Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Preparing For The Final Push

At the final transition we have a final feed, get into our treking gear and stock up with supplies. We were given a complicated set of instructions/advice at 1.00am in the morning by a slightly pissed Neil Jones and we truly believed we had taken them on board.

Fuelled by the Coke and heaps of advice we tore up the cliff in the dark led by Trev and headed along the ridge with Lea feeling like the need for a sleep. We checked all the markers and soon after leaving the broken trig we spread out a little too far. I must admit I thought we were headed in the wrong direction. When we ended up in an open paddock on the wrong side of the high points we had a team meeting and decided to head back to the last known point. We found a track that wasn't quite pointing in the right direction but were tempted to take. Spirits were a bit low at this point. When I suggested we try the track or head for the road and bail out, Barry replied with a, "That'll mean a DNF and we're not having that!" I knew we would be OK. I suggested Barry and Lea take a breather and have a feed while Trev and I explored the track and off we went. Within 10 minutes we realised this was the way to go so Trev went back to get the troops who may have snuck a few zzzzzz's. I waited alone in the dark! Alone! Feeling a few presences in the bush I went and waited in the open paddock where I and the scary things out there felt much better!

However, it wasn't all over as we had one more moment of getting lost until we stumbled across that legend Neil Jones leading a couple of wahine through the trek as tail end Charlie. What a gentleman! We tagged along and finished strongly through the Toi walk.

Mmmmmm Coke Mmmmmmmm!

Most of us were pretty shattered when we arrived at the final transition in the rain and a couple of drunken transition marshalls. The Coke we came across was like nectar!

MTB At Last

We're finally on our bikes, hurtling through the night towards Taneatua. It's now about midnight. This was quite a torrid ride as we sped along the highway and the pace, for some reason, was really on. Trev was hard to hold back!

Biking in the dead of night with a narrow headlight beam was a different experience. Both Lea and Barry talked of feeling sleepy/hypnotised by the cycle of the wheel in front of them. We finally arrived at the final transition as rain began falling.

Still At The Last MTB Transition

The transition continues before the final MTB. From the top we have Lea and Barry having a final snack and then Maurie getting in the last of the mince and spuds. Lea's ready to go on the MTB while Trev is all togged up. The last has Kurt having completed the last adjustments to Maurie's bike.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More to come

Battery on camera has run out so will post some more tomorrow. Don't forget to scroll down to see all posts on this great race by the Possums.

Transition (Part C)

Ted having a well-deserved break while Lea, Barry, Trevor and Maurie have a final rest before the MTB.

Transition to MTB (Part B)

Refuelling to get ready for the last MTB in dark through Edgecumbe, Awakeri and to Taneatua.

Transition: Trek 1 to MTB 3

The first night transition at the end of the first trk after getting sort of lost. We could see the checkpoint but couldn't find our way to it in the dark. This was supposed to be a day trek, but the kayak capers held us up somewhat.

From the top:
Trevor getting his food from Leigh in his soap box.
Ted cooking up a feed.
Barry checking his bike.
Maurie getting some dry MTB clothes on over top of the might merino.
Maurie looking for food.

The Start

Possum power unleashed. Barry, Trevor, Maurie and Lea trying to read a map to find the start before hurtling towards Rotoiti.

Possums Plotting

Thought I'd better get a photo up to prove we did do this. How did we achieve it and become the top Opotiki Team? Team work right from the start as shown in this photograph just before the start. How tight is this team?

