For those who haven’t heard of Xterra its a brand of triathlon that has events all over the world and is a “off road” based event. Generally the events are a 1500m swim, a 30km mountain bike ride and a 10km trail run. You have to qualify to do the world champs by competing in one of the events around the world. Generally by winning your 5 year age group will get you a spot. The World Champs are run in Maui every year with over 800 athletes from over 50 countries represented.
I have been wanting to do the “worlds” for 15 years and have had several friends compete over the years with Lucinda Garnett and Mack Clarkson both getting medals in their age group. A few years ago I decided to get fit so I could have a crack when I had my 50th Birthday [yes mid life crisis time]. Celine and I did the Xterra in the South Island in New Zealand called Motatapu , a longer event in a amazing part of the world in Wanaka. Celine got her spot there while I finished 4th and missed out on the coveted spot. Tim and I then traveled to Rotorua in NZ to race the Xterra there in March , again I finished 4th but this time I got a roll down spot to get my ticket for the Worlds.
Having trained for nearly 12 months with this goal in mind Celine and I both worked on our weakness to give us a shot at representing Australia at the worlds. For Celine it was getting her mountain bike skills up to scratch to take on the challenging course in Maui and for me it was to get my swimming up to a level , one that I didn’t drown and two , be in a better group out of the water as this is so important when you hit the tight single track course as its so hard to get passed volumes of riders out on course.
Come race day in Maui we had ridden the bike course , run the trails and swam at the beach where race start was in the week leading up to game day.
The bike course had been closed for a few days as the Island had been hit by a massive storm that blacked out all the resorts for 12 hours. As the land is on private property the course is only open for a few days a year so the event can use it. We knew we were going to be in for a super tough race after our recon ride, with temps in the low 30s and really high humidity it was going to be important to pace your self for the whole race.
The ocean had been stormy all week with a thumping shore break that had a lot of people nervous about actually getting out past the waves. The bike course had 1100m of climbing in the 32km course, nothing too technical but challenging enough to give confident mountain bike riders an advantage over their road based triathlete buddies. The trail run followed the same single track that the bike leg covered in the first 5km, straight up a twisty climb. Thankfully most of the final 5km was down hill.
Come race day the weather was perfect, 31degrees lite winds and blue skies. The Pro athlete’s went off in the first wave followed by 10 year age group waves, I was in the last male wave with all the female athletes starting 5min behind, both Celine and I had solid swims, I was rapt that I had so much confidence in the water , mainly thanks to my swim Coach Nicola’s swim program and stroke correction classes that I had attended over the last 8months at Watermark pool. The swim course was a M shape with us coming back to the beach after 750m then heading out past the shore break to do another lap. You really had to get the timing right between sets to get to the sand with out getting smashed into the beach.
The ride was a real test of endurance, hot and hilly , some 22% gradient climbs. I decided to hold back early on and push the final 10km of the ride just so I had some energy left for the run. Celine and I had been going up to Smiths Gully over Winter and riding Mt Everard track and the Mt Jerusalem track to work on our climbing strength, it ended up being the perfect prep as we both had good legs up the climbs [relatively speaking given the oppressive conditions]
Having seen a few crashes and plenty of punctures I was careful about passing riders, heading too far off the thin single track lines can be deadly by hitting rocks or huge tree roots. I had crashed riding the downhill track two days before the race so it took me a while to get my confidence up and to go full gas down the fast descents, I really love riding my Specialized Epic bike and had full confidence in my tyres and tyre pressure, 20psi tubeless set up on race day. The final 6km are very deceiving on the map, it looks like all down hill but there was a lot of twists and turns and short sharp pinches to absolutely crush your legs before the final run. I ended up taking a Camelbak drinking system on my back with 2 litres of water and two water bottles on my bike filled with sports drink, There were 3 points to grab water bottles out on the bike course and I used all of them to drink and some to pour over me to cool off. I drunk about 2.5 litres during the ride and had 6 gels.
