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3rd and final day. Understandably we are tired and sore. The sun is out in all its glory today.
10km road run. We start at 30second intervals again in a small village. Off in second. The legs are screaming and in pain. They don’t seem to like this, and make this discomfort known right up until about 6km in when they seem to have woken up a little it. This course is slightly down hill too making the concrete running even tougher on the legs. We lose a bout 30seconds to Purao and team Adventure NZ seem to have gained of ground. We knew we had paced well though.
Into transition we grab our kayaking gear and have saved time by wearing our lifejackets under the race bibs for the entire run leg now we have to run 1km of downhill trail to the lake.
5km kayak. We enter the lake quickly and chase Purao who don’t seem far ahead. Soon we approach the high bridge across the canyon that we paddle in and knew what was coming up.
1.5km run + 180m abseil – only one team member had to do this leg and the others must wait in the kayaks at the bottom of the abseil. Today it would be me because I was in slightly better condition at that point in time even though I’d been having some slower days.
A tough climb but I arrived at the top to find Dan Jones of Team Purao there waiting to abseil too.
Once I checked in it was a no time zone so I could relax. I convinced a marshall to get me a bottle of water from a car while I watched Dan descend. We were very very high. I dragged out the rest as long a possible then prepared for the decent. Then away I went.
I wore two sets of gloves to prevent my hand for melting however it seemed like my figure 8 device and the rope was judging by the smell and particles flying off.
Eventually at the bottom I unhitched and jumped back in the kayaks.
7km kayak. We continue on the lake chasing after Purao. We unfortunately make minimal ground on them.
5km run. We scramble up the dirt bank to transition into our running gear and begin the 1km climb. I feel good and move to the front trying to help set the pace. Soon we are off the trail and have rolling conrete road all the way to the end. You want to run fast but it’s so hard with fatigue!
21km mountain bike. This stage is pretty much on road, concrete and gravel. It’s seem fast despite the hills but still seemed to be endless. We worked hard together confident we had had a fast leg. It was a nasty sting in the tail when they made us carry our bikes through a tourist walkway filled with steps just before the end.
4km gps orienteering. This is where things change. We arrived in a solid 2nd place not far behind Purao still and well ahead of the other teams. Gulpin down some TA water we set off for the last leg. Hamish and I take over with the GPS’s and punch in the numbers.
For the first time they tell us we can collect the check points in any order which is annoying but we decided to collect them in order anyway because I assumed maybe they would still be in a logistical order and they rule change was only because some other teams ha complained. However after the first CP we find ourselves running back to the start for one we could have picked up on the way past.
Realising our mistake too late we rush to get the final points running with team Thule and Adventure NZ who previously were in 3rd and 4th. We had lost nearly 10mins!!!! A token cargobnet climb and wall climb finished the day off.
We ended the day on a bit of a low but also knowing that despite it we still had locked in 2nd overall, which overwhelmed the small depression. A brutal three days but also incredible fun with incredible people.
It’s always tricky doing this many China races in a row. Starting the third China multi day race in a month, we are all anxious on how the body will perform. Usually they have a tough first day and then it seems to recognize the signals of what we asking of it and it adapts into race mode.
Today was freezing, around 15 degrees an pouring rain. Not what we are used to in China. Lucky I had packed a polypro thermal to the start line and used it.
Mass start and two team members had to carry a 20kg basket from 3km. We pushed from the start and broke into a gap between the main field and 1st place (Purao Biomed) who were flying well under 4minkms. My team worked together and shared the load although the quads and hammys had a massive workout. By the end of the 3km we have 2nd position.
3.6km road run. We dropped the baskets and work to claim back time. Even though the legs weren’t too happy post basket carry we seemed to be getting closer to Purao who maybe had pushed a bit hard.
42km mountain bike. A hard transition for me, legs were paying the price for the basket. We spent a short time in the streets before climbing a near hill where we passed Purao quickly but only because they weren’t moving due to a mechanical issue with one of the chains. Team Adventure NZ and the chinese team Koosa weren’t far back. The rain had made the course very wet and very muddy making the trails very slow and technical. We fought with the teams in the slipperyness for a long time and soon Purao came flying up front recovering impressively from their mechanical.
1km bike carry up and down very slippery steps made for interesting racing. I managed a crash off the bike in one downhill, tearing some skin off and bruising my hip/pelvis.
13km run. After finishing the mountain bike completely covered in mud we change to running. Initially fast downhill on road at which I realized I was have trouble with my running legs. The road changed to trail and was very cool travelling through isolate farms and valleys where we followed a stoney river and crossed it around 5 times. A fun stage but I just hung on to the team a the back. Last 2km was on wide clay 4wd track before we checked in to a time neutral zone we meet two teams here. Purao and Koosa who had both run faster than us. Here we had time out due to safety so we could safely put our harnesses on. There I also assess the damage from the crash and it is mostly bruising. The next team to check in is Team Adventure NZ but they were a safe 7mins back due to a mechanical on the bike.
200m run and 60m Zipline. A quick boost up a hill then we get two ropes per team to zip across a pond of water. This all goes pretty smoothly.
5km uphill road run. In classic Chinese fashion we a faced with final ascent to make sure we collapse across the finish to make for great TV and photos.
Crossing the finish in 3rd position however confident that we will make up time in the coming days. I hoped that my restricted leg power today was only because of the 20kg carry at the start of the day and the shock of racing again
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.
