So it’s a little late in coming, but I thought with the 2014 adventure racing season about to kick off in earnest, now is a good time to look back in review on the races that made up 2013. Last year was typified by a lot of tough, rough races for me. After some great races and results in 2012, I knew that I would have to wind back the amount of racing I was doing with a new bub in the family. This meant being more selective about the races I opted for, choosing those that would take me to new places and new adventures with different challenges.
After travelling to Victoria in January only to have the Bogong to Hotham 68km Trail Run cancelled due to extreme fire danger, the year officially kicked off with the Upside Down Rogaine in February in the England Creek area. Despite using this property for a trek leg in the original Rogue24 in 2010, I actually wasn’t that familiar with the map. Bec, Leo, Ray and myself teamed up as a training run for GODZone, and despite an off the map error in the tired hours of the morning, we finished as 2nd mixed team and 3rd overall. I also ticked off the Mt Glorious 22km Trail run for the third time in February, but despite the easier course as a result of a route change due to flood damage, this race still managed to hurt. A great run if you are looking to get some hills in the legs.
Next up was the big goal race of the year: the GODZone Adventure Race in New Zealand. A full report can be read here, however suffice to say that this race lived up to all expectations in terms of terrain, challenge, flow and logistics. It will be the benchmark that all other races are measured against. Naturally there were the inevitable low moments that come with every big race, but these have certainly faded in memory and serve only to make the overall achievement of crossing the finish line as a full coursed, ranked team all the sweeter. We came away in 15th place overall (2nd Australian team for what it’s worth).
Post GODZone recovery focus turned to organisation of the Rogue24 and Rogue8 Adventuregaine in April (report here). A sellout field of 80 teams took to the course in the Imbil State Forest and Borumba Dam areas. With live GPS tracking, online blogging of progressive results and electronic timing, the race pushed the frontiers of bringing rogaining to friends and family at home. A close run race at the front saw team RUSH edged out by team SCAR/GAEC for the overall win by just minutes. Preparations for the 2014 Rogue24 are already complete, and in a way I’m a little sad as I get the feeling it will be a tough ask to top this course in future races – I’m pretty excited about this year’s race.
A niggling calf tear had me laying low for May with just the Stroller-Metrogaine as a fun little event with the family – 2nd in the stroller category! The next big race was the GeoQuest 48hr adventure race in June (report here). This is my favourite race on the calendar and one not to be missed. Lining up with Leo, Sloshy and Lucas, it was probably the strongest team I’ve ever raced with. Going in a little underdone on the training and a little sick, it was a rough race for me. Regardless, it was another great course, finishing 4th overall and 1st mens team, achieving another long time goal of finishing in daylight on the second day of racing. I’ve just got my entry in for this year’s GeoQuest and the line up is already looking like the strongest field in the race’s history ever.
In early July I got the chance to run a new format of long course orienteering. This was a 21km orienteering course on the property that was the site of Darren and my 12hr rogaine champs victory in 2012. The race was a blast with open, off trail running and interesting navigation and a 3rd place overall result. I still think rogaining is the best bang for buck racing you can find, but the longer format orienteering and location warranted the 2hr drive out to event and I’d be keen to do another of these races.
August followed with the Hells Bells 24hr adventure race. The race made a welcome move under the management of Sloshy to a new location at Witta covering areas such as the Mary River, Kennilworth and the Conondale Great Walk. I had a hand in building the base maps for this race and it was great to see Sloshy bring some fresh enthusiasm to the race organisation. The race itself was long, tough and hilly, with some of the control placements quite tricky to find even when you were in the circle. Racing in a pair with Leo, I was always going to feel like the anchor on the team, but we managed a 2nd place overall and 1st male team for a very satisfying result. At the end of August I teamed up with Danielle to race the iAdventure 8hr AR at Ewen Maddock Dam. The course was essentially unfinishable, with a bunch of controls worth bonus points that would decide final rankings. Normally these more strategic formats of race would suite me, however despite navigating and running well, I was suckered in to going for one too many CPs and we arrived back to the finish late, losing all our bonus points. On reflection, we could have gone for up to 3 less CPs and still won the race comfortably with less effort, but that’s the nature of that format of race which makes it so interesting.
September saw no racing with travel for work and holidays in Switzerland while I watched on from afar as a number of friends competed at XPD in the Flinders Ranges. It was awesome to see Team Mountain Designs, including Sloshy and Leo who I’d raced GeoQuest with, take out the overall win. These guys will be a team to be reckoned with in 2014. In October, I finally got the chance to run TRAQ’s Washpool 52km Trail Run. The 5hr+ travel time from Brisbane makes this race a bit of a mission, but the location, trails and grass-roots organisation are well worth the trip. In fact this race was an unexpected highlight of the year. Given that I wouldn’t class myself as a runner by any stretch of the imagination, I had a good day out placing 8th overall in a time of around 5:20.
November saw two races, the iAdventure Sprint AR at Mt Crosby (1st male team, 2nd overall) and In2Adventure’s Darkside 18hr Adventure Race at Twin Waters (3rd mixed, 4th overall). To be honest, I found both courses to be underwhelming, covering overly used race locations with little in the way of navigational challenge, route choice and off trail travel. I also didn’t have a very good performance at either race, however, which probably doesn’t help with my appreciation of the events.
December included the organisation and running of the Urban Rogue, a 3hr Metrogaine in the heart of Brisbane (report here). The race had an excellent turn out with over 150 competitors, more than a third of which were novice teams. Given its success I suspect I’ll look to run this event again in 2014. The 2013 race calendar was capped off with a trip to Victoria for the X-Marathon 24hr Adventure Race with Leo (report here). The Adventure Junkies put on a well organised event and a fantastic course and I’d highly recommend this race to anyone in QLD looking for the next big challenge. It was also a very tough race, and another rough one for me, finishing 4th place overall (and the last team on the full course) in a time over 22hrs.
Reading back over the list of races, 2013 turned out to be a pretty full calendar with a number of events ticking the boxes of being interesting and adventurous courses in new locations. Although I felt like I had a few rough races, results were ultimately not that bad. Regardless, I’m already looking forward to having a bigger and better year in 2014. The year has already kicked off with a great run in the Upside Down rogaine, where Russ and I were pipped at the post for a win by just over 4 minutes with a tied score with team Mountain Designs. GODZone is the next big goal and is already upon us next week – more on that shortly. I haven’t looked much beyond GODZone and GeoQuest this year. I’m certainly after a new challenge in the second half of the year, whether it be a different multisport race or trail run, or hopefully Fully Rad Adventure’s expedition race if it gets off the ground.
One note I’d like to finish on is a big thankyou to all the people that I raced with in 2013, in particular Leo Theoharis who put up with me for most races, but also Ray, Bec, Sal, Lyla, Sloshy, Lucas, Danielle, Nina and Shaun. It is ultimately the team mates that you share these experiences with that make adventure racing such an addictive sport. Roll on 2014!