My energy levels were good and I started the run feeling hot but ok to give it my all on the run. The run was pretty much 5km up on mainly single track trails with rocks and tree roots to catch you out if you were not concentrating. There were drink stations at every 2km which I was so happy for, one cup to wash down a gel and a cup or two of water over the head was the best feeling. Only problem was 50m past the drink station and you were dry and feeling the humid conditions. Heading for home we ran down a narrow and some times steep track along a ridge then across a dry river bed to hit the soft sand at DT Fleming beach, I saw my daughter Adele and asked how her Mum was going , she just said ok, not filling me with confidence I asked my other daughter Elise 200m to go if she had seen Celine and her response was the same, they really didnt know how she was going or where she was in her age group.
Running up the finishing shoot, I was so pumped to have got through the course and felt I raced as well as I could, swim went well, bike I paced perfectly and had a solid nutrition plan that got me to the start of the run with good energy, and my run even though the first 3 km was a real struggle up the steep pinches I ran all but a few hundred meters of super steep tracks. I got one bad hammy cramp after tripping over a tree root on a steep downhill section, but apart from that my run legs are slowing coming back after two years of consistent injuries.
When I crossed the finish line I had my twins there waiting, they had taken pictures while we raced , its not a great spectator event as the course is all out in the jungle and sugar plantations, it was so cool having our girls there to share in the event, we waited for Celine to cross the finish line, she to was pumped to just get through the race , and to conquer her fear of off road mountain bike riding. When I asked how she thought she went in her age group she thought she might of got a place but had no idea after the ocean swim where any of her competitors were, and as she is so new to the off road triathlon scene she didn’t really know any of the race favorites. She was actually more excited that she had ridden most of the course with ease and that she now felt like a real mountain bike rider!
We spent the next 15min reminiscing what we had experienced out on the course with our friend Andrew Noordoff from the Nunawading Tri club. At the finish line they were printing finishing times for each competitor, I saw mine and was rapt with 17th in my age group, I was happy to finish in the top half of my category but to go top 20 was very rewarding after a lot of hard training over 12 months. My finish time was 3hours and 42 minutes.
We got Celine’s times and she couldn’t read the faded print out, she said she thinks she got 2nd, I took it from her and it read 1st in her category, that followed a lot of family group hugs, and all the emotion of doing such an epic event came spilling out in tears and laughter. To have our twin daughters their to see their Mum take a World title [2nd time they had seen it after her Duathlon World title in 2015] was very rewarding and we were happy to show them what hard work and dedication can bring in rewards.
Race maps below
Results from the Xterra World Champs
Pro results Xterra 2017 Maui
Team TGR athlete Kodey Hodgson had her first triathlon of the season last weekend. The race was a qualifier for the World Triathlon Champs on the Gold Coast. Kodey competes in the 16 to 19 year age category.
Yarrawonga, what a ripper weekend. Filled with so much encouragement, support and happy faces everywhere you looked.
My weekend commenced on the Friday. Parents thought it would be a good idea to drive down on the Friday evening, and look I wasn’t complaining about that I would definitely be struggling sitting in a car for 3 hours then having to race.
Had such a good sleep woke up bright and early, even though my race didn’t start till 1:33pm, I decided I was going to treat it like every other race. Defiantly did not want to over sleep but also was cautious that I got enough sleep too. Had a shower to wake myself up just that little bit more, and then got into the packing and getting ready. Made sure to triple check everything just so I knew I wasn’t going to forget anything that was needed…wetsuit…race flats…rubber bands…talcum powder…goggles…Alpha Keri…tri suit…helmet…drink bottle…towel…bike shoes…and of course my bike. Once that was finished it was about 8:00am; I then rolled out my muscles getting rid of any tightness that I had, Put all my stuff in the car, then parents drove into town to get some breakfast. I on the other hand rode my bike down just to check over all my gears to make sure everything was working smoothly, also wanted to keep my legs ticking over. Once breakfast was finished I rode over to the race venue. Went through a bit of the bike course just to familiarize myself, checked out the mount and dismount point, practiced a couple of times just so I knew how much room I had before the line. Nerves where started to kick in a lot now, got off my bike and walked into the race briefing area. Still had 4 hours to wait, all I was thinking was that’s 4 hours to stress and get even more nervous. Saw the coach so walked over to him; he could see how nervous I was just by my eyes and the way I was standing. He said it’s good, being nervous will boost your adrenaline levels up. Helped set up some tents. Before I knew it I had 3 hours before my race, that little clock in my head was slowly counting down. Wasn’t long now, I got my coach to double check my bike, make sure the tire pressure was good and that the gears were working well. Transition was opening in 10 minutes so I picked up my race pack, stuck all my stickers on and into transition I walked. I started racking my bike, I saw that the girls I normally race with had a different Colour drafting band and where racking there bikes somewhere else.
