Three Days in China -Jiangjin Simian Mountain Quest 2017

After a great season of China racing we believed things had wrapped up and summer racing in NZ would be next on the cards, but it turned out that China had one more race left for us! Awesome!

Due to work commitments and busy schedules we decided to make this a whirlwind “in and out” mission…

We flew into china the day before our race, jumped on a bus and did the 4hr drive from Chongqing to the race venue, near Simian mountain. This area was beautiful! Lush forest and clean water, topped off with fresh autumn air! It was a great looking race venue.

Arriving at around mid day, the day before the race, meant we had to get into race prep straight away. We built bikes, sorted nutrition and fluid and soon we’re being driven around the course on crazy oversized golf carts. These things hussled along and we zoomed from transition to transition, stashing gear in allocated spots for the next day. As can often be the case in China there was quite a bit of confusion during this prep stage. We had brought our own paddles and PFDs from NZ and it was very unclear where we should put them… or if we could use them at all… eventually after much discussion it was decided that we could not use this kit… something that would have been great to know before we lugged it all the way to China! Ohh well.

Transitions all packed up we jumped back on our speedy golf cart. In contrast to our usual China experiences we began to get really cold on this ride back to the hotel! It was fresh! We were stoked to get back inside and into some warm kit, with the golf cart now officially referred to as the “Ice Train”.

A quick meal was a welcome breather. Checking messages Sam discovered that we had been invited to race another event on the Sunday (day after our race) in Chongqing. It was a stair challenge – 72 flights up a skyscraper! A quick chat amongst the team and it was decided that we might as well have a crack! This was turning into a pretty cool (and efficient) trip!

Race briefing was next. This was a confusing affair, with some vague rules announced about towing… it seemed that towing was not allowed. We were amazed. It would make the event a race of the girls… with the guys doing what they could to draft / feed / look after the girl. Interesting…

We discussed this with other teams, our translator and even the race director. Many people were saying that it was ok to pull and push but not use a tow line. The race director just said “there is no towing, the rules are clear”… we were still confused. But yip, it sounded like we would be supporting, but not towing Simone through this one?

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Race day dawned and after another awesome over hyped, fireworks, dancing, jamming music festival of an opening ceremony we were on the line and ready to race.

A 5k run leg was first and as soon as the gun went off teams began to work together pulling shirts and pushing each other – towing!!?

We were pretty frustrated! Our main rival employed the same method, as we tried to keep to what we thought were the “rules” and not pull Simone… it was madness! As the lead team pulled away we began discussing what to do… should we tow and risk a penalty? Or just stick to what we understood were the rules… it got to a point when we thought “stuff this” might as well be competitive and maybe we’ve got it wrong! Maybe our translation of towing is different to that of the race directors? Maybe grabbing the shirt of the person in front and being dragged isn’t being towed in his mind? I’m still a bit perplexed on this one. But hey, it is what it is and interpretation of the rules can be very frustrating in China.

So we towed (we pushed, or Simone pulled) but no “tow lines” were used – and no penalties were issued.

The first run was followed by an uphill mountain bike on a lovely bush clad hillside, then it was straight into the kayaks (barges) for a short 3.5km along a narrow damned river. We were roughly 200m behind the leaders and during the first half of the paddle this dropped to about 100m. This gap seemed to hold until we exited the boat.

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A short run followed and then it was onto the SUP paddle stage. This was a new one for China racing and it was actually quite fun! It was 2 people per board, so balance was a challenge and we opted for a kneeling stance. The gap seemed to hold steady on the paddle, now about 300m after the run leg.

Exiting the SUP we had a fast and furious down hill run to the finish. This was only 5k and we knew our chances of catching the team ahead were very slim. None the less we pushed on and finished strong, 1 min 20 sec behind first place and a race time of about 1hr 20min.

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A fun few hours were spent soaking up the atmosphere and chatting with friends, before the prize giving commenced. The backdrop was spectacular, with a massive waterfall dominating the scene.

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After prize giving we were straight into pack up mode. Sam and Marcel volunteered to board the “ice train” and collect the teams transition gear. The poor boys were out much longer than expected and came beck ready for a well deserved feed. Packing all finished we boarded a bus and headed straight to Chongqing airport. We arrived around 9pm, deposited our bikes in luggage storage and then taxied back into the city, pausing shortly only for a subway sandwich and to book a hotel near the stair challenge building.

