I did great!
What a fantastic one day event the Anaconda Adventure races are. I won a competition that gave me free entry into all the Rapid Ascent events for a year so I rather foolishly decided to enter them all. Trying to fit in training and race preparation around work has been a real challenge so I was a little nervous about my ability to finish the event at all, let alone comfortably. I arrived in Noosa on the Friday, having taken a day off work, to give me as much time as possible to faff around and pack, un pack and re pack the transition bags, out the bike back together and generally soak up the spirit. What a great idea. Noosa is spec-bloody-tacular. Chrystal clear water, white sandy beaches and aprt from all the retirees and tourists, a nature lovers paradise.
I registered and picked up my race pack on the Saturday and watched the Anaconda Mini and Junior survivor. The Mini was a new event this year and, at half the distance, I started having a few second thoughts about the wisdom of entering the Sunday event… Why didn’t anyone tell me there was a half length option…….
It was a hoot watching the kids, more so because I ran into some old mates of mine who’s two sons were competing in the junior survivor. They both did really really well so that got be all fired up for the race on Sunday.
This was to be a linear race. I found the admin associated with packing the transition bags and dropping off the bike really tough. I struggled with it a little – after all I had to do the following:
- Put running gear in a bag.
- Put cycling gear in a bag.
- Drop off the bike to transition (about a 10 minute walk from the hotel)
This took me most of the afternoon on Saturday to plan.
Thankfully, I gave my self even more time on Sunday to finish off, waking up at quarter to 5 gave me exactly 2hrs 45 mins to finish off putting my running gear in a bag, putting my cycling gear in a bag and dropping my bike off to transition.
Anyway, I made it back to the start with about 10 minutes to spare and before I knew it I was dressed and ready to go. Being a newcomer and not yet fully up with race etiquette, I had no idea when was the appropriate time to have a nervous wee. As I had my wetsuit on, I decided to wait until at least I was in the water.
I caught up with Meaghan’s cousin Deanna at the start and she offered me some really good advice, echoing the words of my other sports psych coach – Ben Fogle:
Pace yourself and enjoy it.
“So yeah the swim course is pretty simple.. out past the buoy there… past the shark nets and round the point to the bay, out of the water, round the flag then back inside the shark nets to the buoy down the beach….”
Bloody hell! Shark nets!! What? What do you mean by “Past the shark nets”?
And we were away. Safety first I reckon: So I quickly re adjusted my race plan –
- Don’t get too far ahead of the pack
- Don’t wee alone – sharks can smell it.
Always positioning myself to be in the middle of the pack and making sure there were plenty of others around me when I weed meant that, despite the real and obvious presence of MAN EATING SHARKS!… I survived the swim. In fact I did alright and before I knew it I was stumbling up the beach towards the kayak.
Adventure racing tip: Take off the race bib before you try to take off the wetsuit.
Transition was a bit slower than it needed to be I guess. Still, it wasn’t too long and I was on my way up the beach towards the “Infamous Noosa Bar”. Arriving at the turn buoy, I was greeted my a mountain of a man on a ski encouraging me to come closer. He explained to me that I wasn’t trying to catch a wave, rather paddle in after one. Sounded simple. Before long he was yelling at me simple directions and ecouagement…
“Not this one, don’t you catch it!! Hang on! Don’t fall in now!!!”
“Come one!! Now!!! Paddle!!! Paddle!!!! Harder!! F#$ken PADDLE!!!!! GO GO GO!!!”
I went went went. Somehow I made it through. Its amazing how much harder I can paddle when someone is yelling at me to “Paddle F#$ken Harder!!!!!!”.
Once through the surf I paused to take in the scene, there were upturned skis, people swimming, rescue craft, zodiacs and jet skis all in the mix. There were even people scrambling along the rock wall trying to find their boats, or pieces of boats. Once into the river itself the paddle was uneventful. I caught up with a couple of fellow competitors who were doing their first adventure race. Both of whom played an important part in my enjoyment of the day. Michael and Dyson would over take me and me them throughout the day and by the finish we were all offering encouragement along the way.
