It was back into some Adventure racing for me at the weekend. Along with Hilary, Dave and our super sub for the day Flavio we were up ridiculously early to get to the start of the race. The mystery start location turned out to be up at Woodstock on the Waimak river, a place fairly familiar with Coast to Coasters! First off from the start we had a control to collect and a logic puzzle to solve before we could get on the water. I was nominated to get the control while the others start solving the problem…. it took us quite some time to solve it but eventually we got there and were able to jump on the water. The paddle was fairly uneventful and went relatively fast. Soon enough we were at the transition a little bit downstream of the gorge bridge.
Straight out of the paddle and onto mountain bikes the navigation was reasonably intense and I was pretty focused in on that. After a few quick controls, through some quite deep puddles we were out on the open gravel roads. Here we were able to practice a bit of bunch riding and eventually some towing too to get us moving quite quickly together. Part way along this stage was a map memory section which i just assumed was a run, but actually turned out to be a bike…. we got around the first couple pretty quick but I started to get hungry and I was made to stop and eat while we let Dave and Flavio figure out the next couple. I thought I was coming right and we were quickly back on the main roads again powering along at a good speed. There was a couple of out and back sections once we were through Oxford and it was going up one of these hills I started to fade quite considerably. I even fell off the back of the drafting train at one point too… I managed to pull myself together and just in time for the hill into transition and I quickly got into some solid food as we made our way out onto the trek.
I came right fairly quickly and before we knew if we were hunting down Rhys’ team in front of us. For the next few controls it was a see saw battle between us. We had it over them on the flatter running and then pulled away up the river bed. Soon enough we caught Sia and Lara making their way up the riverbed. We passed them going into the control but somehow they managed to get in front of us going up the bush covered spur. We stuck with them and had a good chat for a while but then eventually the time came to make a move on them and we slipped away onto the track and into the control. The next one was probably the hardest on the course, I came into it at what I thought was a fairly solid attackpoint but I drifted a little less further than I had thought and turned out I was one spur over from where I should have been. Hence when we hit the stream my instinct was that we were in the right place and reading the description (the wrong one as it turns out…) it should have been on the other side of the bank. It wasn’t there and I thought maybe we should be going up stream to the control. Here I managed to get to the right place but I was looking on the wrong side of the river…. eventually we thought maybe we should head down the river as it didn’t seem to be there at all as if worst came to worst we would hit the next checkpoint….and that’s exactly what happened…
So once back on the right track we had to pass all the teams we had gained time on going back up stream to get the control which was very frustrating and a little bit embarrassing! Anyway it felt good to be making forward progress again and it wasn’t long until we were back up with our bunch of 3 teams all going about the same pace. Being strong runners and most of us feeling good at this point in time we pushed the pace and got in front of our chasers just before the transition.
It was nice to be back on bikes and on the way towards home. I was feeling really good by this stage and feeling awake. The finish was on my mind and I was hoping we wouldn’t have to contend with too much darkness. However then came checkpoint 29. As it turns out most people who headed out there to get it had a bit of a search around to try and find it and there was about a 50% success rate. It appeared that the control had been misplaced, combined with this the map was not 100% accurate and the centre of the circle didn’t match either! So after a good search around with no success and all the trailing teams catching us again we gave up and headed back in the fading light. At one stage I did stop at the offending stream which the control was allegedly on and suggested we look there but second guessed myself and basically to be honest we couldn’t be bothered by that stage on some severe bush bashing and moved on.
Feeling a bit down on our luck and cruising back home, it wasnt until the end of the Whafdale where we got news that only one team at that point had collected 29 and it was Chris Forne. This instantly lifted my spirits and it felt to me like we were back in the race. It took some convincing of Flavio to go out and back to collect the final checkpoint and I possibly made it worse by taking a round about route to it, but although it was tricky we got it fairly easily and we back in the game. There was one final hill out of the control to get back up to and we powered up to find Rhys’ team again which had managed to find 29 so the race really was on now to get back first. Once over the fence they gaped it, leaving us pretty much for dust. Once on the flat we managed to regroup and Flavio had Hilary back on the tow again. I was feeling pretty good again and was keen to do some work out the front but it seemed that either Flavio was fading or I the beetroot juice I had loaded up on the week before was kicking in as I pulled away from the whole team once out the front. I tried a couple of times before eventually giving up and falling into line behind Dave to make sure he wasn’t falling off the back. We were gaining back on Rhys’ team I think but it was too little too late and we finished up a couple of minutes behind them.
I felt it was a good solid hit out for us, it was definitely the first time in an adventure race I have felt like we really raced hard. We worked well as a team, supporting each other well and having fun for the most part. Definitely a lot to learn for me personally too, eating and I was a little out of practice on the topo map navigation. It was a shame that there was a bit of controversy on control 29 and it did effect the final results a little bit but for us it was a really good battle with those teams around us all day long. looking forward to some more races in the coming weeks!
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