Monday, December 10, 2012

Swisse Mark Webber Challenge 2012

Start of Day 1 - With Susie our Team Host

Our adventure started at The Country Club in Launceston….Our first 2 nights were spent here…this is what happened day to day....
Tuesday 27th Nov: Arrived in Launceston and met by our Team Host, Susie, then driven by Susie in the Renault Koleos to the Country Club.  Check in and put our bikes together.  Race briefing and map hand-out was about 5.00pm.  We met up with many of our AR friends and had an enjoyable night at the Welcoming Dinner.
Wednesday 28th Nov: Day 1. Race start on the lawns of the Country Club…. Leg 1 was a rogaine (of sorts) where we had to find CPs on foot around the grounds of the resort.  We also had to complete some interesting ‘challenges’ including playing tennis (serving one ball in), putting on the golf green (putting one ball in the hole….harder than you think!), swimming underwater in the resort pool (impossible for me when I was exhausted from running all over the golf course!) and doing a set of 5 push-ups and 5 chin-ups….(a bit of a struggle, but easier than swimming underwater!).  When we completed these 16 CP’s we had to make our way on foot to Cataract Gorge in downtown Launceston for some white-water rafting….. Some difficult street nav was required to get there and we nailed it and arrived before Gary & elite triathlete, Courtney Atkinson (bit of a surprise!). 
Upon arrival at the Gorge we were sorted into our rafts.  We were lucky enough to get in a raft with Gary, Courtney and Ken Wallace (Olympic gold medalist in kayaking….). We were a little disadvantaged, however, as Courtney had his arm in plaster, so he could not paddle….. After about a 10 minute briefing, we were let loose down the rapids…. They had let out some more water for the event, so it was very wild going…..many boats lost some people overboard…..but we all stayed in the boat …..and having those strong paddlers up the front was fantastic…. We got wedged on a rock at one point…..but got ourselves off it and had the ride of our life!  Courtney was very brave sitting in the back just holding on…..and our guide was quite excited when he found out who he actually had in his raft….
We finished the rafting right in the middle of Launceston…..and from here we had a mtb ride through the suburbs out to a mtb park nearby.  This was challenging navigation as well…..but we found our way there and had an amazing time on all the great single tracks.  We decided to go for all the optional CPs here… the riding was so much fun…..and when checking them all we headed for the next leg which was an 11km kayak down the South Esk River…. Next was another run/rogaine leg where we also picked up some optional CPs…and then another mtb leg that was roughly about 12km but very hilly…. We then found ourselves back at Cataract Gorge where we made our way on foot down to the finish line in the centre of Launceston at Boags Brewery!
It was a very long day…..about 9 ½ hours….and Susie picked us up and took us back to the Country Club for dinner, drinks and a big rest before day two.
Eat, sleep, recover….
Thursday 29th Nov: Day 2. Start was at the Blessington Hall.  Basically, we rode up to the ski village at Ben Lomond. It was a 21km climb….up to 1500m!  Kim towed me the whole way…. We paced ourselves and reached the top in front of many teams who had failed to realise that all those lines on the map were contour lines….and when you cross them you are going up or down in elevation…. This one was ‘up’ all the way.  At the top we had a trek which took us to some peaks around the village….amazing views from the top!  We descended on foot via Summit Pass….grabbed the check-point there and headed down to the TA where our bikes were waiting…. Next leg was an exciting mtb ride…. Unfortunately for us, navigation was not required on this section… we followed the pink tape and found ourselves on some very sweet single track!  When we punched CP 11 a huge tiger snake slithered over Kim’s foot…. We kept very still (ie: froze…) and it went on its way…. I haven’t seen a tiger snake for many years…..but I remember what they look like!  This little incident won us the 2XU award for the day…..which was a nice bonus, I guess, considering if we had moved and received a bite from the thing, our race would definitely have been over!  Rolling into the bike TA, we had another interesting leg ahead of us…….and 11km paddle down rapids in a very shallow river – The North Esk River, in fact.  We got away just after the other all-girls team (The younger, more photogenic ones…)  Kim was experienced in this sort of paddling after doing 75kms of it in the Arthur River last year in XPD, so we quickly caught up to them……and squeezed (barged…) our way past them….and were on our way….. It was slow going sometimes….and every now and then we had to get out and move our kayak off the rocks…. I was using the brand new Flow paddle, just given to us by the lovely Richard Ussher…..and I was a little hesitant to bash it about on the rocks, which is what we had to do…..but it held up really nicely with the reinforced tip…..and now looks like it’s done a stint down the Waimak!  After what seemed like forever in the meandering river, we slid into shore…..and were off on foot in super quick time.  We had two compulsory CPs before the finish of Day 2 which were up high on the side of a spur….. We finished the day happy with our efforts….. But we were not finished yet…. The organisers, in their wisdom, had given us a ‘rally’ drive for our travel to our camp for the night….a great way for us to stay alert and see the beautiful mountain pass we went through…..and Susie our Team Host could snooze away in the back….. We drove like grandma on the slippery dirt roads….but found our way and answered all the questions….and made up the ones we didn’t know.  We were really excited to learn that our friends Robb & Luke won this stage…..and were rewarded with a beautiful basket of French goodies (including some champers…lucky them!!)
Our next two nights would be spent camping on the east coast of Tassie at Ironhorse Point….. This was a resort and we had use of all the facilities…, not really rough camping as we know it, a bit like glamour camping….the tents supplied even had stretchers in them!