The mountain bike leg was great and I had thought that it would be my favourite. As I have been training a lot for the Surf Coast Century, I knew I had the running legs to do the 14 km ok. So I thought I’d ‘give it some’ on the bike. The ride out of Tewantin was great and before long we were on fire trails and some fantastic single track through to LakeMacDonald. Note without some drama though, the track proved to be a little sketchy in terms of track marking so there were a few turnarounds involved as people rejoined from all directions at one point. Still we all ended up getting through ok. I made up a heap of time on the bike and was really enjoying it. So much so I was really surprised when I ended up going over the bars and crashing really heavily in a dry creek bed. By far the biggest off I have had for quite a while. For a moment I thought I was done. A few riders came past (Each of them offering to help but I was still confused as to how I was going to get moving again).
Eventually I stopped thinking and decided on brute force. While steel is heavier it does bend back again so I was able to bash the thing back into shape and finish the ride. A little sorer for the crash and a lot more attentive to the trail. Having been passed by Michael and Dyson while conducting trackside repairs I was third in the “race within a race”. I caught each of them again just before the end of the ride and thought I might have enough left in the tank to get further ahead in the run. By now, the race was well and truly on – did I mention that Dyson was an Ironman Triathlete and Michael was younger?
The 14 km trail run took us up a big hill, some called it undulating and it is listed as a mountain on the map. I got past Michael early on the run and decided to have a crack at trying to run down Dyson, both of whom were much faster than me in the paddle so I knew I’d need a good lead if I were to cross first. On video I called it the larger of the hill climbs a Friggin big hill. was a bit of an understatement for me now looking back,. Still, the run down was fast and exciting and pretty scenic. Finishing with a run back through the Tewantin burbs to the transition area again to get back into the Kayak.
I got into the kayak pretty well ahead of Michael and Dyson and hoped to hold them off. The kayak leg was a lot harder than it needed to be, the wind had turned and we were almost beating directly into it for most of the paddle. (None of us were smart enough to paddle over to the far right hand side of the river for shelter either just quietly). As expected Dyson paddled past me about mid way and I tried to stick with him. I didn’t see Michael but knew he couldn’t have been much behind me. With only a short run to finish it was going to go down to the wire. It seemed to take hours but soon enough I got to the final transition and Surprisingly, I arrived only a couple of metres behind Dyson. I left well ahead of him though (He actually met up with some supporters and was having quite a chat when I made my escape).
The final run was a flat beach run up to the finish. Time to enjoy the sense of achievement and savour the moment. Which I did until I realised that there was a team of 4 young men just ahead of me. Steeling myself for the challenge I ran myself into the ground, determined to finish with or just ahead of them. Which I did.
Shortly after I finished Dyson rolled in grinning from ear to ear. Michael was a couple of minutes behind him and had obviously earned his finish. Competitors rolled through for an hour or so after, all shapes and sizes and combinations of individuals, old and young, and teams.
After the race I rested up with a mate from my Army days and tied one on in the Surf Club. By ‘tied one on’ I mean I drank three beers ate a burger and went home by 830.
Overall, the Anaconda Adventure Race Noosa was fantastic, I worked hard for the finish and surprised myself with my improvement in a couple of legs. I took out the championship of the world between me Michael and Dyson and now, a few days after the event, the bruises from the crash are fading, the blisters from the paddle are healing and I am looking forward to the next one.
- One month to go til the start of the 2012 National Adventure Racing Series (banzaiadventurer.wordpress.com)
- Introducing Australia’s “other” other least known adventure racing team… (banzaiadventurer.wordpress.com)
- A Rather Rad Day Out – Salomon Trail Run and Melburn Roobaix (banzaiadventurer.wordpress.com)