Wounded Wanderers Report on 24 Hour by Destry

After briefing, on Friday night, the team assembled at Jenny’s house. We were relaxed but in the same token could not wait to start. This is what we had trained for! The plans were marked up and Karl knew where we were going.
First leg was the mountain bike leg from the start of Pikowai Rd, picking up a few control points along the way to the western side of Lake Rotiti. We were in the starter’s hands, the starter counted down and away we went, a lead bunch soon established and we were keeping up with them until the first biggish hill. We were only a few minutes behind. We had a genius plan. We got our way to the first checkpoint where it was decided we would go back onto the road which was well established. This proved to be a bad call on the team’s part, as the track in question was in supreme condition. We estimate the cost of that collective decision to be 5-7mins! Upon rounding the bend which would take us to the junction where the others came out Destry suffered his first flat tyre, a quick change (3-5min). We passed our support crew, which informed us we were 3mins behind the opossums, mothers close your kid’s ears, cause there was swearing. As we carried on we could see those rodents ahead, that just put more fire in us, I pitied the people behind us as the amount of tacks we were spitting someone was going to get a flatty. We flew past them not a word was said. We quickly got the next control and carried on only to suffer our second puncture, Karl’s rear tyre, we decided not to change but instead just pump it up. After we found out how to use Jenny’s air canister (3mins), which pumps the tyres up instantly - again the opossum cruised on by. Away we go again. As Destry picked up his bike he noticed the front was a bit spongy, another slow leak, he rode on it thinking he could make it to transition, but no, this time we pumped it up and changed wheels with Tiny’s as he being a lighter person air won’t come out as fast. Instead it was Karl’s rear tyre again, and again we just pumped it up, we made transition, a quick calculation of time for tactical error and punctures (20mins).
Second leg
After a quick carbo load we were off again this time in kayaks, through the outlet and oh my God, straight into waves, this was going to be along leg for Destry. He made it halfway across (after 5 or 6 tip outs) when again he tipped out, this time in front of the coast guard, they pulled alongside where he jumped aboard, sick of swimming he had had enough. Upon being taken to shore they ran into another kayaker swimming, greeting Trevor they loaded his boat on board as well. The first Opotiki person’s team member to shore was Tiny, as he couldn’t turn around, in fear that he would tip out. But the first Opotiki team to shore was the Opossums, slowly they got themselves organized and started to lug their boats across to the next lake. After they had gone Jenny turned up on the back of the coastguard boat, she too had managed to come most of the way only to get tipped out with 1km to go, now awaiting Karl who had paddled all the way, and to be fair Karl and Jenny had looked out for Destry helping where they could. He had a bit to go. He’s made it! He didn’t take long before he was ready for the portage across to the next lake. The Opossums had left 15mins before us, but again the determination showed, lugging our kayaks to the next lake. We arrived just as the Opossums left. We got in our boats and away we went. All the locals said” this lake will be easy as it’s sheltered,” they couldn’t have been more wrong. It was worse than the last one. Again Destry tipped out after about 600-700 meters. Again he had the loyal support of his team mates Jenny and Karl. He swam to the rocky shore line where the decision was made, he could probably get further down the lake but would not be able to get across, the only option was to carry his kayak back to the road over hongis track. After further discussion, Jenny and Karl felt it was too big a risk and decided they too would carry their kayaks back. We saw Tiny coming back, but saw him turn around, he decided not to come any further as he too might succumb to the lake for a swim, he instead found a couple of teams also stranded on the wrong side of the lake and waited for help. After every one had been picked up, the time had flown by, there was not enough time to carry on with the whole course, instead we opted to finish the last trek leg, not much to say about that trek, after a while we knew we were heading the wrong way on a well defined track, with nothing to play for, it was like. “Oh what the hell it’ll come out somewhere.”
That about sums our 2008 24hr adventure race up
There is always next year.
Some say, you can measure a person’s character on how they just take it on the chin and carry on with life. Ready for the next challenge!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

24 Hour Adventure Race Part 2 - Rotoehu!

We soon realised this paddle was going to be tricky with a follwing/side-on wind and quite a slop. Trev was quite stressed as a result of his previous swim and that this was about his fifth time in a kayak. We separated a bit as we were tossed around across the lake but I was determined to stay with Trev. About 3/4 of the way across, out in the middle, he tipped and by the time he came up the wind had blown his kayak away from him. I managed to get to him and have him hold on to the back of my kayak and told him to not worry about his boat which began to drift away. I saw Barry paddling to shore (to get a boat to help I soon discovered and not fleeing in denial!) and I called/shouted/yelled at Lea to come over where I convinced her to raft up with me. As we achieved this the rubber bungy Trev was holding onto broke and we drifted away from him.

I broke up the raft and paddled back to a fading Trev anf got Lea to raft up again. Without knowing how long it would take to get a boat to us and seeing Trev in quite a distressed state with the cold fashioned a way of getting him onto the back of my boat. I needed to convince Lea that we would not tip in doing so and he managed to scramble up and lie across the back. We now just had to wait because we were going no where. Trev was freezing and all we could do was rub his hands to keep him warm. Just as we were contemplating trying to access Lea's drybag to get some warm clothes we saw the boat that Barry had got, after some convincing, approaching.

To our surprise he was just going to go on past and recue some who had washed ashore. We convinced himthat Trev needed saving and in a great piece of driving he got beside us in the swell and pulled Trev on to his boat.

It was now left to Lea and myself to cut across the wind and chop to get to shore safely, which we did after meeting up with Barry at the entrance to the bay.

This was a great example of the team sticking together and sticking it out.

