I first heard about Geoquest in 2004 when I was on an orienteering camp in New Zealand on their Queens Birthday long weekend, which is the weekend preceding Australia's. I'd just a month earlier raced my first AROC Sprint AR at Lake Narrabeen and a friend told me about Geoquest and that it was on next weekend. 48hrs sounded like a very long time for someone with a background in orienteering races lasting up to 2hrs. But I came home and looked on sleepmonsters and found a team needed a replacement and that started my AR addiction. I still remember that course in Eden quite vividly, and how scared I was of the course. And I ended up with a knee injury because I only knew how to run, and walking was a whole different sport.
Our Team Thought Sports for this race consisted of myself, Rob Preston, Kathryn Preston, 5 time Geoquest winner Damon Goerke, and Dave Schloss. Damon and Dave had shown their recent form with a dominant performance at XPD in Tassie a few months ago. And Rob and Kathryn had been fighting child-borne diseases for the last two months and were just hoping to hang on.
The logistics of the race was made a little easier this year with the new supported format, and I'm sure my parents enjoyed not having to move 2 double surfskis, 4 bikes and occasionally 4 smelly and hungry racers through day and night. With only the first 3 legs of maps to mark up, and the gear mostly sorted ahead of time due to the logistics planner, we got to bed at a reasonable hour ready for the 6am start.
I'm never a fan of an early start time, but I now have new respect for starting in the dark as this added some difficulty to what looked to be a straight forward beach trek from Diamond Beach to Forster. The lead teams made a few mistakes, overrunning CP1 by not seeing the flag, and then attempting to climb a cliff out of CP2 before getting back on course. Wild Earth Tiger Adventure (from now on WETA), had a few minutes lead but Damon put down the hammer on the 8 km beach section to CP3. Thunderbolt dropped off the pace, perhaps saving their energy for a final beach sprint tomorrow. Running across the bridge to Forster we relived our team victory here in 2013, and it felt like a long time between wins.
Leg 2 was a 27km paddle, all against the tide and up river. There were a few small navigational challenges mostly involving missing the oyster leases and making sure you found the correct river junction to head up to Wauk Wauk. WETA pushed hard for the first hour and made up the 2 min gap they lost in transition. Then we shared the lead, with Thunderbolt still not far behind.
We had a small lead out of TA2 but know its probably going to be short lived before the Uber bikers WETA and Thunderbolt come past. WETA make the pass at CP8 and while I would have loved to stick to their back wheels for the long leg to CP9 there was no chance of this happening.
After the fast roads to CP9, the course headed uphill and into the forests. After the first major climb we met Wild Earth as the bottom of a hill with Russell on the ground. He'd taken a superman flight over a waterbar and unfortunately had broken his collarbone. On the plus side he had a doctor as a team mate and a race photographer with 4WD car was already on site. This definitely dulled the mood and also the speed of the next few descents.