Geoquest 2016

RACE REPORT

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

Heraclitus

Geoquest 2016… What an adventure!

This weekend we “raced” Geoquest at Port Macquarie, however I think that for the teams in this event like ours,”racing” is not the word that describes it and that perhaps “journeyed” is a better word.

I have done this event enough to understand that if you throw your cards down in the game of Geo that the outcome will always be awesome but never certain.

This year I had collected a few rookies to take them on the journey with me with our goal being to finish the half in good time.

Nik, Tam, E and I had fantastic moments training together and getting stronger and fitter.

Tam had,like me raced 2 previous geos and was experienced and wise and showed us some great ideas on gear prep and sorting gear boxes, which was awesome.

Erren and Nikki had raced smaller events but were fresh blood to the geo sacrificial altar ;).

So to the race..

The first leg was a split rogaine / paddle and we split into teams of two to cialisforsalecanada find CP’s.
With 7 CP’s to find E and I took the ones near the start area and the girls took the far ones.
A dropping tide, turbulent water and mud flats made the going hard for the girls and E and I decided that we could run/ walk faster than we could paddle so we would just ditch our boat to get ours. This proved fortuitous for us and we nailed our bit fairly quickly and then waited for the girls. After a while they returned a bit worse for wear having battled the tide and mud.
Regardless we pressed on to the beach leg and coasteering. Checkpoints secured we had to climb around a headland on a rising tide with waves crashing at the bottom. Not my favourite thing to do it took me a lot of suck it up power and with my heart beating fast and in my throat I tried to go as fast as my sweaty palms and shaking body would take me!
Tam was behind me and kept shouting encouragement and I knew that I wasn’t going to be turning back!
We got through to meet our awesome crew who had coffee for us and then tried to ascertain what to carry for the next 9 hour mountain bike and trek legs.

The mountain bike leg started fast and then we hit the climb to CP 6..

I’ve raced a few races but this was the biggest climb I’ve ever done as a hike a bike.

I felt sorry for Nik who was probably thinking “what the?”

Near the top we were throwing our bikes up the hill and Tam pushed Niks bike up and I pulled Nik up the last bit by hand.

Happy dance as the checkpoint was at the top. Yeah!!!

When you go up so high you must go down and surprise! Checkpoint 7 was down!!

The down track was perilous to say the least and after the storms last weekend was washed out and had a tree across it.

I stayed back of the pack so when Nik did her epic stack scream and heard a crack I was watching. I dumped my bike on the slope and ran to help her – untangled her from her bike and realised she was a bit sore and had hurt her ankle.
Tam and E climbed back up and we managed to get Nik bike etc down to lower ground while barely being able to stand ourselves.

The good thing about big races is you carry a good first aid kit and with the assistance of nurse Erren I assessed the patient, bandaged and drugged her up. Time would only tell if she could keep going.
Realising CP 7 was less than 100m from Niks position Tam and I went to collect it while we left Nik to recover.

Time helped and we got Nik back on the bike with a strategy of seeing if we could collect the balance of this leg and head for the road.

Fast overgrown single track was epic but Tam and Nik seemed to be finding it hard to stay upright on their bikes so I was either following behind untangling them from their bikes or slightly in front hearing them scream.

We found all the rest of the checkpoints and the Travel Play Live girls and got back to the main road.

I knew that at this point would need to reassess the injury and we had a break. Nik’s pain had reduced and we headed off to find CP 13 and our sheet of questions for the next leg..

This one proved a bit tricky because the road we wanted to take proved to be the only one that didn’t match what we saw. We probably spent a bit to long looking in one area, but in the end we used our navigational backstop of Bago Road to realign us.
I found a nice road with a “private” sign on it but told the team it looked like a private residence..
Eventually we decided that it was worth a look up the road. A couple of warning signs made us question our choice and me feeling a bit frustrated at this point made a call to push through this private road to see what happened. Sneaking past a camp with a generator running I was fully expecting someone to challenge us about bring on their property. But then we saw them, bike tracks!! The sign of a million racers having gone before us.. Then the checkpoint – yeah!!!

It was dark now and we set off to what I was calling Panadol town (Herrons Creek) at a rate of knots. Nik could ride flat ok. I was secretly hopeful it would have a pie shop as it was getting colder and I wanted real food.

I took the lead and as I crossed a bridge I saw an official looking car had stopped and a person got out.

They shouted out and I was thinking it was department of transport or something but surprise! It was Craig and Lou,come to check on teams.

We told them about Nik and Craig gave us some input on the technicality of the next legs in relation to Niks injury.,

We knew the top rogaine would be very challenging and that we also had a 2k very steep bike climb ahead.

I said we would make a call at Herrons Creek and asked Craig if we could get a pie there?

He said it was an “interesting” town and that I would see for my self..

Interesting was true and I swear although the lights were on and dogs barked – no one came out or even looked out their curtains.
We were flashing our ayups around trying to answer questions on our sheet about the towns history and very sadly we may have been more likely to get a pie in 1904.

We took a break and as Nik was a bit sore we made a plan to ditch 15 and go straight to the upper TA, ditch the rogaine and try to abseil.

It was around 11pm now which in hind sight was why no one was awake at Herrons Creek.

We set off on our amended route but with a bit of climbing on the bikes poor Nik was limping badly and we had dropped pace too much to stay warm.

A couple of K’s up the road we stopped and had the “conversation”.

No one ever wants to stop racing but at the end of the day team safety and being able to race another day always has to come into play. With potentially a few bad hours ahead we had to make a call on if Nik’s injury would hold up.

E our awesome on point Nav gave us a run down on the tracks ahead, I explained the risks and Tam provided the voice of reason.

After being pulled off course last year hypothermic I knew the pain Nik was feeling and as I ripped open the sealed phone case to call race HQ and I had a little cry in my eyes for her knowing the hard work she had put in.

We could have elected to continue,but knowing a 16k paddle leg ahead was going to be hard with 3 we decided to withdraw.
We rode back to Herron Creek which was just as well because E’s bike was squeaking loudly and the local dingoes were complaining and getting closer!
Back at Herrons Creek we rugged Nik up and told ghost stories and took ghost photos.

When our amazing crew arrived we stole the car and drove our last leg, it was midnight and we wanted hot food so we called for pizza. Back at home we commiserated, ate pizza and drank tea.,

With too much energy left we thought we could offer our help to the media crew and so spent Sunday letting Nik rest, Tam to get a headstart in the journey home and E and I chasing down teams with our buddy James the event photographer.

I am so proud of my team for the team work we demonstrated. We journeyed well and learnt so much.

” No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

When you start a race like Geoquest I really do believe that you are not the same person who finishes it.

And the best bit about an unfinished journey is that their is always the anticipation of next year…..

J

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