I once heard a saying that goes like this, ” the further you go the further you see and the further you see the further you go.”
Adventure racing is definitely a sport like this.. Every time I race I see life and racing differently, and there is always so much more to do and be and achieve.
So enough philosophy.. Geoquest 2015…
After racing the half in 2014 I was keen to have another crack at one of the best races on the calendar.. We have lots of up and coming racers in the MOJO crew and it was actually pretty easy to pull together a team of wiling victims. We spent a lot of time training and the team trained a lot without me as I had a few MOJO commitments and a family wedding that meant I was away a bit.
This year my team consisted of Jaime – who had raced with me in 2014 and two new comers to the sport Sue and Graham.
We were all pretty excited and because Sue and I work together we often spent lunch times sharing tales of training adventure to unsuspecting work mates.
The race this year was in Hawkes Nest in NSW.. A beautiful location as always.
This year we decided to have a crack at the full course.. Except we live on a mountain and don’t have an ocean to practice kayaking on. We rode up hills trekked up hills and kayaked heaps. But it’s never really enough and you can always do more..
Finally Friday came – competencies completed and that same declination question got us again causing us to do the nav walk of shame.
(Note to future self: subtract the declination)
Finally map handout and the course was revealed. It was a wet course.. Lots of kayaking and water activity.
We planned a route and finally got some sleep..
First leg: ocean kayak
Yeah well this was always going to be the most gut wrenching for us.. We arrived at the beach to see a moderate swell and dolphins – a good sign?
The course was rerouted due to the conditions which was slightly less stressful.
We waited at the shore then paddled our guts out to get through the breakers. Jamie and I got through somehow but Sue and Graham got caught in the breakers and dumped. We waited beyond the breakers until they got through then realised our rudder was not working well which was going to make this difficult. We paddled a couple of k to round the headland only to find massive swell (about 3 metres high I think)
The wind blew the other way and the chop came a different way creating a washing machine effect.
We hung on tight but unsurprisingly came unstuck and got dumped. We had practiced rescues and felt ok trying to get back in – Sue and Graham managed to get a bit further but knew we had been dumped so alerted the safety boat.
I have to say I was pretty happy to see them..
They circled us to make sure we were ok.
Eventually they asked if they could hold our boat which we gladly said yes to. We got back in and started bilging but we had half a boat of water by then. The chop was getting worse and we weren’t getting anywhere fast so when the surf rescue guy asked if I wanted to jump in his safer looking rubber dinghy I think I nearly leapt into his boat. Jaime jumped in too and they said they would put the kayak across there boat and take us around the head. The surf rescue boat was getting tossed around too but we were grateful not to be negotiating it in our not so sea going kayak.
We couldn’t see Graham and Sue anymore ( it’s pretty challenging to be 100m from your team I those conditions) and the surf rescue guys couldn’t raise anyone on their radio. Eventually we came across the maritime rescue boat, and advised them that we had lost our team and that they might be out there still.
Jaime by now also realised he lost his pack.. Into the ocean. With all his gear..we told the maritime guys who went hunting.
Finally we got to shore and were revealed to see Sue and Graham waving at us! They had been rescued too… But in a bigger boat.
We rang the RD to advise some of our mandatory gear was gone and feeling wet and slightly demoralized we set off on the trek.
Leg 2: It was a lovely trek around the coast, the locals seemed slightly bemused to see us.
This was a quick leg and we met our awesome crew for lunch. Surprisingly the marine guys had found Jaimes pack floating in the pacific!! An awesome moment!
Leg 3: on our bikes.. Yeah!! A quick mountain bike rogaine then down to snorkel in a pretty inlet..fortunately we got there in daylight..
Then another quick ride to the TA
Leg 4: coasteering/ trek… One of the prettiest treks with great views, awesome sand dunes and a lovely landscape with burnt out trees and new growth.. Sadly though only in our memory as Jaime forgot his camera.
