We travelled to Wanaka , a 5 hour drive south of Christchurch for the Red Bull Defiance multiposrt race , James and I were entered in the team of 2 event , a 2 day race with 6 legs and you have to start and finish together and Lily was entered in the Skyline traverse , the last leg of our race .Friday afternoon we registered for the event and has to do our preparation , putting everything in the supplied duffle bags for transition from MTB to run and from run to kayak , and finally drop off our mountain bikes which would be taken to the start for us .
Miniaret Burn MTB 42 km 3:51
Saturday involved a bus trip to other side of the lake followed by a barge trip across the lake to the start at Miniaret station. We collected our bikes and prepared for the start and figured we’d just place ourselves about mid pack . The first section was relatively flat and it was a fast start . It was apparent early my legs weren’t up to the pace James thought they would! The first 12 km was flat with a few steep pinches then you hit the first of the climbs . There are 3 shorter climbs on fire road which seem to increase in grade from 6 -12 % and we have to walk the steeper sections . You then come back down to lake and hike a bike across the Miniaret burn and cross the beach before starting the West Wanaka Rd climb. This is narrow single track at 15% with occasional mud ! We pretty much push the bikes the whole way . This is followed by a steep descent back to the lake then undulating terrain to the transition over the West Wanaka brdige . I am sure James is frustrated by my inability to descend somewhere close to his speed . 3hours 50 minutes for 43 km being a lot longer than we anticipated.
Rocky Mountain Run 8.5 km 1:44
A ‘run’ leg is next with a kilometre of undulating single track followed by a climb of over 300m in 2 km on a heavily vegetated track. Once up the top you descend onto the ‘abseil entry ‘. On entering the waiting area there are at least 30 teams waiting to abseil . And it is now pouring rain and cold . We don thermals and waterproofs and eventually a tarpaulin is erected and we all crowd under it while we wait our turn to go down the cliff.
After more than and hour and a half we finally get our turn .There are 4 ropes and the girls in front of us are connected and jsut starting to descend. We are connected by a figure 8 device with a Prusik not as a safety back up . After connecting us the guy says we can try and overtake the team in front which we duly do as we go fdown the 40 metre vertical face . After disconnecting we then have to get down a steep muddy section of single track , which is much nore dangerous the the abseil . We finally get to flat ground and are able to run the last 3 ks into transition .
Lake Wanaka Kayak 18 km 2:09
After grabbing our life jackets and kayak helmets we have to run 1.5 km to the kayaks. We set the foot rests and pedals with me in the front with the steering pedals and James in the back. The first section across Glendhu bay is flat water and we make up some significant ground and actually go past several teams including a pair of Australian who were struggling after runing into a rock . After we turn around the final headland and paddle with the residual waves , the wind having now died down somewhat , to the finish for day 1 at Edgewater resort. The final task of the day was to drop our prepared duffle bags back at the resot for day 2.
Clutha River Kayak 20 km 1:48
Day 2 started early with a kayak across the lae and down the Clutha river . There were no announcements when we got down to the water . It seemed you just selected organised your own kayak and got it in the water at what seemed to be a generally agreed time. Once on the water one of the official boats did set a start line and count down to the start. Ther was a signifcant headwind and the first section was into wind and waves . After rounding the headland there was bit of surfing then of the waves before enetering the river . The river flows fast but the few rapids are relatively easy to navigate.We make up a bit of ground by picking some of the faster flows. The last rapid we pcik what appears to a fast movinf wave train to the right of an island only to find it halts in an eddy before the main flow and we lose a few places to the teams that picked the left channel. We hit the bank at the kayak finish then have to run 2 ks to the transition at Oxbow.
Criffel Peak Ride 26km 4:01
At transition we were expecting a Clay target shoot but now it was a knife throw. James knife sticks in the hay bale so we proceed straight to our bikes. On exiting the transition one of the Giant mechanics is there and we can clean and lube our chains which are still muddy from yesterday’s ride , as we didn’t have access to the bikes after day 1 finish, After a short ride over farmkand we are soon on the climb to Criffel peak. It is all mainly fireroad and just winds and climbs , Janes is pushing me some of the early sections where the terrain is suitable . We are however reduced to walking much of it as are most the competitors. Before the final bit of climbing there is a downhill traverse on narrow single track with rocky grassland either side. I hit a rock and ride off the edge and go over the bars . I am not particularly hurt but it affects my confidence on the downhill sections to come. After reaching the peak the descent is steeper . It is through farmland and we have to stop multiple times to go over stiles and fences . At each stop the two girls teams we had passed earlier catches us and after the stile we go ahead .The pattern continues . On a really steep grassy section my rear wheel slides out and I come down again but manage to keep my self from going into the farm fence. After James collects my bike and I collect myself we continue on . Once at the bottom we cross a creek and come into the transition at Cardrona.
Skyline Traverse 28 km 5:47
We spend a fair time in transition. The run starts on open grassland but is soon ascending on steep fireroad. We walk the steep climbs and run the downhills . We go past the two girls who had snucj past us in transition and are moving pretty well . We kake the cut off at Mt Alpha .Then it is the traverse to Mt Roy which is steep up and down on a narrow track . It is now windy and cold up ob this ridge. I have come to an almost standstill . Seems this is kikey hypothermia starting which my som recognises an we put on a warm clothes and wind breakers . Several team now go past us on the final ascent to Roy’s peak . The marshall at the top fortunately has some electrolyte which I put into the water in camel pack . It does seem then I am invigorated while consuming this on the down hill into the Roy’s peak carpark. We run in company with the two girls we passed on the descent butt have caught us on the flat. Somehow we find the energy to pull away from them and run the last 4 ks to the finish – maybe the Red Bull kicked in . We were happy to get to get to the finish and complete the event . Our total time was 19 hours 23 minutes. It’s a privilege to be able to race with my son in such a challenging event .