Thought Sports headed into Hells Bells with a completely new line up with Rob racing in Sweden and Schlossy helping with the race, Prong and Angus got call up into the team. Rob had joked to his brother Prong that the series win depended on a good result here, so don’t stuff it! But Prong had joked back that he wasn’t worried, if we lost than he might just win the series with his other team this year, Thunderbolt!
Before the start we hadn’t really worked out our rolls with in the team, including who would pick up the GPS tracker… after Prong had lost his 3 year old boy in the hectic kids playground just before the start, he was enjoying the nice swim across the water with time to finally clear his mind and start to think about the race, “I hope Angus or Tim have the punch card”… “I wonder if someone got the tracker”… “I’ll ask them when I get to the other side”… “oh ‘well lets swim back”…. After this, as a new team we raced incredible well and we were happy to take out the win.
After the race most conversation has been about the trek, as this was the race winning leg. When we were drawing up our maps we could see that the challenge leg was the trek. The course notes indicating it was going to be 30km with 1300m climb and mostly off track. The best case scenario had the team finishing in 6 hours but this was going to be highly unlikely.
The route we choose tried to eliminate the climb as best we could and use major attack points such as track intersections, junctions or saddles before leaving a track or major attackpoint features. This strategy worked well as the vegetation was dense and at night it was hard to see features.
After the first checkpoint the highpoint at 45 we realised that we were only going to gain 10mins credit for the checkpoint and it was going to be very tactical race. As we were going for the win we knew that 10 mintues was still 10 minutes however we needed to finish the Rogaine before 5.30am to allow for the 6 hours still required to complete the course and get our time credits. With this in the back of our mind we started moving and made an effort to always know where we were on the map. We never really looked to see what the exact time credit for each control was, just that it felt like we were taking a bit less than what we hoped.
It took 7.15hrs to complete the trek therefore we received a 9hr time credit so just made 1.45hr bonus time credit. Checkpoint 21 was the most difficult as there was no good feature to come off the track and it required a good bearing. We lost time on control 17 on the way out trying to straight line it to 19 and in hindsight would have been better heading back out to the track which was faster as this was the thickest part of the forest. Control 13 was also difficult as there was unmarked track 50m to the west. The clue description stated it was south east track junction which was a clue there may have been more than one track in the area.
We did as a team decide to skip Mt Cooroora optional checkpoint. As scenic as it looked we had calculated that it would have us finishing an hour later at 11.30am for a bonus 10 minutes. If we made one small error we would be overtime and loose the race. We did laugh that if Rob was in the team we would have been getting it and racing to the finish stressed.
Even though due to the nature of the race the 2nd team had already finished before us, we enjoyed a little finish sprint battle with one of the tiger teams riding along the bike path towards the finish, only to have them get the jump on us a few hundred metres before the final round-a-bout, and then to watch them in beautiful team time trial mode, swing left instead of right and shoot off down the wrong road!
Overall I enjoyed the race that had a good balance of kayaking, bike riding and trekking and I look forward to coming back next year if for no other reason than to enjoy some sunshine on the beach. Congratulations to Chris and the team for providing a great course with plenty of physical and technical challenges.
Other team reports Mountain Designs Wild Women- written report