Friday 30th Nov: Day 3…..and we were faced with huge surf for our ocean paddle….but before that we had a 6.5km coasteer and sand run to the Falmouth river-mouth and our waiting kayaks.  I will not say I wasn’t terrified about this next leg.  The waves were whipped up by the howling wind…..and not breaking cleanly over the bar….they were coming in all over the place…. We took the advice of someone at the TA and stayed right as we made our way out the treacherous river mouth. It was a bit daunting to be paddling past upturned boats with team members in the water hanging on for dear life.  There was no point us stopping – we could not rescue them!  On we went……paddling hard to beat the breaking waves……then pausing when a huge one would break in front of us…..then paddling like mad to get over the mass of white water….. Kim was in the front screaming directions over the din of the low-hovering helicopter….I was in the back obeying them…..but it was just instinct really…. We didn’t relax until we were half way to New Zealand….and couldn’t believe we had made it!  Susie was on the shore screaming with delight… we were now on our way north (decided to give NZ a miss…) and heading for Scamander where we would have to enter the Scamander river to complete this 19km paddle leg on flat water…..Phew…. We watched the boats as we neared the bar.  It was hard to tell which was the best spot to go in….so we just found ourselves heading for the south side of the river-mouth…..and all of a sudden catching a huge wave…. I was in the back as the 40kg sea kayak picked up the wave…..and by the time I was nearly vertical, looking down at Kim in the front, I knew we were heading for disaster!  Having a trailing rudder, these boats have no steering once on a wave like this… luckily the boat skewed sideways before it nose-dived completely…..and we were thrown out… the side as the great big juggernaut of a kayak went bobbing into the beach having a very nice ride!  We were not out of the woods yet, however, as a few more waves pounded us (and we had our paddles attached to our PFD’s which was a bit scary)....and we were finally dumped on the sand by the unrelenting surf.  We stumbled onto our feet….both of us had lost our head gear…..but amazingly, my orienteering specs were still hanging around my neck…..and in one piece!  I couldn’t believe it!  Our boat was full of water and it took every ounce of the strength we had left to tip it up and drain it out…..
Then we had to drag it a 100m or so along the sand…..this strength came from an unknown source….and finally get back in for the long river paddle ahead…. We had a little issue with our rudder at first, but were off and paddling ok…..and grabbed the only CP at the bridge on the way! 
After, seemingly, a very long time we slid into the TA at Upper Scamander.  Susie was there and she was so excited to see us as she had watched us start the paddle, but had missed our spectacular landing coming in from the surf.  We didn’t phaff around here, and were out on the bikes fairly quickly.  As with a lot of times in this race, so far, we were travelling with the lovely Luke and Robb, and having their company today would play a big part in us finishing this race.
We had a 36km mtb ahead of us….with some optional CPs that we would try for.  After picking up the first compulsory one under the bridge, we turned right onto the road to CP 4 which would give us a 30min time bonus…. This was the start of another disaster….. Following the winding forest roads on a 1:50,000 map was quite difficult….and the CP was a lot further out than we thought.  We tried 2 ‘knolls’ before we hit the CP….and just as we did, Kim’s back tyre went dead flat.  Oh dear….out with the spare…..but then we couldn’t get her pump to work….. It had gummed up inside of the tube and we struggled severely to get any air in.  We took turns….and finally got it to a respectable level of inflation, when we realised the valve stem was going inside the rim….. So…..out with all that hard-earned air….and start again.  Our spirits were dropping fast….and it wasn’t until Robb & Luke came by with another pump that we got it up and going again.  The boys sped off ahead of us….and we went back to the main road and decided that no more optional CPs were in order…..we just had to get to the end of this bike leg now…… About 2kms along the road, Kim then punctured in her front tyre!  She didn’t have another spare.  We had no choice but to keep moving forward and she rode on the rim for about 5km.  When the tyre was leaving the rim, she decided that riding was impossible…. We were about 15km from the TA…..and didn’t know if there was anyone behind us.  The best way for us to move ahead was to have me riding…..and Kim running behind (in bike shoes) pushing her bike.  This was the only time I did any towing in the whole week….but it got us along a bit quicker than just walking our bikes.  We were making our way up this huge hill, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, when Luke & Robb came up behind us.  Oh…..we were sooooo glad they had gone out to another optional CP…..and Luke had a spare 29inch tube which he very generously gave to Kim….and continued on, risking his chances in the event himself….  We stayed with the guys all the way to the TA…..and were very grateful for their generosity! 
We were still in the race!
St Patrick’s Head reserve was where we left the bikes….and you guessed it….we climbed the damned thing…..It was the most amazing rocky hill-top and we enjoyed every step of the way!  Back to the TA and onto the bikes for the last leg of Day 3.  Course designer, John Jacoby, was there and wished us good luck for the final leg….and told us to ‘enjoy the hike-a-bike’…..we didn’t realise there was one, but off we went in search of it.  Happily……it was a down-hill hike-a-bike….but we rode most of it – this amazing overgrown track off the side of the hill…..and we shrieked with delight when we hit the CP at the bottom.  Now it was only a short ride back to Ironhorse Point and the end of Day 3.
We were pretty happy to have ‘broken the back’ of the event…..with 2 flat tyres and some incredibly hairy paddling sections…..
Friday 1st Dec: First day of summer, but we had no idea of the date at the time!  We were on Day 4 of this adventure race…..our own little world away from reality….
Nice part of the world - The Bay of Fires