The men I was racking next to were just looking at me, “you do know you are racking with the 40+ men” I looked at him, all that was going through my head was you have got to be kidding me. They gave me the wrong Colour band, well yay that’s just great. I didn’t realize I looked like a 40 year old man. I went over to one of the officials and explained my situation to him and he helped me sort it all out. I then moved my bike to the same rack as the other girls, set up my bike all over again and then walked out of transition to go and get the right colour band for my bike. I got to the race pack pick up point, and the head coach of TVDP walked over to me. “ I have been looking for you” I looked at him and surely not that cant be a good sign. He then started explaining to me that I am the only senior racing in the School Sports Victoria qualifying race, as the other girls I normally race were all racing in the Worlds qualifying race. He then gave me the option to either be the only senior but set of with the intermediates or go and do the Worlds qualifying race. At this point my mid was just running, going in big loops and I was starting to stress out a lot. My mind set was definitely not in the right spot at this point. Dad said I needed to go and talk to my coach so that he could calm me down a bit because my race was just not going as I planned and I hadn’t even started racing yet. I spoke to my coach and he gave me the best pre race briefing I have ever had, he helped me focus and clam down and understand that this sort of thing can happen to anyone and not to worry about it. We then decided that I would go ahead and compete in the 16-19 Worlds qualifying race as bottom age as well. So I got the right drafting Colour band quickly went back into transition and swapped it over with my old one. My friend Grace was really excited that we were now racing together because we are the only two that are the same speed in the swim so we came up with a good race plan which meant we could help each other but also do really well individually. I love a bit of healthy competition.
It was about 1 hour till my race now, time flies when your having fun they say. The whole ETPA group (my training group) were getting ready to all do a warm up swim together. I went through my usual wetsuit set up. Covered my body pretty much head to toe in Alpha Keri oil for extra help when taking my wetsuit of. Then started pulling on the wetsuit, wetsuit was on and more Alpha Keri was put on the leg and armholes. Cap and goggles were put on and into the water for the warm up we went. Wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be, so that was nice. Just before we were getting out of the swim we did a couple of 100m efforts, then hopped out of the water. 15 minutes until race now. Started walking over to the start line with Grace, heart was racing and I was getting very pumped now. Off the boys wave went, and into the water we jumped. My nerves get to me weirdly, at the start line I start to talk a lot to just anyone around me. It was 3 minutes now, race conductor explained that we were then in the starters hands. Next minute you know the gun went off and we started the swim. It was a deep-water start but was only waist deep, wadded out a bit then dove in to start swimming. Of course it was me, what else could honestly go wrong today, well apparently a lot more then I thought. There I am standing up in the middle of the group because my goggles had been knocked off my head. Fixed them up and quickly sprinted up again to try and catch Grace. I suck at the swim, its my worst leg, so I wasn’t hoping to much out of it cause I didn’t want to disappoint myself. I get into a good rhythm pretty quick, which I was stoked with. Started exiting the water and saw that Grace was about 3 seconds in front of me. Running into transition goggles and cap off holding them in one hand and ripping the wetsuit off with the other hand. Get to the bike the rest of the wetsuit comes off and helmet on.
Grab the bike and running towards the mount line, flying mount onto bike and off I went. Grace tailing on behind me, rolling turns everything was going as we planned, until I rolled to the front looked behind me and Grace was no longer there, had to quickly change race plan. But turned out to be better then I thought. Tail wind on the way down, picked up a couple of people made them do rolling turns with me and stay with me cause I knew I was going to need them for the way back. Got to the turn around and started heading back to transition. Picked up two more groups before the dismount line, so was in a really big group now. About 400m before dismount line and I moved my way to the front of the group so that I had a clear dismount. Off the bike I came and into transition. Bike racked, shoes on, helmet off, pick up race band and run out of transition, that’s what I was playing over in my head and it went exactly like that very smooth. Felt really heavy on the run, found it hard to get into a rhythm, just focused on breathing and trying to get just a little bit faster. Got to the turn around, was feeling a lot stronger. Picked up the pace a bit and started heading back.