Waking up the next morning we were stoked to find our hotel was within 5min of the stair race. We registered and then milled around, warmed up and then gave it death for 13min as we powered our way to the top of the building. I wish I had my HR monitor on for this one as the stats would have been great. hR max for the whole time I’d say! Man that hurt. We thought we had done really well and we’re confident of being first or second… it turns out that there were some speed merchants there however and we had to settle for 5th. A fun hit out and a great way to spend the morning.

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From there we kicked around in Chongqing, enjoying cafe stops, and being tourists for a bit. Soon it was time to head to the airport, with our departure just after midnight.

Job done! An awesome whirlwind trip, with two races packed into two days and a total of 3 days on the ground in china. Epic!

A big thank you to my sponsors who allow me to keep chasing these races, particularly Around The Basin for the time off work. Cheers!

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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.

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PERSONAL SPONSORS

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Left handed chopsticks – Wulong Mountain Quest 2016

I arrived in Wulong this year pretty pumped. We were back at the race that we all love, the big one, with the same team as last year – defending champs. Mentally I was gee’d up.


Wulong always starts with a short prologue on the first day. This year the prologue only involved running… A shift away from the usual Multisport day. After the gun we had a couple of kms to run before we had to carry a Chinese chair – the type with two bamboo poles and the chair in the middle. We carried Simone on this for about 800m. It’s always painful and requires good team work. We did well and exited this stage in 5th equal with Raw Adventure. Raw Adventure were the team winning everything in China this year, so we were happy to be right with them.
After the chair carry we were back running. A couple more km up hill to the start of a gps orienteering section. Upon entering the transition area we quickly moved past Raw Adventure… It was clear something was not right with Jacky and they were slowing significantly. We pushed past, now neck and neck with Thule. We took some good lines on the o section , but so did Thule. We remained in contact for the rest of the stage. Thule got ahead of us in the sprint at the end to finish 1 second ahead. Our teams were 4th and 5th respectively, a bit of a surprise… 3 Chinese teams had dominated the stage and took the podium spots for the day.


I was stoked with the day. I’d felt really good and was able to do my share of the work for the team. Things were looking up for some strong racing over the next 3 days.

The next day was a goodie on paper for our team, with a long 22km paddle section making up a large chunk of the day.

We came off this leg in first place and charged into the canyoning section that followed. We were ticking along at a manageable pace and I wasn’t too surprised to see Thule appear behind us.

Exiting the canyon we put the hammer down. We smashed along at a really good pace right through to the mountain bike transition. We were stoked to be on the bike after all running out of food and water on the previous stage. We took off. Again moving very well.

Roughly 2 km into the ride I was leading our team down a rough rocky 4wd road, I was attacking the decent and was keen to keep the pace on. This is when it happened. I was riding, pumping the bumps, and then I was on the ground. It happened that fast. All I could think as I fell through the air was “no frign way, how could I have crashed! I can’t have. Not now! Not in this race! Not on that section!”. I was angry. I was pretty sure my handle bar had snapped. Then I was in pain. Lots and lots of pain. And very winded. I’d taken a good wack on the ribs and all thoughts vanished as I simply tried to breath.

“Is he knocked out” “are you ok” “talk to me mate”… The voices of my team bounced around. “Just breath, just breath, it will pass” was all I could think.

Finally I was able to move. I stood, to the relief of my team and I quickly asked if we could just keep moving. I was in lots of pain and a fair amount of shock, so I just wanted to distract myself.

“Ohhhhh, no no, i don’t think so, not just yet… I, I think I see your bone…we need to deal to that”… Marcel was inspecting my right arm, my biggest source of discomfort. He grabbed some duct tape and proceeded to tape my wound closed. It hurt. Lots.

Marcel then gave me his bike and Simone and I started riding slowly,  while Sam and Marcel dealt with my bike, which indeed had a broken handle bar.

I swore and swore and swore. It really was sore. Every bump and fern I brushed sent shap pain down my nerves. The right arm was the worst, followed by my hip and ribs, both knees and finally my left elbow and hand. I’d been rag dolled and the more I thought about it the more I realised how lucky I had been to escape so lightly…

We rode for about 10 or more minutes before we were caught by another team.

I was gutted to be passed and two more teams got us by the time we transitioned to the next stage. My crash had happened 2km into a 20km ride.