We were driven by Susie to a place called The Gardens, north of St Helens and the Bay of Fires.  Here we embarked on a 2.5km coasteer…..and then an amazing paddle leg down towards Binalong Bay.  As we paddled south the wind was getting stronger… times we were sheltered in the picturesque bays, but when were in the more open sections it was treacherous and freezing.  To make matter worse, when we finished this paddle we went straight onto a ‘snorkelling’ section…..into that freezing water….. I think the anticipation of the snorkeling was worse than the actual activity….yes, we were freezing…..but in the water wasn’t as bad as being wet and in the wind.  Thankfully, the organisers shortened this leg to 3 CPs and not 5… we hurried back to the TA and were off and running very quickly to warm up. 
The next leg was a stunning coastal run around the spectacular headland that was the Humbug Nature Reserve.  We were loving this one so much that we collected all of the optional CPs here, just so we could go on the scenic route! 
We found the TA and our waiting bikes at the Dora Point boat ramp.  Our next leg was a rather beautiful ride around the southern half of the Humbug Nature Reserve. Once again, we were enjoying it so much that we went out to some more optional CP’s here…..and we knew we only had a paddle leg before the end of the day.
On arrival back at the TA we were informed that the gusty winds had increased to the point where the organisers didn't think it safe to paddle the full 8km to the finish line near St Helens…, they cut it short and we finished at Lords Point which was about 5km short of our original finish. 
Susie met us with the car and dry clothing…. We went from here, straight to the Fish & Chip shop in town….got ourselves a nice feed and snoozed in the car on the 3 ½ hour drive back to Hobart.  Here our accommodation was at Wrest Point…..strange and luxurious, but a great view over Hobart and the Derwent River….if only our window would open so we could get some fresh air up on the 14th floor!
Sunday 2nd Dec:  My younger brother’s 50th birthday…..but, unfortunately, that thought didn’t enter my head as we prepared for our last day of racing…..and we were feeling pretty good…..until we found out the temperature at the top of Mt Wellington was 2 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus 10!  This was not good for our 7km road descent which was the first leg of the day!  We all arrived at the top of the mountain……and didn't get out of the cars……it was absolutely freezing and felt like it was going to snow….. The only bonus was that the high winds had blown away all the cloud…..and the views were spectacular!  We could see the finish line where we would end up later in the day…..and were excited about the great journey ahead of us to get there.
We set off at 0800, ran a lap of the car park, before getting on our bikes for the chilly descent.  We actually did quite well…..passing lots of teams on the way down…..It didn't seem as cold once we got going!  Rolling into the TA, we were quick to get out on the run leg…..and had really only planned to get the 7 compulsory CPs…..but stretched ourselves to get one extra bonus before we got back to our waiting bikes….
The next Leg – a 13km mtb ride – would have to be some of the best single track riding we have ever done.  It was a predominantly downhill track… Mt Wellington….following the North-South trail….and we were having a fantastic time…..until Aunty Kim got a flat tyre!  Oh no…….not again!  We stopped and had the back wheel off in no time….got out the spare….and put it in…..and as Kim was trying to pump it up she tripped over and broke the end of the valve off… Our luck seemed to be getting worse!  We tried to get air in the tyre with a broken valve, but it didn't work…..Next thing along came Guy Andrews & his partner Rob Pommie….. Rob, very generously gave us his only tube… We are grateful, once again, that adventure racers are such nice people…..and have the tube in and pumped up super quick…..We are so good at this now!  Off we go again on the North-South trail…. Our plan had changed now, however, and we now would only go for the compulsory CPs (and miss out on lots of great single track)….as we didn’t want to risk anything else happening with the wheels on Kim’s bike…..and lucky we did, as she got another flat just as we were riding out!  Didn't matter now, as that was the last bike leg of the event….
On foot next and this leg was basically a way to get us down to the water’s edge for the final paddle.  We found our way to 3 CP’s via streets…..and an ingenious idea to go down the powerline track…(not) where we were faced with a ‘brick-wall’ of barbed wire and blackberries surrounding the creek at the bottom…..Oh, we only had to get 3 metres to that creek and do you think we could do it…..No….!!!! We had to go the long way around…..wasting a bit of time…..and, as we found out, lost about 15 minutes by going this way….. It didn't matter in the whole scheme of things…..and we certainly didn’t take the boring route!!
We arrived at the kayaks which were waiting for us at Cornelian Bay, on the majestic Derwent River.  All we had to do now was paddle to the finish line….. Wow, it had been a huge event…..and we decided to make it stretch out just a little bit more by going for an optional CP in the other direction, before the paddle home….. We enjoyed the last paddle in the company of some of our fellow adventure racers……hit the jetty and ran to the finish line….very pleased with the fact the we were ranked 1st female team overall……Even though the younger girls did really well…..having no adventure racing experience at all, we were glad that our experience in the sport had counted for something in the long run…. 
Time for some champers!