Saw Grace going towards the turn around, best high five I have ever done was in that race. Last 200m I could just feel the speed of the legs getting faster. Excitement was building, I was almost home. Sprint finish to the line. I was done, my grin was bigger then you have ever seen, so many vibes through the air. Congratulating everyone around you, best feeling you could have. Finished and placed better then I thought I would, which I was happy with, especially after all the muck ups that happened in the build up to the race.
Each October we run events just for women, we love to get more girls cycling. Check out the events below if your keen to get involved. If you know someone who might be interested let them know too, our Pilates classes are super friendly and lots of fun, our bike path ride is a flatish, easy ride along our beautiful bike paths. And for those who want to learn about looking after your bike and pick up tips on some of the issues we have with our bikes out on the road or trails this is perfect for you.
Pilates for cyclist at Topgear Cycles Mondays at 6:30pm October 9th,16th call shop to book a spot Cost $15
Social Bike path ride October 14th Saturday at 8am leaving from the store. Distance 35km medium pace, coffee stop included. Cost FREE just book your spot by calling 98502996
Bicycle Maintenance Clinic October 12th at 6:30pm Come along and join Tim and Peter for a bike maintenance clinic, learn every thing from cleaning and maintaining your bike to puncture repairs and gear and brake adjustment. 1:5hours approx.Cost FREE , please book a spot as numbers limited call 98502996 or email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org
Come join us for the Amy’s Grand Fondo Gravel ride. We have created a Team that you can sign up to when registering, and if you feel like you want to donate to Celines fund raising page to raise money for the Amy Gillet Foundation please do with many thanks:]
Here are some of the details about the ride….
A new ride option to the event schedule, Amy’s Gravel Fondo is the perfect ride for those who want to take their riding off the bitumen and onto the gravel. Amy’s Gravel Fondo will take place on Sunday, starting and finishing in Apollo Bay and covering a distance of 65 kilometres including 1,500 meters of climbing.
Whilst not a technical course, it will still be challenging, perfect for those who prefer mountain or cyclocross bikes to road bikes.
For more info and registration details check out this link to http://amysgranfondo.org.au/new-for-2017/
Have Monday morning free? why not join us for a ride around our local bike paths. Our ride is approx 35km with a few hills, some gravel sections, so you can ride a road bike, we suggest 28mm tyres or a Gravel road or cyclo-cross bike, but a hybrid or Mountain bike is ok too. The pace is approx 20km/h avg speed. Any questions drop us a line at the shop 98502996, see you Monday.
Time 9:30am [meet at 9:15am]
Place , rear car park at Topgear Cycles
Pace Avg speed approx 20 km/h
What to bring Safe working bike, water bottle, Helmet, food snack, warm cycling clothes.
Road trip to Rotorua New Zealand
Last week Tim, Chris and myself headed across the Tasman to ride the Redwood Forrest in Rotorua. We timed it so we could also do the Xterra Off Road weekend , which included Trail runs , mountain bike events and the Xterra off road triathlon. Somehow we managed to miss all the bad weather with Cyclone Debbie dumping record rainfalls in the North Island days before we arrived. It is a absolute credit to how good the mtb trails in Rotorua are as we saw a lot of flooding on our drive down from Auckland airport but the trails were perfect.
Race day was Saturday and we got down to the Blue Lake [Lake Tikitapu] early as Chris was first to go off at 9am. The MTB event was the same loop as the mtb leg of the triathlon, we had ridden the course the day before so we knew what we were in for. The 26km loop include 800m of climbing, some of the sweetest single track on the planet and a final decent on the legendary downhill track called “Eagle vs Shark”. Having ridden the course the day before we had a good idea of the more technical spots on course, this really helped on race day as with a narrow track and a lot of competitors it was hard to pass slower riders.
Chris had a solid ride and mastered all the obsticals on course to get around in a time of 1 hour 53min. Tim and myself started our race at a relaxed 11am, with a mass start , crystal clear water and no wind it was a perfect day for a race. I have really worked hard on my swimming this year, as in this race 12months before I really struggled and got way back in the field starting the bike leg so I was determined to have a strong swim and come out of the water with less riders in front of me.
