It’s about four weeks since Spring Challenge. Everything has been a little bit chaotic; I’ve had six overnight field trips for class in five weeks, many assignments and not much time to fit in training. I’m finally getting chance to write about Spring Challenge. I raced in the TeamCP Adventure Chicks team in the 9 hour Spring Challenge race with Kathryn Bunckenburg (previous teammate) and Nicole Ranger (new to the team). We had an absolute blast running, mountain biking, rafting and navigating around the 110kmish course in Wanaka.
On Friday we collected our maps, attended the race briefing and were getting excited about the pending race. We poured over the maps checking the course, working out the best routes and highlighting them. We had it all planned – who was doing what, were clear on our team goal to make the top ten, and to have fun. We finished sorting our gear and then headed to bed knowing there would be an early start.
We got up not long after 4am to prepare for the day and were ready at 6am on the start line. Straight off the start line the pace was quick, with the front team still in sight. It was a fast 2km to hit the rafts. We were quick enough to be one of the first few teams on the water. Then the battle began. It was a mostly flat paddle this year with a few other rafts nearby so we were constantly changing places and fighting it out against them. We got out of the rafts after having heaps of fun and ran a short distance to the transition.
After a quick transition, we headed off on the 64km mountain bike ride. We started on some awesome trails around Deans Bank. We quickly fixed a tiny navigation error near the start. Nicole did the navigation on the bike – a great decision as she nailed it throughout the race. Thanks Nicole! J We were surrounded by several teams, which was exciting and kept the pressure on. We got slick at punching controls. I looked after the control card and clipped it while Nicole worked out where we were going next. As soon as I had clipped the card, we were off to the next control.
After a flattish section, we had a nice big hill. After a little bit of hill on the road we had a quick water refuel and were then off again – up, up and up. It was a slog up the hill but also a lot of fun. By this point, the teams had spread out. We could see a team in front of us just up the hill but couldn’t see anyone behind us. We guessed we were at the back of the top teams. I managed to ride some of the hill. Eventually I joined my teammates walking their bikes as it turned out we were still a long way from the top + I had a sore butt! We were slowly catching the team in front. Eventually we reached the trig at 1444m to find an amazing view of hills partly covered in snow, and the team in front just leaving! It was exciting to start riding but disappointing to find that it was difficult riding in snow. Once we could finally ride again we go to blast our way downhill picking up a few controls and got to transition after 6hours 23minutes of biking. On the final part of the downhill something felt weird on my bike and I looked down to see a flat tyre. The transition was in sight luckily so I just kept riding!
After changing into running shoes and shoving down a banana (my favorite race food) we left running for the hike section. Kathryn took over the navigation and since we had two maps I backed her up. For the first section of this leg we were mainly by ourselves or surrounded by 6 hour teams. We kept moving and gained some ground on some teams. With some good navigation we caught up to another team and were near them for a few controls. We ended up with in a bunch with two other 9 hour teams but lost them when we got stuck behind some 6 hour teams on a section of hill with a rope we had to follow.
We came into the transition keen to get back onto the bikes. Our support crew had fixed my flat tyre but my bike appeared to be making funny noises once we got riding. Luckily, nothing went wrong with it. This was the last leg for the day so we were all ready to go hard and smash it to the end. Nicole nailed the navigation on the last leg and we got to ride some fun single track. We powered along the last section, dropped our bikes, I punched the last control and we ran to the finish line to complete the race in 11hours 44 minutes. We were all super excited when we discovered we had finished 5th place in our category and 7th overall! We didn’t think we were doing that well – it shows you just have to keep pushing and not give up because you never know what can happen in an adventure race. 🙂
Nicole, Kathryn, Rachel