Looking back over the 2019 racing season, it’s been a real mixed bag of results for myself and team Rogue. I know we are only just now reaching the end of October, but given that I’ve effectively run my last race for the year, I thought it would be nice to get in early with my end of year race wrap and kick up the feet for a bit. It’s certainly been an odd year with a lot less racing than I would typically do. The focus has been on the Mountain Designs Adventure 1 series with a few satellite adventure races as well. Indeed, I didn’t race a single trail running race, foot rogaine, orienteering event or expedition race this year!
On paper, the final tally of results look great and if you had offered it up at the start of the year I would have jumped at them as a successful tilt for 2019. A total of five outright race wins and second overall for team Rogue in the national series for the second year in a row was a fantastic result. However, I still feel like there is big room for improvement in my own personal race performances and it is certainly motivating heading in to 2020 after a bit of a break.
So let’s have a look at the year that’s been.
Alpine Quest (January) – DNF
The race season kicked of very early with the Alpine Quest adventure race in the Falls Creek area in January. The format was an interesting one with a 6 hour prologue stage on the Friday followed by a 36 hour race on the weekend. The only time I’d been down to Falls Creek was for the Bogong to Hotham trail race which was cancelled a couple of days out due to extreme heat and fire danger. As someone who hates the heat, I was praying we wouldn’t see a repeat of these conditions, but it wasn’t to be. The thermometer hit 43C on the drive to race HQ and conditions were pretty grim for someone who prefers colder races. The team raced really well in the prologue race, but I cooked in the main 36 hour event, eventually pulling the pin on a race for the first time in almost a decade. Being the root cause for the team’s DNF was hard to deal with – you can read more about the race in my report here. Not a great result to the start of the season. It should be noted that this DNF was also the reason that Dan and Ali did not make the cut for the A1 Grand Slam club as the only people in Australia to race all 5 events in the series in 2019.
Max Adventure Race Sunshine Coast (March) – First overall
With a free entry in hand for the Max Adventure race on the Sunshine Coast, it was time to return to where it all began for me 13 years ago. The Max Adventure sprint race (formerly the Kathmandu AR and then Paddy Pallin AR) is the perfect beginners race. The course is almost pancake flat, there is minimal paddling and the navigation is very straight forward. However, it also makes for some fast and furious racing for more experienced teams where any little mistake is punished. I was joined by trail running buddy Thor Harrison racing together for the first time. After a wobbly start on route to the second foot check point, we dropped the hammer and climbed back through the field over the subsequent ride and kayak legs to take and hold the lead to the finish with the overall win.
The Raid 100 (April) – Team Rogue second overall
Part of the reason I had been racing less this year was the time and effort put into running the Raid 100: the world’s first rogaine-format, expedition-length adventure race. It was an ambitious undertaking made all the more trickier with some last minute hurdles thrown our way with course changes resulting from the severe drought and bush fires experienced by the area in the lead up to the race. Ultimately it all came together for what I think was a fantastic course. All teams raced the event in the spirit it was intended with the vast majority of competitors making it to the finish line on an epic journey from Giraween National Park all the way back to the Gold Coast. It was also pleasing to see the Rogue team made up of the Delaneys and the McLachlans secure second place overall and notch up a result in the Adventure1 series. As the race organiser, it was one of the most exhausting weeks of my life: it would almost have been an easier task racing it instead! However, I had some fantastic support from an amazing crew of volunteers and learnt a lot in the process. In fact, everything went so well that we’ll look to do it all again – the Raid 100 will return with an all new edition in early May 2021. Catch up on all the action from the race in the wrap up report here.
Team Rogue has tried to capture some of the emotion, pain and challenge of the Raid 100 in this video. Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!
Posted by Rogue Adventure on Thursday, 2 May 2019
8 Hour Cyclegaine (May) – Second overall
In a desperate scramble to get fit again for the second half of the racing season, I entered the 8 hour cyclegaine hosted by the QRA in late May through the Glasshouse Mountains region. Again, it was a chance to team up with someone new racing with Cass Kimlin as a mixed team. We decided to take a relaxed approach to the event and enjoy the navigational challenge. We had a relatively clean run on the navigation, but never pushed it hard, so with such a competitive field it was a nice surprise to pick up second overall. As with any rogaine, it’s hard to gauge your final result until the race is run and done, so it did leave the question as to how we could have gone had we pushed hard the whole way – would it have been enough to secure the win or would it lead to more navigational mistakes or blowing up. In the end it was a solid and fun day out, so objectives achieved.
