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Race Report 2011

Mountain Designs GeoQuest 2011 - Race Report Blackheart.

Original Report at:

GeoQuest 48 hour Adventure Race has just been held over the Queens Birthday weekend, this year based out of Nambucca Heads. This was the 10th running of the event, which Damon and I have competed in every year. We were joined by Josh and Rob, who have 10 races between them, however were yet to clock up a win. This year was tobe a very competitive race with strong teams competing including CBD, Peak Adventure, Mountain Designs, Off Our Nuts (full of accomplished orienteers), amongst others.

As per our prediction (as it has for 9 out of the 10 years), the race started off with an ocean kayak from Nambucca Heads to Hungry Head, 15 kms north up the coast. We got away to a great start enjoying the wind and swell behind us the whole paddle. This was such a great stage that I was disappointed when it came to an end, it's not often that conditions are this good. We came in third still in sight of the leading team - CBD.

Next up was Craig Bycroft's little 10th birthday special - a 16km MTB mega split with a 2.2km pack raft to top things off. GeoQuests have often included split legs where teams split into two groups of two. This year teams were able to split 4 ways to collect several checkpoints (CPs), meeting again at the start of the rafting leg. We decided to split 3 ways, with Rob and Josh collecting the majority of the CPs whilst Damon and I took a shorter route with the rafting gear with the idea of having them inflated by the time we re-grouped. All went to plan and we re-grouped and went to start the pack rafting leg. We had two rafts with max. capacity of 197kgs each, with the idea of two people and two bikes paddling in each. As we hopped in we discovered a puncture to one of the two main compartments of our rafts..... After a couple of re-shuffles we set off with Damon in the punctured raft with two bikes, with the rest of us in the other linked by a tow rope. A few hundred metres in we decided to re-shuffle again. We now had 4 bikes on the punctured raft and the four of us plus bags in the other = more than 280kgs in the one raft! We got going again until about half way when Rob very calmly stated, "Guys, we've got a bit of a problem...." - our four bikes had come adrift and were bubbling their way below the surface. It would have been funny if it wasn't salt water... Finally we made it to the end of the raft with no doubt what-so-ever that we'd stuck to the 10m rule in this leg!

After a quick transition we were onto a quick 11km kayak. We chose the northern route thinking that the marked oyster leases at low tide could slow things down on the slightly shorter southern route. These weren't a issue so we lost a couple of minutes here, however were still in 3rd place, about 20mins down on Peak Adventure and CBD.

The next leg was a short 5km pack raft / run along the beach after crossing the river twice to gain a couple of CPs. We used our undamaged raft for this section, and as luck would have it we punctured this one remaining raft getting out just after the final time we needed it. (We all apologise to Josh's two kids who were looking forward to having a new toy each upon our return!). We quickly bush-bashed to the beach and had a quick run to the next transition arriving just before 2pm, which is where the rain started (and I believe still hasn't stopped....).

We were now into the more serious part of the race with the next leg being a 32km MTB with CPs requiring a short trek into the bush to obtain. We found ourselves a little lost shortly after beginning this leg. Despite speaking with a local farmer for a good 10-15mins we were still none the wiser. We finally back-tracked and ran into a few other teams who seemed to enjoy seeing us a little confused. We found we'd missed a turn (along with several other teams) and were soon back on our way. We slowly ticked off the CPs with the pace slowing due to the developing wet conditions, and slippery tracks. We found ourselves off and pushing on occasions but also had some nice slippery downhills to make up for it. Towards the end of the ride we ran into Off Our Nuts, where Prong and Ben started bagging us about our big stuff up earlier. Apparently the news we were a little lost had travelled back through the teams behind until it reached them and they were taking great delight in reminding us about it! They were now one team we had to beat, but knowing they were mainly orienteers and therefore couldn’t ride, paddle or run trails, we should be right :-)

