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TriHards Paddy Pallin 09-10 Series

Episode Two: Revenge of the Syds

30 November 2009

30 November 2009

TriHards Paddy Pallin 09-10 Series

Episode Two: Revenge of the Syds

Now that the team from AROC have conquered the world of adventure racing, and put together a number of tremendous events, combined with the introduction of their newest member, Archie, it would seem they wish to expand their horizons end embark on new ventures to create a vast, AROC empire for young Archie to inherit. They’re moving beyond merely adventure racing and into the realms of adventure landscaping. And the canny business minds at AROC have thought of a truly cunning way of not only saving costs, but making money whilst they do so! They get the racers to do the work. More importantly, they get an ever-growing number of teams of racers to pay to do the work!

It all adds up to the TriHards; the races outside of Canberra being held at budding resort locations, or land developments. The disciplines in the race: riding (ploughing the fields); running (sowing seeds through the fields) and swimming/paddling such that water may drip from racers as they run through; combined with running through marked areas - areas to be landscaped.

Previously, in the TriHards adventures:

The first episode saw the first official entry of the new, semi-permanent Sydney TriHards team; and like the Titanic, disaster struck the team in their maiden event when McFly (the only freak in the TriHards) twisted his ankle while negotiating a steep gully in the rogaine leg of the race, requiring the team to pull out of the race (no doubt he would have continued the race on one leg, however the Doctor ordered him not to!)

Perhaps out of sympathy for McFly, or perhaps it was merely an accident, but nary a few weeks later saw the Capt’n tear his calf muscle whilst negotiating a steep staircase at work, dealing yet another blow to the Sydney team’s dreams of beating the PANDSIs in the next event.

The Sydney TriHards ready to race
Fit (sort of) and ready to race!

Doc Runaway, being the only uninjured member of the team, was undeterred, and set off on the way of the Orienteer, to practice and learn more of the mystic art of navigation and running. She joined the Sydney Summer Series to gain even more knowledge and experience such that she would be prepared to face, and defeat her nemesis, Mr GPS.

Meanwhile, the PANDSI TriHards were going to great efforts to grow mos in an effort to raise awareness of men’s bums.

The PANDSI TriHards with their mos
Yes, they have mos. No, there is no need for a magnifying glass!

Race Day

The TriHards met at Glebe Park in Canberra to prepare for the race, picking up their registration kits and gathering the all-important pre-race coffees. McFly, while strapping his foot, reported that the doctor had said he probably shouldn’t push his ankle for a few more weeks, though he didn’t think that would be a problem (of course, to McFly, such a “sprint” race is merely a warm up!) The Capt’n said his physio was amazed at how much his calf had healed, and he too should take it easy. Nevertheless, both bold cripples elected to hobble on in the race.

The PANDSI TriHards gathered to compare their mos, being the first occasion they had seen each other during the month of Movember. All agreed the whole not shaving idea was great in theory, but the growth was ultimately very annoying.

With their maps marked up, courses planned (in as much as they could) and bags packed with water and guey goodness, the TriHards set forth for the race briefing, before catching buses back to Mt Taylor.

Start to TA1: Gathering the Seeds

The buses deposited the Classic Course race pack at Mount Taylor, where Tom gave everyone a quick briefing before they set off to gather 100 points from a variety of checkpoints located in the dry bushland of Mt Taylor. This, of course, included running through various sections of long, dry grass, to ensure the maximum number of competitors could collect the maximum number of grass seeds in their shoes, socks and anything else which hung low to the ground.

The starting group heading for the first checkpoint
So many competitors, so much grass!

Mr GPS was on the ball, having studied the map and plotted an excellent course which would have the TriHards following contour lines around Mt Taylor – they’d always be running on a slope, but at least there wouldn’t be too much up and down! They followed the pack to checkpoint H, then set off for E, before heading up the hill towards C, dodging vicious kangaroos, jealously guarding their grass seeds, on the way.

Roo guarding the grass
Father Brendan made a friend!

Noticing that M, worth 20 points, was just around the corner from C, Mr GPS led the TriHards around the corner of the mountain, with Father Brendan taking a fall on the way (after dodging a wayward water bottle!) It was at about this time that the PANDSI TriHards began to feel tremendous sympathy for the Sydney TriHards, with their two hobbled members, who would no doubt be in serious trouble on the sloping ground.

Gathering grass seeds through fields
The checkpoints provided ample opportunity to gather grass seeds!

After checkpoint M, Mr GPS managed to track in on all his satellites, and set off on a blistering pace towards checkpoint F, quickly followed by many other letters, so fast that your correspondent has completely forgotten the order, they were taken in such a blur. He became a checkpoint bloodhound, baying should the other two TriHards linger too long in punching a card, and setting off hungering for the next control. This caused some concern for the team, as they had planned on being in the second half of the field for the kayak leg; if this pace kept up, they’d have to read the instructions again.

With such excellent motivation and navigation from Mr GPS, the TriHards made short work of the rogaine leg, and ran into TA1 to gather their bikes and head for TA2.

