We made a relatively late decision to race at the inaugural Terra Firma event to be held at Jervis Bay on the NSW South coast. The different venue was appealing as was simply doing a race after what has seemed like months of disruptions due to fires then floods. We were also keen for a hit out before Expedition Africa scheduled for early April (more on that later). With Josh not racing we roped in Ian Franzke and Simon Manson. Ian had raced a bit in recent times, but it was to be Simon’s first adventure race in 11 years!
The dreaded CV-19 was beginning to make its mark in the even lead up so there was a bit of uncertainty due to that. Chris and the Wild&Co team took what seemed like sensible measures to address the risk at the time, but restrictions have got a lot tighter since the race.
With it just being a 24hr race it was pretty simple to prepare for. We were a little surprised to look at the maps and find no checkpoints. They were to be given out as we went. This made the 1.5hrs we had to prepare very long time but we did manage to fill it with a bit of fiddling around and route speculation. The weather had not been super friendly the morning of the race and a bit of rain (no problem with that) combined with a pretty fresh southerly meaning the first kayak leg was cancelled. More coasteering instead.
Legs 1, 2 & 3 – Trek
Without the kayaking this turned into one long trek leg. As always the pace was a bit silly from the start and we (Hugh in particular) just hung on for dear life, generally clawing back a bit of ground at the CPs. It got a bit tricky when we left Hyams Beach to get across to St Georges Basin as the track did not go where it was marked on the map. Faced with a choice between bush bashing where the track was meant to go and following a good track in the wrong direction, we chose the bush. It was pretty slow going but direct and we end up slightly ahead of the teams that took the long way around.
Leg 4 – MTB
This leg was a short ride to take us out to Murray’s beach. The CPs were pretty straight forward and we got there without any hiccups. There were a few half teams and pairs with us but we left TA just as the other teams of 4 began arriving. A slender lead …
Leg 5 – Trek
This rogaine leg was likely to be the crux of the race with 8 CPs about half of which were off track, but not very far. We did not read the instructions on the mark up maps well enough and were not 100% sure how many CPs we needed to get. We had the race notes with us and checked them and it said get them all – so that is what we did. We found out after the race that the instructions with the maps said we could have dropped one. This may have saved us 10mins or so but luckily it was not race defining. We had a minor hiccup going to the wrong hill for the first off track CP but Ian’s eagle eyes sorted that out quickly and we were back on track. We kept the pace up as much as we could and saw a few teams doing the loop in the other direction, but did not really know how we were placed. We transitioned reasonably quickly and were on the road before anyone else got in – so we had a small lead still.
Leg 6 – MTB
This leg took us in and out from the coast line south if Jervis Bay a couple of times. The tracks were generally good and there were not many big hills so the going was fast. Once again it was trouble free finding CPs and we kept the pace up. There was a split CP on the end of an out and back section so this would tell us where the competition was. We saw our friends from Alpine Avengers plus a mens pairs team shortly after we got back from the split CPs (ie the team was able to split up to collect two CPs on foot – which took about 10 mins) and deduced our lead to be about 20mins. There was plenty of opportunity to mess things up so we tried to keep focused and fast. At the end of this leg we were advised the wind was still too strong and the second kayak had been shifted to more sheltered waters near the finish.
Leg 8 (out of order!) – Trek
After a pretty relaxed but efficient transition we were back running and some of us were feeling the effects of the earlier pace! The first CP on this leg (CP12) involved finding our way through a myriad of overgrown and unmarked tracks which was a little tricky. We took care and found the CP straight away which was a bit of a relief. The rest of the leg was much more straight forward, even in the dark.
Leg 7 – Kayak
We were given the revised paddle leg at the “finish”. It was a straight forward paddle up the river and back and we managed it without any problems (other than Simon complaining about how uncomfortable and slow the Spirit kayaks are – the rest of us were used to that!).
So we finished after 11 hours of racing and ended up about 30mins in front of Alpine Avengers. We were extremely happy with the result and getting almost a full nights sleep.
Then it was back to reality and absorbing the global progression of the Covid-19 pandemic. A week later as I finish this report it seems an eternity ago and we were incredibly lucky to get the race done. Well done to Chris and the Wild&Co team for making it work and adapting the course to the weather on the fly. Event organisers across the globe have been challenged by this virus, but this a tiny inconvenience in comparison to the broader impacts it is having. There will be no Expedition Africa this year and hopefully we can get back to our sport some time soon, but for now we will need to focus on doing the right thing to contain the virus and ensure our friends and family have the help they need.
Our race video is here.
Thanks as always to our friends and supporters including Aussie Grit Apparel.
Hopefully you will hear from us soon.