This year we welcomed a new member to Thunderbolt. Robbie Savage is one of the large crew of competent and experienced Victorian adventure racers and we expected him to keep us old (unfit?) blokes (Hugh and Josh) honest. Kathryn was as hyped as ever and always kept us motivated and cheerful.
Preparation is everything they say, but for this race there was very little required apart from getting fit and bringing the right gear. Experience counts I guess and for this race it was all pretty straight forward. Josh spooked us the week before by saying he could not get out of bed because of a bad back. Not sure if he was just getting an excuse ready but it did not seem to slow him down much, even carrying a kayak.
The map prep was very straight forward as all the rogaine checkpoints were given out on course. It was to be a paddle swim to start and then ride up a big hill, run around a bit, then down another hill, run/ride around a bit more, then paddle, run, paddle and finally ride. Sounds easy enough – until we talk about ….
The original date for Terra Nova did not work as there were too many closures and landslides due to the big east coast floods. It was wet again, but not quite that wet. Being September it was also a bit cold, particularly on the top part of the course above the escarpment. We planned on staying warm so packed a few extra bits of clothing, but it was barely enough and most of us broke out our mandatory thermals by the end of the first bike leg.
Our race went pretty well. We kept moving (mostly) but had a few noteable moments.
- On the first river leg (which was a swim/wade leg where we could bring our choice of inflatables to help is float faster) started ominously when Kathryn’s $5 lilo went flat in the first 100m, followed pretty closely by the other three. It was a slow swim at times but fortunately most of it was wadable and we did not waste any time deflating for the pretty river/canyon trek to TA1.
- We went to the wrong lookout near Fitzroy Falls (which one is the East Lookout when the cliff face runs north south?), but worked that out pretty quickly. We may have mislead the Half team that was with us as they were getting changed when we hoofed it to the correct lookout. Sorry team 57 – hopefully you figured it out quickly.
- The bike/trek rogaine was the crux of the course with 10 CPS most of which required off track nav. We messed up 5 of them and lost quite a bit of time to the chasing pack. We did the hike a bike bush bash which was very slow, but still probably worth it as it was a long ride around. For the record we did help out a team that missed one of the CPs when marking their maps. They looked cold and miserable so we had to say yes – but if we had known they were actually battling us for the lead we might have thought about it harder!
- The shortened course was quite welcome given the rogaine took us 5hrs (vs 2hr predicted fastest time). We don’t mind a hard race but were happy to get out of the rain and conscious the teams behind would be out there a lot longer than us.
- Packing warm paddle gear made the paddle quite pleasant, quite the contrast to the last ride in bucketing cold rain, but it was almost the finish so that was OK.
We were happy to get to the finish first given we were not focusing on the result. We had fun overcoming the usual challenges and were thankful that we did not have any major gear issues in the muddy conditions.
Kathryn was making the odd comment about her hand being sore (which we all pretty much ignored because she did not complain loudly enough). It turns out she chipped a bone in the first leg wading down the rocky creek so she did have reason to complain!
Well done to Chris for getting the 3rd edition of Terra Nova done despite the weather being truly against him. The volunteers were absolutely fantastic given most of them spent a long time standing around in the cold and rain. They still managed to cheer us on and sound excited to be there!
Oceania Champs might be next for us – so hopefully that will warmer and drier. Can’t wait (well maybe we can as I need to get a bit fitter).