Category: Triathlon & Multisport

Coast2Coast 2018

Circa December 2000 while in New Zealand on a tennis tour with my son I bought a book by John Acland on endurance training. The principles in the book helped me train for longer triathlons,which before I had never contemplated, and in it were inspiring photos of the Coast2Coast. In 2011 I bought a kayak and struggled through a multisport race from Marysville to Melbourne and the Coast2Coast again entered my brain but I put it on the backburner.

In 2016 my son James moved to Christchurch. Early 2017 , Wayne who knew I was doing multisport events, mentioned possibly doing the Coast2Coast . Lily and I visited Christchurch on the day the the 2017 event finished. The scene was set , Wayne would enter also , a 12 month journey began.

Firstly you have to get a grade 2 certificate in white water kayaking; I hadn’t seen a rapid for 40 years and they were tiny ones on the Yarra river. For me the only good option was with experienced NZ guides so I went back to NZ and completed that with Topsport kayaking . I also had the opportunity to reccie the run course with 2nd place athlete in the race Sam Manson. Next a support crew ; I got a commitment from Lily and James and signed up for the 2018 2 day event.

Training continued ad hoc , and my on call commitments meant I never got to any whitewater in Australia and had little time in the alps. November saw us back in New Zealand and I did a trip down the Waimakariri gorge with Topsport. The river was flowing at 150 cumics and was scary . I swam twice and got spun into eddies and wondered how I would get down the river without a guide. I took another opportunity to go over goat’s pass with Sam.

A week out from the race we were back in New Zealand and I again went down the Gorge with Topsport. The flow was high again. I got past the rock gardens without issue but again swam twice. The second capsize was particularly enlightening. While upside down I couldn’t find the tag to realease the sprayskirt. The water was so clear and everything looked so pretty but I came to a realization that I ought to get out if wanted to breathe again. I pushed my knee up through the sprayskirt and it came off. I was now floating rapidly down the Gorge and if not for Chris Stagg directing me to swim into an eddy behind a large rock I suspect I would have continued in the water for a lot longer. After Chris had helped prevent my impending hypothermia and fixing my pedal position in the kayak I got the rest of the way without incident .

The next few days I got my compulsory run gear and bike checks done , had to leave my bike overnight , WTF due to a recent upgrade it was brand new! We picked up an Apollo motorhome and drove to Kumara racecourse in time for registration and briefing ; James drove on his own and joined us later that night.

Race Day 1

The task ,start on the beach, run 2.2 k ,ride 55km (uphill,undulating ),run hike wade scramble 33 km over a mountain pass.

Support crew drop me and bike T1a drive to T1b assist with run gear , pick up bike drive to Day 1 finish and overnight camp at Klondyke Corner(easy cf day2 ! )

After getting dropped at transition and racking the bike I walked down to the start with the throng chatting to various people. I met Wayne on the beach and went down and touched the water. I met up with various training buddies I’d met including Jaci Sarah and Mark and wished them luck . Byron must have been near the front where he would be for the entire race. My intention was to run 4:40-45 pace to get in the right bunch which was essentially what I did despite being bunched in after the scramble up the rocks. For the first 30k of the ride I was in bunches from 6 to 30 and never did a turn – who wants an old man at the front anyway. After that I was swapping turns in a group of 6 though I noted there were 10 more hangers on when we entered the transiton at Aickens.

Transition is different to triathlon. You run past the crowd of assistants and your support crew have to spot you. The crew were well organized and transition was quick. I ran past the entrants for the Mountain Run and under the timing arch that signals the run start in 1:59 – (2.2 +55 +2 transitons under 2 hours gotta be happy ). The first 3 km of the run is relatively flat then you run past the Deception footbridge and cross through the river the first of around 30 water crossings and get the first taste of running on the rocks . Soon I discover I can’t tolerate the Clif bars I’ve brought and find I am slowing sometimes to a walk. I trip and fall onto the rocks hitting my knee and am helped up by some guys amongst whom is Wayne who checks I’m ok before he continues on. The terrain continues with a mixture of rocks, water and steep single track and I go back past Wayne while he is shedding a layer due to the heat. Soon we are into the boulders and it’s single file traffic . Scramble over boulders walk through water scramble over boulders walk through water…..

The sight of goat hut is a relief . I get out my ham and cheese sandwich as I get my gear checked . The view from the top and down the Mingha Valley is spectacular. I am able to start running again on the more forgiving terrain. After a while when you think you’re nearly down the other side there is what looks like a vertical rock wall in front of you that they call Dudley’s knob. Then it is downhill to the Bealey river. After crossing the river the terrain is flat but impossibly rocky and I take another fall and the tall guy behind me hauls me to my feet. Just after you hear familiar voices you climb up to the grassed area and down to the Day 1 finish. I meet with Lily and James and Wayne’s family and we wait for Wayne to come through. Then it is an early night as the support crew have a really early start the next day.

Day 2

Task ride 15k run 1k paddle 70k ride 70k

Support Crew , now this is tough.

