Team Macpac Girls on Top
Check out our blog .... http://girlsontopconz.blogspot.com//
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Debbie Chambers - Team Captain
Debbie has been involved in the outdoors all her life. Her most memorable adventure was cycling through Asia from Japan to New Zealand in 1993. She has been competing in the sport of adventure racing since 2000. Over the past decade she has raced in numerous adventure races ranging from 24 hours to 7 days both locally and internationally. Her Adventure racing exploits have seen her racing through the New Zealand Alps in the Southern Traverse, the Amazon jungle in the EMA, coastal and inland regions of Brazil in the Ecomotion and through the outback and wilderness of Australia in the XPD and Geoquest.
She started her racing career with Team sportzhub.com but in more recent times has been the driver of the Girls on Top adventure racing team which is New Zealand’s most successful all women’s adventure racing team. She loves the teamwork aspect of Adventure racing the most but also raves about the freedom of being able to race through the night and the amazing places you get to explore. “There is nothing more satisfying than completing a gruelling 750 km adventure race that takes you through the most incredible scenery and pushes you and your teammates to mental, physical and emotional extremes.”
When not adventure racing, cycle touring or out in the outdoors training she manages the girlsontop.co.nz website and helps organise fortnightly runs around Auckland. Her passion for being in the outdoors is infectious.
Debbie is based in Auckland and works for Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development where her job is to promote Auckland as a study destination for International students
Anne Lowerson - Team Navigator
Anne has always been active and loves getting into the outdoors. She has cycle toured through Asia and many parts of Australia; hiked in Nepal, North India, Australia and New Zealand; and done a number of kayak camping trips in New Zealand and Australia. What a great way to see the world !!
In 2000 she discovered adventure racing after competing in the Aqua Terra adventure race in Auckland. She was immediately hooked as it combined all the sports she loved as well as her other passion of orienteering. Ten years on she has competed in numerous adventure races ranging from 12 hours to 7 days in New Zealand, Australia and Europe. She is addicted to expedition length races and thrives on the unknown element of adventure racing. "Adventure racing is like a box of chocolates - you never know where you are going or what you a going to be doing until you get there."
When she is not exploring and adventuring Anne is the Assistant Director of Studies at an English Language School.
Jill Westenra - Team strategist
Jill got into the sport of adventure racing by accident in the 1999 Southern Traverse. Her main focus was to win the Coast to Coast individual in 2000 but friends thought it would be good idea for her to try multi day racing. So she did !! Since then she hasn't looked back and over the past 12 years she has had the pleasure of competing in numerous multisport and adventure races. She loves the adventure and the travel to different parts of NZ and the world that Adventure racing offers.Adventure Racing has given her experiences, both physical and mental, that she may probably wouldn't have experienced as an individual mutli-sport athlete.
When Jill is not out tramping or biking in the the hills of windy Wellington or battling the breeze on the harbour she loves to spend time with her animals. The hardest thing for her with off-shore events is leaving her pets, luckily she has a great partner (Trev) and friends to take care of them.
For the past 4 years Jill has been working with special needs young adults - taking them on adventures thru physical activity. She has been able to pass on the experiences gained from her personal and sporting life to these young adults. She finds this line of work full of very rewarding experiences and it has given her a much wider insight into how others think and react in different situations. She likes to take the lessons learned in her job and apply them to her races.
Isaak (Sakkie) Meyer - Back up navigator, Team pack horse
Jo Forbes - 2nd Navigator
Jo has been passionate about the outdoors since she can remember and has enjoyed many an adventure in New Zealand’s outdoors. Jo started competing in Adventure Racing back in 2000 in the Southern Traverse and has competed many since, along with a number of XPD’s in Australia.
She loves endurance Adventure Races due to the strategy, navigation and teamwork involved whilst also being out there having a good adventure with friends. A highlight for Jo is seeing the most spectacular scenery at different times of the day such as traversing the tops in a full moon or seeing the sun rise whilst coming back down to the bushline. When not Adventure Racing, Jo enjoys mtb adventures, tramping & Rogaining. Jo is based in ChCh working as a Quantity Surveyor for Ryman Healthcare Ltd.