GeoQuest (June) – Sixth Overall
With GeoQuest acting as the third race in the A1 series, I was keen to have a strong race to make up for the disappointment of Alpine Quest. This was my 11th time racing at GeoQuest and with the typically cold weather, I feel like I have a good handle on what it takes to get through this race. I was also keen to race out of Yamba which was a location I had originally considered for the Raid 100. All hopes of going well though came crashing down a day and half before the race when I was wiped out with a case of Influenza A. I put the emergency call out to the team to find a replacement, but it just wasn’t possible on such short notice – it was either race or pull out and the team would start unranked. In the end I made the drive down to the race, curled up under a blanket and let the team handle all the briefings, map and gear prep. I then spent the next day and half suffering around the course just following the backs of my team mates. To be fair, there were some great moments out on the course, but I was again an anchor. With such a competitive field, we only managed a sixth place, but it least it was another score on the board.
Despite a nasty case of influenza, Team Rogue made it to the finish of #GeoQuestAR 2019. Thanks Wild & Co for a fun and challenging course. 🚁🎥 Fotogrāfija by Ben Cirulis
Posted by Rogue Adventure on Thursday, 13 June 2019
Wildfire Raid (July) – First overall
In July I had a late invite to join Gary Sutherland to race the Wildfire Raid at Mt Joyce. Knowing how much thought Adam puts into his course design and planning, I was pretty keen for this event, and it didn’t disappoint. Gary and I have never lost a race together and we kept our streak alive with the overall win despite under estimating our pace and dropping one or two check points early in the course and ultimately finishing with time in hand. It was great to have a strong race and get a good result under the belt: also a great reminder of how much fun the rogaine format adventure race is. The race wrap up can be found here.
Hells Bells (August) – Fourth overall
In August the team returned with the same line up from GeoQuest for what was my 11th Hells Bells. The race took in a linear journey from Baroon Pocket Dam through the Obi Obi Creek Gorge and down to the coast. We raced consistently with our share of good and bad luck and were the best of the rest to finish fourth overall and log another result in the Adventure1 series, moving ourselves up to fourth on the ladder. Catch up on the action with the race video below.
So busy deciding if we should drop the Elite Trek leg, forgot to take video footage 😬 Thanks Wild & Co for another great #HellsBellsAR – Happy to finish in 4th spot and get more sleep than the top three teams! Fun to race Thunderbolt AR all the way to the finish. Congrats to AA.
Posted by Rogue Adventure on Tuesday, 13 August 2019
Max Adventure Race Brisbane (August) – First overall
After our win earlier in the season at the Sunshine Coast leg of the Max Adventure sprint series, Thor and I took our free entry to race the Brisbane leg at Enoggera Dam. 2019 was the second year for this edition of the race. I didn’t have any expectations going into this race, but I had a ton of fun at the event. There was plenty of variety with a lot of discipline changes and fast racing. It was great to race somewhere close to home in an area I was familiar with from training and course setting the 2018 Rogue Raid. To top a fun day off, we also managed the overall win. It was great to see so many unfamiliar faces in the 120 team field racing a sprint race – Max Adventure definitely have a winning formula.
Roger Guard Half Marathon (September) – 1:41
In 13 years of adventure racing, rogaining, orienteering and trail running, I’ve never done a road race before. The Toowoomba road runners hosted a one-off running festival for the opening of the range bypass with the half marathon dedicated to Paul Guard’s father, Roger. With a crew from our Brioche trail running group, we made the trip up for the race. Unfortunately, we all missed the official start, but it did mean we got to run through the field starting a couple of minutes late which was a great motivator. For a road course it was challenging with a steady climb and stiff head wind. A time of 1:40:50 was good for 20th place in a field of around 360 runners. Would I make a habit of running road races? Probably not, but it was great to just rock up to a race without any of the usual faffing around with a ton of gear and marking maps and great to hang out with the Brioche crew. I can definitely see the appeal.
