Wengan Outdoor Challenge 2017

After Tai’an Mountain Challenge we traveled straight to Wengan and enjoyed a short break ~ 7 days of movies and light training duties. We made the most of our time by going back to Wengan Number 2 School and delivering a guest lecture. It was great to take along a few more athletes this year and we had some fun – fielding some bizarre questions, many of which were requests for hugs, if we could sing them a song or give out our WeChat details… random!


Anyhow, back to racing …

Day 1

The opening leg of the race was quite a different one! Each team was given 2 x 20kg baskets that had to be worn like a backpack for the first 3km of the run leg. This was tough!

We worked hard here and were happy to finish the leg in second, a few hundred metres behind Purao. Dropping the baskets we still had another 4 or so km to run before transitioning onto the bikes.

We came into the TA less than 30 seconds behind Purao.

Onto the bike we were suprised to come across Purao on the first hill. It looked like they had got a flat tire.

We kept the hammer down and worked hard. A glance behind on a climb revieled the field was all quite close still.


It had been wet the few days before the race and soon we found the mud. It was thick and nasty! But also a bit of fun.

Off the bike we were back running. We had slipped back to second, with Purao showing their class, and catching us on the ride.


We ran hard, but were passed by a flying Chinese team (Koosa) on a technical downhill section. These guys are technically talented! We continued pushing until we came to a stop clock section where we were able to prepare for a zip line traverse. Here we could catch our breath. The top 3/4 teams all regrouped briefly before we were released at intervals.

We charged over the zip line and then it was just a short uphill run to the finish. I think this was the hardest section for me from the past 3 events, after feeling strong all day and in great condition I just felt buggered on this leg!

So a tough finish for me, but we had done well and worked really hard as a team. We had all left it on the course and for the day we were 3rd. A good start.

Day 2

This one was a biggie!

A staggered start on the Mtb meant we were able to find our rhythm. Pretty soon the top 4 teams (Purao, NZ Adventure and Koosa) we all bunched up. The mud was terrible today and clogged wheels and drive trains. It was messy! We had a few issues with a bike that broke our rhythm a bit, but we made the TA in 3rd, behind Purao and NZ Adventure respectively.


The next leg was a biathlon, two athletes ride, while the other two run. We did really well here and made our way to the front where we tussled with Purao all the way into the next transition.


Then we had a rather large 27km kayak to contend with… a mad transition saw both  our teams enter the boats together. We made a train and had turns on the front. We tried to break away once or twice, but it was hard to coordinate or movements as well as get a gap… the double sea kayaks we were using put out a decent wash and it’s hard to shake someone from this. We settled back into taking turns, resigned to the fact we would transition together. This was a long leg. Before the end, at about the 24k mark we were joined by NZ Adventure, who had paddled hard to catch up. ​

​Out of the boats was an 11km run to the finish.

Purao pulled away slowly on the first climb and NZ Adventure were nowhere to be seen, taking awhile to transition. We flogged it on this stage, trying hard to catch Purao or at least minimise the gap. Punching into the finish we were stoked to be 2nd and only a min behind Purao for the stage.

Overall we were sitting second with about 10 min to Purao in 1st and 15 back to NZ Adventure.

Day 3 

The last day of racing for the tour and I was feeling the pain! The body was pretty dam sore.

The first leg was a 5k downhill run to the boats. This was quick, real quick and hard on tired legs.

It was great to get into the boat and start the paddle. The start had been staggered and we had held our position (2nd) and could see Purao not far ahead. We paddled hard, and appeared to close the gap ever so slightly. Next up was an abseil which only one person had to do. Sam was the man for the  job and we dropped him off on the shore where he had a painful 180m climb followed by an insane abseil of equal height! I was happy chilling in the boat, as we waited and cheered for Sam. Welcome respite and a chance to feed and hydrate for the rest of the day.

7 more k of paddling and then a punchy run climbing for 5 k took us to the bikes. We now appeared to be solidly in second for the stage, it was looking good. The bike was hot, we were tired and working hard. It took longer than expected to reach the TA, but from here only a 4K orienteering section stood between us and the finish.


This leg sucked!! We butchered it royally. The coordinates we were given were not in any particular order and could be collected in any succession. We gambled that the list would still be in some sort of order and we rushed off to the “first CP”. As we ran practically back to the start to collect the “2nd” CP we realised we’d stuffed up. It was shit. We had doubled back, from the flat to a hill top and then back up the hill again for “CP 3”. Learning was happening and it hurt. We had been passed by 2 teams and it was gutting!

We climbed a cargo net and then scaled a wall. 4th for the day, which should have been 2nd. Ohh well another lesson learnt and we now know how to deal with these legs in the future.

