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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.