Monday, November 7, 2011

Kathmandu Adventure Race - Lysterfield Lake

L: Fresh. R: Not so fresh at #12

Time: 4:29:32 | No idea of distance covered!

This race had been on my radar since doing the trail running. I'd shared the idea with my Bro who was keen, but also the Man, who astoundingly also put his hand up. It was touch and go whether the Man would be able to compete given he dislocated his shoulder last weekend, but he had a good week with the shoulder and was able to forge ahead. Which was fortuitous because my Bro ended up going to Sydney for the weekend for work.

Anyway... we had our (borrowed) mountain bikes loaded on the car the night before. All our gear was laid out and we knew exactly what we'd be wearing.

Ate a light breakfast, had coffee and left slightly later than anticipated. Which is usually the case with the Man in tow! Drove out the 45min or so to Lysterfield Lake Park

Event warmup:
There's an hour or so after race registration, whereby we were given our maps and directions and set about marking up the maps, making note of which trails we'd be running or cycling. While the Man was in charge of the navigation, I was responsible for the timing chip at each checkpoint.

We also racked our bikes in transition and had a look at where we'd be kayaking. Making note of where we would be heading to.

The smart move would have been to find the map board at the park and make note of the trail numbers or names. Traps for young players?!

I ate my second breakfast of a jam sandwich.

Race comments:
Checkpoint 1-5 Run
After an initial hands up that 60% of competitors had never done an Adventure Race before, we felt a little less intimidated.

And then we were off. As to be expected it was pretty crowded for the first two checkpoints. By #3 the crowd had thinned out. The aim for the day was to run all the flat/downhill sections and walk the hills. For the most part this section was run. It was a little awkward initially running with my hydration pack. In hindsight I should have done a run or two while wearing it, but considering I picked it up the day before I didn't have the luxury.

Checkpoint 6-12 Mountain bike
Got in and transitioned ok. Or so I thought. I ended up waiting for the Man, which indicated that there was a problem. In the sun, the hydraulic brake fluid had expanded essentially forcing the back brakes on. The wheel was turning, but not freely.

We opted not to doing anything to it, the risk of not having back brakes wasn't worth it so he rode on. We reached #6 and #7 without problem. But leaving #7 we opted for a different route than we had marked on the map and as a result missed checkpoint #8. Our game plan was to get all the checkpoints regardless of how long it took us. So as we were halfway to #9 we had to double back and get #8. This was a pretty big set back as the trail we'd opted to take was quite technical for a novice like myself!

After #10 we stopped for water and a quick snack. At this stage I couldn't believe we hadn't come halfway! We then hit the Commonwealth games track picked up #11 and headed for the bike drop at #12.

Checkpoint 12-16 Run
And this is where it got hard. Hills and hot hot heat. Next to no shade at all. Oh and there was next to no running - there was even stopping for some shot blocks, it wasn't until we got to #15 and knew that that road back to #16 was flat that I could comprehend jogging.

Checkpoint 16-24 Mountain bike
I never thought I'd be so happy to be back on a mountain bike. It would give my HR had a chance to recover. We descended to #17 (lucky another team was in front of us because I fear I would have missed this checkpoint). Across to #18 was a little painful, mtbs are really not so awesome on the flat! We took a wrong turn to #19 but quickly righted ourselves and made up time. Regrouping with a bunch for #20-#24 even having enough time to sit and chow a bar down.

Checkpoint 24-27 Kayak
A bit of a scramble to get the life jackets on and get paddling. The wind wasn't really our friend, the boats were heavy and our control of the vessel was questionable. Add a very sore shoulder, two tired racers, screaming hip flexors and cramping legs.

The good bit? The water was refreshing because it was freakin' hot.

We kept our lead on the couple behind us and had the wind at our backs on the way back in. Getting out of the boat was a disaster. My right quad and something leading up into my groin cramped, I couldn't even help pull the boat out of the water. I could hardly garner the focus to take off my life jacket.

The sprint to the finish was more jog. The couple we'd managed to hold off passed us. But in the end, we finished, and the Man ranks it as the second hardest thing he's done behind the Tour Down Under stage.

There's no way I could have done this race by myself. My map reading skills leave a lot to be desired. The Man was awesome, he's much faster & fitter than I (without any training!) and he was super patient. We might even live to run another adventure race together!

What would you do differently?
• Attempt to mark up the track numbers/names.
• Neither of our bikes had a odometer - which may have been useful to estimate distances between checkpoints.
• Hill & mtb train
• Drink more! Yikes, I drank 2x 750mL water bottles plus roughly 1L from my hydration pack, plus 2 cups of water at the finish and I still couldn't keep the dehydration at bay.

Warm down:
We finished about an hour and a half behind the winners and there was still plenty of lunch to go around. Even vegie burgers! No electrolyte fluid though, which was a touch disappointing.

We found a shady patch and ate our lunch while listening to the presentations.

In the end we were winners! Of a spot prize! We scored $100 worth of Kathmandu vouchers. And they gave away event t-shirts too. Double score!

What limited your ability to perform faster:
The heat was a factor - our first 30C (86F) day of the season, it was draining and given the event didn't start until just before 10am we were out there for a whole lot of the heat.

I also seem to have an inherent fear of logs. And mountain biking in general. Definitely cautious out there.


  1. Well done!! Every season I promise myself I'll do an adventure race and every season I don't, so I am extra impressed. 30 degrees doesn't sound fun!

  2. I am so jealous! I have ALWAYS wanted to do an adventure race - and what a gorgeous part of the country to do it in too! CONGRATS!!!!