With a traditional Maori welcome on the start line the scene was set , some of New Zealand’s and the world for that matter elite athletes were here racing, Baden Currie who had just won Ironman New Zealand and was looking at defending his title. ITU triathlete Sam Osborne who had been a podium finisher in this event over the last 3 years andin the women’s race two of the most experienced off road triathletes, Renata Bucher and Jacki Allen [nee Slack] were going head to head. Last years female winner Lizzy Orchard,was sideline due to a injury but still managed to compete in a team doing the swim leg.
I came out 6 min quicker than last year in the 1km swim and saw Tim head out of transition so I was pretty pumped as I thought I would be about 3min behind him, even though I still didn’t feel like I had the best swim. With my improved position in the water I was really able to ride a lot faster this year as the single track wasn’t as crowded. I some how passed Tim on course as he was caught up with some riders crashing in front of him, I called out as I was taking the high track around the group, but he didn’t hear me.
The ride took over a 1.5 hours and I gave it every thing I had out on the single track. I have had ongoing calf injuries for 12 months [yes old man calf syndrome :] so I hadn’t run consistently for months, so the 11km trail run was always going to be a battle. To my surprise I ran the first lap in under 30min, I had hoped to run under the hour for the whole course, but the legs shut down with 3 km to go , and I lost my podium spot in the last 1.5km. Still I was stoked with 4th place and to go under 3hours with a 16minute PB from the same event 12 months ago. Tim came in 10th in his age group and was surprised to see me at the finish, he hadn’t seen me pass him on the bike and with the run being mostly in the bush he hadn’t spotted me up the road. This is a great result for Tim who has had a bad knee injury over the last year, hopefully we can have many more battles together like this one in the near future.
If you are looking for a challenging event or just a great place to ride your bikes, Rotorua is a must do destination.
Tim and I would like to thank Celine, Nick and Lucas for looking after the shop while we were away, couldn’t of done this event with out their support, cheers Peter
details of Xterra New Zealand can be found here
Xterra Off Road Triathlon 2km swim,57km mtb ride, 15km trail run.
Quick run down on our race from last weekend, Wanaka is a amazing place to have a event. On race day we got a shuttle from the finish line to the start line, 75min drive Via a mountain pass, as if our tummies were not upset enough thinking about the day ahead. Our driver gave us a run down on the course, he was going to be one of 10 mechanics out riding the course, he joked that you didn’t need to take any nutrition as the 20 plus river crossings on the bike leg would see plenty of riders upside down trying to ride across , then seeing all their gels floating in the river, never a truer word spoken! The swim was amazing , clear pristine water, cold but not unbearable , snow capped mountains in the background. Mass start but only about 160 athletes so had plenty of clear water after first boy. 37 min swim, pretty happy , getting better with swimming straight, I decided to put socks on as I still had blistered from Qld Tri, it was a good move as plenty of stones in my shoes going through the rivers.
The negative from the event was the organizers started the mountain bike race as we were exiting the water, 2000 riders on the tracks ahead, in one way it made me hold back a bit on the bike as I weaved though the pack, it took almost 30 km before the crowds thinned out. Celine had called out to me as I left t1 so I knew she would be chasing me, the bike suited her as it was a lot of fire road and double track, the first 5 km was uphill and on sandy tracks, just what you need out of the water to warm up, at 30 km I was struggling and got dropped by a guy I had been riding with , I turned around and realized how much we had just climbed , then realized why I was hurting, decided to get some food in and hopefully bomb the final 15 km decent. The river crossings at the start were shallow and small, more water run offs than rivers, but I have never seen so many broken chains in a event, I think most people were over geared trying to ride out of the streams once hitting the water you almost came to a stop.
The last 15 km provided me with a chance to peg back some of the road based power riders, it was rocky , sometimes technical, and some amazing cliffs to fall off if you got it wrong, I was amazed they didn’t have more warning signs up, but I had taken note from our bus driver about the dangers. He also gave us a good tip when crossing the wider rivers, start upstream and use the current as you Cross, there had been a lot of rain a few weeks ago and the river was still quite high and running fast. At times I was riding with both my wheels submerged under water, not great for your bike! We had 10 river crossings in the last 4 kms, at first it was refreshing but then it became a slog, and I didn’t want to be that guy floating upside down with gels falling out of my pockets.
