Registration for the Mickleham adventure race was at the eye-watering time of 7:30am. With an 1.5hour drive to get there and having to give the dog a good walk before I left my alarm went off at silly o'clock for a Sunday morning. Getting up is always the hard bit, as soon as my feet hit the bedroom floor I am up and away. I was really excited about this event.
I had never competed in an adventure race before and was slightly nervous about how the whole thing worked. Looking at all of my kit piled up in my Mini I wondered if I should have just entered the straight forward trail event rather than the trail and mountain bike. Then I remembered this is part of a much better challenge and if these events were easy people would not be following thirty4thirty so closely or being so generous with the support and donations to Young Minds.
The sun had just come up when I reached the carpark at Mickleham, shortly followed by a small white van blaring out music with three friendly and smiling faces in. One of these faces was Josh who was part of my running pair and the other two were his mates he had dragged along to run also, they looked just as confused as I was!
After putting our bikes into the transition zone, putting trail shoes on and poring over the map for 10minutes, vaguely making a plan of where we should run we were off and our timer had started.
The aim of an adventure race is to get to as many checkpoints as you possibly can within the allotted time. We had 4 hours to fill and in these 4 hours we had to trail run and mountain bike.
Pretty much instantly we were climbing up a big hill, so steep we were unable to run, but already the banter and laughing had begun, Josh and Simon who were running with me were giving me stick about convincing them that this was such a good idea so early on a Sunday. But after running for 10minutes, looking at the view and how glorious the weather was we realised actually it was a pretty good place to be even if now we were too hot, sweating and slightly navigationally challenged.
The first hour was a breeze, we got loads of checkpoints and I think became a little to cocky; the second hour was not so great. We were getting more and more tired had been running up hills for about 8miles by now and had only managed one check point in the last 30 minutes. This is when I pointed out that we were about 5km away from base camp and we had 27minutes to get there before we had to transition onto a bike! The sprint back then commenced, the sprint was going ok, I am not sure where the speed came from at that point but it must have been pure adrenaline. Simon started to lag behind and I could hear him swearing, the smiles were wearing off now and the pain got real; sadly his knees were not agreeing with this speed. We made the team decision to split slightly at this point. Josh and I ran on to get all of the bikes ready and sorted for when Simon got to us.
The bike transition was slow (I blame josh as he had to change into cycling shorts!) but we needed to get ourselves ready for the next two hours. Getting on the mountain bikes was seriously hard, my legs were all stiff and I had a bike mechanical pretty much instantly. I later found out I had been cycling with the back brake on the whole time due to a broken caliper. oh well extra resistance training right? The navigation was also much harder from the bike, difficult to read a map even if it is attached to your handles bars. We also were not travelling as fast as we thought we would due to the mud and hills.
At the end of our allowed 4hours we had got back in time, in one piece and we even managed to get a few checkpoints along along the way. At the end of the event there was amazing soup, cakes and tea; blissful and well deserved. What more could I have asked for for my first adventure race.
5 things I have learnt about adventure races:
1. Plan a really good route when you receive the map
2. Check if you have to do equal amount of time on the bike and running.
3. Check if the transition time counts as part of the 4hours
4. Remember a compass
5. Have an extra layer to put on when going into the biking phase
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