Thankfully our mistake didn’t cost us any time overall and we still secured 2nd overall, with a good gap back to 3rd.

So all in all a very successful trip and one we can be proud of.

Cheers team!


Tai’an Mountain Quest 

A pictorial account
Team O2B Healthy Ltd


Hamish Fleming, Sam Manson, Marcel Hagner and Simone Maier

RACE DAY 1

Leg 1: run up 6,000 stairs over Mt Tai, run down 4,000 stairs and descend some technical trail.

Oh yea, and carry some boxes of water, traditional style up the last few hundred meters.


Leg 2: Abseil and short swim, then run to kayaks.

Leg 3: kayak


Day 1 summary: 3rd place

A solid day for the team, on a running dominated course. Confident we could lift our rank over the next few days.

RACE DAY 2


Leg 1: Run and short wheelbarrow push (yip! Not a typo… I said wheelbarrow).





Leg 2: Long (~60km ) flat Mtb TT

We ended up riding this in a bunch with Purao and Thule.

Leg 3: kayak

A pivotal leg in our day. This is where we got a gap on the field.


Leg 4: short run

We we going for it on this stage. We were in the lead and knew Purao would be coming for us. So good pain faces in this shot…


Leg 5: GPS orienteering and flying fox

Purao caught us here, and we worked together to clear the O section. At the last CP we were able  to gap them and reach the Flying Fox in first.


Day 2 summary: 1st in stage – second overall.


RACE DAY 3
Leg 1: Staggered start in the kayak

Stage 2: Mtb, rolling terrain followed by a ~ 800m climb. We were neck and neck with Purao right into the TA. A tough climb.


Stage 3: run then flying fox. Purao got about 40 seconds on us here.


Stage 4: run to the finish. Purao were ahead, but due to the staggered start and a stop clock for the fly fox  we knew the stage win was still within reach.

We hammered it home and left it all on the course… Second on the day by 12 seconds!! What a race!

2nd overall Tai’an Mountain Quest 2017

Baise Outdoor Quest 2017

Preparations were smooth in the lead up to this years Baise Outdoor Quest. Personally I had some concerns about my form, as I had been seeing mixed results in training, some days I was on fire, and other days I felt flat… I was still suffering a bit mentally as a result of my Coast performance. I did’t feel my usual confidence and excitement and this worried me. I took the few days before the race nice and easy, hoping that things would fire come race day…

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Day 1

Total time 3:59:03 | Distance 51.57 km | Elevation Gain 2,449m / Loss 2,450m

A short run to start and the legs came to life, as did the memory of how much I love to race… phew!!..  things were going to be ok…

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This quick run was followed by a wheelbarrow leg (we are Multisport athletes after all). Marcel did the “wheeling” of the barrow, while Sam and I clipped on and towed. Simone enjoyed the ride!

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I found this task quite difficult as the legs struggled to adjust to the weight of the barrow. We worked hard as a group and were happy to come into the bike transition in second place, just behind Team Purao Biomedi (formerly Raw Adventure).

Onto the bike and I was still carefully assessing myself, worried that I might crack at any second… “don’t be stupid, you’ve got this”. I settled into my work riding well and again the worry disappeared, replaced by the joy of racing hard and feeling strong. I was back. The ride was roughly 28k and included a one km “hike a bike”. The field remained very tight, with 4 teams all quite close together for most of the ride. As we came into transition it had dropped to 3 teams, Purao, Thule and ourselves (O2B Healthy Ltd).

Following the bike was a short GPS orienteering section. This leg proved to be rather humorous for us, as my GPS was the only one that seemed to be able to acquire satellites… and I’m pretty sure Purao didn’t even bother turning their’s on. This resulted in a bunch run through the city, with our team controlling the pace (we even made a pee stop). So the orienteering section basically became a neutral leg and thoughts were directed toward the next TA where we would be doing 20m of ascending up a hanging rope using jummars.

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Into this TA it was all on. We wanted to gap the other teams and had done some research and practice to ensure our jummaring technique was solid. We were climbing a rope hanging from an outdoor man made rock climbing wall. With one rope per team, I went up first. It was a workout, but our technique and set-up were good.

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I made the top first. Ignoring the gaping hole between the top of the wall and the solid landing area, I stepped over and clipped onto a flying fox. The flying fox took me across a river where I dismounted and waited for the team. We smoked it through this challenge, getting the gap we wanted and headed into the next TA in first place (by roughly 5min!).

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The final leg was a run. We kept a lid on our pacing and focused on doing our own thing through here. The run was awesome, with some neat rocky sections, inspiring caves and the usual share of Chinese stairs. Unfortunately we were caught by Purao on this section and moved back into second place. Nearing the end of the run we started to feel the effect of the days effort, but we held on, crossing the line 3 min behind Purao. Thule finished in 3rd, only 1min back. Super tight racing and a great start for us. I was loving it!