After the ride was a 1km run to a bridge where we abseiled into the water before swimming 800m to shore. This was the worst stage of the day for me. The water burnt and stung and it didn’t stop. It was rude, unrelenting and invasive pain. Marcel and Sam towed me while I kicked on my back and fought with my brain. It was a suffer fest, but I knew it was nearly over.

Crossing the line for the day was a relief. But it was also gutting. It just felt like bad luck… To have been racing so well as a team and then be totally owned in a split second… That’s racing I guess…
I remained in a somewhat positive frame of mind as I was shuffled into an ambulance and taken to hospital. “It’s just a few cuts, they’ll be able to sew me up and I’ll be away laughing” was what I thought…


Well that was the initial treatment… What came next was the infection. Even after good cleaning and being sewn up I still woke the next day to a swollen red arm and again- lots of pain. I could barley get out of bed. Every time I lowered my arm the blood rushed to it and the throbbing was real. The cut was very deep… Dam. There we no way I could race for 2 more days like that. We were out. The biggest race of the year and it was over just like that.


The infection grew worse throughout the day, as did the realisation that we had made the right call. Instead of racing I went to hospital again. This was a real experience. A translator from the race came with Sam and I which helped us get treatment very quickly. Entering the doctors theatre I was shocked by the lack of hygiene. There was blood covered swabs in the bin, the floor was splattered with all sorts and everything looked so old.

The doctor removed my bandaging and wasted no time getting stuck in. There wasn’t even a “ni hao” before he cut some of the stitches and got right into the would with cotton buds and tweezers. Oh man, oh man, so it turns out pain killers are are a western idea… With the infection inflaming the wound the pain was almost unbearable. I squirmed on the operating table as he got stuck into my flesh. He squeezed out the gunk and flushed the wound with saline and iodine. I knew it had to be done. I remember clearly every time he got in deep Sam would go “agh ohhh man he’s right in there now” – so comforting haha.

By the time he finished I felt ruined. The stress and adrenaline of the experience smashed me. Back to the race hotel and sleep.

The next day I was onto IV antibiotics. The infection was pretty bad. More cleaning, more scrubbing, more pain. The infection had spread right up my arm and from my armpit to my forearm it glowed with the redness of infection. Not good.


Thankfully that night there was a bit of a revolution in terms of the infection. I awoke in the early hours of the morning, drenched in cold sweat, but I felt great! I knew I was beating the infection and in the morning it was clear that it was slowly retreating. Yussssss! Now I just needed to master the art of using chop sticks left handed and watch the healing begin…

The wound over time :

Day of accident

Day 1 – beginning of infection 

Day 4 – still some infection, but siginificant improvement

Day 5 – still oozing

Looking cleaner

Day 6

Day 7 – fully clear of infection

Day 8 – starting to fill the holes

Today – looking good to race with on the 19th
Next year I will be back to Wulong… With both my arms fully operational and a slightly higher pain tolerance…

Thanks to everyone who sent through kind messages of support and to my sponsors;

Around the Basin, Torpedo7, Hillary Foods

I’m still in China at the moment, visiting the hospital daily for treatment, but feeling pretty good. We race again here at Wengan on the 19th-21st.

Redemption time.

Pengzhou Adventure Challenge

The Pengzhou Outdoor Challenge was a 3 day stage adventure race held in Chengdu, China. Like all trips overseas adventure racing this trip had its challenges…

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Day 1: Hot hot hot!!!

Day 1 was a good day for the team. We were consistent and strong throughout and ended up in 2nd place, just 28 seconds behind 1st placed Raw Adventure and with a good gap back to Thule Adventure Team in 3rd place. The day was quite short,  about 3.30 hr, but the heat was the major challenge. The last 8 km run of the day was very tough… It must have been close to 40 degrees, we were running on the road and I thought I might spontaneously combust before the finish… But as always, after some team suffering the finish line was reached. It felt great to tip cool water over myself and once the core temp was back to normal I actually felt pretty good.  A short, fast day of racing limited by the heat. I was rearing to go for the next day of racing!

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Day 2: Birthday Celebrations

A river run, a mother of a climb on the Mtb, a biathlon, a flying fox and then a GPS orienteering stage to finish. Another good day. I felt really strong for most of the day and we finished in second place, once again behind Raw Adventure (roughly 4 mins). Today’s highlight was finishing to the tune of happy birthday for Sam, with cake and a cold beer to follow. 