TA1 to TA2: Transporting the seed

Ready to take a break from the heat of running, and looking forward to the wind rushing through their mos, the TriHards set off from TA1 for the bike leg to TA2 at Stromlo. This had them following fire trails behind Pearce, then on a downhill run into Chifley. They were just gathering speed and beginning to cool when, at the bottom of the hill, there was coppers-log cattle grid to be negotiated. No doubt this was to ensure that riders didn’t pick up too much speed and lose all their grass-seeds before reaching the delivery point!

Checkpoints one and two were gathered quickly as the TriHards, comfortable on their bikes, cruised past Chifley and into Weston. Then they continued up smooth, comfortable bike paths (not bumpy trail, which may jar seeds loose) to the path leading to Stromlo.

A Happy Mr GPS enjoying the ride
You can barely see the grass seeds weighing him down!

Shortly after crossing the Cotter Road at the designated points, a couple of the TriHards elected to dismount and lighten their loads before the climb up Stromlo; leaving their bikes and running behind bushes. A few other teams saw this, and must have thought the TriHards had found checkpoint three early, and ventured into the bushes to find the control...

So lightened, the TriHards moved off in search of checkpoint three. As they neared what they thought was checkpoint three, and spotted a crowd near a control a little way off the path, they ventured down to collect the control, only to find the crowd gathered about were novices, and it was in fact checkpoint 13! However, they did manage to collect a few more grass seeds on their way through.

Thus realising their mistake, they went back to the tried and true method of finding checkpoints, and referred once more to the map! Mr GPS located number three, and in no time at all, the card was punched, and they were on their way, through some comfortable paths, to checkpoint 4, with the mighty Mount Stromlo looming larger and larger in their view.

Then came checkpoint 5. Just a little climb up Stromlo, in the heat of a Canberra day, on light, dusty trails which reflected the sun back on the riders. They began to climb. And climb. The boys stopped for a moment, while Mr GPS, who was having a lot of trouble with the rise, checked out his bike, to find his front brakes were in fact locked on. The TriHards all knew he enjoyed a challenge, but didn’t realise just how seriously he took it!

View from checkpoint 5
There was a nice view beyond the checkpoint!

After much sweating, groaning, and wearing of brake pads, the TriHards reached checkpoint five; which not only provided some relief from the climbing, but excellent panoramic views of Canberra on a fine day! But this was a serious landscaping race, and there was no time to take in the views! There was work to be done! And single track beckoned!

So they went, down, down, flying at a furious pace through the single track, winding their way to checkpoint six, then TA3, and having a lot of fun on the way (not to mention getting dust in their mos!)

TA2 to TA3 : Sowing the seeds

Just to make things that much more interesting, the AROC team added some complications to the Stromlo rogaine leg of the race. The orienteering map provided only contained the location of checkpoint 7. Each checkpoint from 7 onwards would have it’s own copy of the map, which would indicate where the next checkpoint was. More than that, some checkpoints were doubled up, so that teams would have to choose between an a and b option as to which checkpoint to venture to.

So, the parched TriHards grabbed a drink from the bubblers at the Stromlo Centre, and headed out for checkpoint 7, where they found the location of checkpoint 8a.

It was now the truth of the race became apparent to the TriHards. Mount Stromlo had completely burnt out during the fires of 2004, and much of the area around Stromlo was still dry dirt fields, with some of the wetter areas, such as Holden’s Creek (the main section of the rogaine) covered in blackberry bushes. As the racers ran through to the checkpoints, these bushes would tear the seeds from their bodies; not only would the seeds fall, but they would take bit of flesh off the racer as well, to help fertilise the grass seed so that it may grow, and once more make grassy fields around Stromlo.

From checkpoint eight came the mystery of the termite mound of checkpoint nine; which was actually located somewhat away from the creek. Then, 10, 11 and 12 followed in relatively quick succession (with a number more scratches) before the team headed out to 13 and 14 to pick up a few more grass seeds before heading back to their bikes.

Grass starting to grow in the fields
Work must have already been done planting grass seeds in this field!

This leg took the TriHards much longer than they had anticipated, learning along the way that it’s a good idea to get the location of checkpoints exactly correct when you’re copying from one map to another. By the time they were back at TA4, slackening their thirst at the bubblers once more, they were keen to be back on their bikes and feeling the wind in their mos.

The PANDSI TriHards were quite shocked to see the hairy (with apologies to Doc Runaway), hobbling hobos of the Sydney TriHards (who had only not shaved for a few days) approach as they prepared to mount their bikes. Despite their injuries, they were only moments behind the Canberra branch! The PANDSI TriHards would have to work harder! They set off at a blistering pace through the bumpy single track in Stromlo Forest (no doubt to shake off the grass seeds collected when going to the controls of checkpoints 13 and 14!)

TA3 to TA4: No more seeds

Under clear skies, Mr GPS’s navigation skills took them directly onto the single track, crossing a couple of roads, and right onto checkpoint 15 - which wasn’t even marked on the map! From there, they cruised up some more single track, and onto some fire trails to gather checkpoint 16, before heading back to civilisation.