I came into t2 feeling ok, Celine and I were going to ride the run course the day before, glad we didn’t, we wouldn’t of made it on the bike, the run was so technical, we even used ropes to climb down some of the rocky descents, at one stage, I get ok for the first 5 km , but the final 10km was unrelenting and I was in struggle town, at one stage I had my head down and hands on knees and I missed a turning arrow, I had descended 400m down a goat track when I realized my mistake, not what I needed but I pushed on, the final decent was that steep they had put up no passing signs , if you slipped over you were in a lot of trouble, the final 3 km we shared the track with the mountain bike riders, my feet were that numb from running in the icy waters , it was no longer refreshing but a slog with water filled shoes, I some how managed to run the last few kms, I was cooked, my knees felt like they had exploded but I was rapt to get to the finish line. This is one tough event, I thought the ride would of been harder, but it still took a lot of effort, it was the run where the race was decided, I got 4 th in my age group and 32 male across the line. Celine Hepworth had a great day in her first off road Tri, showing great determination on the bike . Unfortunately she had a mix up with her compulsory warm clothes bag that we had to carry for the ride and run which cost her about 30min on the bike. Thankfully she kept a clam head and went onto win her age group and got a qualifier for the worlds in Hawaii. Very proud of her to over come her fears of mountain biking.
If you want a bike destination for your next holiday , consider Queestown, beautiful scenery and great road and mountain biking. Cheers Peter
Our shop Ambassador Karina recently took on the best adventure races in the world at the XPD Adventure World Champs in NSW a few weeks ago. See her race report below…..
XPD World Champs Race Report – by Karina Vitiritti
XPD in Australia 2016 was the World Champs in Adventure Racing, it wasn’t a matter of if we were racing, it was only a matter of who from our team was going to line up on the start line. Dynamite Adventure – Belgravia Leisure were never going to miss a World Champs opportunity in our Country, racing over similar terrain to Victoria, in a similar climate and of course we wanted to see how a team of mates who were joined together from our kids sport and the wonderful Warrandyte community we live in, would stack up against the professionals, the international teams who travel the world racing.
I often get asked how do you prepare for a race like this and the obvious answer is train, train, train which we do and we do plenty of. The part which is learn’t from experience is the mental training and the teamwork required to execute a positive, fun and successful race. My attitude once we were in the car travelling to NSW turned to the mental attitude that myself and the team would bring to the race, as once you hit that start line you can’t control the training that you may or may not have done, you can’t control the course and you certainly can’t control mother nature, it is all about your attitude and working together to get through the adventure. Our team was made up Gus (my adopted big brother by choice, also from Warrandyte who I have raced with for 3 years and train with weekly), Tim (young gun from Gippsland Victoria, this was his 1st Expedition race, but has raced in our team for over 1 year) and Liam (Experienced Expedition Racer from Qld).
This adventure would take us on an adventure for 630km in the Shoalhaven region in NSW, the region is known for its stunning beaches, bays, coastline, rivers, caves and amazing National Parks which are the home to many rock formations. A race like this is purposely designed to be challenging and test the teams every step of the way, therefore a ride will always include plenty of hike a bike, a trek will always include obstacles and challenges like water crossings, rock climbing, coasteering and general bush bashing and the kayaking will always include portages, changing tides, rapids and swell. All 4 teammates must stay within 100m of each other at all times finding many checkpoints along the way, navigating with only maps and a compass. Navigation is obviously a massive part of this race but other vital aspects are sleep management, food intake, injury prevention/management, communication and a positive attitude, these elements will play a big role in how the team is working as one and ultimately how fast they are moving forward in the right direction.
A race like this is massive, there were 14 different legs in total and we covered 115km Trekking/Running, 320km Mountain Biking, 5km Ca@ving and 185km Kayaking/Packrafting. Some of the more memorable parts of the race were:
Hike a bike decent along the side of a cliff, had many teams in a conga line. Passing one bike at a time up and down over massive rocks, whilst navigating through narrowly spaced trees all while on the side of a cliff with a drop that would end your race if you fell down and destroy your bike. Teamwork was a must, this hike would have been challenging without the bike
Three of the Four treks were coastal along the NSW beaches, these coasteering legs delivered lots of sand running, several tidal river mouth crossings, rock scrambling and some amazing rainforest walking tracks. Hitting all of these treks in the late afternoon, we were powered along by the sunset.
