Its been a fast few months since Challenge Wanaka. I’ve slowly remoulded myself into a multisport athlete again with the reintroduction of kayaking and mountain biking to my training regime. Its been good. I enjoy swimming but its not something I am much good at. At least with a return to the more familiar activities I have been able to feel a bit better about my abilities again.
I needed to get paddle fit pretty quickly in preparation for our China race in April – the prestigious Wenzhou Outdoor Challenge. It would be our first outing as the newly assembled “Team NZ Adventure” and I felt it was critical I was in good shape to help our team get off to a good start. Two weeks before the race was the Goldrush – perfect timing!
I entered Goldrush with two prime motives: 1) To support a local favourite event which helped me establish my early multisport career and holds so many great memories for me over the years and 2) Use the race to get myself race-fit before flying to China for the 4-day stage race.
I had expected a tough showdown with Richard Ussher who along with his wife Elina, were making the trip down from Nelson to experience the mighty Goldrush race. There was 86km of paddling across the two days which I expected to lend favour to Richard and which, I figured, would leave me with plenty of work to do on the bike and run sections if I was to win. As it turned out, Richard was not in his usual state of race fitness and I was able to control both days of racing from the front. I paddled well, felt ordinary on the bike but not awful and felt quite springy and quick in the run stages. It was my 5th win in the Goldrush and I am proud to feel a very special bond to this race as the only person to have won this number of times.
Fast forward a week and a half and I was on a plane with my team mates headed for the the city of Wenzhou in China. We knew the competition would be frightening as it always is in the bigger Chinese stage races, but we also felt we had the team to contend the top spot on the podium. We saw it as very important we raced well in our first event as Team NZ Adventure, to prove to the adventure racing community that we have a bright future as a combination targeting stage races and seeking a sponsor that may help support our ambitions.
Glen Currie was a late withdrawl with an urgent operation needed to rip out a faulty gall bladder (and a healthy appendix for good measure). Bob McLachlan was the poor bugger we called on to come and suffer through China with us at late notice. Braden, Jess and I had all prepared specifically for the race and would all suffer regardless. So Bob was in for some hurt, but we knew he would be up for it and sure enough he’d prove he thrives in that zone beyond physiological comfort where your heart beats so hard you wonder if it is in cardiac arrest. He loved it and so he fit right in. we were lucky to have him.
The days unfolded as expected. Four days of fast intense racing by kayak, mountain bike, roller blade and run. We got lucky a few times. That helped. But after 20-odd hours of racing we had a lead of more than 30min on kiwi legends Red Bull (Rich and Elina Ussher, Stu Lynch and Trev Voyce) and 3rd placed world champions Thule from Sweden, NZ and France. More details on the racing itself are available on our team website:
I have to say, I am super excited about our team. Glen, Braden and Jess are really good friends of mine. As is Bob. They are the sorts of friends I will often catch up with for dinner if we have not seen each other in a couple of weeks. We get on really well. So to now have formed this team with such good mates and to know how well we can race and the potential we have to race even faster as we spend more time competing together, I am just so dam excited and grateful. We are working hard to find a sponsor that can back our team and the ambitions we have. We know that with the right sponsor we can really endeavour to make big things happen as a team. It is going to happen!
Next up for Team NZ Adventure is the Pengzhou Adventure Challenge near the Chinese city of Chendu. This is at the end of May and promises to provide more action packed racing against great teams like Thule again.
For me individually, I have my beloved Contact Epic Lake Hawea MTB race on this Saturday. I am a little anxious about whether I can race as I have had a stomach bug since the final day of racing in China, but I hope to make the start line as this is a race I have put my name to over the past 3 years and I really want to see what I can do on this course now I have my Trek Superfly. I reckon on a good day I could break my old record. But I’d need good weather and a happy tummy, my bike is well up for the task if these two things come together. I’d also need to get lucky to finish ahead of some of the incredible cyclists that line up for this event. After Epic, the very next weekend, I plan to race the well-known Wellington Crazyman multisport race. I always like to try a new event each year that I havent done before. I have always wanted to race the Crazyman, so now is my chance. Then a couple of weeks training before Pengzhou end of May.
So it is all go. I love it and am always grateful to my coach, my wife and sponsors for the support they give me and the support that, without, I couldn’t do any of this.
See you out there,