After finishing my bike season in March, I had exactly 6 weeks to remind my legs what running is. I was signed up for the 12 hour Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race in Murchison in a team with Josh and Trevor Voyce. This meant not only racing with an Adventure Racing World Champion but also with my own coach. So Josh and I set off into the hills beyond Nelson to get some time on our feet. Exploring your own back yard is one of my favourite parts of training.
Dun Mountain and Richmond Ranges
Practising river crossings after the April storm in Nelson
Time goes by quick when you are having fun and soon enough we were on our way to Murchison. It was going to be an exciting race with most of the top adventure racers entered.
The race kicked off with the usual mad dash (1 km sprint) to the rafts. We jumped into the closest raft we could find and joined forces with the Young Guns from Waimea College. Thanks to the big storm a couple of weeks earlier the Buller River was flowing fast and featured some exciting rapids.
Rafting down the Buller River
We transitioned onto our mountain bikes in 3rd position and set off to catch the bunch in front of us- to no avail. We made our way up the Mangels Valley collecting some checkpoints on the way. After about an hour I was starting to look forward to changing into my running shoes to get some blood and feeling back into my toes.
Biking up the Mangels Valley to the next transition
When we finally reached the transition my feet were so cold I actually couldn't get into my shoes! We set off eventually and run uphill towards Mole Saddle. The path quickly turned into a big river bed. I went on tow and was following Trev's foot steps, which are about twice as long as mine. We were moving quickly and had overtaken the team in front of us when we emerged from the bush. From there we had a bit more climbing to do to reach the Mole Tops. We were rewarded with a truly amazing scenery and stunning views into all directions. On the long descent back to transition we slipped back into 3rd place mainly because my feet-eye co-ordination was not quite up to scratch for descending steep, slippery scree slopes.
The ridge along the Mole Tops
I was much happier when we reached transition and re-mounted our bikes. After crossing a rather fast flowing river we had caught 2nd place again. As we are all good friends we started chatting and having a laugh and ended up riding together for most of the 70 km gravel road. Things got more serious from time to time but none of the two teams managed to pull away. In the end it came down to a sprint finish with Ash, Nomes, and Dan taking 2nd place with us in 3rd.
We were happy to finish in under 9 hours, having some daylight left to enjoy the sun and refuel with -to my surprise- a vege burger in the pub! It was great to race with, and learn from Trev and being pushed hard all the way, all while having fun with friends in a truly stunning place.
I'm looking forward to many more missions over winter.