Thursday, November 17, 2011

Latest News - November

We are back from our epic adventure in Tassie!  Wow…what an amazing couple of weeks!!  Sorry, I only managed one update while we were there, but I hope those of you who were interested were tracking the teams on the live website…. Aunty Kim will write a full account of her race…and I’m sure the Tri Adventure team will write their account as well…. I will give you an insight into my adventure as a volunteer/support crew/etc….
Mountain Designs-Tri Adventure looking fit and ready...
 TUESDAY 1st Nov…..While the teams were at their course hand-out, us Vollies were in an all-day session which revealed our activities for the next 10 days.  We had already been given an idea of what we were doing….but now we found our WHERE it all was happening… Over 50 volunteers from all over the world gave up 2 weeks of their life/holidays to come down to Tassie and support this epic event…. I was pleased to find out I was still doing the big trek to retrieve CP’s on day 3…and now I knew this was over Black Bluff…the highest point on the course!  Yay…we were hoping for good weather….. When I arrived back at our cabin on Tuesday evening the teams were in their last phases of packing and organising…. ‘Towers’ of food were stacked all over the table…bike boxes were laying open with gear all over the place…..but now it was all clear to them and they finally knew where to put everything….. It was also Melbourne Cup Day…but no-one here was slightly interested….
 WEDNESDAY 2nd Nov…. Race start was right in Burnie…. They would paddle out around the shipyards, then head east to the town of Penguin…via one CP along the way…. When the gun went off – so did Susie and me…. We were headed to Penguin to set up the TA where they would come off the paddle and head for the hills on foot.  We set up the area and had the help of 15 students from the Devonport High School…they were very good with carrying all the boats up to the waiting trucks…. This TA was absolute chaos…..the first one always is as all the teams are still so together at this point…. The racers were freezing and unable to sign in properly on our sheet…. Luckily it wasn’t raining too!  When the last team had come through, we packed up the area and took off up to Riana to drop off the TA box for the next person….. While we were there the 3 top teams came through and we were privileged to watch their amazing transitions…..this one they had to unpack their bikes…which became an automatic skill for all the teams as the race went on…. It was great to see our friends from Blackheart in 3rd place at that point….. Suse and I then took off again…on the most amazing drive out to Leven Canyon where we would be based for the next 2 days…..Very basic camping here including no power… luckily we had stocked up on all the essentials…, wine, etc…and Suse had here little fuel stove for us to cook dinner and make coffee…. !!  We manned the TA here with a few other people for 2 days and nights…..and I experienced one of the coldest nights I can remember….sitting up all night waiting for the teams to come in.  It was great to see all our teams though….they had already been through so much…..and had so much more to do…..this was only the beginning!
THURSDAY 3rd…. Still at Leven Canyon waiting for the last team to come in…..Team Driftwood from the US…they had gotten themselves quite lost on the way there and were a very long way behind.  Suse & I were hoping they would not sleep in this TA as we wanted to go out and get our first CP before dark this night and then head out on our big trek the next morning.  The boys finally left and we followed them down into the canyon towards CP 13…they dithered along…and didn’t really know the way to go…. We shunted them in the right direction and we all headed out along the track beside the river to find the CP…. This was the point that Suse and I felt we were in the race too…. The CP was on a track/creek junction….. We all searched at the first creek…which was way too soon….. Luckily we had brought our lights with us…as it wasn’t as easy as it looked…. Eventually the CP was found in a beautiful little creek, the Driftwood boys punched and we grabbed it and headed out back to the road…. We spent a relaxing night at Leven…..before our big day on Friday.
Atop Black Bluff with snow in the background!
 FRIDAY 4th…. Packed up and ready…we started our trek at 07.30….. I had pre-dropped the car the day before…and we had organised for one of the other vollies to take our tents and extra gear and put it in the car for us….. This was great as we wouldn’t have to take it all over the mountains with us…even though we did take our sleeping bags as you never know what’s going to happen out there….and it was compulsory gear for the teams going out…. We found CP 14 outside the cave…some nice person had brought it outside for us…otherwise we were going to have to crawl into a very tight space…with spiders and bats…. Thanks Driftwood boys!  We followed the path along beside the river and then we started the climb up to Black Bluff…at its highest point about 1339m…..and we had the most beautiful clear day… was absolutely glorious!  We collected the CP at Paddy’s Lake…and then made our way over Winter Brook before descending down towards Tiger Plain and down to CP 16….. We had left the track now…and really felt part of the event… The going was hard…and we felt sorry for the teams who did this part of the trek in the dark…..not only was it dangerous underfoot…they would have missed the most spectacular views….on one side we could see all the way to Bass Strait…..on the other side we had views of Cradle Mtn and Mt Ossa… Suse & I were feeling like the luckiest people alive that we had been given the opportunity to do this….. There was no sign of the Driftwood boys…so we hoped they found their way and were ahead of us…but we found out at the end they got quite lost coming off the top and when they finally got to CP 16 we were long gone (even though we sat and had lunch there before we left!..) and then they didn’t even try for CP 17…. They were not too worried, and luckily ended up DNF so it didn’t matter anyway….! Meanwhile Suse and I trekked on…downhill…crossed some very nice creeks and had some more awesome views on the way down.  We finally got near CP 17…..and had a bit of trouble finding it as we were distracted by an little bush shack with some great carvings out the front…. By the time we got the CP we only had about 1.5 hours of daylight left.  We decided to take a bearing south to the road where our car was…and hadn’t counted on the thickness of the ti-tree scrub in Tasmania…just great if you were a wombat…plenty of wombat highways in there…but if you were more than ½ metre tall it proved a problem…..we bashed our way through this bit of scrub for at least an hour…starting to panic a bit as there seemed no way out…we did not want to spend the night with the wombats…Susie, wearing shorts and low gaiters was getting cut to pieces but the prickly undergrowth…so I was up ahead trying to break it all down and make a way through…usually gentle and with more respect for the bush….I was now on a mission…standing on broken down scrub…breaking branches…we had to literally fight our way through there…I walked along a fallen tree eventually and saw the power lines and there was the road…we had made it out…and we quite relieved that it was only about 2kms to the road by track…and the waiting car!!!  Wow…what an experience!  It had taken us 12 hours…and we almost thought we wouldn’t get out before dark!  Getting in the car off our weary feet was a great relief…. We zoomed off in the car…..and arrived at Tullah where we booked into a motel for the night…before a very memorable dinner at the Tullah pub…they graciously re-opened their kitchen for us…amidst the darts game and pool comp…we felt a bit out of place…but thoroughly enjoyed the steak and chips on offer!