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Day 3: Spewing

On the eve of the 3rd day of racing I woke at 3 in the morning and proceeded to violently empty my body from both ends until race day dawned. I was ruined. No energy and an extremely crook guts. I’m guessing I just got unlucky with something I ate… It would have been an average day if I had been able to just lie in bed, but there was racing to be done. On the start line I knew it was going to be bad. I felt like death warmed up. The gun went off before I knew it and I was straight into survival mode. I was keeping up for maybe the first 10mins, then the towing began. My poor team mates had to work so hard, but there was nothing I could do. I felt so thirsty, but I couldn’t stomach water… A horrible feeling. I had no energy, but couldn’t eat. We began to be passed by teams and all offered a supportive word on the way past. I dived deeper and deeper into my own little world. It took forever to reach the end of the Mtb stage and I had definitely gone downhill. My gut was so uncomfortable. Onto the 2k run. It felt so long. I had to stop to empty the bowels. Horrible. A flying fox took us into a lake where we swam to shore – or make that Marcel dragged me to shore. Next was the kayak. My lowest point of the day. I teaspoon paddled at the start, trying to offer some assistance, but that didn’t last long. I was dying! I ended up lying in the boat trying to recover some energy before the last run. Suddenly the violent vomiting returned, this time with the rich colour of blood. It was at this moment that I really began to think “stuff this”. Thoughts of pulling out entered my mind. Lying in the boat, spewing blood while Sam paddled his heart out for the both of us was a unique moment in my life… One I hope never to repeat. Reaching the shore, Marcel suggested that maybe we should pull the pin. I really appreciated this gesture,  but also thought and said, in slightly more expletive language, I’ll have to politely refuse your kind and very appealing offer. I suggested we finish, but not push the pace any more. It would be hard enough to for me to get to the end. The longest 10k of my life. Depressing, painful, uncomfortable, emotional, funny, sad, so so gutted. Crossing the line I managed to feel some pride as well as immense relief. The pain and suffering would be less form here on. We had done it.

I’m so lucky to be part of such a special team. They had my back all the way and that’s what kept me going. Thanks guys! They also packed and cleaned all my gear in the following 12hrs while I slept and slept some more. I was tired. So, so tired. We ended up finishing 9th in the overall standings. A really gutting result for us.

I would like to tie this story off here,  as surely that was the end of the drama, but there is so much more to add…

After a long and uncomfortable bus ride to the airport and a day of waiting, my flight to Shanghai was delayed due to thunderstorms. I missed my connection to NZ by about 40 mins in the end. I was not happy to say the least, but to tired to react much. My world still revolved a lot around toilets and being in close proximity to them. I was also very low on energy. Upon arrival in Shanghai I was directed to the help desk. No one spoke English and I had no idea what was going on, especially in my state. This is where my luck finally changed and I met David, a young chinese dude living in Auckland who spoke both chinese and English!!! He was on my same flight from Chengdu and also missed the same connection to Auckland. He did the talking and got us sorted. More bad news. We were delayed by 48hrs! A whopping 2 whole days! Onto a bus and onwards to a hotel, we finally got to bed at about 3am. I didn’t even care anymore, bed felt like heaven.

The next day David and I went exploring Shanghai. I was so stoked to have him. I think without him I would have just set up camp in my room, but he helped me get motivated and out. He woke me up when I fell asleep on the train and we had reached our stop and did all the translating that made things run smoothly. It was a great day looking around and I was stoked to have made a new friend. I was still feeling quite average and the big day exploring took its toll. The next day I slept and slept, all day. Finally at 8pm on my second day in Shanghai it was time to go to the airport!!! I was so excited to be checked in. I was craving home so badly! The guy at the counter took his time, remarking that we should have flown 12 hours earlier… What the heck… David and I had been told there was no flight… Oh well, what could we do. Checked in and ready to go I still wasn’t fully convinced we were going home until we pushed back and were actually flying to NZ!

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What a trip… It’s fair to say China took the win on that one… I took a hiding… but as they say, it’s all character building stuff… 

Thanks to everyone who sent me kind messages of support and followed the race. It’s truly appreciated.

