Last weekend I hit the road for the hour long drive to Dwellingup for my second adventure race the Adventurethon Dwellingup. This was a 3 stage race over Saturday and Sunday consisting of a 36km Mountain Bike Ride, 18km Trail run and 17km Kayak.
As usual the prep was relatively non existent. If you know me, you know this is pretty much the norm but it's not gonna stop me from having a crack and gettin' after it. Kudos to those who have and/or find the time to train adequately for 1 sport let alone 3. While I wasn't getting any mountain biking or paddling in at least I was running right.
The Adventurethon had 3 different race lengths (taste, enduro & ultra) and was organised as a stage race, which means each discipline is it's own event unlike a start to finish triathlon etc. I wasn't that keen on it to start with as I'd rather just get stuck into the hurt locker, stay there, and be done.
Saturday started with the Mountain Bike leg which was pushed back after none of us could actually find the starting line in amongst all the forest in the Nanga Bush area. It's such a sweet spot though. There was a crew of about 30 riders, some doing the short distances with a handful doing the long one. The ultra distance riders had 2 small and 2 big loops to do to make up the 36km.
The race started and we were straight up a hill, highest gear in full tilt. It only takes one person to slip, miss a line and they are off and walking and then so is everyone behind them. To be fair, no one was riding up the first hill and with 36km ahead it'd kinda be stupid to. This hill stretch was the longest and steepest of the day and the ultra riders would be going up it twice. Mental note for round 2, cut your losses and walk. At the top of the hill we made our way across to the funnest part of the race some sweet snaking downhills. There was time for a little glimpse toward the horizon but not for long, this part was all about speed and getting your line right into the burms. I was happy with how I went through this section, the space between riders was comfortable and I wasn't to keen on the brakes.
The initial downhill was our first small lap, we would pass back past the starting line and out for our long lap which was made up of a bunch of different climbs and downhills. Some clay, some sketchy pea gravel, some a tight single trail and some a bit wider and sweeping. Those were the fun ones.
I enjoyed the bike leg. The course was awesome, not too many hectic climbs and heaps of fun downhill sections. I'm more skilled riders would have an absolute ball oout there. Plenty of jumps as well but with tired legs and more racing to do I was happy to simply roll over them. Boring I know.
By the end of the ride, I could feel my old foe the cramping quads coming to say hello. At one point I had to hop off the bike to walk a hill and BANG both legs seized up. I was better off on the bike even if I was pedalling flat out and going nowhere fast.
The race finished with the same first downhill section. Knowing the finish was just at the bottom it was awesome to push myself that little bit more. I crossed the line 5th out of 13 riders for the 36km. Absolutely stoked with that.
After a couple of hours waiting around, eating and listening to podcasts it was time to hit the trail for the 18km run. I've run out in Dwellingup before and didn't find any good trails just boring old access round. I obviously didn't look hard enough because the first half of the run was absolutely my jam!
I was pleased to see a couple of our members Katie and Dudley had decided to sign up and join me on the run. Secretly I was hopeing to beat them both. I know relax hey. Whilst I would end up ahead of them I think Duds could push me at the moment if he really wanted to.
The run started with the biggest climb (again!) and my quads were not playing. As we all slowed to a walk the cramp was setting in already, just 700m into the 18km race. I rode it out and when we hit the flat top the pain began to supside and my legs actually started feeling great. The next 7-8km was right up my alley, single trail, at times really overgrown, just a really fun trail to run. Following a very overgrown, technical and muddy downhill, we crossed a creek and made our way on to the access road on the King Jarrah Trail. This is the same access road I'd found myself on when I ran out here before. I'll spare you the details other than, boring!
By this time I was running alone and had made some time on the folks behind me, including Duds and Katie. As I ran past one of the awesome volunteers manning a turn she let me know there where 4 people ahead of me, but a few minutes in front. I was cool with that and wasn't really looking to catch them. You can kind of sense at the start of these sort of races who are the legit runners. I got no business running 4-5 minute kms in the bush, not yet.
After what seemed like forever I left the boring access road back onto the trail and into the Lane Poole camping area. The start and finish of the race was at the Tree Top Adventure park. Before we finished the race we had to traverse one lap of the high ropes course. This was heaps of fun, but I was knackered and my brain wasn't keen for all the unhooking, hooking on, pull this, pull that of the ropes course.
With the 18km and ropes course done I crossed the line in 5th place out of 16 starters for the long run. Pretty happy with that after the cramp scare only a couple of minutes in.
The 17km paddle started in Pinjarra at 8am on Sunday morning and would see us paddle down the Murray River all the way to Ravenswood. After dropping the boat off at the start line nice and early. I drove back to Ravenswood, left the car and hopped in a shuttle bus to head back to the start. Confusing. There was only 3 of us on the shuttle and we began to wonder if this it. Eventually we would be joined by 3 more at the starting line. After a bit of a chat, I realised I was easily the least experienced when it came to paddling. Some of these guys had done Avon decsents or were part of paddle clubs. Then there was me, I've used this boat once for the Eagle Bay Epic. I can barely stay in the thing. I kind of new this would be the case. But these blokes were like, actual paddlers!
The 17km of Murray River winds itself north and south as it slwoly heads west from Pinjarra to Ravenswood. It was very scenic, plenty of bird life and suprisingly a couple of Dolphins having a splash around about 10km upriver from Ravenswood. Watching them splash about was a pretty good reason to have a rest and just float.
And there was lots of just floating. 17km is a long way on a boat when you haven't been training. My paddling was a mixture of slow and steady, fast and erractic and a floating rest. My first 7 kms took me an hour as I was still getting the hang of staying in the kayak. With an hour of practice under my belt and after becoming content with my burning shoulders I picked the pace up substantially and crused down river to finish comfortably last in a field of 6.
Overall, I was one of 2 people to sign up and complete the long lengths of all 3 disciplines. I'm stoked with how the weekend went and I'm not going to start letting a lack of specific preparation stop me from having a blast and climbing deep inside the pain cave. I love it. When's the next race? Let's rip in together.