 SATURDAY 5th….. I left Suse at Tullah where she was to go out to another TA and I took the road to Strachan where mid-camp was set up…. The teams all had a compulsory 6 hour stop here and got a hot meal and a tent for some rest.  Lots of teams here had already been struck by the gastro that seemed to plague over 50% of the field…and they were a sore and sorry sight as they walked around like zombies…I think it was at this point I decided I never want to do a race like this…. There was so much for the teams to do at mid-camp…besides washing and scrubbing their bikes, shoes and packs (when they were tired and hungry) and then having to do a compulsory blog, gear check etc… wasn’t any wonder a lot of teams spent way more than 6 hours here.  Some of them spent more time recovering from their sickness…..and most seemed to recover ok….. It was a dim and depressing place though…and I was also here that I re-acquainted myself with Audrey who had pulled out of the race due to chest and breathing problems…. I had booked a cabin for the night… I bundled her off for a shower and bed whilst I spent most of the night manning the TA……
 SUNDAY 6th….. Still at mid-camp…and getting organised to drive back to Burnie…. I now also had Ali Wright with me who had pulled out of the race too with knee problems…. It was a bit sad for them….. We got back to Burnie and nothing was going on……so Audrey and I had bit of a rest before I had to go back on duty at race HQ for the next 5 days….
MONDAY 7th…. Audrey and I went for a drive out to Wynyard and Boat Harbour…..It is such a nice part of the world…..We visited my cousin’s farm again and enjoyed a ride around their beautiful property…..The weather was hot and sunny…not what we were expecting at all! I headed into HQ eventually and we all got ready for the first team to finish.  The big controversy in the event was that the leading team, Seagate, had copped a 4 hour penalty for not carrying their spot tracker for part of the event…this was compulsory gear… penalties were harsh…In the end, this lost them the race… they had to sit out their penalty in the last TA at Boat Harbour…meanwhile teams Thule and Silva breezed in and out on their way to the finish line…. I was the lucky one who waited with their flags to hand to them for the final victory lap around the velodrome….. and they were excited and happy…well, all but Seagate, really….
 TUESDAY 8th….. Spent lots of time at HQ updating the leader-board, handing out champagne and pizzas….. Teams were coming home…. I was watching Team MD’s/Tri Adventure on the tracker and waited up all night for them to finish…..
WEDNESDAY 9th…. MD’s/Tri Adventure cross the line at about 0700…..with Pikey on tow…They’d had so many problems…it was amazing they got there at all…I will leave Aunty Kim to tell their story….. So, after the obligatory champers and pizza, I bundled them up and took them home for a shower and sleep…. They had finished in 13th place and had hoped for top 15… Fantastic!  We all slept for quite a few hours…I was very sleep deprived myself at this point…and when they all woke up their bodies were puffing up like balloons…. This happens in these long events and is the result of fluid build-up when the kidneys and other organs can’t quite keep up with the processing of toxins etc….. Their feet all looked like they would burst if I put a pin in them and they had plenty of black toenails and little infections all over their bodies…It wasn’t a pretty sight! 
Tri Adventure at the finish!
 THURSDAY- FRIDAY…. Spent more time at HQ…..watching many teams finish including our gallant Tri Adventure boys, now with Audrey, who had joined them for the last trek and bike (9 hours…lucky she had recovered from her health problems…) It was a great moment on the finish line when Tracey arrived with the 2 boys…and we were all there to welcome them home…..boy, they will have a story to tell….. Friday night was the big presentation night and BBQ feast…everyone was in good spirits…volunteers, finishers, short-coursers and also DNF’s….. They had all experienced an incredible event…so many highs and lows…..many of them had done XPD’s before saying this one had topped them all…in all the extremes…. I was very proud of all of them…