Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goldrush 375k multisport RR: DAY ONE!

Okay, here gooooes trying to write up a race report for what was probably the most epic weekend of racing I have ever experienced. Goldrush is a 3-day multisport event throughout Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. For those unfamiliar to NZ terminology, triathlon means swim-bike-run, and multisport usually does not have ANY swimming but is kayak-mtb-road bike-trail run, in whatever order you want! Often, a race caters to the badass individuals that perform the entire thing on their own, the even MORE badass individuals that perform in a two-person tandem (2 individuals must be within a certain distance, usually not more than a couple meters, for THE ENTIRE RACE), and 2-3 person female, male or mixed teams. I was in a 2-person female team, and we were called Team Unquickly, mainly because we had NOOOOO idea how we'd do. I'd never done a multisport, multi-day race, nor have I ever been in a team for a race, and this was my teammate's first year racing multisport. We were nervous, and excited. Our support crew consisted of my teammate Tracey's au paire and my boyfriend. 

Friday March 23:
The day before the race. I spent the entire day packing, double-checking, and bringing far too much gear and clothing and food. We drove from Wanaka to Alexandra, where I picked up my race pack, had a wee swim in the Alex pool, set up tent in a campground, and went to the race briefing at 8pm. The race started at 8:30am the following morning, so right after I went to bed and slept. I knew that all I had the next day was an 18km run following Tracey's 2 stages (kayak and mtb) so I didn't have to worry about an early race. I had an entire day to get nervous!! 

Saturday March 24:

Leg 1: 1.5k run + 30k kayak
I was slow-moving in the morning, but thankfully checked my mobile in time to see that Tracey had called me about 1 million times. Her first stage is a 1.5km run to a 30km paddle from Alexandra to Roxburgh on the Clutha River. The rules changed last minute and it turns out the paddler needn't be the one running, so it made sense for her to have all her kayak gear on her at the kayak start and I do the quick 1.5km jog. Only, I found out about half an hour before the race that I needed to get to her, get our team bib and get back to the race start. It was hectic indeed, but I went off and ran the 1.5k in time. We saw her off, and drove down to Roxburgh to meet her after her paddle. 
The drive down was stunning. Really quiet roads. Winds
were gusting easily 60-80kph, absolutely ridiculous. 

Waiting at the dam, could barely walk straight. The paddlers
had tailwinds but so strong that they made the water really
rough to handle. 2nd place individual male (Gavin Mason)
was tipped out and had to swim to shore and run to the
transition. ROUGH. 
Leg 2: 35k mountain bike
Tracey came in and quickly left to go on a 35km mtb up the Knobby Range. Up at the top, the winds were so strong, over 100kph, and almost all of the riders were blown off (on a mtb!!), barely able to control their bikes and keep wheel to ground. Tracey had to hike her bike for up to 10k, as did many others. HARD AS. On the ground, myself and our support crew had to made the very windy drive from Roxburgh to Little Valley. The wind was so strong that we saw strings of cars pulling over to either throw their bikes into the car, more securely tighten and tie their kayaks and bikes to their roof racks or recollect their gear if it'd blown off. Seriously tough conditions, the worst I've seen... Could we please have an easy 375km multisport race, pretty please?? I got to my transition. We waited for Tracey. And waited. And waited. We knew she was having a tough time of it, but didn't know just how bad it was up there. At one point, the winds died down, cloud came over and it started to drizzle. Tracey came in and I started running...

Leg 3: 18k trail run
The 18k trail run is all uphill. No joke! We climb for 17k and in the last 1k we descend into Manorburn Station (in NZ, farms = stations). And this is the one leg where you want your strong Northwesterlies b/c this one heads Northwest for maybe 1k but then is a pretty straight Southeasterly shot to Manorburn camp. Unfortunately, the winds had died and the rain had come. The drizzle turned into a downpour and as I climbed, more and more of the rain drops were interspersed with snowflakes. All good, I was warm. 
Before the clouds and rain came through, all the runners and
support crew waiting for their mtb'ers to come in! Beautiful
Yes, that's part of the run. Easy 30-40% grade. We were
scrambling! Also, total fog out/mist made for very spooky
conditions. I had no idea if I was on course or not because
I couldn't see anyone around me, nor had I seen a red arrow
recently. Thankfully, I didn't get lost!

Fog out!
Manorburn Station. Starting to camp out and sunset
approaching quickly. The ugly skies cleared out for a
crisp, clear night!

I got cold REALLY quickly after the run. The temperatures
were near 0C. Lookin' like a kiwi, bro, in sheepskin
boots and possum fur mitts! 
I had an awesome 18k uphill run, in just under 2hrs! It was my goal, and I nailed it! We came in that day 3rd out of 5 female open teams, with first and second place racing away from us quite quickly, and fourth trying to close in... Still 2 days of racing left, anything can happen!! 

Some funny misadventures had by the support crew: All the support crew vehicles were coming in via another 4WD track, but the muddy conditions on the track meant that everyone was slipping and sliding everywhere. Inevitably, one car not equipped with 4WD jack-knifed off the track, causing blockages. Most support crews couldn't get into the day's race finish to see their athletes come in, so many athletes started running in with no warm clothes to get into. The race directors and their crew were amazing by giving us warm soup, providing their own warm clothes and sleeping bags while we waited for our crews to arrive. They finally got it sorted, but there was a long string of over a hundred cars all lined up in the middle of nowhere. Would have been a surreal sight!! 

Additionally, given the conditions, the next day's first stage (a 50km mountain bike) was cancelled for 2 reasons:
1- the stage itself would have been very dangerous for a lot of athletes but mainly...
2- there would not have been enough time for even the support crews themselves to get to the next transition given the current state of the track. In fact, because of predicted Southerlies and more rain for the night, those not comfortable driving in the muddy conditions were told to get out that night before it got dark and spend the night at the next transition (in Poolburn) rather than high up, rather exposed, in Manorburn. Many left. Some stayed. We did stay, trying to shield our tent from the winds using our truck. In the end, the overnight Southerlies weren't so bad at all, with it just gusting strongly for a dozen or so minutes in the middle of the night. It was cold, though. 

And the next morning would bring new adventures as well... race report to be continued!! Day 1 of 3 done!! 

1 comment:

  1. SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sounds like so much fun!! Except for the crazy conditions, namely the wind.
    but COOOOL!