The next leg was a 15km trek along the well known historical Syndicate Track which gains 800m vertical ascent. We were still in 3rd place about 30mins behind Peak Adventure. With a Mountain Designs voucher on the line for the fastest team on this leg, plus a 1 hour car move at the end to recover we set about this leg to chase the others down. It started off with about 5kms running along quiet farm roads, and then hit the track proper. We started climbing straight away and were quickly down to a walk. About a third of the way up we came across CBD who'd stopped for a moment. Guy from CBD had had a run in with a tree and had narrowly missed his eye. The gash was impressive none the less. We soon came to a junction but couldn't find the shorter route, thus adding some extra distance to the leg. After gaining the only CP on the leg we were soon running again on the flat / undulating tracks to the transition. At this stage we'd implemented a 'double-tow' so I was being dragged along at quite a good pace, and being launched off the many water bars along the way :-) Not far from the top we saw lights ahead. Assuming it was Peak Adventure, we were shocked to again pass CBD who'd taken the correct route, showing how much further we must have travelled. At the TA we were in 2nd place, 18mins down on Peak Adventure, and 1 min ahead of CBD, having successfully run the quickest time for the leg.

Support Crew Dave met us here for the car move, but more importantly was the only crew up there waiting meaning that we'd leap-frogged our way into the lead by a sterling effort from our crew. The drive down took us 48mins not leaving us long to prepare for the next MTB. Support crew Julia and Rob Snr. were waiting with our bikes and some hot noodles at the TA so the 12mins was just enough to get us on our way again. The hot noodles were extra important for Josh as he'd spent the last few minutes of the car ride projectile vomiting half a can of beans firstly on the back seat of Damon's car, and then out the rear window. The acoustics were something none of us had heard before - enough said! Josh offered the beans to Rob to finish, who took one look at the beans in the can and another at the undigested beans on the floor and window and passed.

Shortly after beginning the next 44km MTB we found ourselves bashing down to a creek then back up the other side. We heard later that Peter (Off our Nuts) had to convince his teammates that Craig would, in fact, send us down this overgrown, lantana covered creek with our bikes, as they were assuming they must be in the wrong place and were suggesting they backtrack. After 10 Geo’s we now what Craig will put us through. We soon found a steep over-grown track which we pushed up for what seemed like at least an hour. Not far from the top we realised we were on the wrong spur, however could easily ride around the top and drop down onto the next CP. We did this but couldn't find the CP. We went in and out a few times, checked other track junctions, rode several kms out to confirm our location with street signs, before finally returning and finding it 200m from where we thought it would be, arguably not at a track junction as described..... The remainder of the ride was fairly uneventful with the tracks getting wetter and slipperier.

We again met our support crew and set out for a 19km trek leg. This transition was located at a picnic shelter at Bellingen - this shelter was completely flooded two days later. We were still in first position with a 50min lead over Off Our Nuts and Peak Adventure. We trotted down the road for a bit before hitting the hills to a series of CPs mainly located in the bush. We kept the navigation safe, fought of the odd bit of weariness until reaching the unassisted transition for the last MTB of the race.

We phaffed a bit at this TA (amazed at our sparkling clean bikes) until finally leaving at 7.20am just as we discovered an electric heater set up by the volunteer staff! This bike was a more straight forward leg being 40km of larger roads with easier navigation. The final few kilometres were quite fast on sealed roads to the TA at the river's edge set for the final 20km kayak to the finish.

Once on the river it took a couple of kilometres to find our paddling arms again, but once we did we enjoyed a very pleasant paddle with a nice tide behind us all the way to the finish. Just as we had the finish in sight the rain doubled in strength and absolutely bucketed down. The race was soon to be cancelled for all but Off Our Nuts and CBD who were both also on the river paddling to the finish. The remainder of teams stopped at the next TA which they arrived at.

For us though it was a very successful race to cross the line in first place at 12.30pm Sunday, 2hrs 1min ahead of Off Our Nuts which contained friends, including Rob's brother Pete. CBD were 3rd another 43mins back. We certainly didn’t have the perfect race, with quite a few setbacks and mistakes, but we were able to hold it together to hang on for the win. We'd especially like to thank our amazing support crew of Dave, Julia and Rob Snr. In tough conditions they did more than we required, and leap-frogged us into the lead overnight where we stayed. Thanks also to Craig, Louise and the other staff from Geocentric for another great event. It was a tough call to cancel the race when they did, but looking at the flooding still occurring in the area it was clearly the correct decision to make!

Thanks finally to our supporters who continue to help us get to these races:

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