In conclusion: We enjoyed every day of this amazing event and feel very lucky that we were able to race together and experience these beautiful places in Tasmania….. We especially enjoyed racing alongside our lovely friends from Noosa, Robb & Luke…..and all our other AR friends from Australia, NZ & France…. And……we hope to come back again next year…..Kim with a much faster partner…..hopefully Gary… she can really enjoy those downhill and rocky runs…..and not have to wait for me to catch up all the time…. Me….well, I’d be happy to do this again with my regular partner, and good friend, Susie, if she would like to join me….
I think everyone who was involved with the Mark Webber Challenge this year was inspired to have a go themselves….. It’s an awesome event and it is run to help two great charities – The While Lion Foundation…..and Save the Tasmanian Devil….and we were very happy to donate to these 2 worthy causes…..
See you out there!
Jan & Kim

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Highland Fling

Holy Sister!
After winning myself a spot in the 2012 Highland Fling, I was quite excited to have the chance to experience this famous mountain bike race.  As it was 2 weeks before we embark on the 5-day Mark Webber Challenge, I decided to enter the 1/2 event - which was still 59kms.....and, as I found out, quite challenging in itself....I was also lucky enough to be able to join a group of 3 riders from Brisbane who were already going to the event, so I just had to get my air-fares sorted, and I was ready. Oh, and to add to the excitement....I decided to dress up as a nun....for no logical reason.....but just so I wouldn't take myself too seriously....

Meeting the group at Brisbane airport, there was one small hiccup when Meg didn't board the plane...??  We were alerted via Facebook, however, that she was already in accept the very prestigious award of 'Masters Cyclist of the Year'.... A swish evening for Meg amongst the elite of cycling....not that she doesn't deserve it....Anyone who doesn't know Meg Carrigan should look up her history.... At 51 she is still cycling elite.....Not many people can have such a long history in the sport!

Anyway, with 4 of us now we hit the road for the 2 hour drive to Bundanoon.....the world's first 'bottled water free' town.  This little environmental adage was going to be the first of many this The Highland Fling was the most environmentally friendly event I have ever been involved in...

Bikers cafe in town...
We checked into our little guest-house.....a quaint, country-style lodge.....built our bikes and my 3 travelling companions shot off to ride some of the course....a 20kms section of single-track which was in the middle part of the course that I wouldn't be riding..... I declined the invitation, however, preferring to pedal around and check out this little town in the Southern Highlands.... Seems the whole place was full to the brim with mountain bikers from all over the country....and I had a lovely time looking at all the English-style gardens whilst out exploring.

