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TriHards Podium in Belanglo!

1 April 2016

1 April 2016

TriHards Podium in Belanglo!

Adventure races, and in particular sprint-level adventure races seem to be becoming few and far between on the racing calendar. The TriHards, who used to race four in a season, now do but one a year. Fortunately, that single race is the Mountain Designs Adventure Race, run by In2Adventure - a race of such quality to suffice the TriHards for a year. And the In2Adventure team, cunning operators as they are, have also thought of a way to extend the racing field: dropping teams of three down to pairs.

This not only has the benefit of increasing the number of teams, but it also seemed to result in a number of couples taking to the field. Surely, nothing could be more of a relationship tester than an adventure race! Though, surely nothing could possibly improve a relationship more than running around Belanglo State Forest with a bunch of strangers on a beautiful Autumn day.

Fortunately; the TriHards would not have their relationship, such as it is, tested. After all, amongst the most important keys of any key relationship are open communications and clearly understood goals and boundaries. I know, because the internet told me so. And the team of the Cyborg and Mr GPS had this in spaces. In fact, they had already agreed on a set of modified Junior goals for this race.

Avid readers may remember Junior's goal list from the first Mountain Designs race the TriHards undertook way back on 2013. Can’t remember them? Well, that’s a link, you can go back and check it out. We’ll wait. What? You were born after 1990 and just reading one article is hard enough, you don’t have the attention span for two? Okay, okay. Junior’s goals are:

  1. Get to the start. (Believe it or not, life can often get in the way of racing - in fact, so far the Cyborg has entered both of the Snowies MTB stage race events run by In2Adventure and failed in this goal in both!)
  2. Get to the finish. (Again, not a given, particularly in an adventure race in Belanglo State Forest!)
  3. Don’t come last.

Though, the TriHards of this race, who had not taken part in an adventure race for, well, a year, being much more interested in the experience than any form of competition, elected to alter the third goal to :

  1. Don’t get injured (seriously, see 1).

So, with a clear understanding of their expectations, the TriHards headed down to the start arch to listen to the race briefing, at the conclusion of which team leaders were corralled up behind the carpark. Fortunately for the TriHards, who have no leader as such, Mr GPS elected the Cyborg to be locked up.

Team leaders locked away
Nothing like being herded into a corral in Belanglo State Forest...

This first leg was also the first true relationship tester of the day. One team member had to stand in a fenced off area, while the other navigated, by bearings and distance, to retrieve keys. The Cyborg laughed along as the guy next to him said he was racing with his partner, who had agreed to enter so long as she didn’t have to use a compass! Not a good start to the day - though she did seem in good humour when she ran across to ask him for the bearing.

Running adventure racer
Mr GPS running, confident in his navigation skills.

Meanwhile, Mr GPS - by far the more suitable candidate for this leg - stuck to his navigation plan for the day: sure and steady. That may also mean slow, but in an adventure race, sometimes slow is faster. And sure enough, he collected the keys so that the TriHards could commence the remainder of the race around their cherished position of the bottom third of the pack.

From here it was onto the bikes and some forest road riding. Some roads were a bit rougher than others, but all in all, it was a relatively easy ride leg - both in terms of navigation and effort. The crazy climbs from the year before seem to have disappeared from the course. It was interesting to note that despite the ride being in a relatively small area, very few teams seemed to stumble across each other until they approached the transition area.

The transition was from bike back to boot, and a trek through the forest, starting with marking the checkpoints onto the map based on a blown-up copy at the TA. The TriHards had seen these tricks before, and were ready with a sharpy! The checkpoints mainly fell quite easily, save for the last one near a rocky outcrop. That proved to be a lot more elusive than the map suggested, and it was only after the Cyborg made a blood sacrifice on a rock (via his shin) that the checkpoint became apparent.

On their return to the transition, the TriHards counted the number of bikes. Four. Two teams. And the other was approaching the TA check-in! And they were closer! So the Cyborg put on a bold sprint to hold the TriHards out of last place. Not that they care about that sort of thing...

Happy adventure racers switching to bikes.
Much easier to smile when you’re not coming last!

So, the TriHards headed out in second-last place on the second mountain bike leg; which was fairly easy, with a little bit of rough stuff thrown in, prior to returning to the HQ for another relationship tester: the rope obstacle course.

The rope obstacle course requires both team members to don harnesses which tie them together. They then have to clip onto a rope, and navigate through a course without unclipping from the rope. This includes navigating some of your standard obstacle fare, such as crawling under a cargo net, through to more complicated matters, such as climbing through the fork in a tree, or navigating through a rope loop without becoming irrevocably tangled. It really is harder than it looks, and takes a bit of team work.

Being the excellent team players (or, not really caring about time) the TriHards made it through the obstacle course, perhaps not quickly, but definitely with a few laughs, which was good because then they were onto what felt like a never-ending run leg!

In reality, it wasn’t that far. It was just that time of day. Which wasn’t helped by the Cyborg, who started to talk about lunch, which couldn’t come soon enough after running through a large Scout camp setup, complete with various huge barbecues! But the Trihards couldn’t stop - there was a new activity to try out at TA9!

This activity was new and, judging by the team still trying, looked to be quite challenging! One team member had to put a ball into what could only be described as a huge slingshot (slung between two trees) and fire a ball, while their team-mate had to run around with a bucket and catch the fast-flying ball. This was even more complicated because the soft, foam balls would bounce in the bucket, so even if you were lucky enough to get it in the right place at the right time, chances are it would bounce right out!

The Cyborg took first turn on the slingshot, proving that he just shouldn’t be in charge of any sort of projectile by almost putting a ball into the other team’s bucket! Mr GPS took over firing duties, putting a ball almost straight into the bucket to get the game going again.

And by game, we mean of course, bush bashing! Fortunately Mr GPS started channelling Engine, and the TriHards began bush-bashing proper, taking shortcuts off the road and into the jungle, landing almost directly on top of their checkpoints. Even the one next to a stagnant puddle described as a waterfall!

But all good things must come to an end, and it was time for the last leg - a run back to the HQ (via another two checkpoints). These fell fast enough, though there was some fun on the way to the very last checkpoint.

Somehow, the TriHards managed to catch up to another team chasing the same checkpoint through some bush, when one of their members called out “spider” and did the all too famous web-dance (don’t pretend you don’t know what it is), which made the Cyborg laugh out loud. Naturally, he then walked into a spider web, complete with a desiccated bug in the middle, to the mirth of all. But, at least the way was clear for the remainder of the bottom third of the race pack!

Mr GPS led them bush-bashing towards the end, until the finish line came in sight where the boys brought up their best running performance - and the Cyborg even podiumed! Well, he jumped on the podium, and received a loud crack for his efforts - just going to show that these races really are meant for the whippets!

Racer on a podium
Everyone’s actually smiling because the podium didn’t break!

All in all, In2Adventure put on yet another fantastic event, in a great location, with lots of fun and variety. We’d like to thank all the volunteers - in particular the marshal who lied to us about there being a coffee machine in the middle of the bush. That’s just cruel.