The Budawang Range trek was a critical leg of the race for us, trekking is usually our slowest leg and the navigation was challenging, so the goal was to keep moving forward at a rapid pace in the right direction. Gus decided to strip off down to his jocks and gaitors for this leg which definitely took the focus off the dry rocky long climb in hot conditions that we were about to scramble up. Once up the climb and on the flatlands, we were surrounded by spectacular cliffs and spoilt with ferns, rainforests and sand caves everywhere.
Caving was the mystery discipline, this involved squishing our bodies through wombat size tunnels to collect checkpoints underground with limited air. Many laughs and jokes were shared whilst squishing our bodies in various directions, its fair to say the Caving was much more difficult than any of us had imagine. The hardest part of this leg was definitely finding the cave entrances with a map that looked like it was from the early 1900’s.
The sketchy loose rock decent down into the Bungonia Slot Canyon was challenging, especially on limited sleep at night. Lucky we had our helmets on as a medium sized rock was dislodged by myself at one point and made a quick decent down into the Canyon only just missing one of our team mates. Sleeping on the sand under the stars at the bottom on the Canyon was a definite highlight, it would have been nice to take it all in for more than 10 seconds but sleep was the priority. Navigating along the Creek through the Canyon was amazing, what started with sand and pebbles, quickly turned into massive rocks in various formations, these boulder ended up being the size of elephants. Lots of rockclimbing and teamwork to navigate the best and safest way through these massive boulders which eventually opened up into a creek bed with trees and smaller rocks which took us all the way down to the Shoalhaven and the start of a whitewater rafting fun.
Whitewater rafting down the Shoalhaven River would have been a hoot if the water level was higher. This top section of rapids included walking, floating, going forwards, backwards and plenty of luck picking the right lines. Our carbon paddles were given the ultimate test.
Kayaking down the Shoalhaven was probably our most challenging leg, we had been paddling all day, it was dark, we were tired, cold and really wanted to be out of these bath tub like boats. The sleep monsters had definitely set in, with Gus seeing an artist trail on the cliffs above that I believe wasn’t real and myself struggling with the freezing conditions the priority was to push on to the TA which had warm showers and a tent. Tim took charge of motivation, he had a tough gig keeping Gus awake and getting me to keep paddling as I had the chill shakes.
The last 18km trek to the finish we all surprisingly felt great. We opted for a relaxed approach, enjoyed the scenery, had a few laughs, talked to the locals and our Aussie race mates who had come down the Mollymook to cheer us on. Crossing the line there was a sense of relief and happiness, we were stoked to come 28th in the world and finish strong.
Teamwork and a positive attitude was vital to our teams success, the camaraderie between Dynamite Adventure is amazing. Egos need to be put aside, respect and trust are a must, knowing your strengths and limitations and when to seek input all drives a team to making good choices and ultimately going safely in the right direction. At times our team was tested and our teamwork wasn’t always flawless, yes there was tension, but it was managed and we moved forward as a team. This teamwork isn’t built overnight, 3 of us have raced and trained together for many years, our personalities click, we respect each others skills and enjoy each others company. We are like a family out there and most of the time can read each without too much communication, the boys throw me the tow line and push me along often without me asking, things just happen.
In summary we had a fantastic race, 28th in the world and the 5th Aussie team in the premier mixed category, this result was better than we expected. Our navigation had us going in the right direction most of the time, with only a couple of errors which we didn’t lose much time for, we only had minor feet and body fatigue issues and we had no mechanicals on the bike or gear issues. Experience in one of these races is the key, we raced smart by not going out too hard and although we worked the transitions as fast as we could we also took the time required to make sure we were in the best shape possible to tackle the next leg. Knowing your teammates and working together definitely came into play, at times the pace was dropped off while one of us was in a world of hurt, we understand that these hurt locker moments come and go and it is important to work as a team to get through them one by one. Everyone has these moments, it is a part of Adventure Racing and ultimately why we do this crazy sport is for the fun times but also to push our bodies to the extreme.