Registration, then out to dinner for the pre-race meal.... We were lucky enough to get an early booking at the  local Pizza restaurant....even though I declined pizza and opted for a hearty steak ....needing that extra protein fix before my ride the next day.  We had some wine.....when don't we????  And got an early night before race day.... It seems I was the only one who slept that night....Maybe they needed that extra glass of red to aid their relaxation....I don't know....!!

Race morning and we barged in for an early breakfast at our accommodation....Making the owners get up and serve us 2 1/2 hours earlier than their normal breakfast roster... We headed to the race HQ and got organised for the start.... Well, Meg and Peter were starting 45mins earlier than Imogen and when they lined up - we were on the sidelines to see them take off.  I was already dressed in my Nun's habit at that point and caused a bit of a stir amongst the riders....hopefully easing their nervous energy before they shot into action when Prue Goward (local pollie) fired the gun.  Meg was out to conquer the 100 miles (as was friend Naomi Hansen, Frankie Sanders and a whole lot of other crazy people...) Peter was tackling the 100 km on a single me dressing up as a Nun was a nice reminder that I was out for a fun day!

Imogen had entered the Elite 100km division and we both started just after 8.00am.  Quite a civilised time for a nun to have a little jaunt around the southern highlands on her mountain bike.

Off we all went in a cloud of dust.  I was happily riding along with some folk who thought it interesting to have a nun in the mix.  I was asked to say a few 'hail marys' for one guy.....and got some other interesting comments along the way.  It was a beautiful course....we had some great creek crossings.....some awesome single track....and a few hard climbs to add to the challenge.... I was successfully climbing better than the guys around me.....but they were bombing down the hills past me again - every time! So, had a good little thing going.....and it was quite enjoyable....

Before I knew it I was zooming through the 1/2 way point.... Wow, that came along quickly....Actually it was a little under 1/2 I had about 27kms to go... The 2nd part of the ride was a bit more interesting than the first.....a few more tricky bits.....but I was in the zone....and riding those hills like a very good nun..!!  Had a chuckle at the 'confessional' out on the course.....a real little box set up for anyone who had the need to confess to doping.....but as  I had no doping sins I didn't stop to go in, as those around me suggested....

Getting near the finish all the guys started to get a 2nd wind....heaps passed me with about 2km to go.... Let them go, I thought....I was having a good time and really enjoying this race. But suddenly it was all over as I flew across the finish line.....and into the scissored hands of Rob Marlow who immediately snipped off my timing chip.  Thanks Rob....we meet again.... Rob is a local from Forster NSW from the Adventure Racing fraternity and I never expected to see him at the Highland Fling.....and he never expected to see me dressed up as a nun.....there!  I was interviewed at the finish line to the delight of the onlookers.....and then retreated to find the post-race meal that was provided.... Mmmmmm, it was lovely....I sat and enjoyed my meal, and then, still in my costume, rode back to our guest house for much needed hot shower.  I was a scary sight when I took my sunnies off.....Yes, dirt in all the wrinkles....Glad I didn't stay and chat to many people as I got quite a fright when I looked in the mirror...... Ah....the glamour that is mountain biking....!!

Scrubbed and clean, I got back on the bike and rode back to race HQ to watch the rest of the crew finish.  Peter and Imogen had just finished when I arrived.  Good on them....100 kms down and they both had great results.... Then there was Naomi....finishing the 100 mile in just over 8hrs.  She looked a million dollars when she crossed the finish line..... I was so excited she had held on for the win.  Not long after that Meg rolled in and finally ticked off the 100mile race....4th placed female and that's for a 51 year old.... Frankie Sanders (crazy, mad dread-locked friend from Melbourne) also finished the 100 mile.....on a single speed....Now that is incredible....she was out there for well over 9 hours.....but finished....and I think possibly the only woman to complete a 100 mile event on a one-geared bike....It's a lot harder than dressing up as a nun!!

Nearly took out the photographer here..
We all celebrated into the night....well, the others a bit more than me.  How come I was so tired and I had only ridden 59kms???  Oh, that's right, those others were super-human, I sure!

Now I wanted to say something about the fantastic environmental policy of this great event.  The organisers went to a lot of trouble to minimize the impact of 2000 mountain bikers converging on a little town in the southern highlands....They had a policy to 'dob in a dumper', so if you saw someone littering you could take the law into your own hands....All of post-race meal utensils and plates were compost-friendly, and there was a range of bins to place everything at the event site, from compost, recycling  paper etc.  No plastic cups were used on the course....and no zip-ties for the 2000 number plates.....we were issued with 3 pieces of natural string which did the trick just nicely.... It was absolutely brilliant.....and just shows that it CAN BE DONE.....and I was very proud to be a part of this event for these reasons!

