Sunday morning I was off down to Geraldine in Jenni and Carsten’s self styled “loser cruiser” for the Geraldine Rogaine Autumn Muster (GRAM).
I was racing with Nick Hann, who was a little tired from a Cross Country the day before – a bit of a blessing for me – so it was going to be a fast and furious time out in the hills above Geraldine. At first glance of the map it looked fairly achievable to try and get all the controls in the 6 hours allocated to us. This made the planning a little bit less tactical, as we just needed to link the controls together and not worry about the point values so much. We opted to clear the southern end of the course and then the northern part before cleaning the middle, high pointed section at the end of the day.
On the start line there was only time for a little bit of nervousness, hopefully I could keep up with Nick long enough for my endurance strength to come out, and hopefully Nick wouldn’t blow himself up with a lack of knowing how to pace himself for 6 hours of hard racing. We were quickly underway with Nick Ross and his Team mate Romain on a similar circuit to us… I could have been a long day out if that was the case. We were able to get the jump on them early on and then some tricky bush bashing had us out of sight with a comfortable lead on them. For the next hour and a half we spent the time out there by ourselves in the steep and rough terrain. There was a nice set of sheep/cow tracks between several of the controls as we approached the halfway mark.
We were largely on schedule to clear the course at the halfway mark, but the next hour of some steep climbs with not a lot of points gain set us back a bit. Most of the climb was now out of the way but it had taken its toll on our legs and clearing the course started to look a whole lot harder. We didn’t give up hope just yet, but with 1 hour to go it was clear we needed to drop some points. A 30 pointer which was excruciatingly visible but on the other side of the gully was the first to be cut. Then after a slow climb and traverse to the next control we were suddenly getting very close to the end. With a bit of finish line fever in him, Nick was back to his best and we were speeding along collecting as many points as we could in the dying seconds of the race. We couldn’t quite make it on time and even with a sprint to the ambiguous location of the finish banner we just clocked over into a second minute worth of penalty for being too late back.
We didn’t quite clear the course and dropped about 5 controls in the end, a total of 360 points plus our penalty for being late and I was a bit worried we might not have got back in first. I think our combined speed and navigation worked pretty well to our advantage and as it turns out I shouldn’t have been too worried as we were still 400 or so points ahead of second place! After a few races in the rain and wind it was pretty nice to be out in the sunshine on a nice Autumn day. We had no real issues with the navigation and worked pretty well together. Nick was a little bit too fast for me most of the time, and I spend a couple of the climbs in the hurt box but luckily with my endurance I was able to keep up and even take over a bit when the wind dropped from Nick’s sails every now and then. All in all it was a good day out with a good team and a good win!