*Congratulations from all of us at Topgear Cycles to Karina and the Team, amazing effort shown to just get to the finish line!
Last weekend we travelled to the Snowy Mountains in NSW for the ITU World Triathlon Champs, it was the first time the event had been held down under and the Event management team of in2Adventure did an amazing job of hosting this event. There were 26 countries represented with over 300 competitors racing in events that included a lake swim , mountain bike ride and trail run. The event held over 3 days catered for both Professionals and agegroup athletes.
Thursday saw us all register and have an Australian Team meeting which included guest speakers Guy Andrew [surf Ironman legend] Courtney Atkinson [2 time olympic triathlete], Charlotte Mcshane [a recent 3rd place at the Elite Triathlon World champs] and Jenny Alcorn [age groupe triathlete legend and coach]. After our meeting and race briefing we joined in with all the athletes from around the world for a opening ceremony.
We were treated with some fantastic weather on the banks of Lake Jynderbyne. Great night was had with local schools providing some entertainment and some Man from Snowy River inspired horse riders cracking there whips circling the crowd.
Racing started Friday with the agegroup women getting under way at the Lake Crackenback resort. The lake had warmed up from the week before which the locals told us that it had actually snowed, so we were happy with warm temperatures for the 4 days we were there.
Our shop sponsored athlete Virgini, had a great 2 lap swim to be out of the Lake in the top handful of athletes. She powered through the 2 lap mountain bike single track course.
The run consisted of 3 laps of a very technical run that included rock climbing , a tunnel and river run. The women were lead home by Kim Beckensale [45 to49 agegroup] who came in on 3 hours, a time that would of been competitive in the Elites a few days later. Virgini crossed the line totally exhausted and unsure of her placing, it took a long time to get confirmation that she had won a Bronze medal. She was congratulated immediately by her coach Renata Bucher who was watching on before she was to race in the Elite category. It was great to see so many women embrace this sport, its not for the faint hearted, but everyone who got to the finish line got presented a medal for finishing and no doubt had a feeling of great accomplishment.
We had 3 of us race from the shop in the men’s age group race on the Saturday morning, Nathan, Mack and myself. Perfect conditions greeted us at the start of the 1500m wetsuit swim.
The Lake Crackenback water had warmed up to around 17 deg, there were 5 waves separated by 2min gaps, so a good swim was critical once we started the 30km single track mtb ride to get a clear track. I managed a 7 min PB swim over the same course in February so all the cold outdoor pool swim sessions over winter became worth it.
Onto the bike I came across Nathan who had started in the wave before me, it was great to ride together on a fun trail. The ride was technical enough where you had to pick the right place to grab a water bottle or Gel. The race was at 1200m altitude so pacing your self was important as was the fact that we were racing for 3 hours into the midday sun. We picked up a lot of slower riders and really started to get some rhythm riding the 2 laps.
Heading into the 10km trail run I knew I was in for a long run, I hadn’t done the training kms due to a torn calf earlier in the year, but this run wasnt about leg speed but pure strength as it was more of a tough Mudda course than a trail run.
Running over swing bridges, balancing on logs, climbing over rocks, running up rivers, loosing your shoes in muddy swamp lands were all on the 3 lap course. I was pretty pumped to have my family there to cheer me on as for the last 20 years I have been more than happy to be the spectator and cheer Celine on while she has been racing. For the last 12 months I have enjoyed getting fit and learning new skills with my swimming and I was really happy to finish 17th in my category.
Next year I move up to another age group and look forward to many races against my training partners. The best thing about these World Champs was enjoying with athletes from our shop, Virgini ended up getting a Bronze medal with a really gutsy effort which left her totally exhausted at the finish line, Mack Clarkson who finish 5th in the super competitive 40 to 44 year age group and Nathan who did a 6 min PB from the trail race. I am already looking forward to racing back at this venue for the 2017 Aus champs in March.
Women’s Elite winner Flora Duffy
Male Elite winner Ruzafa from Spain won his 3rd world title.
What the winners were presented with…
I would really like to thank In2Adventure for putting on one of the best multi sport events I have ever attended, Lake Crackenback resort which should be on your list of places to stay if you’re in the Snowy Mountain region, and of course my family for supporting me to do this crazy event. Thanks also to my training buddies and Nicola for the swim lessons.