Drive to Mt White bridge, leaving before 5 am, get kayak off Topsport prepare kayak take kayak and all compulsory gear to scrutineers put kayak and gear at startline. When competitor arrives assist with gear assist into kayak check rudder etc is working. Pick up bike drive to Gorge bridge transition put bike on rack have change of gear and nutrition ready. When competitor arrives assist where allowed . After competitor leaves pick up bike and gear and drive to New Brighton find a park and you might get to the finish before your competitor. Phew!

The first ride started in groups of 10 according to the previous days finish time. I was off at 0751. Simple enough ride ,15 k with 480m of climbing and 610m descending . I rolled with the front 3 or 4 all the way pulling them uphills and drafting on the big guys downhill.

At Mt White James met me across the bridge I racked the bike and James led me to the kayak. Finally getting in and making sure the pedal position was right and rudder worked I was underway. Passed a lot of people in the braided section and was paddling well. Got through the rock gardens without issue. The second serious bluff corner I cut too narrow and the eddy threatened to capsize me , I braced , stayed upright but the force tore the paddle from my hands. The paddle span temptingly vertical for a while in a boil as I tried to paddle to it with my hands . The jetboat graciously offered to retrieve the paddle for me but they had wait for a lot of traffic to pass before they could get to it . Now I’m going back past people I’d passed before. The gorge was great and I generally handled it OK then at about 45 k I had relaxed too much and went in on a boil. While on the bank emptying my boat I waved to Wayne as he went past. Underway again I chatted with the people again as I went past and had an encounter with a rockwall and a willow tree. I arrived at the Gorge bridge and the volunteers had to haul me out of the kayak . James met me at the water’s edge and guided me up the hill to transition, though I could barely walk.

Once on the bike the legs seemed to spin Ok. There was a small hill to climb and then it was into the headwind to Christchurch. Thought is was going to be a long day when a small group came past moving along at 38kph. After the turn right some guy organised the bunch into a rolling group which got larger and larger as we passed more riders . At the turn into Christchurch a group of 5 of us was away from the bunch and swapped turns the rest of the way . Just then had to run up the sandy steps to the finish . Had a beer or two in the recovery are and waited just a short while for Wayne to finish. Then sat in the crowd with James and Lil and watched Sam Clark finish in the one day event.

My support crew did a sterling job.

Next year , maybe the tandem event with James.

East Gippsland Challenge

Victoria had been having some great weather and I was looking forward in competing in this event at Lake Entrance on some dry mountain bike tracks ! Only the weather dumped 75mm of rain in two days . We exited the main street of Inverloch through an impending flood and the visibility on the road to Leongatha was appalling due to the rain. A facebook message from Serg assured that the event would go ahead , with some modifications , so we continued on to Lakes Entrance . The rain eased somewhat once we were over the Strzeleckis. At Lakes Entrance the rain had not yet arrived and at registration/briefing we were informed the kayak leg would be moved from the end  to the start of the race and shortened in case they had to get people off the water in a hurry. Overnight the rains hit Lakes Entrance in a big way . 

The Kayak leg became 3 loops of a triangular circuit in the north arm in flat water with persistent rain . It looked like a field of about 20 started with there being a few withdrawals . I kept just a little behind a group of 3 ahead of me and encouraged Wayne after each turn of the bouys. At the end of the 3rd lap I passed a solo female competitor and lapped the last of the ‘duo’ entries , then hit the beach 10 metres from where I was meant to be !

 The bike ride started with a steep climb on the bitumen out of lakes entrance . I felt like I was standing still as the girl who I passed on the kayak flew past me . After several kilometres of bitumen we turned into a motorbike access track which for the most part was rideable but the rain had created a couple of steep muddy climbs , and one competitor came past and had to also had to push his bike up the hill . This is the time you now wish you’d put on flat pedals instead of having cleats . After  bit more access tracks and fire road finally I reached the single track which despite a stream of water flowing down them were well groomed and fun to ride . Somewhere along Howard’s tack I heard the sound of brakes somewhere behind and noticed Wayne had caught up with me. After letting Wayne through we went up a bit of a climb and he seemed to intimate that I might like to come back past . There are a couple of ups and downs on this before you then reach the one way sign which signifies the start of the Lollipop track which is 2 km of roller coaster type track with dips , sharp turns  , some bridges etc . You need to be going flat out down the dips to make it up the other side . 

There was a small section after the lollipop  of a steep downhill followed by an uphill to the final fire road back to transition . I was flying down the hill when my front wheel caught i a ditch at the bottom and I was thrown forward over the handlebars . I was still connect to the bike , felt my helmet sliding along the mud , and then had intense pain in the lower chest and upper abdomen and my left calf , don’t think I’ve screamed so loud ever . I lay there for over a minute and figured my head and neck were OK and the pain was starting lessen. It seemed nothing was broken and bike was still in one piece( There was a least one other competitor crashed at the same spot I later found out)  . Another competitor came past as I was pushing my bike up the hill and asked if I was OK.  I got to Forestech and Lil met me with my run gear at transition , despite the still pouring rain. 