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Day 2

Total time 3:43:01| Distance 55.08 km | Elevation Gain 2,125m / Loss 2,895m

Day two was a simple duathlon, a hard and fast run followed by a mountain bike. The paddle this day was unfortunately canceled due to a lack of water in the lake.

A mass start ensured the pace was hot from the word go. We smoked it down hill finding our rhythm and getting the blood back into the legs. Into the hills we settled into our pace.

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The run took us into the mountains and past an amazing sump hole (see the image below). Sam and I were lucky enough to get to zip line over the edge of this.

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After the zip line was a quick run into the MTB TA. We entered here in 3rd place. Working well on the roads, 4WD tracks and some pretty mint single track, we finally reached the finish for the day. We were a bit surprised to hear that Thule had taken the stage win, beating Purao by a good few minutes which lifted them in the overall lead.

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Sitting in 3rd overall, the body and legs felt strangely awesome. I was optimistic about our chances of lifting our position with two big days of racing still to come.

On the bus ride back we had a bit of drama, breaking down while also beaching ourselves… here’s the other bus (behind) having a good crack at passing the broken down bus (to no avail)… only in China and all part of the fun. After an hour or so on the side of the road the driver got the bus rolling again and we made it back to the hotel… it looked suspiciously like we had simply run dry on fuel…

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Day 3

Total time 6:59:17| Distance 60.89 km | Elevation Gain 4,218m / Loss 4,220m

This was a bigger day with a run, swim, kayak, bike, run and final kayak to keep us entertained. And entertained we were when we found out that we had to swim in our life jackets, shoes and helmets because the run to the water was so technical and steep. Teams were set off at 1 min intervals (based on their overall ranking) to avoid bottle necks.

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I was on a tow line for the swim, but was stoked to find that I didn’t need it. It’s funny, adding all that surplus gear changed the swim leg and made everyone rather even… 1km flew by. It was then into the kayaks for a 3k sprint and then onto the bikes.

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We were in tight formation with Thule for much of this ride and came into TA (atop of a massive switch back climb) slightly ahead of them, with Purao up the road and already onto the run.

IMG_1463 The run leg was simply EPIC. The track looked rather new, and snaked its was along the side of steep limestone mountains, with beautiful vistas over the lake we had just paddled. The terrain was super technical, which would usually have suited us, but poor Simone bruised her foot early on and every steep was extremely painful for her. We moved along as best we could and were happy that when Thule passed us they didn’t seem to be pulling away too quickly. I was very impressed with this track and wish we had some better photos to show how gnarly it was.

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We were passed by 3 more teams on the run before we made the lake and jumped back into the kayaks. Simone had really suffered for the team and now it was our turn to work hard in the kayak. Moving well we quickly caught two teams and made our way up into 4th place.

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The paddle was an “out and back”, which allowed us to see the gap to the teams ahead. We paddled well, but the gap was too big. Exiting the boats we blasted up hill for a painful 2km run to finish in 4th place. All in all not a bad day.

Day 4

Total time 5:18:01| Distance 59.08 km | Elevation Gain 3,066m / Loss 3,055m

A big day to finish: 29 km Mtb, 29km mountain run and 4km GPS orienteering.

The final day saw us start in the middle of town. We blasted straight out of there and into a solid climb. The ride was a prelude to the mother stage of the day and we were happy to be racing in tight formation with Thule and Purao for much of this leg. Into the TA it was Puro ahead, with us second and Thule close behind.

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The final leg was a biggie! After 3 and a half days of hard racing we were treated to a mega mountain run. I loved this section and there were times when we were absolutely flying! Simone was wearing a pair of my shoes that had a bit more padding in them and thankfully she had no problems with her foot on this day. This allowed us to really go for it! The team worked really well together and it was a strong leg for us as a unit. We came into the last TA in second. Not far into the GPS orienteering stage was a zip line. This is where we spotted Purao, only a few minutes ahead. We zoomed over the zip line and gave it our all on the last section of running with Purao in our sites! We finished the stage second, just behind Purao. We were tired, relieved, and elated.

We ended the 4 days of racing 3rd in the overall standings, only 4 minutes behind Thule. Purao took the top spot, a well deserved result.

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Total race time: 19 hours 45 minutes. Total elevation gain: 11,858m.

What an awesome 4 days! It was refreshing to get through a China race with no major issues and to finish feeling strong.

Cheers team, that was epic.

Stage four podium shot;

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I’m stoked to be heading back to China on the 10th of May for 2 more races.

The count down is on!

Thank you to all the sponsors who support my racing endeavours, you guys are legends.

TEAM SPONSOR

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PERSONAL SPONSORS

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