|MD's ready for the night trek...|
September and October have just flown by, it seems..... Hardly a drop of rain to dampen spirits and trails are now dry and dusty....a far cry from earlier this year when we were slogging around in mud up to our armpits! Highlights in the last couple of months were Hells Bells....where MD's took out the event again... The course was challenging and we all struggled with the maps, however got through somehow and filed this event as a good one to get under the belt.... Read on for a 'not so brief' report....
HELLS BELLS 2012 – The Wrap
Tri Adventure teams in Hells Bells this year = 4
Tri Adventure teams in Fairy Bells this year = 2
Race HQ = Landsborough Primary School
Race format for Hells = 7km trek, 10-12km paddle, 10km trek, 25km mtb, 20km trek, 42-46km mtb.
Race format for Fairy’s = a bit more than ½ that distance
Race start = Coochin Creek camping area
Race day temperature = hot, hot, hot! Race night temperature = very warm too!
Teams scattered everywhere when Robbie yelled GO! at 12 noon, or close to this time. We (Hells) had a 7km rogaine style trek….Fairy’s went straight to the Sevylors (lucky them…as they got all the good ones!) Most Hells teams did quite well on this first trek….using a very difficult map….except we all (our teams anyway…) got together at CP U….hidden very well in a slight gully with no visible track… Luckily MD’s were still there and pointed everyone in the right direction. Thanks Aunty Kim!
|Howie punching in...|
Next stop….TA1….where we would meet up with our most un-favourite boats, the dreaded Sevylors… Jules got a lesson in pumping up one side…..and on the third go she found out you have to pull out that little valve thingy first….ah, the finer details…..Anyway….it finally stayed up! Meanwhile, Mandy & I were busy pumping up the rest of it and attaching the dodgy seats……and grabbing the rest of our gear. After quite a while we launch and immediately start taking on water…..Want to go back…..no, never……so we paddled in puddles up to CP2…..where we tried to empty the boat….without any success…..Oh well…..we will just paddle the thing until in sinks then…..(!!) (!!) We find CP3 at the sunken boat then turn around (with great difficulty….as anyone who has paddled these vessels will know very well….it’s actually easier to turn around when you don’t want to!!!...) and headed towards TA2. Winding our way through mangroves…..we had a few walks in the very shallow water…..and I struggled severely keeping the damned thing going straight…. Every time I took a second to look at the map we skewed sideways and the girls up front could not bring the massive blow-up banana around….as hard as they tried….. Struggle, struggle, struggle on, on on…… We find a sneaky short cut into Hussey Creek….and walk along in the shallow water…..This is much nicer than paddling at this point. In the far distance we see a fire burning…..we decide it’s the Sevylor BBQ…..as that’s what we want to do with this thing when we finally get to that TA….. (!!)
We arrive at TA2, luckily as another boat is pulling in…..as it was very hard to spot up on that bank. Drag (no… carry, of course) the Sevylor up the slippery mud bank…..and shock, horror…..no Sevylor BBQ! I don’t care anymore as I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never paddle these things ever again…..and would rather enjoy a plastic Toy-Boy sit-on-top any day…..wouldn’t anyone….????
Off we go on Trek #2. We are very hot and the first CP has a creek crossing with a handy rope. We all enjoy getting in the manky water to cool down! We find all the remaining CP’s…..a tricky one hiding at C…..and it’s dark by the time we arrive at Wild Horse Mountain where are bikes are waiting for us! I check in and see that we are already 3hrs behind MD’s….Wow! they must have flown through the paddle and trek! But we were happy enough…..we had taken some main road options as we struggled to find some of the minor tracks on the dodgy map. The bike is my favourite leg and it’s here I take over the Nav again from Mandy who has done a great job on the two treks! It’s a bit challenging for Jules and Mandy now…..the tracks are rutted and sandy.....and they are trying to concentrate on their riding…..and I am asking them to look for tracks while I’m looking at the map! We find CP4 after searching for the road tunnel…..and then nail CP5 which was very tricky and took a bit of lateral thinking to locate it. When we arrive at CP8 we find a Kombi in the forest (no hallucinations…) and Coach Jeff on hand to guide one team member for a swim in a dam…. Mandy volunteered and she smashed it for the fastest swim in the entire race! Go Mandy…..I know how well you swim as you were one of my little engines when we had to ‘tube’ 8kms across Lake Wallis in Geoquest! CP9, then TA4/5 was close by and Robbie (race director) was a cheery site as we rode in and prepared for the long (and it was…) night trek.
Setting off, we chose to climb up the middle of The Twins for our first CP…..Then we went the long way around to a tricky one in a creek junction (G)…..then we lost the plot looking for H & I. We took a lot of tracks which were not on the map…..and lost concentration a bit following another wrong track. When we finally realised where we were we had wasted over an hour……and Mandy was developing terrible blisters that were growing by the minute. We eventually found our way to I……Woo-hoo!...but that was about all she could do on those feet with blisters on every pad of each foot - she was now struggling to walk. We made a team decision to head back to the TA and miss the remaining CP’s as we wanted a finish in this race and needed to look after ourselves and get to the finish line the fastest way possible.
We found out the remaining mtb leg had taken MD’s 5 hours…..so our best option (thanks to Robbie) was to take the road back to HQ and the finish line…..which was still about 1 ½ hours of riding. It was also 99% on tar which pleased my ‘roadie’ team-mates….and meant that Mandy would not have to step on her feet at all till the finish. It was now daylight – about 6.30am – so, in reality we would not have been able to complete the final mtb leg anyway…..especially as it would take us much, much longer than MD’s 5 hours.
The girls were happy as we rolled over the tar and down to the finish line. We finished at about 8.00am….so 20 hours on course…..enough for us, we thought! Personally, I would have loved to ride the last mtb……but, you can’t have everything, and looking after the team and getting everyone to the finish line in these sports is the prime objective…..and this we did... We recorded a valid finish….the only all-female team….and were very tired ladies!
MD’s won the day/days…..but many teams had struggled with the heat (reminiscent of the very first Hells Bells in 2004…) Gina & Ian’s team lost one of their Isodopes to heat related illness which was a shame as they were going really well….. In Fairy’s, Haley had to pull out of the Turtles with back problems….but Mel and Michele went on to finish….a very long race for them…..but they did it!!! Bish, Bash, Bosh (Howie, Justin & Paddy) had Justin suffering from the heat…..but soldiered on……and made it to the finish line in 2nd place male team – even after incurring a 1hr penalty for missing CP11…. The stand-out result has to be the Fairy’s team of John, Rosemary and Penny (Swinging Sixties as they are all 60+ in age) who cleared their course…..finished within the cut-off and placed 3rd mixed team! Well done you three….an awesome result!
So, in a group discussion after the presentations, we all agreed on a few things.
1. Ditch the Sevylors – even if this means going to 2 or 4 person teams…
2. Improve map quality…..please!!!!!!!!
3. That Robbie and his team are a fantastic, warm bunch of people…..and make their events really enjoyable!!!
See you next year!