As a wise and highly muscular robot of a man once said… “I’ll be back”

Hamish is proud to be sponsored by

Around the Basin Bike Tours Circle Logo (1)

http://www.aroundthebasin.co.nz/

       t7 close cut

 https://www.torpedo7.co.nz/

Baise Adventure Race China 2016

Baise Adventure Race, China 2016

“Your ticket is void”

Not the words you want to hear when trying to check in for an international flight… I looked to my left to see my team mate Sam Manson was having similar issues… Not good. Marcel and Simone had checked in with no issues at all and had even commented that it was almost to easy… As traveling with a boxed bike is often a bit of a drama.

Sam and I were in trouble… “Computer says no”. We got on the phone and called our travel agent… It took some time to get through, but once we did she was great. No one really seemed to know what  the problem with our tickets was, but finally after waiting nervously for quite some time we were given our boarding passes. We only had about 30 min left before boarding by this stage, so it was a quick transition through customs and into the boarding lounge. When boarding the plane, to add insult to injury, Sam and I had our boarding passes for our domestic connection in China removed… We have no idea why, but we were told we would need to check in again in Shanghai, but our baggage would continue to Nanning, our final destination. Upon arrival in Shanghai we quickly emailed our travel agent to see if the ticketing problem was resolved. She was nearly sorted, but we had to wait another hour before checking in. No drama. Hopefully… Check in went smoothly this time, but I was a bit concerned about our checked luggage… However, we had baggage receipts showing that it should be seeing us in Nanning so thought nothing more of it. We were just super grateful to be boarding our last flight and that we were actually going to make it to the race! Something we have come to take for granted.

Upon arrival in Nanning, Sam and I were not particularly surprised to find ourselves without checked baggage… The saga continues…

The rest of the team met up with the race staff who were waiting for us, while Sam and I saw the baggage help team. Some acting, some basic English and a whole lot of confusion later, we had “confirmed” our bags would arrive over night. The plan was made for the rest of the team to go on to Baise without us. Sam and I would wait for our bags. We were lucky that two race staff would be joining us. We went to the nearest airport hotel. A chilled night, good food and fruit, followed by a 10hr sleep ensued. Not all bad (although plenty of power cuts). The next morning arrived and it was time to see if our bags had to!

Success! Bags arrived with a generous 40 yuan compensation (about $9 NZD). We then had some time to kill at the airport before we were to leave for Baise, so it was off for a quick run for Sam and I. It was muggy at the airport and the sweating was real, great acclimatisation and it felt good to move after the travel. The run was followed by a sponge (aka hand towel) bath in the toilets then some more waiting before heading to Baise with a few more athletes. There were some issues with people missing flight connections, so we had a big bus for the 5 of us. 

Arriving at the race hotel with our gear after a bumpy horn blasting 7hr bus ride was a relief to say the least. We spent the next 2 days prepping for the race, recovering from the travel and getting gear organised.

The race

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Day 1 came around before we knew it. The stage began with a 5km run through Leye township. We finished this stage in 2nd, looking good. It was a quick transition into the bike and the team worked hard to keep up the pace and intensity. We lost a few positions on the ride, not quite firing like we usually do.

The last stage of the day was a bit of an epic… It was a run stage that also contained some cool caves and finished with a massive 150m abseil for one of the team – which I was lucky enough to to get to do!

We finished the day in 3rd, not far behind Thule, but about 20min behind first placed Raw Adventure. 

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Baise abseil

Day 2 was a relatively short day. It began with a 13k paddle. We set the pace in the boats leading the stage and were able to put a few minutes on second place by the time we transitioned onto the mountain bike. The bike stage was an interesting one, being only 15k long and containing 5km of bike carrying. We elected to use flat pedals for this stage so we were a bit slower on the riding sections. We were passed by Raw Adventure, but managed to get back ahead through the bike carry section. We were neck and neck by the time we were approaching the TA… Crazy tight racing! We were quicker to transition and set off on the last 3km run leg with a slight advantage. Raw Adventure started to gain on us and our teams became mixed together, with our team still maintaining the lead… Just. As the finish approached the sprint began! 3 of us finished before Raw, but one got caught up in the tangle and only just managed to cross the line before the last team member of Raw! We won the stage by half a second. Awesome fun and intense racing.

