Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Geoquest Port Macquarie 2016

Port Macquarie welcomed over 200 athletes on the Queens Birthday long weekend for Australia’s Premier 48hr Adventure Race known as Geoquest.

Credit : James Pitman
Team Dynamite Adventure Racing (Paul Gruber, Angus Rodwell, Tim Boote, Karina Vitiritti) were looking forward to smashing out the Ocean Paddle of Leg 1, but due to the recent NSW storms the swell was unfortunately too big. A beach start at Camden Head was the backup start, with a multi split leg which meant all 4 members could separate in double ski’s or on foot to collect the CP’s around Laurieton. We opted to paddle one double kayak with Paul/Tim, while Gus portaged the other kayak and I ran to get our 1st CP and then joined Gus for some paddling which turned into hike a kayak due to the shallow water. We then all went our separate ways, mainly on foot to collect the rest of the CP’s, this was a fun leg in which team tactics and planning was critical. We ended up not too far behind the lead teams, but must have opted for too much time on foot which gave them a good lead into leg 2.

Credit: Rob Marlow
Credit: Rob Marlow
After heading a short way out on leg 2, we made a hasty sprint back to the transition to grab the tracker which was still in the PFD!  (Could have been worse, but we know better than this) It was a scenic run along Grants Beach with singletrack, rock hopping, beach running and cliff tops. It took us north up the coast to Bonny Hills, Onto Leg 3 and now with the bikes for an initial push (literally) up the first hill to the CP and then around some very overgrown singletrack. Following was a back to school history lesson in Herron Creek, answering some questions on the town before hitting the hills riding up to Bulls Ground Forest for the Leg 4 Rogaine in which Paul and Tim did a great job on the nav. Back on the bikes for Leg 5 for the short decent to a local winery, including a few rutted out, steep dirt descents as night fell.
Leg 6 was a long trek through the Bago Forrest, starting with long climb up to our Abseil, this is where our nav started to have us covering some extra kilometres. We were joined by Tiger New Calendonia for the start of this leg. Earlier teams had gone through the quarry but we had been told to go around and got a little confused by the instructions and ended up missing the the track and ended up going the long way around following the road. The abseil at night was definitely a highlight, the rock wall had many rough patches, the boys all flew down, and dislodging a few loose rocks in the process. Our descent into Wauchope had us contouring too far around the mountain and once again adding to our adventure with some extra off camber rock hopping and sliding.
The next paddle being Leg 7 was fairly straight forward, but it delivered a few challenges with the fog giving us only a few metres visibility and two of us feeling the cold night air and getting the shivers. The solution was to paddle faster and get to the next transition as fast as we could, while keeping an eye out for large logs/branches floating down the river. A full wardrobe change with the help of our wonderful support crew Teagan and Sharon and we were out on the bikes for Leg 8 and a long flat road ride to our next Rogaine which is where the real adventure was about to begin.
On the map the Rogaine for Leg 9 looked reasonably straight forward, we needed to collect 6 of the 8 CP’s. We knew from the map it was going to be steep, but until we arrived out in the middle of the Bril Bril Forest we didn’t realise how dense the fallen trees would be, they were everywhere and very slow to get through. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing and looking back at the maps a better approach would have been to stay on the roads and out of the Forest as much as possible and avoid the trails on the map as most of these only partially existed and were impossible to follow. The reward for the steepness that Bril Bril Forrest delivered was getting to drop into Punchbowl waterfall and waterhole just after daybreak and descending down a couple of small water falls. Its fair to say this wasn’t our best leg with our nav suffering and myself lagging behind on the verticals which seemed to keep giving.

We had been going for more than 24hrs as we jumped back onto the bikes for Leg 10 and the descent back towards Port Macquarie. We flew through this leg and managed to not get cleaned up by some over eager 4wds heading in the opposite direction and were also excited to be close to the finish and having only a paddle remaining. With two portages planned and some well needed coke and red bull, this paddle seemed to go fast. We had the BMX bandits in our sights and managed to catch them on our 2nd portage over the weir. We learned later that one of their boats had been filling with water which made their last portage slow and gave us the jump on them with only a short paddle to the finish line.

It was great to have a cheer from Gus's folks as we paddled past their yacht moored just before the finish line and finishing in the late afternoon was a very welcome surprise! Just over 31 hours of Adventure with three great blokes, crossing the line in 7th position in the premier mixed category. Geoquest 2016 delivered Dynamite Adventure Racing numerous ups and downs and as always we had many lessons learned. Bring on the Run/Trek and Navigation training. A big congrats to team Adventure Junkies on a well deserved win. Thanks to Teagan and Sharon our wonderful support crew, we couldn’t have done it without you, your dedication was exceptional and your Vegemite and peanut butter sandwiches were beyond words. Also a big thanks to our families who support and follow our dot on each and everyone of our crazy adventures. 

Cheers to Hydralyte Sports and Kwik Kopy Braeside as always. A big shout out to XTM Performance, our new sponsor and a thankyou to Huff'n'Puff Paddling for the ski. 

The course

Short little clip from leg 2 Coastal Trek
Click on >>Window>>replay. Then set to ~x128 speed and press play