A few days after the Red Bull Defiance I was on a plane bound for Perth. It sucked a fair bit saying bye to Amy and Flynn, knowing I wouldn’t see them for a couple of weeks, but I am lucky to have their support in doing what I love. I had two reasons for Perth: one was to get a personal swim session with Paul Newsome from Swim Smooth who has a global following for his swimming teachings, the other was to race in the worlds biggest multisport race: the Augusta Adventure Fest.
My session with Paul was great (thanks Will and Joy!)and I now have heaps to work on. My swimming has come a long way but I am still looking at a big deficit in the swim stage of races like Challenge Wanaka – something I want to minimise as much as possible. I have no doubt that my session with Paul, along with my new Blueseventy Helix wetsuit will have me improving on my 1.03 Challenge Wanaka swim time by a significant margin in February, especially if my Augusta swim time is anything to go by.
There are over 3800 participants in the Augusta Adventure Fest, making it the largest multisport event in the world. It involves a 12.5km coastal run, 1.9km open water swim, 13km ocean kayak, 30km mountain bike and 2.5km run to the finish line. I was competing for my 3rd time in this race (after a 4th in 2010 and a 2nd last year). My obvious competition came from last weekends team mate (and now enemy) Braden, along with Xterra World Champs 3rd place-getter Ben Allen from Australia and a host of other top kiwi and aussie athletes such as Jarad Kohler and Sam Manson.
I try to avoid chronological race reports as much as possible but will give a brief run down on the way it unfolded for me.
The run went well, although I lost 50 seconds to Ben and over 3 minutes to Braden. Early days still, but I was experiencing a very notable lift in pace from my longer races prior such as Defiance and Wulong! Braden and Ben have been racing a lot of Xterra events this year and are so good at this quick stuff. Braden is especially incredible when it comes to running, so the time I lost on the first stage was not unexpected to be honest.
Quick (and always awkward feeling) change into a wetsuit and away into the shark-infested Western Australian waters for a 1.9km swim. It felt great going from hot and sweaty running to cooler waters and swimming. I really do enjoy open water swimming despite performing like I have deployed an anchor. That said, I had a feeling my swimming was going better than previous races and I was stoked to exit the water and see a 26min swim time on my watch (I’d say this hints at a slightly shorter than 1.9km swim course!) but an improvement on last years swim of around 5min gave me a real boost.
I still lost more time to Ben and Braden (again not unexpected) and entered the kayak with a 5 min deficit to Ben and about 3 months 2 weeks 4 days and 14 hours to Braden. At least I had my 2 strongest disciplines now ahead of me. Keep the heat on.
I wondered as I headed out of the river, past the breakers and out onto the ocean with Ben in sight whether I might catch him by the end of the paddle. 5 minutes is a reasonable margin and Ben has a background in surf lifesaving, but I felt good knowing the mountain bike was coming too so really applied the pressure. I managed to catch and pass him with a couple of km to go and move into 2nd.
I exited the kayak with a minute or so on Ben but with Braden still well out of sight. The transition area was alive with participants and spectators and its one of the cool things about this race seeing such a massive involvement in the sport. I left on my Trek Superfly and knew I was going to have to work pretty hard to hold Ben off but trusted in my biking ability. There was also every chance Braden had started to hurt so I kept the pace on with a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality.
The bike was pretty fun but I didn’t see anyone in front or behind the whole time so had to keep focused while still enjoying myself. By the end of the bike and start of the final 2.5km run along the beach to the finish I was started to feel the pinch a bit so took it pretty steady to the end. Finishing 2nd in 3.53 was a great result for me. My swim had improved a lot which was a major highlight. Braden really is the best in the business at this style of racing and he finished 6 minutes ahead of me, with about 6 minutes being my margin over Ben too. I was pretty excited to be awarded the fastest overall mountain bike time too. Its pretty hard as an individual to win stages when teams are usually stronger on each leg, so I credited my Trek bike and some tough racing with Ben and Braden for my fast ride.
Here is a bit of the highlights from the weekend’s events in Augusta: http://youtu.be/YNO1I1jVpRw?list=UUTfDKbmKBFCYZOEYAbhfd0A
Braden and I then spent a few days sampling the coffee and beaches between Augusta and Perth before I flew out to Wuhan in China where I am now sitting and typing this blog. The Wuhan Mountain Challenge is a 3 day stage adventure race from Saturday until Monday. Glen, Jess, Braden and I are racing as Team NZ Adventure and we are feeling excited. There are some strong teams here so we will have to work pretty damn hard for a good result, but we’ve all come here to do just that, so fingers crossed things go as well as we hope.
Big thanks to those who help make it all happen, especially to Amy and Flynn as well as my main sponsors Torpedo 7 and Trek bikes. I’ll aim to keep you posted on the China gossip.
Cheers – Dougal