Anyway....surprisingly, the nun went quite well in the whole scheme of things....and thoroughly enjoyed the Highland Fling....and everything that Bundanoon had to offer.  And, yes, I would come back to this very well run and exciting event....and would recommend you put it on your to-do list as well...
See you out there!
Aunty Jan (aka the Flying Nun..)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Latest News - October

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…, 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… 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… 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… 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… 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!

Aunty Jan


Monday, August 27, 2012

Latest News - August

Kim & Deanna....all smiles at the finish of a great day out!
The month of August provided brilliant winter weather for us here in Noosa....and we were out and about training up a storm for the Noosa Anaconda.  The inaugural event was a huge success....with many Tri Adventure members taking part in the Mini event and the Full event as individuals or in teams.  The mountain bike course was dry and brilliant....and the weather perfect! We had some great results including Aunty Kim taking out 2nd overall female on a challenging 62km course from Noosa beach, out to the hinterland, and back to the beach to finish.  Well done to everyone who took part!
We all had some fun at the MTBO Champs, this year held at Woodford.  Gail & Susie contested the 2-day event in the Open Women's category and ended up 2nd & 3rd respectively....only beaten by a NSW are the Qld champions in our eyes.  Good work you two!  Aunty Kim, competing only on the Sunday, won the Women's Open Long course.....and was 2nd outright (including all the Open Men).....she had a blinder!  Meanwhile, in the Social Long category, Aunty Jan was going brilliantly until arriving at CP11 without a 'zinger'.....and when back-tracking, found it in pieces on the ground still managed to finish the course with no 'zing'....but with the punch stuffed up the leg of her knicks... Persistence and ingenuity.... ."No stupid zinger is going to beat me this time!"...
Aunty Jan checking in at TA3
It was warm and dry at Mt Joyce for the iAdventure race on 25th August.  Kim  & Gary teamed up and took MD's to victory in the premier mixed category.  Tri Adventure Vintage (Suse & Aunty Jan) took out the women's category with Gina & Kelsey (on the Rt Track!) coming in 2nd... We had a fantastic day on the awesome Mtb trails out there....and the paddling on Wyralong Dam was very nice for a cooling down as the last leg of the event.....Aunty Jan even managed a swim to the Bonus CP F on the paddle....and then with a tricky manoeuvre punched the CP by hoisting herself up the dead tree to reach the (very high) old Aunty can still do some tricky manoeuvres.....!!

So....spring is in the air....and we are looking forward to some great adventures next month including the 6hr rogaine out near Esk, Dark Side & Dawn Attack AR events and Hells Bells at the end of September....
See you out there!
:) Jan & Kim

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Latest News - July

Aunty Jan at CP 83
July began with the Aunties taking a win in the Cyclegaine at Mapleton....I must admit, we were on familiar ground as we had ridden this forest many times.....not that we knew where the check-points were, but it did help knowing the trails :)  We had a lovely day out in the beautiful hinterland!

Next was the Wild Women Adventure Race....  With a strict field limit of 100, 90 women had nominated for the event....90 women....this was brilliant!  We had been trying to get a race like this off the ground for over a year....and to get 90 women out into the bush was absolutely awesome!  Many women went right out of their comfort zone in this event....we even had the CEO of Triathlon Australia, Ann Gripper, competing.... Dare You Adventure did a fantastic job of staging the event and the sponsors who came on board (besides us) were fantastic.... Tri Adventure Vintage won the day (to our absolute amazement...) but everyone came away winners.....and next year we hope this event will be bigger and better....and hopefully will attract some younger and fitter female athletes from further afield to knock us old vintage girls off our perch... :)

After this we stepped up our training for the fast approaching Anaconda Noosa.... We ran a women's only skills clinic and facilitated the official course familiarisation day with Rapid Ascent general manager Sam Maffet.... Some pics of the course....
Top of the run course...we went up with our bikes!
Harriet on the single track

Not part of the Anaconda course...but a lovely ride we do up here!
With less than 2 weeks until the inaugural Noosa Anaconda, it's time to get your entries in. Be part of the very first event... Register here now....

 So...that was July... It's finally stopped raining up here, the trails are drying up, the sky is blue, the water is crystal clear.... Come and join us for some adventures in paradise!

:) Jan & Kim

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Latest News - June

June began with a trip across the Tasman to a fun and exciting race in Rotorua...the 3d Multisport. Aunty Kim was invited to compete, so we both decided to tackle it, again....after all, it was the Australasian Multisport Championships.... Like last year at this event....we had a fantastic time.... Catching up with kiwi friends...Em (from Em's Power Cookies), Rich & Elina Ussher (who's boats we were paddling in the event...the fabulous Flow Kayaks) and reuniting with some Aussie friends too...Sam & John from Rapid Ascent....Deanna & Shazza, Peri & Chris, Lukey....It was a very social few days!!  The race was brilliant....and we all did really well....Except Lukey, who crashed out of contention the day before the race....and did some serious damage to himself.....and subsequently put himself out of the Geoquest picture as well....but he will recover! 
The Aussie Girls on Top....

