body to its extremities in China. I hoped that I might retain some fitness to do ok at them.
Feeling the pressure from being promoted as a contender prior to both of them meant I set out to try and win them. An intensity my body wasn’t interested in. A clear reminder that with proper quality training I can do well, without – I cannot.
3rd place at South Head to Stu Lynch 1st and Olly Shaw 2nd.
4th Place at Motu to Sam Clark 1st, Stu Lynch 2nd, and Dwarne Farley 3rd.
I’m happy as with my results considering all. It can be frustrating know there are eyes everywhere watching and expecting.
I took a week off training after Motu and tried to re-establish what I am doing, during that week (only 1.5 weeks ago today) I decided to trial getting a Coach and see where that goes over that next few weeks. Some interesting new sessions have risen with a lot more purpose to sessions than I am used to. Not a bad thing.
Now I am flying to Australia on Thursday coming. This Sunday is the Augusta Adventure Fest. It is about 4hours drive below Perth. (12.5km Run, 1.9km Swim, 13km Kayak, 32km Mountain Bike, 2.5km Run)
Can’t wait. The idea is to treat this trip as a holiday and not allow myself to feel any pressure to perform. Also have never been across the ditch before and will be great to catch up with some family over there.
Augusta will be a cool event, I’ll raise a post to update on how that goes. NZ team will be Myself, Olly Shaw and Emma McCosh. Plus the: pro’s Dougal Allan and Braden Currie.
Final note: RR Sport are now Torpedo7. So new Race kit! Check out the new shops, so much good gear.
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.