In 2011, I completed my first Anaconda Adventure race. I remember the awesome feeling of hobbling over the line with Os and Meaghan (You might recognise them as founding members of Australias Least Known Adventure Racing Team – Tuesday Night Parmas. Then again… you may not). Sore as hell but totally chuffed to have completed an epic race. I had no idea at that time what the year ahead had in store for me…
In Feb I won a competition that gave me free entry to some of the best events around Australia. Since then I have completed a trail running series, a 100km Ultra Marathon, a Multisport race in WA and all three of the Anaconda Adventure Race Series Events – Noosa, Augusta and most recently Lorne.
I have met some incredible people along the way. Folk who have provided me real inspiration. The kind of hair standing on end, goosebumps, bubble in the throat and tears in the eye inspiration that comes from surrounding myself with people who believe in themselves and believe in me. World champions, National champions, the toughest of the tough mudders, hippies, doctors, salesmen, IT nerds, mechanics and dockside workers. All prone to suffer the need to occasionally get out “there”, beyond the hygienic transition areas of the local triathlon series and dare I say it.. beyond even the cafe racers on Beach Road on Saturday morning.
The race at Lorne this month was no different. I found myself again toeing the line with people from all walks of life. Stepping rather nervously into the channel beyond the pier at Lorne on Victoria’s spectacular Surf Coast. This time round though, I was pretty sure I was going to finish. I was not that confident this time last year. In fact, truth be known I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This year, I knew what to look forward to – I even had a support crew. My dear friend Erica came down to lend a hand.
For support crew duties at Anaconda Lorne 2013, I award Erica a gold star.
The race starts with a 1.9km open water swim. This year (thankfully) the conditions were not quite as challenging as last year.
Here’s a quick video of last year – anyone that was there will happily tell you that the video does not do it justice. The sea was angry that day my friend.
I spoke briefly to a guy at the start who had also won a Rapid Ascent Golden Ticket. He told me that this year he too had run his first 100km and this was his first Adventure Race. We both agreed that Rapid Ascent probably had no idea how powerful a gift a golden ticket really is. I also ran into Chris Walker. This was the last event before he and Tracy take off to ride from Cairo to Capetown (That’s right folks – they are crazy).
Well the swim took it out of me. I have been doing a lot of travel lately and have not really put much effort into my preparation. So my form was a little worse than normal – so I was a little surprised not to be offered a rescue to be honest.
A great shot of the kayak line. (Thanks Tracy for this photo).
After the swim, the paddle. Again, due to rising swell and winds, the course had been changed to make sure no one came too far unstuck. On the paddle I caught up with Chris and we paddled together for about half a lap until I lost sight of him. Judging by the massive grin on his face, he was having a ball.
Another great shot from Tracy. That wave did seem bigger on the day..
Running in from the kayak I was starting to feel pretty good. I was really looking forward to the trail run. A quick hi five from Erica on the way out and I was away. The run is a real hoot. I was having so much fun in the first beach section that I lost concentration and went down pretty hard. It must have looked pretty bad though because a couple of competitors coming the other way (14km ahead of me after 2 legs) grunted and “ouched”. As soon as they saw that I was ok though they laughed their arses off. That’s ok though, I was giggling too. Then Tracy appeared with a camera, so quick as a flash I straightened up and tried to look the part. Thankfully, she missed the stack completely. She told me that Chris was about 10 minutes behind me. I know he is pretty quick on the bike so I thought, if I could get away a little on the run, this could get pretty interesting..
Tracy just missed my stack. I was probably still grinning when she took this though.
I met a girl on the run who told me she couldn’t swim 50 m in January when she had decided to do this race. What a star. This is the thing about these races, real inspiration is often just ahead, or just behind you, no matter where you are in the pack.
Then the run was over. Another quick hi five with Erica and I was off on the bike. Having done the race last year, I knew what was coming. Quite a lot of time pushing my bike up a really big hill. This time round I rode a lot more sensibly. Conserving as much in the legs as I could for when I needed them. I’m not sure it made any difference, that hill is just really really tough. What goes around definitely comes around in off road events. I had an opportunity to pay back a debt of mechanical aid (From Wombat a couple of years ago). This time, I had the chain breaker and spare links AND the know how of how to use them. It was a really nice feeling. Inevitably, Chris passed me on a steep uphill section of the bike leg and he was gone. I thought I might catch site along the final run leg but I’m pretty sure by then he was already downing a cold beer.
The final run section came and went and before I knew it I was finished. Almost an hour quicker than last year. in 2011, I was struggling to get both legs off the ground at once, this year I was able to jog a comfortable pace the whole way up the beach.
While I did actually have a flare in my pocket, I was also just glad to see the support crew.
Then, just like that… my participation in the Anaconda Adventure Race National Series was complete. Lorne was also the very last of the Anaconda Adventure Races. Since it’s inception, this race has been known as “The Anaconda”. Now that there is a sponsor change, I wonder what will be there in its place. Having now done a lot of Rapid Ascent Events I am sure about one thing – it’s likely to be pretty rad.
So what have I learned in the 12 months between my first and last Anaconda Adventure Race?
Support crews still have no idea how important they are to competitors
There is room in a busy corporate lifestyle for Adventure Racing – you just need to be really disciplined with the work life balance. If there isn’t room, or you lack the discipline, one of the two is going to fail.
If your preparation matches your expectations you will do really well.
So here I am at the end of 2012. A year that I have used to reset the work life balance in my favour. Mostly I think I’ve done that pretty well. Looking into 2013 I am excited by what lays ahead. I am sure that I will be poorly balancing work and life soon enough, but for now, I’m really looking forward to a break. Thank for reading my blog and commenting along the way. Stay safe and have a great holiday break.
See you bigger and badder in 2013.