Along these trails, the Cyborg began to feel very wobbly on his wheels. He had initially thought that it was just riding in the softer sand of the fire trails, however on inspection, he discovered he had a flat tyre. So the team stopped in the shade of an underpass to give it quick refill before setting off to see how the other half live in leafy Yarralumla.

Smoother trails of Yarralumla
Smooth paths, leafy trees, an excellent respite!

Fire trail gave way to bitumen bike path, and green, shady trees as the TriHards gathered checkpoint 17 and headed down to TA4 for the swim leg - a leg they were actually looking forward to after the heat of the race!

TA4 to TA5: Surfin!

With all the landscaping work of the day done, the TriHards could now relax and enjoy the remainder of the race!

The wind had really picked up as the day went on, and the TriHards could spot quite a bit of chop on the lake. As they set their bikes aside, an AROC member informed them that the course had changed, due to time restrictions and the weather; this leg would be shortened for them. They didn’t need to climb the hill to gather checkpoint 25, nor were they permitted to paddle out to Acton Peninsula, Springbank Island and Black Mountain Peninsula. They were only to paddle out to Spinnaker Island to gather checkpoint 24 and back. Looking at how fast the windsurfers were flying across the lake, they didn’t complain!

The choppy lake
The windsurfers had a fair pace out there, but didnt offer a tow!

Despite the strong winds, the team paddled well out to the lake to gather the checkpoint, enjoying the misty spray settling on their mos. From there, with the wind aft of the kayak, for a bit of extra fun the Cyborg steered the kayak out of the wind, to give the greatest tailwind and see if it was possible to catch the foot-high waves of the lake in the AROC bathtubs! And it was! The boys got a few rides from the waves on their way in, much to their pleasure.

But trouble awaited them on shore.

TA5 to Finish: We’re one big, happy family

Arriving back at the TA, the PANDSI TriHards discovered that the Sydney TriHards had once more caught up with them. Even worse, they didn’t have to do the paddle leg! This meant they were on an even footing (well, those with functioning feet)! Both teams mounted their bikes and began to head towards the finish at Glebe Park, via checkpoint 26.

After a competitive start, which saw Doc Runaway come a bit too close to the Cyborg’s unstable bike and recieve a nudge, the teams began to talk amongst themselves, and elected to complete the race en masse. So they continued down the nice, smooth paths, and up to the Commonwealth Avenue bridge, where the full effects of the strong winds could be felt. The poor PANDSIs, found that their proud mos were catching the wind, almost blowing them off their bikes as they crossed the bridge!

The Cyborg with a mo
Theres the mo. No, look at the mo, not the wrinkles!

Together, they all made short work of checkpoint 26, and headed to Glebe Park via the bike paths and overpass. The frontrunners stopped at the entrance to Glebe Park to wait until both teams could gather, and they all rode in at once. But the competitive streak wasn’t over; with the finish line in sight, the Cyborg (representing the PANDSIs) and the Capt’n (representing Sydney) made a dash for the line; keen to get in ahead of each other. Fortunately, the Cyborg saved face for the Canberra branch, and beat the Capt’n through, leading to two confused race officials wondering where the remainder of the teams were (a question that was answered in a matter of seconds as the rest arrived).

Cyborg beating the Captain across the line
Yes, that is the Cyborg across the line first!

All in all, it was an excellent race on an interesting Canberra day! And it was injury free! And nobody lost any equipment! Many thanks again go out to the AROC crew for putting together another fantastic event!

The TriHards gathered at the finish
One big, happy family!

Race Stats

Date: 28 November, 2009
Location: Mt Taylor to Glebe Park, Canberra
Rating: Excellent adventure
PANDSI TriHards: Mr GPS, Father Brendan and Cyborg
Sydney TriHards: Cap’n, Doc Runaway and McFly
Results Rogaine 1 Ride 1 Rogaine 2 Ride 2 Paddle Ride 3
PANDSI TriHards: 0:52:31 1:30:09 1:17:58 1:25:38 0:17:29 0:25:20
Sydney TriHards: 1:15:18 1:31:16 1:00:09 1:33:38   00:28:42
Event website: AROC Sport site


  1. Finished quite a long race!
  2. Finished quite a long race without injury or loss of equipment!
  3. Finished quite a long race without injury, loss of equipment and with mos intact!

Lessons Learned:

  1. Gators look funny, but they’re really functional!
  2. If you plan to wear gloves, wear them, otherwise put sunscreen on your hands. Especially if you’re wearing a long-sleeved top. Otherwise your hands will get burnt, and you’ll look like you’re wearing red gloves for a week!
  3. If you’re going to copy checkpoint locations, get it right! (Preferably using rulers, compasses and protractors to make sure it’s exactly right!
  4. Mos add extra weight and wind resistance, which is obviously why the PANDSI TriHards didn’t make the cutoff for the full kayak leg.)