On the first few steps of the run every stride hurt the bottom of my chest but I figured my liver wasn’t ruptured and I could probably continue, albeit slowly,  the 16 km to Lakes . The run goes through some spectacular country initially along the Gippsland discovery trail . It is overall downhill but has some very steep climbs in amongst it , one of which I basically had to crawl up the mud . Like a lot of there events you are pretty much out there on your own once the field has spread out but I was passed by a couple of competitors in the last kilometre.

Serg and Maria from Adventure Junkies put on a great event that went ahead despite the conditions , and was the best marked course I’ve seen  , looking forward to more of their events . 

Link to Movescount track

Falls Creek Mountain Raid

James and I participated in the Adventure race at falls creek 19th and 20th February with Cara and debbie in tow as our support crew . Saturday started with a short mountain bike down to the lake . Unfortunately the support crew got lost on the way to T1 at the lake and a mishap with our kayak meant we were paddling rather chunky kayaks for the next leg . We’d dropped from 4th to last after our rather slow kayak leg. the next leg was a “moutainbike/trek” of Around 25km . Basically you rode your bike till you got somewhere near a checkpoint then trekked off into the bush to find it. we wasted considerable time hiking carrying our bike looking for one of the optional checkpoints which we never found . the trek to the next compulsory point was a trek up a steep hill through thick bush. the rest of the checkpoints on the rest of the leg were much easier to find . next leg was meant to be a surfboard paddle but with strong winds blowing and a lack of surfboards it became a short run/swim . we then took a short break to eat some food . the next leg was a doozy , another moutainbike/trek that would end eventually at bogong after around 50 km . the start of it was open enough though up very steep terrain . it then became a narrow hiking track often interspersed with fallen logs and wet areas . it was just a little to technical for me to ride a lot of it but jJames seems to be able to ride is bike over just about anything . the eventual descent was steep and a lot of it on bumpy fire road . we eventually had to make a decision to go past 2 checkpoints to get to bogong before another deadline of 5 pm to be able to start the next leg . coming into bogong our path was blocked by a locked gate and we had to scale down a steep wooded hill to the road. the next 3km was an orienteering leg around bogong interspersed by a ropes course . to our later detriment we didn’t take this leg too seriously. the final leg of the day was a short paddle round the lake at bogong and stopping and finding the checkpoints on of which was idden on a bridge a long walk from navigable water. 10 hours and 34 minutes out in the elements but when we found out our race time it was 34 hours ! 24 hours of time penalties , 3hours each penalty and six of them were in the 3km leg at bogong.

sunday started with a kayak leg . this time no kayak mishap . Our support crew however , who thought we would be much slower than the 1 hour quoted for the leg ,  decided to walk from the lake back to Falls Creek and did not arrive back before we finished the kayak leg 53 minutes later ! The next leg was a bike on the mountain bike trails at Falls . The early trails I could handle but soon for me it was too technical and James spent considerable time waiting ! next leg was a run/hike with most of the checkpoints off the track somewhere in the bush . we were able to find all the checkpoints though was almost 50 minutes finding the second one . The distance for the leg was quoted between 10-16km , but it was actually 20 km! We were unable to make the deadline of 2 pm for the leg which meant we had to skip  the next leg – and take a 12 hour time penalty – and  bike back to the falls village to the finish. A bit more specific training and we will be dangerous .


Anglesea Adventurethon


With transitiion opening at 530 ,I thought my late start at 0610 was going to be a problem bot soon discovered the laid back atmosphere compared to  triathlon . After setting up transition and getting the boat to the beach we waited. patiently on the beach. We had step back from our craft for a short run . There was enough surf to make things interesting . I held water watching a larger set go through as the tandem beside me capsized ,next thing an out of control ski that has got side on nearly takes me out . Into the moderate souwester it slow going , faster when we turn , 3 laps of a triangular course ,I am lapped by the leader but am about to lap the tail of the field when I reach the last buoy. I let a large set pass under and safely surf in on a small wave . The bike starts on sand then climbs up the great ocean walk on wide trail before we turn onto the single track. A lot of it is flowy enough but I find my concentration waning on the downhill and am dismounting on some of the difficult stuff ,I am soon having to let riders past . Climbing up past a guy on wide section ,who then follows me reach an intersection no arrows or tapes . We double back and find the tapes we’d missed , it was odd there was no arrow to direct us on what was a U turn , the rest of t he course was really well marked. I manage to negotiate the last single track descent with ruts everywhere to my surprise with some success . On to the run I soon have to learn a new race technique. We have to crawl under the bridge! The run continues along bush tracks with quite a hill in the middle . It crosses the wooden bridges in the wetland before following the river back to town . After crawling under the bridge again I am running te last kilometre pretty well ,and Lil is there to snap a pic as I cross through the water and she runs with me across the line . All in all a fun well run laid back event .