Ally Davey - Team Strategist - GOT founderPassionate for the outdoors and everything about it Ally founded Girls on Top to inspire other ladies to experience the outdoors. She has a grown to love high mountains after following her team mates up every high hill they could find... After a short one year stay in Australia and experiencing spider webs big enough to bounce her back when she ran into them on the track and managing to advert being eaten by great whites in the Sydney habour she moved to Germany to the land of Bratwurst and Beer. She combines her love of mountain biking and paddling through the Alps and has learnt to appreciate what a real mountain is. Her goal is to continue to aspire other ladies to step outside their comfort zone and try a new adventure. She is excited to race the XPD world championships after many years of racing with the two best friends she started the sport with, a friendship that has endured the good times and the bad and like a MacPac jacket still continues to provide protection in the toughest of elements
Zoe Albon is a member of the all kiwi, women's team Macpac GOT (Girls on Top), who finished 16th out of 48 of the world's best adventure racers in the week long XPD Expedition Race in Cairns. She shares her leech story (not for the faint hearted),...
Zoe Albon Interview - click here
Team Macpac Girls on Top consisting of Debbie Chambers, Anne Lowerson, Zoe Albon and Viv Prince is heading off to Cairns Australia to participate in the XPD; code for an extreme adventure race, a 700km kayak, raft, mountain bike and walk/run based out of Cairns Australia.
The XPD is Australia’s own expedition length adventure race. In just over a weeks time on May 19, 47 teams from over 7 different countries including ‘Team Macpac Girls on Top’ will be embarking on an expedition into the unknown. The teams will travel by kayak, raft, mountain bike and on foot and will navigate their way from checkpoint to checkpoint sleeping when and where they dare. This type of adventure race pushes competitors to their physical and mental limits. These adventurers will race day and night over a 700km course.
XPD is open to mixed, all male or all female teams of four. The exact course is kept secret until 24hrs before the start. Then with much excitement and anticipation, teams are provided a course booklet and their race maps. The course booklet contains the location of each of the race checkpoints. Once teams start, racing is 24 hours per day; teams choose when and where they will sleep. The winning team is expected to complete the course in 4-5 days. All other teams will be permitted up to 10 days to complete the expedition without mid-race cut offs. XPD will be challenging for first time racers and experienced teams alike.
Follow our every movement in the race at … http://geocentric.geo-loco.com/xpd/
October 6, 2009
Girls on Top Adventure racing team gets sorted for the XPD Adventure race in Cairns May 2010.
The team that had success at the Geo Quest in Aussie in June (Debbie Chambers, Anne Lowerson, Zoe Albon, and Erin Roberts) will again come together to take on this 750km challenge based in Cairns Australia in May 2010.
August 2009 - Interview after the Geo Quest June 2009 - Craig Shadbolt interviews Debbie Chambers
1. How long have Girls On Top been together as an adventure racing team? What got you started in these events?
The Girls on Top Adventure Racing team was started in 2004 when Ally Davey, Anne Lowerson and I, in a pub of all places, talked about an all girls team. We had all been adventure racing in other teams but thought it would be fun to put an all female four person team together to see what we could achieve. We haven’t looked back.
2. Who made up your support crew for Geoquest ’09 (and have they always been helping you out?)?
Our wonder boy support crew consisted of Craig Gibson and Steve Cooper. Craig flew over from Queenstown, New Zealand to support us and Steve who runs www.sleepmonsters.com.au and is based in Sydney came up to Forster to help us out. Not only was Steve our support crew but he also supplied us with two fantastic Ruahine Duet double kayaks and two vehicles for us travel from Sydney in and to use during the event. These two guys are the dream team when it comes to support crew. They even know when we are about to turn up at transition and always have hot noodles at the ready. They also supported us in 2008 and we hope they will be there again in 2010
3. What was you preparation for Geoquest ’09?
This was the first time we had raced or even trained together as a team so our team preparation was lacking, however all of us are very active and compete in different events around New Zealand. This year's team was made up of Anne Lowerson, Zoe Albon, Erin Roberts and myself (Debbie Chambers). Anne, Zoe and I competed in last year’s Geo Quest with Ally Davey. Since then Zoe has competed in a number of mountain running events in the South Island, Anne and I competed in the XPD in Thredbo Australia in November with two Aussie blokes, the ARC 24 hour event in the Coromandel in April as a two person female team and the Whakatane 24 hour event as a 4 person female team in May. Erin also competed in the ARC in a 4 person mixed team, she joined us for the Whakatane race, and spent a week with the New Zealand Mountain bike orienteering team in Melbourne just before heading to the Geo Quest.