It was supposed to be a 8am start today, which we were stoked about, hoping to beat the heat of the day. Fastest time was estimated to be just under 5hours. The bus ride to the start took a bit longer due to the driver getting himself and the other buses lost. However we got there eventually.
Race start changed to 8:50am.
10.2km kayak – this started on the land where we had to run our boats to the water and get in to the dam on a steeply inclined concrete barrier. The starts were staggered again and 1min apart.
We dashed for water and set about working hard to catch the first place team who were the only ones in front of us. We gradually gained closer but very slowly. These boats were slow! We needed to locate three checkpoints and. Hamish had the map. However we just needed keep an eye on the team in front (Purao Biomed) watch their mistakes and take a slightly shorter line. Unbeknown, 3rd place team, Team Thule we paddling hard behind us and noticing small mistakes in our lines and gaining a bit on us too.
By the end we were within 50m of Team Purao and exited the boats with them. No idea how close Thule were as I didn’t want to look!
37km Mountain Bike – we left the transition together with Purao and within 15mins a heavy breathing Thule team had caught our group too. So we ride together on the rolling trails and dirt roads and occasional single track. Loads of fun but hot and far from the course description of ‘mostly on-road’. We all had our tire pressures way too high.
Then Simone was caught a wee crash which grazed her up but added fuel to the fire within her. After 26km the big ascent began, 800m climb over 10km, nasty for the fatigued legs after 3 days of racing. We lost Thule so battled it out with Puraoall the way to the top. Luckily as we got higher there was the occasional Cool breeze.
1km step uphill run – here we ran to the very top of the Mountain with Purao and checked into a time neutral zone. Some light banter and exaggerating the rest time was nice to get some food and water down when you’re not breathing hard. The time neutral was due to a large 65m zipline across a small valley and time prepare the harness and slings. Simone and Marcel did it.
After the Abseil we had to run 2km of chinese scenic stairs, first down then up and back to the same transition we finished the Mountain Bike.
14km trail run – we left the transition very quickly on a mission to try and limit the distance from Team Purao. Due to the staggered start at the beginning of the day and the delay of the zipline and time neutral zone we couldn’t be sure how close we needed to be to them to ensure a stage win.
This run was spectacular running along Spurs and down rocky sections to get down the mountain. Overall this leg was supposed to be mostly downhill. However there was still a few we climbs that ensured we were totally spent.
Eventually we knew we were close to the finish and sprinted down a concrete road for the final 2km. It took me about 20mins to recover from the exhaustion enough to stand up. Really well spent. Turned out we were 12 seconds from claiming the stage win.
On the Overall standings, Team Purao Biomed still had a 6min lead from previous days so they claim the overall win regardless, congrats to them for a solid race. Team Thule Adventure claim 3rd.
Smoggy morning and a 50min bus took us south to a tourist looking park with large arcitetur. Cooler temperature today, around 21 degrees by race start which was at 8:30am (12:30pm NZ time).
1km run, staggered start by 20 secs. We were in 3rd overall and therefore started 3rd. A shocking leg wake up.
1km wheel barrow push. Simone had to sit on the wheel barrow and Marcel pusbed. Hamish and I towed the wheelbarrow from in front. Some bumps in the path caused Simone some pain but otherwise smooth leg.
1.5km run. The two teams who started before us, Purao Biomed and Chinese Koosa, were still ahead and we made close gains on the Chinese.
64km Mountain Bike. This was pretty much entirely flat. Mostly off road on farm tracks amongst the fields or river banks. We caught the Chinese quick and pushed hard to catch the leading team, Purao, within the first 30mins. I was stocked an wanted to push past them but only one other was keen to go with me. It seemed we’d reached a Mexican stand off and Thule (our other main opponent team) had some how caught our bunch of teams (now 4 teams riding together on the fast dirt road. No one really wanted to work off the front so it didn’t matter what speed we went! Very frustrating. So chit chat and. The speed picked up a little with many still hiding behind. By 2/3 in we had dropped the Chinese team on some loose dirt trail and we’re now just three teams all the way to the end of the leg.
11km kayak. We all arrived into transition together and started kayaking together. Me and Hamish moved quickly to the front and let Simone and Marcel ride our water wake/wash.
Hoping that the other teams were struggling with the pace. Eventually we made a gap and it was all on. We pushed hard. We had to locate 3 checkpoints on this dammed lake before heading back to where we started. We put perhaps around 2mins on the other two teams and now had a 10km run to finish.
5km road run. A brutal road run in the heat of the day, we were flying despite the fatigue and unhappy legs.
5km run/gps orienteering. Team Purao biomed caught us at the transition so we started the orientation together. It’s a practiced skill to put in gps coordinates while running. We needed to locate 4 checkpoints in a theme park. We ran with Purao until the 4th check point where we were 50m back from them and my GPS pointed a direction that was different to Purao’s direction! I yell out to the team to follow and luckily the checkpoint was right there, immediately putting a 50m gap on Purao. Then it was 150m to a zipline. However we knew that the timing chips we race with were time neutal due to safety at this point!
We check in and then rest for a few minutes with Purao while putting harnesses on. As soon as we are ready we check out and timing is back on for the zipline activity over a large theme park water feature to the finish line!
So we win day 2! Stoked as but we are now 2nd Overall and need a strong day tomorrow for the final stage here in Tai’shan.
Results up now