Race report Mainpeak Multisport 2012
It won’t do the day credit but here is a short video of the day that Team TBA took on Mainpeak Multisport 2012
I was lucky to make it to Perth at all. My airport debacle in Melbourne nearly caused me to miss the plane. I can imagine Ben’s response if I were to call him and say “Hey buddy… I missed the plane… you have to do the lot…”
We spent the first night drinking a few beers and catching up. I’ve known Ben for a few years and although we’ve spent more time in different states (and countries) than we’ve actually spent in the same state, he’s a good mate. And he’s a big unit. Standing at just under 7 foot tall I was confident he would bring the street cred to Team TBA that was so obviously lacking in my 6ft, 75 kg presence. (Yes I may have just rounded up to the nearest 5 kg).
We headed along to the race brief at Mainpeak Cottesloe and ran into Phil then back to the pub for a few beverages. A total of 3 each and we called it a night!!……more on that a bit later.
The next day was our only chance to prepare for the race together. While I scarpered out and caught up with a bunch of mates from the 90s and talked about grunge, Pearl Jam, Girls and that rather magical endless summer of the early nineties, Ben went about fixing his paddle, packing the car and sorting out the team stores for the race on Sunday. Coming back, all excited about our adventure, I discovered Ben with the telltale creases of a man who was woken up sleeping on the couch – this may have had something to do with the beers he had the previous night, confirming that he’s worked a lot harder on his run fitness than his piss fitness! To his credit he did manage to pack most of the gear in the car and sorted out all of our pre race admin (i.e. put the timing chip and race bib on the kitchen table so we didn’t forget it) while I was out at a BBQ. So then we were packed and away.
Arriving in Toodyay we checked in to the hotel and sauntered down to the front bar. What a strange sight. A City Slicker bucks night was tearing the place up while a group of non drinking multisport athletes were eating chicken Parmas and going to bed early. One of those not drinking was Phil. He was supported by his brother and good mate. The conversation with those three cats was an absolute highlight of the weekend. Further reinforcing for me that these events attract people from all walks of live with a few really powerful things in common. Ben and I were really inspired by Phil and his support crew stories and humbled by the fact that there we were talking to an Ironman who was feeling the same kind of excitement and nerves as us. Mind you, that realisation also had us packing our dacks. An Ironman!! What had we committed to?…!
So, before we went to bed, Ben and I read through the race program again. I think this was mostly Bens idea. For those that don’t know me well, you should know that I have a particularly bad memory… really. I kept forgetting about Bens run leg between my ride and his paddle. I think he was starting to get nervous about my ability to get the kayak to where it needed to be….
Apart from an awkward moment where I got up and thought I was late for work and got all confused when I woke up in a strange bathroom and giggled myself silly, waking up Ben and causing another fitful nights sleep ahead of the race… the night was uneventful.
Race day dawned and before we knew it we were at the start… and we had a plan… Take it easy and make sure we finish and look good for the photo at the end (as you’ll see Ben forgot this bit). At the start line I met John a young WAFL footballer who had taken this on as his first big event. A little nervous about the long day ahead but excited to be there and giving it a go.
Count down.. Then we were away!!! Run….. Hills…. Run…. Hills…. Walk… Run. I finally spoke to the strong runner from Team 162 who reassured me that that was the last hill before the descent to the bike transition. She had been absolutely kicking my butt up every hill for 7 km. So on we ran to the bikes.
Ben was there at TA and he had found my arm warmers and laid them out for me “just in case” and lined up a banana next to my bike shoes “just in case”. Then we were away on the bike. I felt like I was going backwards. So many good cyclists passed me throughout the ride that I felt like I was under done. I knew I had the endurance but felt I lacked the power in the legs, particularly when getting passed by small groups going much much faster than me.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to little ole me on the treadly, Ben was having his own little adventure trying to find the next transition. Despite spending his early years with the cub scouts Ben simply forgot the motto of Be Prepared. A map wouldn’t have gone astray and a special apology to the folks who followed Ben for a solid 15k’s thinking he knew where he was. Luckily, I suppose, the ride was enough of a distance to give Ben the time to circumnavigate the state and finally find the transition.
I made it though, even through the last 5 km of undulations into the transition. Ben was there to catch my arrival and before long we had swapped bib and timing chip and he was gone. I didn’t even have a chance to thank him for the water and for passing over the keys.
By now the temperature was on the way up. Nudging 30 degrees I was baking, conditioned to Melbourne, I felt like I hadn’t seen the sun for months. Not a warm sun anyway. My job now was to navigate to the next transition area. I was genuinely surprised to see the kayak still on the car. Weird hey… even though I had consistently forgotten about the run leg this is a little strange.. I mean… I just watched Ben run off… and he wasn’t holding a kayak.
Anyway I found the transition area and before I knew it I was cheering Phil who rolled through still looking strong, powering through. For some context you have to try to picture this transition area… its hot.. and dry.. There were a number of people who stumbled in and called it a day.. spent. They had fought the trail and that day the trail had won.. By his account, Ben struck off down the track not really knowing what to expect (no reconnaissance!) but started out strong. The hills soon started to bite and a wrong choice in the hydration plan was beginning to take its toll.Meeting Paul in the in the final stages was the saving grace for Ben – inspiring how quickly a complete stranger can become the most important person in your world at the moment! A few encouraging words and a quick chat with Paul, and Ben was finally heading down to the finish. Almost at exactly the time that he had planned to roll in Ben came running down the hill.
To say he looked shady would be an understatement – a lot older than when he had left. The weather, hills and lack of fluids had taken a toll so we took the opportunity for a pause. Some food, water and conversation was all it took for him to steel himself for the next phase – 6km paddle through the infamous Bells rapids section of the Avon River.
Thankfully, by the time he left he was rehydrated, well fed and was set to go. I couldn’t think of many things more perilous than a paddle through rapids if your head’s not right. Then he was away. On the way back through the transition area I saw the carnage. There were a number of people who had not only called it a day but who were obviously in some distress. The Volunteer St Johns Medics were also having a long day. I anxiously watched the live updates to make sure Ben had cleared the Bells section and when I saw his split was fast, I raced down to the end to help him out of the water – another lazy 15km’s further down stream at Houghtons Winery. Again, coming across a few solo competitors on the water and having a chat made the final slog just that bit more bearable!
The scene at Houghtons was just as surreal as the run to kayak transition. Nervous support crews, families on picnics, and hangers on were down at the waters edge peering up river for a glimpse of the next paddler to come round the bend.
“Paddler coming!… .Number 11 (Peri Grey – First Female)…
“Go Peri – We love you because you‘re a Victorian”
“Paddler Coming….. Number 38 (Phil)”
“GO PHIL!!!!!!! You’ve made it mate!!!!!”
“…………………… Paddler Coming (114)”
“Ben!!! Where the hell have you been?!!”
“Talking to the ducks mate, what the hell do you reckon?!!!”
And that was it. One last 700 metre run to the finish and we’d done it. 133 km by foot, kayak and bike.
Right up to the time I left for the airport we couldn’t stop talking about it. We had conquered it. Even under tough conditions we had supported each other throughout and had worked together as good mates to go the distance. Yes… someone won.. someone even came second and third.. for all categories. But that doesn’t really matter… We finished. And for the record I believe we just might have been the only 3 man team with 2 men in it.
That means we won right?… Right?!
- Don’t drink so much beer in the lead up days before a long distance endurance event
- Read the instructions
- Rest when you need it
- Adventure is adventure is adventure… but it is better when it’s shared with a good mate.