4. What are the individual strengths of the team? Who does most of the navigating?
Individually we are all reasonably fit and accomplished but we wouldn’t be the fastest individuals out there. Our biggest strength is how we work as a team. We communicate all the time, we focus on helping each other out and we race our own race. So many teams get distracted by what other teams are doing. We are simply out there to do our best against the course. Anne does most of our navigating with Erin stepping in as back up navigator when needed. We all play a part in the navigation process particularly when going off track and working off compass bearings. It is really important for all team members to be aware of where we are going and what is coming up.
5. What was your favourite part of the race?
Our favourite part of the race? I guess the most memorable is running along the beach with a full moon knowing we had come out of the difficult navigation section in the final trek leg in reasonable shape. We knew we had lost a lot of time on that leg but we also knew a whole lot of teams were in the same boat and we felt we had handle the difficult navigation well. The night kayaking was also pretty cool.
6. Any amusing episodes that you are able to share with us?! What was the worst part/lowest moment for the team?
Our least favourite part of the race was the rafting/ tubing section where we had to make a raft out of 8 tubes, four pieces of wood and two bits of rope. We had designed our craft for stability rather than speed and to be truthful had not put much thought into the design. Soon after launching the boat Erin and Anne who were sitting at the back were being catapulted into the lake by a bulging tube, this resulted in uncontrollable laughter and very little forward movement. We were forced to turn around and had a rather intense debate about whether we should totally redesign or stick with what we had. We stuck with the current design and set off dreading the next 5km ahead. This leg was rather demoralizing as other teams sped past us in their more sleek well designed craft. We were forced to resort to singing 10 green bottles and row row row your boat just to keep us from going insane.
7. What are your thoughts about the course generally?
We love the Geo Quest courses which is why we have done three of them. They have a touch of everything and always take you through the most amazing scenery that you would never get to see normally. I think the thing which I like most is the navigational and logistical challenges that the Geo Centric team add to their events. There is always a section of the course that has you bush bashing and relying solely on your compass and there are always lots of route choices and strategic decisions to make. These events are true adventure races and force you to call on all your resources, skills and team to get through. I also like the fact that they do not use mountain bike legs to simply link up to other parts of the course. They are not afraid to use car drops to move competitors to more suitable areas. Although I personally get car sick and hate trying to sleep in a moving vehicle I do appreciate the effort these guys make to ensure each leg is a scenic treat.
8. How would you compare Geoquest to other events you have done? Would you recommend this to other people (especially fellow kiwis)?
As a New Zealand team it is so refreshing to race in new areas and against a new bunch of people. I would totally recommend this race to any team.
9. How did it feel to cross that finish line, and also find out you won the All Female Category?!
It is always a great feeling of accomplishment completing any adventure race. This one was particularly rewarding as a few hours earlier as we struggled with finding a control we were concerned that we may not even get to the finish line let alone finish as the first female team, and 12th overall out of 44 teams
Kiwi women lead the way in the GeoQuest adventure race in Australia. Taking on the 48 hour race near Forster 200km north of Sydney the team of four not only beat the Australian women they also showed them how to finish a race. (Sportzhub.com)
The New Zealand team ‘Girls on Top' - Aucklanders Debbie Chambers & Anne Lowerson, Zoe Albon from Queenstown & Erin Roberts from Rotorua traversed the Barrington Tops national park, Forster Great Lakes areas by foot, mountain bike and kayak taking 43 hours and 49 minutes to complete the mini expedition race. The two challenging Australian women's teams failed to finish, one mid race due to hypothermia and other close to the finish.
The ‘Girls on Top' performance stood up well against the open teams placing 12th overall, ahead of the ‘all men's' teams.
"It was a really tough race over 230kms, a lot of navigation, there was rain, it was cold so the conditions were pretty tough out there." Commented team captain Chambers after the race.
Some time was lost earlier in the race when the Kiwi girls crafted a raft out of eight tubes, two bits of rope and a couple of boards. No sooner were they on the lake when they had to return for a redesign and rebuild, losing 90 minutes to Australian Team ‘Cowgirls'.