Mojo Raid 6 Hour (September) – First overall
After winning the full 12 hour Mojo Raid the past two years, I decided to take a step back and try something different with the 6 hour version which meant I could knock the race off in a day and be home in time to log some family time. The Mojo crew offered up a solo option for the 6 hour course which seemed like an interesting challenge and certainly helped to keep things logistically easy – it was also great to race on my own surf ski. After a pretty quick start to the race and being well up on time to sweep the course, things ground down to a crawl in the thick and rough terrain of “Scullies” property where it came time to start dropping CPs. Racing solo was a great challenge as it meant you had to stay in contact with the map 100% of the time and there was no opportunity to bounce strategic decisions off anyone. Six hours was definitely my limit though before I started to get lonely out there! Despite dropping a couple of bike check points towards the end and finishing with time in hand, I’d done enough to secure the overall win. Again, another super fun event and a reminder how great the rogaine format is for adventure racing. I can’t wait to see what the Mojo crew have in store as they enter the Adventure1 series in 2020.
Wildside (October) – First overall
Wrapping our season was the recent Wildside 36 hour adventure race. You can read more details on the team’s efforts here. We managed to back up our win from 2018 with the overall win again, with the result enough to leap frog us from fourth to second overall in the Adventure 1 national AR series and sweep up a decent little prize purse from series sponsors Mountain Designs. As I’ve observed previously, I feel the result is a reflection on our consistency as racing as a team and one I’m very proud of. A big congratulations to the Alpine Avengers team who are our new national champions. I’ve raced plenty of times with Sloshy before and even did an XPD with Gus, so I was stoked to see these guys take the win and I hope they represent Australia well at GODZone in 2020.
Written out like this, I guess it has been a pretty big season after all, particularly given the work gone into organising the Raid 100. I want to say a big thank you to all my team mates through out the year, particularly the Port Macquarie crew of Dan, Ali, Mish and Chris who make racing in the A1 series possible. Also thanks to my family for their support and all the event organisers and volunteers who promote these races.
So while a break is in order, it’s also probably appropriate to turn our heads towards the 2020 calendar. The Rogue Raid is already locked in heading to Brisbane’s Bayside on 2-3 May. We’ve a few surprises up our sleeve for this race and I think teams will be pleasantly surprised by this course for an area that is so accessible. Certainly it will have all the navigational and strategic challenge you’ve come to know from the Rogue24 and will return as the second race in the Adventure1 series.
It seems adventure racing is in a boom cycle again in Australia in terms of the number of races on offer: over 9 adventure races that are 24 hours or longer by my count are planned for 2020 in Australia alone. This also doesn’t include the entry of the Mojo Raid 12 hour race into the Mountain Designs Adventure 1 series, or the pending A2 state based series of sprint adventure races in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. I haven’t spoken to the rest of the team yet, but I’d be keen to have the team represented in the other Adventure1 series again if possible and try and chase one step higher on the podium if possible!
Beyond Adventure1, of the three AR disciplines it’s the trail running I’m enjoying the most at the moment. It would be great to get back and do a few more longer foot rogaines including a 24 hour again next year, or possibly even one or two 100km ultras. In saying that, it’s my mountain biking that I need to work on the most to hold it with the Rogue team in the A1 series, so I can see a definite benefit into putting more time in on the bike. A number of training mates are getting into bike packing events in a bigger way, so there is some appeal in that as well, and it would certainly be a different challenge. And of course, my favourite form of racing is the long format expedition style stuff in alpine country like at GODZone, so it wouldn’t take much convincing to lock in a big expedition race as the A goal for next year.
In saying all this, I definitely had the most type 1 fun in the sprint races in 2019 which is a format I haven’t really focused on for the past few years. However, during the longer 24hr – 48hr races, I had many dark moments hurting at 2am questioning why I was still busting myself up on these courses and what I had left to prove: definitely type 2 fun where the satisfaction sinks in much more slowly when the scratches have all healed. I think there could definitely be an argument for planning a few more non-competitive missions to some cool locations and leave all the hassled and pain of racing all behind. I suspect the fomo of a good adventure race would be all too real though. Anyway, let’s see what 2020 brings.