In the dry conditions this year, we Aunties both had much faster times....and Aunty Kim would have repeated her performance from last year (5th overall female) if she hadn't gone the wrong way on the run course...oh no! But she still managed to place 3rd in her all was good!  I successfully defended my title as Australasian Multisport Champion Woman over 50....hilarious....but this year at least I had more than one other old gal as competition..... JJ smashed out the fastest paddle leg (in one of Richards Flow Kayaks..) and won his age-group and came 6th male overall....Yes, he says he's not fit....but never believe that, we say..... The day after the race we went out and rode those trails for 5 hours....that's just what you do in Rotorua....if you've been there, you'll know...if you haven't....GO!!!

Next comes Geoquest....Sometimes we do these things back-to-back.... We make the long journey to Forster.... Aunty Kim raced the 'Full' Geo course....with her lovely team of boys, MD's (sans Lukey) but had young Leo join the team at the last minute.....and apparently, he was brilliant.  MD's placed 3rd overall.....and had a great time doing it.... The Vintage Cowgirls contested the 'Half' Geo course and were determined for a finish this were overjoyed when they plucked out a win from the younger female competitors.... We were a great team of happy Cowgirls....and had a very lovely support team of Gav, Mike & Millie (sound like some Olympic mascots, I know...) Here we are on the finish line, just before we popped the champagne and filled ourselves up with yummy pizza...
Happy Cowgirls

Now back home...we have had some great training sessions for the up-coming Noosa Anaconda.  We also tackled a local MTBO, then a Cyclegaine this weekend.  Also, our dream of creating Australia's first ever all-women's adventure race will come to fruition on July 7th....We are so excited about this event....and there is still time to enter if you are keen... Click here to enter now!

We'll have news of the event in our next installment....Until then,
See you out there!
Jan & Kim

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Latest News - May much has happened in the last month.... After our return from Godzone we have had many adventures including the fantastic Rogue Adventuregaine, held at the Wyralong Dam.  We all had a great time in the rain.....all night and all day....then all night again.... And all the Tri Adventure teams had some brilliant results too!
 The ARA hit town on May 20th....and we had many teams competing.... It's great to have an event so close to home... Well done to Kim & MD's who took out the premier mixed category, again....and us vintage gals got a 2nd place against our fitter and younger competitors.....and Hayley & Mel who placed 2nd female team in the Raw course....awesome result girls!!

MD's atop the podium

Mel & Hayley at the finish

Paddy Justin & Howie
What's coming up??  Well, we're heading over to NZ, once again, to race the 3d Multisport in Rotorua.... This was such a good event last year, we are going back for more..... We just can't get enough of those fantastic mtb trails over there.... Then Geoquest will be upon us.... MD's in the full course, Vintage Cowgirls in the half.  Really looking forward to finishing the event this year!  After that will be the inaugural Wild Women Adventure Race....staged on the Sunshine Coast, this is the first ever all-women's AR in Australia.  We are sponsoring the event and are hoping for a big turn, girls, this is a great opportunity to be part of history!!

For details and entry go to

That's about it for now....don't wait too long for your next adventure...
See you out there!
Jan & Kim

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Queenstown Adventure

Team MD's at race rego...
Well….we’re back home after another EPIC adventure in NZ.  Queenstown was the setting for the inaugural Godzone Adventure Race…and, in retrospect, it’s a pity the organisers didn’t stage more of the actual race there… is extremely beautiful and has so many adventures in close proximity….so after Team MD's withdrew from the race it was great they were able to make the most of it for the remaining few days….
Spectacular view of Lake Wakitpu from the to of Skyline

But before that…..This is what happened…..