Top Kiwi overall was Mike Walker racing in Australian team ‘Tasman' placing 5th in 35hr 21mins, just over 4 hours behind the winners team ‘Dude where's my Bruno' Craig & Brett Stevens were recruited into Australian team ‘Mountain Designs' finishing 7th overall in 36hr 48min. The title of top ranked all Kiwi team went to Team ‘Nga Rakau' which included Tim Cochrane, Louise Mark, Isak Meyer & Mark Struthers who finished 10th in 39 hoursThe New Zealand team ‘Girls on Top' - Aucklanders Debbie Chambers & Anne Lowerson, Zoe Albon from Queenstown & Erin Roberts from Rotorua traversed the Barrington Tops national park, Forster Great Lakes areas by foot, mountain bike and kayak taking 43 hours and 49 minutes to complete the mini expedition race. The two challenging Australian women's teams failed to finish, one mid race due to hypothermia and other close to the finish.
Debbie Chambers - Radio Sport Interview - May 2009
The Whakatane 24 hour – Girls on Top Race report – May 16, 17 - 2009
After the usual full-on week prior to a race, getting to the race location (the Lake Tarawera outlet), marking up the maps and sorting out gear we found ourselves lined up at 7.00am on Saturday morning ready for the Whakatane 24 hour race. Our team was made up of Debbie Chambers, Anne Lowerson, Erin Roberts and Marquita Gelderman. This was the first time we had raced together so we were a little unsure how we would all gel. It was also Marquita’s first 24 hour event so perhaps she was even more apprehensive about what was in store.
After a hearty breakfast of Erin’s delicious porridge at 5.00am we got into our kayak gear, had our boats etc sprayed for Didymo by DOC and made sure we had everything we needed. The count down then began and we were off on the first leg of the race, which was a paddle on Lake Tarawera. Luckily the weather gods were kind to us and the lake was as calm as a mill pond. The scenery was stunning and it took all our power as we paddled past hot water beach not to abandon the whole event and spend the morning soaking in the hot pools. Oh if only the organizers had thought to put the underwater activity in one of these pools!! We completed this first kayak leg in a time of 3.01 with an adjusted time of 1.41 after subtracting all the optional check point credits and although we came off the water in the middle of the field we were pleased with our efforts. Thanks to Erin for taking the plunge to find the underwater check point - Brrr
The next leg was a rogaine in and around the campground. With Marquita being an orienteering whiz we breezed through this and were soon leaving transition to head off on the first trek leg. It was on this leg that we made our first tactical decision. A number of the checkpoints here were optional and we figured it would take a similar time to get them as we would gain in time bonuses so we decided to give them a miss and take a more direct route just picking up the compulsory points to the next transition. The trek was stunning, first we found ourselves bush crashing up a ridge through beautiful bush, then we jumped and slid our way down a dry creek bed and finally we ran alongside a crystal clear stream which took us past the amazing Tarawera falls. Once again Erin braved the cold water and took the plunge to swim to a check point located on the other side of the river.
At the next transition Mum and Dad were there to greet us, feed us and push us back out on to the course for the next 60km bike leg. This leg was tough but as biking is our strongest discipline we weren’t complaining. The route took us up hills and down dales through forests, along some single track, over bridges, under gates and up some more hills. We stopped somewhere along the way for a rifle shoot and managed a full score of 20 points, not bad for chicks!! It then got dark and the navigation became a bit trickier and the controls harder to spot. At one stage we found ourselves in some cattle yards ankle deep in cow poop and stumbling over random dead cow bits! Yuk !! Believe me it didn’t take us long to find the control and get out of there. After a slight navigational blunder which we soon rectified, we were once again sitting on our chairs in transition being fed 2 minute noodles and bacon and egg pie. My favourite night time transition food. We were stoked with our performance on this leg finishing 2nd fastest behind Orion. Yehah!
The final most challenging leg was still to come. We were now faced with an all night 11 hour trek in difficult terrain. What a night it turned out to be, we started out with a massive climb, we then bush bashed and navigated our way through some amazing native bush following random red dots and fern fronds. We got a bit confused at one stage on this leg until Marquita and Anne were not happy with our direction and picked up that we were actually heading back the way we had come. Doh! We were not sure what happened there but we probably got onto the wrong fern frond trail!! Thanks to Marquita we quickly relocated and set off in the right direction. We then got spat out onto a road which took us to a manned checkpoint with hot soup, barley sugars and half time oranges. Boy do these guys know how to impress competitors. The remainder of this trek was in forestry. Unfortunately, we made a bit of a blunder on one of the optional checkpoints here and ended up wasting a good ½ hour crashing through the undergrowth until we decided that it was better to leave it as it was only worth 15 mins credit. We then found ourselves back on the Tarawera Falls track heading to the finish line at the Tarawera outlet. Although this trek was long and tough going we had a ball, the navigation kept us on our toes, the possums entertained us, and the thought of crossing the finish line kept us moving forward.
