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Looking for a New Challenge? Try an Adventure Race!

  • January 5, 2014
  • By Brittany
Looking for a New Challenge? Try an Adventure Race!

Hi friends!  I’m on my way home from Australia (sob!) and my lovely sister-in-law, Rebecca, has agreed to write a guest post for me today while I adjust back to my U.S. schedule.  Bec has taken the race world by storm recently completing several running races, including three half marathons, and a 92km bike ride.  Her next goal is to conquer the triathlon and ironman circuit!

“Consider the challenge thrown! Confirm your acceptance and I will sort entry and get Amanda working on lyrca outfits.”

It was always a bit of banter in the office about entering events, whether it is half marathons, bike races, outrageous international events or silly corporate challenges. But the banter ended quickly after my lighthearted confirmation of acceptance resulted in an email popping up in my inbox confirming my registration in the ‘Kathmandu Adventure 12 Hour Race’.

Ok, next step, google, ‘what is an Adventure Race?’

Knowledgeable Wikipedia kindly advised me an adventure race is a combination of two or more endurance disciplines, including orienteering and/or navigation, cross-country runningmountain bikingpaddling and climbing and related rope skills… Holy crap!

So I have always enjoyed running and had recently got into biking however I would need to exchange my elegant road bike to a dirt loving mountain bike (thank you to my family for the birthday donation contributions). But the kayaking segment may pose the greatest challenge. 

bec 2

I had to change my usual cardio based workouts and hit the gym for some weights and rowing. My upper body definitely was not kayaking fit. I also learnt the importance of stretching and giving your body time for rest. The entire lead up I had to work around an irritating hip injury (thank you again family, this time for my genes), which did impact my running.

My colleague Christo (aka race partner), who signed me up for what I could only imagine as hell, came to Adelaide to carry out our one and only training session. This was our only chance to kayak together and also make sure we understood each other’s pace. As part of the adventure race you must stay within 100metres of your race partner.  

The race was located in the beautiful Macquarie Lakes 2 hours north of Sydney. We arrived at the campground to perfect conditions. Excitement definitely was in the air as other competitors arrived and headed to race headquarters. Here we could collect our maps, have our basic gear requirement checks and scout out the competition. 

bec 1.3

Christo was quick to get us organised, leaving our bikes at the bike drop, inflating our inner car tire tubes (please google tubing!), pack our gear boxes and began to deconstruct the maps and instructions we had been given.

The idea of the race is to make it to each of the 27 checkpoints that were concealed in amongst the bush, hidden between rocks or tied to buoys in the lake. Good navigation skills are a must.

So we came to the summary the race would consist of;

2km beach run

6km kayak

21km trail run

30km mountain biking

6km kayak

2km tubing

2km run

However, due to the navigation requirements and locating the checkpoints in unmarked terrain resulted in a number of turn backs and searching.

Adventure racing also has their rules that meant carrying basic survival equipment and supplies with you such as first aid, survival blankets and water. Refreshing our food supplies and changing clothes could be done at 3 assigned check points during the race.

bec 1.4

The race day. The morning of the race we woke early and double checked our packs for supplies and equipment. The air was cold so we both dressed in full length gear and decided to commence our first run in our kayaking shoes to avoid getting our sneakers wet in the first kayak leg. All competitors piled onto two buses that took us to the starting line located on a long stretch of sandy coastline. It was such a breathtaking view of the ocean, sunrise and us competitors keen to get racing. Last minute directions and well wishes were given from the race organisers and then we were off.

As you would guess the race had many challenges both physically and emotionally. Working together was important, however I will confess Christo deserves the medal for navigation, if I was in charge we would still be somewhere lost in the bush now! 

Competitors were initially secretive about location of check points and tactics but as the hours clicked by and exhaustion set in, teams started working together in the bid to just make it to the end within the 12hours. There were bushes to be battled through, cliff faces to navigate, technical tracks to ride and unforgiving hills to drag yourself and bike up. We kept our energy levels up by refueling with fruit, homemade muesli bars (made by Christo), gels and energy drinks. My hip pain was holding me back and I struggled with the thoughts of letting Christo down by being a little slower then I know I am. But you just keep going. Breaking out of the bush on the bike leg after 7 hours of racing was such a relief, mountain biking is not my forte.

Due to a busy lake and weather conditions the tubing leg got cancelled. However we were still required to collect and carry our inner tubes on our kayaks for 8kms, which made part of the final legs of the race.

The final 2km run to the finishing line was the last test. Cold and wet from the final kayak leg, Christo took the now deflated inner tubes over each shoulder and we started the run. Seeing the finish line was such an incredible sight. We had made, I actually did it. Finishing in 9hours 56minutes we basked in the glory of accomplishment. We may not have won, but I felt like I conquered the world.

I know this is not my last race and the high you get from these types of events is addictive. So throw me another challenge I say, we only get to do this once.


By Brittany, January 5, 2014
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