This leg ended with us pack rafting across the bay. We arrived here at night and being mountain dwellers had to quiz the poor TA official about tides and channel markers and things. I’m sure he told me there was a kayaker waiting for us – but I was surprised to hear a voice say in the dark ” hello I’ll be your chaperone for the night”
It was great to have a kayaker there and I was really happy we didn’t actually get to bodyboard this leg as was planned originally – that would have been intense! (And long and cold!)
Leg 5: kayak across the bay..
We arrived here at 8pm and by the time we were ready to head off we had a call from Lou to say that we had 3 hours before the maritime boat was scheduled to leave (safety boat) we put the pedal to the metal and did a pretty fast kayak to the next TA.
Leg 6: rogaine
When we planned this route we had a grand plan of diverting to a road and then walking in. When we arrived at the TA the officials told us that we needed to swim across a creek full immersion. Suzie and I couldn’t quite fathom it and we asked the poor lady about 3 times what she meant. It was after midnight and getting quite cold by then.
Suzie and I decided that was stupid and went back to tell the boys we weren’t going to do that leg.. But Graham said ” that’s why we came here, if we don’t do it we will regret it..” There are some details of this swim I am a bit vague on – but what happens on the race stays on the race..
So at 2am in winter I jumped into a freezing probably shark infested river.
Well actually I jumped in.. Freaked out because It was so cold I couldn’t breathe and told the team something to the effect of this is a stupid idea and I’m not going to do it.
Again the voices of reason and somehow they coaxed me back in and then I started swimming like heck and somehow got to the other side. Sadly though my floating bag of dry clothes had hit a rock and had gained 2l of water. With minimal dry clothes it was pretty hard to warm up and by then my body temp had started to drop.
We headed off on the trek and I thought maybe I would warm up but the terrain was hard and it was difficult to move to quicky. We navved straight onto a track and headed off. It was going to be a long night of trekking and somewhere in these hours my body temp dropped a bit too low and things went a bit weird.. I got really sleepy which is strange for me ( I am usually pretty wired when I race) and started to see things.. I felt really cold and the team wrapped me in a pretty orange space blanket..
Sue kept me moving, graham towed me for many kilometres on a bungy and Jaime kept feeding me.. Awesome team.
Finally I was able to rationalize that I wasn’t going to get warmer without help and we broke open the sealed phone to call for help.
Future racers here is a tip.. Put the RD’s phone number in your phone. Also put the support crews number in your phone. We had neither and had to google the number and Facebook message our crew!
Here is another tip: preplan a strategy if someone can’t continue. Thankfully we had decided to continue unranked if one of the team had to stop and this is what we did.
With me back at the warm TA drying and warming the team continued there trek and met me at the TA.
Leg 7: kayak
With 3 people in a double kayak it was always going to be hard but with an epic tow system and ballast in the front it was achievable but challenging.
When the team arrived back to me we made a plan that I would meet them at the final legs for a short version kayak and final ride home.
The rest of the team headed out for this one knowing it was going to be epic and long but Craig and Louise after a few hours made contact to advise them they needed to short course. There are so many logistics in a race this big and although disappointed we are totally respectful of how they need to keep things going and also our safety.
I went to HQ before we paddled to confirm that we could do a shorter route and because the night was already cold Craig advised me not to kayak.. My support crew were relieved as they were actually thinking I shouldn’t either and just hadn’t been brave enough to tell me .
As we were unranked we just waited for a text from the guys to say they needed a pick up.
They still thought we would kayak but I think they were a little relieved when I told them we couldn’t. I did offer them the tow kayak option but they didn’t seem to keen??
Leg 12: a quick trip for our tracker down the Pacific highway to Mungo Brush and we were off on the bikes..it was flat and fast and we pace lined the whole way. It was the fastest 22k I have ever ridden but I was really happy to cross the line with my team drink champagne and celebrate with our support crew.
This weekend has changed my life for many reasons and I am grateful for all who played a part.
In particular I want to thank my team and our support crew for all you did. You are amazing people and I am grateful for all your help and assistance.
Was this a perfect race? Not by traditional standards.. Was it epic? Yes it was! The MOJO philosophy is “adventure outside the box” and that’s exactly what we did.. Adventure… Way outside the box!!!
MOJO love to you all x