We crossed the finish line at about 5.30am in the morning in 6th place overall and as 3rd 4 person team in 22 hours and 29mins with a total adjusted time of 14:04.
What an awesome event. Thanks to all the team for putting on this event and a bigger thanks to Mum and Dad for supporting for us.
Our next event is the Geo Quest 48 hour in Australia. June 6-8. Check out the website for live coverage of the event http://www.geocentricoutdoors.com.au/geoquest/geoindex.htm
XPD Edition 4 19th-27th November, 2008 - Thredbo Australia
The Girls on Top race report
The GOT Adventure racing team has recently enjoyed some success on the Australian Adventure racing scene so we were more than excited about entering a very strong team in the 4th Edition of the 850km XPD expedition race to be held in Australia in November this year. However, for this event it seems the good karma angel had flown away resulting in two of our teammates (Alina Mcmaster and Ally Davey) being forced to pull out at the last minute.
Unable to find any chick replacements at such late notice Anne and I teamed up with two guys from Canberra who had also lost their teammates. This wasn’t what we had planned for but we were just happy to be able to get to the start line. We flew to Sydney then drove through to Canberra to meet our teammates before heading up to race HQ at Thredbo.
The day before the race was due to begin we were given our 17 or so maps and course booklet which provided us with details on the 850km challenge that lay ahead. The race was to kick off at 3pm on Wednesday 19 November at Mt Buffalo in the State of Victoria. We were pretty excited about this as Anne’s grandmother lived just down the road and we had done some training there. The next 24 hours went by in a flurry of packing gear and marking up maps. Before we knew it we were loaded into a bus for the 6 hour journey to Mt Buffalo.
The gun went off and we were underway. It is always a relief to get started after the days and days of packing and preparing for these events. The first two legs were merely starters to the main course and consisted of a 25 km orienteering trek around Mt Buffalo and a 60 km mountain bike ride. Unfortunately, the weather was atrocious which put a bit of a dampener on things and made conditions a bit tougher than we would have liked. At the end of these two stages it was clear that the conditions, the pace and the nature of the course were going to be too much for Fil and after much angst and discussion at the next transition Fil decided to leave the team and taxi back to Canberra. Although this meant we were now unranked and short coursed it also meant the three of us could move at a swifter more realistic pace.
Anne, Reinhard and I set off on the next 50km trek leg determined to put the stress of losing a teammate behind us and focus on building a tight unit. We arrived at the first hut a little tired and settled in for a few minutes kip but with three other very talkative teams also huddling in the hut there was no chance of sleep. We were soon back out in the mist and rain searching for the track down the ridge. Unfortunately, the track we were looking for was not there so after some frustration at not finding it and a closer look at the map Anne decided we should leave the other teams and head down another ridge to the road. It was a bit of a back track but looked like it would be shorter in the long run. What a mission this turned out to be, we found the road easily enough but then spent the next 12 hours or so (including a 3 hour nap by a river) following it to the next transition. It took forever and we were sure we had made the wrong decision and that the other teams would now be in front, however just before reaching the TA the race organisers’ friendly faces appeared and they informed us that we were the first team off the short course trek leg. Oh how quickly your emotions can swing from bad to good. This good feeling did not last long however, as at the TA we were told that due to high river levels we had to walk another 8-10km down a sealed road to the next kayak get in point on the river. This was a cruel blow to our already hurting feet.
The river was a 'Grade II' whitewater paddle which would have been pleasant had our boat not kept filling up at every opportunity and turned into a concrete container ship which made it almost impossible to steer. We spent the whole paddle emptying out and doing our best to avoid the many overhanging willow trees that lined the river. It was quite a challenge and I for one could not wait to get out of the boat on to the bikes.
