Adventure Race (MD's ARA) 5:03:56 
MD’s ARA with Wil and Saz,
We rolled down Saturday arvo to spend the night at Nanga, Rach and I went for a little walk down to the river in the fading light and saw a CP, in the spirit of the race we didn’t go and look at the code on it much to my regret on Sunday. Talking to Andrew who went for a paddle he said he saw about 6 on his travels so we just assumed it was a paddle CP.
Waking up Sunday to a chilly morning was a bit rough, stripping down to race clothes was even rougher and I was contemplating starting in a cape.
We were going to follow the same system as last year with Wil navving the runs, Saz navving the rides and I got the etag. From the gun we took off in the lead then went past a right fork which might have led down to the control I saw the day before, I stopped and started to head back up to it to check but Wil thought we should keep going so I followed. It is still worth it every year to see the confusion on peoples faces as the bloke in the lead stops and starts heading back the other way. I am going to make a point of doing it again next year.
After a bit of faffing about where the control was supposed to be we went up to the other control which of course was the right one and punched it in about 5th. The really keen teams went straight to the closest log and crossed the river straight into a wall of blackberries, we went a little further upriver till we could see a fallen tree that we could use to avoid the worst of the thorns and crossed in some very cold water. Made it to CP2 in first place with Jon and Jude plus Mundels team in hot pursuit. Mundel went past on the jog to TA3 but they had a different leg next so we were first into the boats and a speedy transition gave us a handy lead.
Paddling upriver was hard work but other than one submerged rock that I managed to hit square on we didn’t have too much difficulty. Wil had the role in the front and he wasn’t too keen when Saz and I got the boat up to ramming speed heading in to a really bushy CP. We were kind enough to stop just before he got a mouth full of tree. It was much easier to head down stream and we got to have a rest and a bite to eat whilst checking out the competition. We had a nice gap on the eventual second placed team and we only splashed them a little on the way past.
On the bikes briefly before Saz’s map board came loose and since I had the backup I got promoted into Nav duties. So I took us up the steepest hill I could find to CP4…. It was much more fun coming down but I decided to have and excursion into the bushes on the way down, thankfully landing on some soft pine needles rather than the blackberries that lined the trails. The rest of the ride leg was nice and we started to peg back the male teams on the hill up to TA9.
Out on the first run we slightly overshot the hilltop control and got led back into it by one of the male teams, we got a move on after that and collected the rest before the long trudge back up to the TA. I had to pop some painkillers here to quieten the glute down. Back on the bikes and it was a downhill blast back to the river with some quick stops for two CP’s. The second could have been a bit tricky to find if another team hadn’t called out when they found it.
Into our first of many attempts at Tom’s crossing I did the gentlemanly thing and offered to carry Saz’s bike. I wasn’t even halfway across before realising that I was in trouble and needed to give her bike back. Unfortunately I had somehow got the saddles interlocked behind my head so I came very close to following Fletch downstream before Saz managed to disentangle me. Back in to TA to see all of the Raw competitors waiting to paddle and a stellar volunteer TA crew keeping a ton of racers in line, this was possibly the busiest TA I have ever seen at a race and they did a great job.
Off on the rogaine leg we originally plotted a route that collected all of the southern controls but just before we left TA Wil changed his mind and sent us up to the top of the highest hill on the map instead. It was the best route choice and made us a bag of time so we forgave him for it. But we waited until after we had trudged up the hill to CP4 AGAIN before forgiving him. Coming back down the hill we lost the trail and ended up going cross country, we saw Jon and Jude again at the bottom which had us concerned about how close they were. No idea really. Off to collect on CP on the southern side which involved two more river crossings, Saz took a dip on the first one and I laughed at her. The I took a dip a the exact some spot which she fortunately didn’t see, the guy on water safety laughed extra hard to make up for it though.
Off on the big ride loop we took a clockwise route but I was dreading the first big climb, at the first CP we met the leading blokes team who we couldn’t shake for the rest of the race and we all trudged partway up towards CP E….. and then ran out of track. Bugger. Where did it go? We ended up heading north to the main road then cutting cross country to avoid the OOB road before riding back to the CP, I don’t think we lost much in the process though but we were now with a bunch of teams that we stayed with for the next 3 CP’s before getting a jump on them at the last one with a sneaky punch and slip away while they are still looking for it. Back into TA12 for one last punch and then off to HQ, the trails were pretty confused through there and I took us on a merry chase through the camp, we got there eventually.
The blokes team got a jump on us as we changed shoes for the final leg so we thought they were long gone but they managed to pop up just before the first control to follow us in, they almost caught us on the way to CP 15 but my height came in handy to punch the one in the river as I took my last dunking for the day, we split up again looking for the last control but after we spent a while hunting in the wrong patch of bush we saw the CP and the other team at the same time, a nice sprint finish ensued that we just won to collect line honours, but not the fastest time for the day. It was fun to have another team to race against even if they weren’t in our division.
We were just cooling down when the lead solo’s came through; it was good seeing Rach lead the field out on the last leg with Jen in
hot lukewarm pursuit.
Good course, I think better than the Teva’s but I was getting sick of crossing that river, if the levels had of been higher (i.e. normal for that time of year) it would have been very interesting.