:: g e o q u e s t
It’s funny how 6 plus months of training and planning can boil down to just over 24 hours of racing. The whole event was a whirlwind chock full of ups and downs and hard effort and emotion.
This was to be the first geo half for our rookie team and our first time of racing or training together. As a team we had communicated solidly via social media and met up at the Rogue 24 hour. I think that out first rookie error for this race was in that we had not actually trained together. This meant from the outset that we were a mismatched team in relation to our strengths and abilities. Training together may have assisted us in identifying these deficits prior to the race start.
Competency day was fun and the geo atmosphere was amazing. The race was well planned and organised. Map hand out time came and we were relieved to find that we only had to travel 120 odd Km’s to complete the half. We knew that we could all do this based on our rogue experience and with 48 hours it was a shoe in. The course didn’t require too much planning as there were distinct paths and really it was a case of just going and doing it. The geo half started with a split rogaine and a swim for the guys in the team. A miscommunication in this leg meant a delay in return to TA which cost us half an hour straight up. The mountain bike leg to Smokey Cape was next and it was quite fast until the sand. When you live on a mountain sand is not a common trail feature and we were slightly unprepared for the intensity and skill it takes to ride successfully. Finally we made it to the TA in the shadow of the light house and then it was off on a trek to South West Rocks. The trek was not too challenging except a few steep hills and a very long beach walk. Finally we made it to the Rocks and off onto a split orienteering leg. We were all pretty keen to get to the next leg before dark which was the mountain bike / pack raft section. We made it just after night fall and then had the joy of finding the campfire on the other side of the bank… The drunk guys at the camp fire thought it was rather funny all these crazy people coming ashore at their what had probably been a choice quiet campsite. They offered lots of things including use of their tent but told us they were not allowed to help us… Which was quite funny given how drunk they were. Rafts deflated and feeling chilly it was back on the bikes and some fast riding to the national park for the rogaine. Lots of very steep hills to hike a bike up though to get there. The rogaine proved challenging for many reasons and somehow along the way it was decided that a time penalty would be better than finding the checkpoints. With a 12 hour penalty for 4 checkpoints incurred this was perhaps not the best decision. We would have in hindsight been better to try for at least a couple of easy ones. But that’s hindsight hey, woulda, shoulda, coulda.. Back on the bikes and some more massive climbs and an unplanned for checkpoint on the bike leg. A broken chain proved to be slight respite for the hills. Soon enough we were riding on the hardtop to the next TA and everyone’s favorite leg… The car transport to the kayak start. We had two support vehicles and had to travel via the Pacific Highway yo get the kayaks. We were a little shell shocked as we watched our front support car brake suddenly and a big grey thing moving nearby. The big grey thing turned out to be a domestic horse (17 hands high) and it’s friend a pony who must have escaped from a nearby paddock. The crew in our car decided that in the interest of public safety and other teams who we knew we were using the same route we would try to catch the horses. They had bridles so it was quite easy to pull up in front and they walked to us. Police called, race directors notified we waited patiently for someone to rescue us from holding the horses until finally a kindly farmer took them in. Back to the race. Arriving at the kayaks we were told that there was a wait to get the boats back. The wait ended up being quite long but eventually our ship er boats came in!! Now I like kayaking but 16k in the dark and cold with a cramp in your shoulder pushes the friendship slightly- but it was really nice to see the sun come up and some warmth arrive!! Last trek on the beach and through more sand and finally we crossed the finish line!
Was it the race we wanted? Maybe not. Was it challenging and interesting? Yes! Did we overcome our challenges to cross the finish line? Yes! I am grateful for the opportunity to have done this race and I am thankful for the team and support crew that made it happen. The most important lesson for me was to have raced with your team prior to doing a bigger race. In our case this would have helped us understand each other better and work better as a team. Also keep focused on why you are doing the race. Determine up front if you are racing for the experience or the podium. I have learned many things and I look forward to next year. This is such an excellent race and if you are wondering if you can do it I would say – yes!