Oh bliss!!! The sun was out at the next TA for the first time in the event so we spread our wet gear out to dry and prepared for the next leg which was a 210km MTB leg with some savage hills. We were quite excited about this leg as Reinhard was a strong biker and we were looking forward to getting into the race proper and gaining some momentum. Lucky for us Stu Lynch was hanging around here and noted that as we rode out of transition Reinhard had his forks around the wrong way!! Almost immediately we hit a 900m vertical bike push which was followed by the most sensational downhill. Once again rain threatened so we decided to push through to the town of Eskdale where we hoped to find shelter for some well deserved sleep. It was around 10.40 pm so we were in heaven when we found a pub in such as small town, more amazingly it was still open and we were able to get inside out of the warm for a sprite and some chips. Whilst eating our chips and gloating about how cosy the pub was we were told by a drunk guy in the pub that Team NgaRakau (Mark Struthers, Fi, Tim, ) were across the road in Mary’s house getting ready for sleep. Oh so jealous!! Our drunk friend then swaggered across the road and returned with the news that we were welcome to go to Mary’s house also. What an angel Mary was she cooked us cheese toasties, told us to “get that chook out of the fridge”, and made us hot cups of tea before shepherding us into a room with soft warm beds. Oh what bliss this was, the smiles on our faces were from ear to ear. As we slept for three hours the rain pelted down and boy did we feel good. Unbeknownst to us Mary didn’t go to sleep instead she moved her car out of the garage and moved our bikes in, baked fresh chocolate croissants and made hot chocolates for our 3 am breakfast.
Reluctantly, we left Mary’s house and continued on our way refreshed and refueled and buoyed by the fact the rain had stopped. The next part of the ride was a pleasure and we shared some of it with Team Securify. The downhill into the next CP was particularly thrilling and we were loving every minute of it singing and whooping our way into the valley below. On arrival at the next CP we were told the race had been put on hold for 24 hours due to a blizzard that was about to hit the region. At first I thought they were having us on but when we saw two other teams hold up in the tent we realized it was for real. What a downer …. However this is adventure racing and you have to be prepared to accept any curve balls that are thrown your way. The race organizers had made a decision to protect the teams and we had to trust their judgement. It must have been devastating for them to make the call.
With that we were bundled into a car and driven to mid-camp which was to be our home for the next 36 hours. Even though it was all a bit surreal we made the most of being able to get steak and chips for dinner and a full night’s sleep.
The race restarted at 6pm the following day and personally I found it quite hard to get motivated again. Due to the amount of snow that had fallen there were a number of changes made to the course. There was also the chance that the race may finish after the next three legs if the weather got worse. However, once into the rhythm of the race again my attitude soon changed and the motivation to complete whatever course was on offer returned. We made quite good time on the MTB leg despite Anne’s lights not working and soon found ourselves heading out on to the orienteering leg. This was sheer murder for Reinhard whose ankle had swollen to the size of a tennis ball with tendonitis, but with a bit of strapping and a lot of sheer grit and determination he struggled through. The pain etched on his face will remain with us for years to come. We did reasonably well in this leg beating a number of teams back into transition despite a lack of speed.
The next mountain bike leg was to be the hilliest yet with 1500 metres of height gain over 25 kms however we were all feeling strong and made reasonably easy work of it. It was a stunning ride with massive ups and downs and incredible scenery through the snow and gum trees. This ride was one of the scenic highlights of the event.
We arrived at the next TA in Dennison unsure of whether the race was to continue from here or not but quickly learned that we could carry on and needed to re-group and get our tired bodies on the water before dark. The paddle on Lake Eucumbene was one to forget. Contrary to the map the first 10 kms was nothing like a Lake but in fact a fast flowing river with some thrilling rapids. We were glad to be through this section before dark. Eventually we hit the lake proper and it was then that the darkness and drizzle set in. Anne was doing an amazing job on the compass and map but with the Lake water levels so low it was hard to make a beeline for the transition so we decided to keep the right hand bank in sight. This meant we were paddling in and out of bays and constantly coming upon random forests of dead trees poking out of the water and threatening to puncture the boat. This, coupled with the cold was all too much for Reinhard who didn’t have the map or compass and began to freak out that we were going around in circles and were lost. We decided to pull over and put the tent up to give Reinhard a chance to relax and warm up. However, with only one sleeping bag it was a long, cold and harrowing few hours until the sun came up.It was a relief to get moving again and after an hour of paddling we were in transition again.
