9hr Spring Challenge – Golden Bay

4am – We were all up and completing our final race preparation. I was really excited and looking forward to racing with my Wellington teammates Nicole Ranger and Marta Zanetti. We were giving Marta her first taste of adventure racing and the course looked interesting. Mainly I felt that the hills looked smaller than last year and the navigation looked trickier with plenty of route choice. We set off on the hour drive to start line. The ‘kiss and drop’ really was that and we jumped out of the car, said our farewells and headed to the start line.

6am – It was start time! It was a short fast 1km run to the rafts. Craziness broke out at our raft with confusion over people taking the wrong life jackets. We were so eager than we nearly left without our raft guide! It was a long paddle this year so we kept a pace steady. We had some tussles with the raft in front of us, eventually took them down which meant our raft was sitting in 3rd place.

spring-challenge-rafting-3

Off the raft and onto the mountain bikes we went. It was a short ride mainly along four-wheel drive tracks. We had a smooth transition from the bikes onto the trek. This was the stage where we really had to watch our navigation. Nicole was our main navigator, I was the backup navigator and Marta was on the control card clipping. We focused on the navigation more than speed through this section. It started to rain but it didn’t really bother us. At one point we ended up in a big clump of people. We made a good route choice to check point N where I took the front and bush-bashed a path through for the team. This put us in front of the big bunch of teams.

After a steady trek, we headed off up a hill on our mountain bikes. It was tricky deciding the best track to take. We decided on the four-wheel drive track, as the tracks would be slippery after the rain. Little did we know the chaos there would be – there were tones of teams from the 3hr and 6hr races (we think). We were trying to ride around them, which was difficult, and often ended up walking our bikes. It was chaos. We had some fun on a single-track section to get to control point 1 and the dam. We had a bit of confusion with the navigation after that point but eventually got back on track. Once we hit the downhill section it was AMAZING!!! It was super super muddy from the rain and the other teams which had been through. We decided the best way to ride it was to apply the ‘no braking rule’ thus meaning we were speeding down the hill like crazy! It was super slick and quick, sometimes it got difficult to see when you got mud in your eyes and then you would just hope for the best. I enjoyed a bit of a crash when I had to slow down for a slow rider on the line I needed to avoid hitting her…..so I hit the breaks knowing I was going to skid and hit the ground. A lot of the 3hr and 6hr teams were walking bikes down the hill or going down slowly. We just flew past them. By the end of the ride, Marta and I decided we were officially mud monsters as we were covered head to toe in mud!

spring-challenge-bike-2

Marta, Nicole (hiding just behind) and Rachel

We clambered through a nice ditch into the transition, which cleaned us up a bit. The last run went reasonably well except the first part where we weren’t very well sorted and focused on the navigation and tried to go the wrong way! The run was a nice leg to finish on as we could get the controls in any order and we ran through gorgeous Podocarp forest and along the beach. We kept a good steady run pace going. I navigated this section with Nicole helping. We got to check point 20, luckily Marta remembered to clip it, before we jumped in the raft and had a speedy paddle across the bay. From here all we had left was a run along the beach to the last control and the finish line. It was challenging running along the beach but also a cool way to finish. We made it to the finish in 10hrs 15min finishing in 4th place in the open category and 6th place overall. We were stoked! It was an epic race with a good variation of stages. We raced well for a team that hadn’t managed to train together and Marta and I had only really just meet. Our support crew did an awesome job – they were so focused they didn’t manage any photos and cleaned our muddy bikes and gear!

Now its time to recover and complete lot’s of assignments. Then I’ll turn my focus to training for GodZone Pure in February 2017.

img_20160924_161931

Rachel, Nicole, Marta