Although an adventure racer at heart, I’ve had a crack at a couple of multisport races in the past – the key differences in multisport being the absence of navigation and racing as a solo competitor on a pre-defined route. Generally a test of pure speed, a well thought out multisport course can still provide the feeling of a journey and can often explore the best bits of wilderness that an area has to offer.
In a previous post, I drew together a list of my top 5 dream international expedition races. In a similar vein, below is a list of “try before I die” multisport races – one for every state in Australia. Certainly the list is, if nothing else, a great excuse to go and explore some fantastic new areas. So, in clockwise order around the country:
Queensland – Ona Mission Multisport Adventure
Total Distances: 12km paddle, 19km run, 25km MTB
Location: Mission Beach and Dunk Island near Cairns
Time of Year: September
With the demise of the Bribie Island Multisport Race, there is a surprisingly lack of multisport race options for South East QLD racers outside of the Noosa Anaconda Adventure Race. Fortunately though, our Far North QLD cousins have picked up the torch with an array of different races to choose from. These include the James Grant Memorial Multisport Race with one of the most fun paddles I’ve done in any race, as well as the newly formed Adventurethon Races out of Townsville. However, making the top of this list is the Ona Mission Multisport Adventure. The course involves an ocean paddle over to Dunk Island, a run around the island with return paddle for a MTB ride and final run along Mission Beach.
New South Wales – Odyssey Rock to River Multisport
Total Distance: 21km run, 53km MTB, 21km paddle
Location: Blue Mountains from Katoomba to the Nepean River
Time of Year: July
A relative new race on the Multisport calendar, the Odyssey Rock to River Multisport will adopt a whole new course for 2013 which sounds like a spectacular journey through the Blue Mountains and along the Nepean River. It’s accessibility so close to Sydney and challenging course length saw this race just sneak in as a must do over some other excellent race options in NSW including the arduous Sri Chinmoy Multisport Classic in Jindabyne and the Forster Adventure Race, both of which also incorporate swimming into their courses.
Victoria – Upper Murray Challenge
Total Distances: 38km MTB, 26km paddle, 25km run
Location: Foothills west of Mt Kosicuszko on the Murray River
Time of Year: October
A generally linear course skirting the border of Mt Kosicuszko National Park, the Upper Murray Challenge is now entering its 10th year. The race starts off with a MTB ride with some steep pinches, a paddle down the flowing Swampy Plains and Murray Rivers (which must be a highlight of the race) and finishes with a run up over Mt Elliot.
Tasmania – Freycinet Lodge Challenge
Distances: Day 1 – 17km run, 12km paddle, 52km roadie, 24km MTB
Day 2 – 13km paddle, 35km roadie, 24km MTB, 14km run
Location: Freycinet, east coast of Tasmania
Time of Year: October
Tasmania is the home of some epic terrain and, justifiably, some epic multisport courses. An original on this list was the 3 day Cradle to Coast Multisport Challenge which contained some massive legs but is no longer currently running due to permit difficulties. Replacing it is another multi-day multisport challenge based in the equally spectacular Freycinet National Park area. The Freycinet Lodge Challenge also requires both a road bike and MTB, which increases the logistic difficulty, but I imagine the location would definitely make it worth the trip down.
Western Australia – Anaconda Adventure Race
Total Distance: 16km run, 2km swim, 13km paddle, 32km MTB
Location: Augusta, south western WA
Time of Year: November
It’s interesting to note that, while South Australia has almost no multisport or adventure races, its neighbour, WA, has a vibrant racing scene. This includes one of the largest multisport races by participant numbers in the world: the Augusta Anaconda Adventure Race. The Anaconda Adventure Race is the only truly national multisport series in Australia. With a tried-and-true format that typically includes an ocean swim, the series attracts the top multisport athletes from Australia and NZ. Running a close second for the wishlist was the Mainpeak Multisport Race, which interestingly is also run by the same Victorian based events company, Rapid Ascent.
Northern Territory – The Katherine Ultra Challenge
Total Distance: 3km swim, 18km run, 25km MTB, 11km paddle, 43km roadie
Location: Katherine region, NT
Time of Year: August
Let’s face it: Northern Territorians aren’t exactly spoilt for choice in the adventure racing stakes (although there does appear to be one Darwin based company looking to get some regular events off the ground). However, despite the lack of selection in races the Katherine Ultra Challenge looks like a cracker of a race and well worthy of its spot on this list. With the incorporation of swimming, road riding and road running, along with the usual gamut of kayaking, MTB and trail running, this race has a little of everything. The location in the Katherine Gorge region would also be completely unique. Plus who could pass up a race which has had it’s swim leg relocated in the past due to the risk of crocodiles travelling too far upstream out of season!
So there you have it. It would be great to pick one or two of these races every year to incorporate into an extended trip. The beauty of multisport races is that the courses very rarely change, so if you can’t make it one year, there is always next time. Have you raced any of these events? Any suggestions as to what would make your list? I’d be keen to hear.