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Day 3 was an epic day. The course would have to be one of the most inspiring that I have raced through. We began with a Mtb which had some really fun technical sections and descents. That was followed by a run stage. This contained some neat single track and the most impressive natural limestone cave that I’ve seen. It it was a good climb up to the cave, to a point where you then dropped down into the abyss to then climb up the and out the other side. It was a tunnel of epic proportions and the sort of thing you could nearly fly a Boeing 747 through. From the cave it wasn’t far to the next transition. Here things were changed slightly from what we were expecting as we entered a neutral time zone – meaning that the race time stops until you exit the transition area. We made the most of this and ate some food and prepped for the next leg, about a 5min breather before continuing on. The next leg was great. Two athletes did an abseil that dropped into a lake, while the other two swam across the lake, getting a solid head start of the abseilers who also had to do the same swim – with harness and kit. As the weakest swimmer in the team I was grateful to avoid the abseil and get a head-start on the swim. This was a rare moment in China racing. I was able to breast stroke, backstroke, float, relax and freestyle my way across the lake, with no race pressure, as we could only start the  next leg once the abseiling duo arrived. The pressure was on them. Nice!

Onto the kayak stage the team settled into a strong relaxed pace and focused on the process. We felt we were moving steadily, but there was a lack of race intensity. We were on our own in a solid second place, with a big gap to first.

The paddle was beautifully scenic and I found myself reflecting on how lucky we were to be able to travel and race overseas in such an amazing environment. Living the dream.

Exiting the boat we had a short and painful uphill run to the finish, roughly 2km. We pushed hard and crossed the line feeling satisfied with our second place – or so we thought!

Due to the neutral time zone it actually worked out that we were third for the day, by 1 min!! I was gutted and it felt average. We had been a bit complacent and forgot that teams could be close on time even if not in sight on the paddle due to the stop clock in the neutral time zone. A good lesson. We had raced the paddle hard, but I’m sure that if the following team had caught up to us physically, rather than in time we would have found the energy to hold them off. Lesson learnt. The nature of the corse that day meant the 2nd placed team had spent 35min in the neutral zone… Sometimes being ahead isn’t an advantage. Oh well, one day to go and we were still 2nd overall.

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Day four was fairly solid. The stage began with a mtn bike mass start. Again we had some issues on the bike… Poor Sammy just couldn’t find his legs and it was a bit gutting to drop off the leaders so early. We worked hard as a team to keep with Thule. We were sitting in second in the overall standings, Thule were third. We had 4 mins lead, so the goal was to just keep Thule in sight and finish with them. That would be enough to keep us ahead overall. We worked hard on the bike to keep with them. This stage was great. I was loving the techy downhills and tough climbing, feeling good.

Onto the last leg of the race. A 33km mountain run. Talk about a good way to finish us off!! This was a tough leg. We were working as hard as we could to catch Thule but they had pulled away and we no longer could see them. Ahh!! We settled in and focused on what we could control, pacing ourselves smartly and hoping that Thule had gone out to hard. The final part of the run was a 3k GPS orienteering leg. I was a bit sluggish mentally entering this one (understandable right?) and plugged a wrong number into the GPS which we corrected eventually, but wasted a small amount of time that we really couldn’t afford. Another lesson learnt. Slow it down get it right and then start charging. The o section was fun once we got the hang of things with Sam and I leap frogging to plug GPS way points in. It was pretty dodgy running through the busy Chinese city with my head down trying to plug GPS coordinated into my watch while running… Thankfully Marcel acted as spotter, calling out turns and hazards. There was a fun rope traverse across a river at one of the cps. After finishing the orienteering we “sprinted” (a relative term at this stage of the race) the last stretch and down the finish chute. Huge relief and satisfaction always follows when you complete a challenging race,  but this was mixed with a feeling of disappointment when we heard Thule had put 6 minutes on us, meaning they had claimed 2 place over all and we were 3rd (2min behind after 4 days of racing. So close!).

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The slight bonus for us was that Raw Adventure had made a mistake and not collected the orienteering cps in order as per the rules. This meant they received a 30min (fairly harsh) penalty. This put them off the podium for the day and bumped us up to 3rd for the day. A small consolation bonus for us. I was glad the the penalty had no impact on the overall results, as Raw Adventure had raced really well, dominating the race and most certainly deserved the overall win. I’m looking forward to future battles with these guys!

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Overall Results

Baise 2016 results

Team O2B NZ will be heading back to China in mid June for the Pengzhou Adventure Challenge.

I can’t wait.

Great video from CCTV (China Central Television) Reporting on the race – click below

http://api2.gootrip.com/sharevideo/c60ec61c-4242-7cf4-c5b5-75ed8c2164a5.html?from=timeline&isappinstalled=0