The next bike ride was another monster set of climbs as we made our way through some of the more famous ski areas of Australia such as Perisher. The day was made all the more interesting for us as we spent the day playing leap frog with Team Goldfish who were doing all this on a tandem and gourmet snack stops!!!
We had pushed hard through the 65 km bike so were happy to arrive at the final transition at Charlotte’s pass in daylight and bright sunshine. This meant we would get to climb Mt Kosciusko with a view, the first mountain view of the race as all the others had been shrouded on mist and rain. We made quick time of our transition here, stopping only to strap Reinhard’s now football sized ankle and load him with food and painkillers. Once again he dug deep and hauled himself through this final trek leg. The scenery on this trek over to Thredbo was mind-blowing, what a spectacular way to finish the race. We were more than relieved to get to the bottom of the very steep Thredbo ski area as our legs had had enough. At the finish line back at Thedbo village it was bliss to sink into the finisher’s chairs with pizza in one hand and a glass of bubbly in the other.
Although this race did not go according to plan and threw all sorts of curve balls our way we were glad to have taken up the challenge and accomplished our goal of completing another XPD. Here’s hoping the good karma angels will return for our assault on the next XPD in Cairns 2010. Keep an eye on www.xpd.com.au for more details of this event. Click here to see a video of the event You Tube Here
GOT Take it to Aussie - June 2008
The Girls on Top Adventure racing team have just returned from a very successful result in the Geo Quest 48 hour Adventure race in Australia. Here is how it all came about.
This year the race was held in Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia. Apart from the infamous “Big Banana” this location got the thumbs up from the girls because of the warmer temperatures and also the existence of the airport, meaning the NZ based team members could fly directly from Sydney and save themselves a six hour drive.
Racing overseas is never an easy undertaking but this is one race where everything seemed to come together for the girls. The first coup for the girls was securing support from www.smartwool.com to cover the entry fee and keep them warm and snug during the event, the second was being able to find Ruahine Adventure Duet kayaks for the event from Steve at Q Kayaks, the third was the arrival of three new hot pink Ellsworth Truth mountain bikes www.ellsworthbikes.com in time for the event and the help from www.bikesmiths.co.nz in Albany to get them made up, the fourth was that they had a very experienced support crew team made up of Craig Gibson (NZ) and Steve Cooper (sleepmonsters.com.au) and the fifth was that they scored themselves a cabin right in the main transition area.
The team for this event was made up of three of the original Girls on Top, Debbie Chambers, Anne Lowerson and Ally Davey and newcomer Zoe Albon. As with every race their goal was to race their own race as efficiently and effectively as possible. After their experience of losing focus and struggling to make sound decisions at around 35 hours in their last 48 hour race, they even put a sleep strategy in place and planned to grab a twenty minute nap on the first night.
The course was revealed at 3pm on the Friday afternoon and Anne and Debbie then spent the afternoon and early evening plotting the checkpoints and working out route choices, whilst Ally, Zoe and the “boys on the side” sorted out the food and logistics of transporting gear etc to the various transitions around the course. The race consisted of a total of 259 kms with 155 kms of mountain biking, 42 kms of kayaking, 55 kms of trekking and 7 kms of other. For logistical purposes it was broken up into three stages.
Race start was 7.00am on Saturday morning and after a few nervous dashes to the loo and the obligatory photo shoot, they found themselves lined up on the start line ready to tackle the first discipline of stage one which was a 26 km kayak from Coffs to Woolgoolga. Helmets were compulsory on this paddle so it was with some trepidation that the girls left the beach wondering what type of surf landing was in store for them. The paddle along the coastline was particularly stunning but it was the thought of seeing hump back whales that really excited the team. Unfortunately, the three – four meter swells and building Southerly meant that looking around was an absolute no no and all concentration was needed to keep the boats upright. The Duets were perfect for the conditions though and the girls made good time on this leg only stopping for a couple of feed the fish sessions due to Anne’s sea sickness. Much to their relief the landing was in a sheltered cove and offered no real challenge.