I had a few tears of relief and tension escaping as I met our support crew. But they warmed us up, fed us and the mighty Trev, knowing his boat was still out there and having been through quite an event, climbed on to his mtb and we set off on the next stage of the great adventure.

At this stage we were very worried about the Lost Wanderers. But all ended OK, but their race was close to an end at this point. Destry, I want you to type up a report on your team and email it to me to include on the Blog.

More to come. Go the Possums!

Whakatane 24 Hour Adventure Race

I have run a few marathons, done the Motu Challenge as a solo several times and also done the Coromandel 2 Day Classic as wellas the Colville Connection several times, but nothing compares with the 24 hour adventure race recently completed by the Opotiki Opossums.

The highlight for me was the tightness of our team, including supporters. As soon as the briefing was over we huddled down and plotted the course and confirmed all logistics including food and transport etc were in place. Excitement levels were high and it was difficult to sleep on the final night, especially since we had to rise at 4.00am to be at Matata for a 7.30 start.

We started with a MTB ride to Rotoiti and the team closeness came to the fore as I really struggled with this leg (3 hours sleep, driven 800k over previous two days and slept in three different beds!) but the team kept me going with Barry even pushing me along up some hills. It was on this leg that we came across fellow Opotiki Team the Lost Wanderers who made a navigation error and then got three punctures. We got to the kayak transition before them, but as we were enjoying the transition they raced through and hit the water before us.

The kayak across Rotoiti was incident-packed. We picked up the Lost Wanderers when Destry tipped out of his kayak. We struggled across the lake in quite a chop and wind with it being everyone for themselves as we attempted to stay upright. Trev fell out 800m form end and was rescued by Coastguard. It was a bit of a surprise to see Destry in the Coastguard boat. He had tipped a few more times. It would have been difficult to rescue in those conditions if they weren't there. Training companion and guru, Roger Armstrong, also tipped and was washed against a cliff face and was rescued 30 mins later by a fisherman when he was close to hyperthermia.

The next stage was a 3k portage of our waka which was bloody hard work. I didn't appreciate my big plastic sea kayak at that stage (but I was sure pleased with it on the next lake!!!) We got to the shores of Rotoehu just ahead of the Lost Wanderers and launched into the lake for a short paddle with a strong tail wind expecting a speedy and quite comfortable ride across. How mistaken we were.

Have to log out now and will continue on Friday when I get back from Auckland.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Waioweka Gorge and Manganuku Creek

We had our last major traing exercise today. The plan was to road bike 50k up to the Manganuku Creek and then scramble up the creek for a couple of hours to the hut and then return and cycle home. It was bloody cold with a frost on the ground when we set off just after 7.15am. Was I pleased my long cycling/trek pants arrived in time!

Can't remember who cycled because it was a big group but here goes; Barry, Lea, Trevor, Destry, Karl, Aaron, Roger, Johnny, Brazil, Teleri, Hedley, Dennis. Teleri and Hedley on MTBs turned around early and Dennis and Brazil headed back at the Manganuku.

Kurt, Jenny and Colin joined us and we changed into trekking shoes and headed off up the creek. There were heaps of river crossings, some waist deep and it was c-c-ccold! It started to drizzle on the way back and the highlight was the racing inanga, Aaron, taking 2 fully-immersed dives into the creek.

When we spat out on the road the old man of the group, me, jumped into Kurt's taxi and left the rest to bike home! Sorry team I was abit knackered from lugging my hunk of steel up the road earlier.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Training Continues

The thing about adventure race training is that you do something different every day.

On Tuesday night a largish group of us headed up Prentice's Hill. At the top a group headed on to the trig whike Barry, Trevor, Hedley and I headed back down and climbed near to the top again before meeting the rest of the group. This was a tough night for me so soon after Sunday, but the others seem to cope with it with ease.

Earlier in the afternoon Kurt, Lea and I had paddled around Ohiwa harbour (or was that the day before?)

It was great to have Wednesday off.

Today Lea, Trevor and I paddled for just over an hour in the Opotiki Harbour then met up with Barry for a night MTB down and up Old Creamery, down Verra;s and past Waiotahe school, up Brown's Rd and Verrals, back down and up Old Creamery and back to Barry's.

Riding in the dark was quite different and I'm glad we practised as I have to stop my lamp from sliding over my eyes. On the first time down Old Creamery I hit a possum on my bike. I thought I had only run over its back legs but it was buggared so when Barry went past he hit it with a fence post to put it out of its misery.

These are all portents, because our team is the Opotiki Opossums and in Possum folklore despatching a possum 9 days before an event is a good omen.

Go the Possums!