If you didn’t follow the race and hadn’t looked at the live coverage… was absolutely phenomenal…. The teams who endured this event were exceptional....Even the race directors completely underestimated how challenging the course would be and had to cancel a paddle and ride section, for all teams, as the days went on and some teams were still on the first trek!  Our Team MD’s were going really well…..we all thought…..until that first trek which took them 24 hours and Kim was struggling with an ankle injury that had resurfaced from XPD.  It seems that 24 hours of walking (up, down, up, down, up, down, up, up, up, down, down, down, etc, etc….) is just not what she can do any more.  The bone-on-bone thing just got worse and worse.  And the peaks they were crossing were over 1000m….The following bike leg was more pushing (with no tracks…) than riding…..and when I saw them at the end of this one it was when she said she had to pull out.  The boys couldn’t believe it as she had been very quiet during that leg…..except when she growled at Gary…..he should have realised she’s not like that…. Anyway, we all sat around at TA5 and no-one was saying much…..Teams were coming in and going out…..while MD’s were lying around on the grass in the sun….Gary was snoring away…..I wasn’t sure what to do…..I wanted the boys to go on as a team of 3…..but only 2 out of 3 of them wanted to…..and that wasn’t allowed in the race rules….In the end the ride home to QT in a cosy car was the chosen option....

They were very quiet and dosed a lot on the 2 hour drive back to our apartment….so, not a happy team now…..but they understood Kim’s reasons for pulling out….they were just wishing it didn’t happen….But when you enter an adventure race with 4 people there is no guarantee that everyone will make it to the finish… you see in every event. 

So…that’s the sad part of the story.  The rest of it was quite good….
View of QT from the top of Ben Lomond...and the ridgeline track I took for the trek!

 I had been loving my time in QT….Had a para-glide off Skyline hill….Went in the Tour of Wakitipu Mtb race on the Saturday…..and managed to sneak on the podium with those tough kiwi chicks……as did Julian Martin and Austin (Noosa-Kiwi’s…) and it was an extremely beautiful course.  Thanks Kiwi Julie for letting me know about this one…. Then, while the team was out on the course….I trekked to the top of Ben Lomond (big, big peak behind QT – 1748m…) and did some very pleasant riding on the QT mtb trails…..and of course, driving out to see the team at some of their TA’s.  So when I brought the team home…..they got to do all this stuff as well….. Which was great for them....Kim couldn’t do the trek of course….but she was ok riding her mtb…..just did a bit of one-leg pedalling when she had to!

As you can see – it wasn’t all bad.  The race website was keeping us up to date with all our amazing friends still out on course….and it was the best website I have ever seen for an AR!  So, we had a fantastic time, really.  Apparently the weather was very kind to us….although it did reach zero overnight in QT one night (but I was inside with the heater on…) and minus 2 for the Team on their last bike leg…..but other than that, the locals said we were really lucky…

There’s always a little twist to our adventures though….And we sure had one…..well two actually….

1.        .... I have found out the best way to avoid paying excess baggage at the airport…..Just arrive at the check-in with 10 seconds till closing time…..besides the stress levels of cutting it so fine driving to the airport and getting stuck in traffic….then throwing our gear out of the car and sprinting through the car-park with two bikes, a huge gear box, 2 large packs, a laptop and no trolley to wheel them on (No-one had seen anything like us…Kim was super-human and had her bike box under one arm and the gear box under the other with her pack on her back….she would have been carrying about 50kg of weight!....I had a huge pack, the lap-top and was dragging my bike bag too) we saved $250.....$250!....that’s the way you do it…. 

2.      ….the second twist happened because of the first twist…..The bottom line is that when we arrived back in Brisbane, we had no idea where we had parked the car……are you getting the picture?….I’m surprised we even locked it as we were is such a hurry to make the flight…. So, here we were last night, it was about 8.30pm.  We have one trolley…(as they are ridiculously expensive…$4…!) and Kim has her stuff on it…..I am dragging my bike (again) and carrying the huge back-pack…. We are wandering aimlessly in the car-park….(the new long-term car-park in Brisbane airport is stupidly confusing anyway….) In the end I can go no further…..I fish out the keys from my pack….and stand in a spare car space with all the gear while Kim goes up and down 7 (seven!) floors before she finally finds the car on level 2…..I breathe a sigh of relief when she drives up, we load the car and are driving out.  But it doesn’t end there…..we have to pay our ticket ($190!)….at this point I was thinking we should have just paid $4 for another trolley and wheeled the stuff back to Noosa…..I can’t find the spot to pay the ticket…..It is not where it was last time…..we are still driving around the car-park.  Finally I park in a disabled spot and Kim runs out and pays…..If her ankle was not completely wrecked in the race, it surely is now….. We start driving again….I still can’t find the way out…. We are getting a bit frazzled… say the least…. Eventually a ‘way out’ sign is in front of us…..and we take it…… We are out…..and driving home…..tired, dirty and frustrated…..  

So,   I’m not sure what the moral to this story is…..or whether it was just easier to pay the $250 excess baggage…..or relax initially and miss the first flight…..and pay more……or procure our own airport trolley so not to have to pay $4 ever again…that’s if we can find one of the confounding things..…..Food for thought....
        See you out there!
        Jan & Kim