The kayak was followed by a body board which the girls executed with such finesse that Debbie and Ally ended up coming in on the same wave and nearly taking each other out!! This was followed by a simple urban run of 3km, a 7km uphill ride to Wedding Bells forest where they did an 8km foot rogaine which required them to make decisions about which points to collect and which to leave for later and called for some off track navigation. Anne's navigation was impeccable and the team worked extremely well together sniffing out tracks and spotting checkpoints to ensure relentless forward motion was a top priority. The next 25 km mountain bike leg required them to split up in order to collect all the checkpoints most efficiently. Zoe and Debbie took the most exciting riding but least technical navigation option and Ally and Anne tackled the tricker nav options. This turned out to be the right split as they arrived at the next meeting point within minutes of each other. Feeling reasonably happy with themselves, the girls set off at high speed to the next TA only to find that their support crew were nowhere to be seen as they had forgotten to call them to tell them they were leaving CP 6!! After a 20 minute wait the girls were on their merry way again disappointed for not having followed instructions but knowing better than to dwell on their mistakes and lose focus. The final leg of stage one was an estuary run followed by a beach trek back to the camp ground. A local Staffordshire terrier, nicknamed “digger” by the girls, took a shine to the team and escorted them through the estuary to the beach.
What a lovely feeling it was coming into the cabin to a hot feed and a change of clothes. Oh that bed looked soooo nice!!! Before they knew it the girls were being whisked into the cars by the “boys on the side” and driven off to the start of stage two at the Corrindi River at Red Rock for a 16 km paddle. It was here the girls made a strategic decision to portage their kayaks in the hope of cutting paddling time down they then smoothly navigated their way around the twists and turns of the various estuaries in the night getting the occasional slap in the face from fish confused by their lights.
The next “mangroves by moonlight” run/swim leg saw the girls use their heads to collect all the dry controls before launching into the water to collect the water based controls. By the time the girls got to the water section the tide was in full flow and Debbie who went to test the waters did her fastest sideways hundred meters ever. Bearing this in mind the girls popped back into transition to pick up their body boards for extra support before heading across the channels in the dead of the night. The rest of this leg was spent floundering around in mangroves and swimming across deep channels luckily no crocs were seen or heard!!!
Glad to be warm and dry and out of their wetties and full of two minute noodles, the girls set off on their bikes ready to take on the 40 km navigationally and physically challenging ride ahead of them. Around midnight and about an hour into the ride the girls made the decision to stick to their sleep strategy and sneak off the track for 20 minutes of sleep. In previous races they had become inefficient in the later stages of the race due to sleep deprivation and they were determined not to let this happen again. Although a team passed them while they were snug as bugs in rugs, the girls were glad to have had their power nap as the ride turned out to be physically and technically challenging. Boy were they happy to see “the boys on the side” at the transition before the final 3km beach trek to the campground for the end of stage two.
This time they arrived into camp to a feed of toast and spaghetti, boy those boys were good to them. Stage three consisted of a 25 km trek through the Nymboida gorge, a 40km MTB, a 4km trek, a 13 km MTB and a 3 km beach trek. The whole leg bar the last beach trek was to be self supported. This meant the girls needed to organise food and water for 17 – 19 hours and to make sure they had all the gear, maps and instructions required. They were more than aware that the race organisers had warned teams not to underestimate this leg so spent a reasonable amount of time in this transition making sure they had got it right.
Once again they were bundled into the car for a car drop to the start of the trek. The corner riddled one hour drive was enough to make Debbie car sick and boy was she glad to get out of the car and onto the trek. By this time it was day light and the girls were injected with a new blast of energy as they strode off into the wilderness. The Nymboida gorge was stunning with massive rock cliffs, sheer waterfalls and miles of untracked forest. Once again Anne’s accurate nav paid off and Debbie and Ally’s tracking skills came into play. They also had to dig deep in order to cross the full flowing river as it plummeted into a deep pool some distance beneath them. They were so focussed in this stage of the event that Debbie didn’t even notice that she had walked over a snake. A huge 20cm snake!!!
It was only on the following 40 km bike leg that the girls dared to believe that they may finish in a reasonably good time and may even sneak into the top ten. Half way through this ride the heavens opened and it began to pour down. Keen to escape the rain and the ever increasing sticky muddy roads as well as try to get some of the next trek done in daylight the girls pushed hard to the next transition. They arrived just on dark quickly put their warm Smartwool tops, hats and pants on and headed off into the second part of the rogaine to get the two remaining controls. Aware that this section could make or break them Anne made sure she was on the ball with the navigation and followed the map every step of the way. As a result of this the girls made quick work of this section and exited 25 minutes ahead of the first male team after going in 15 minutes behind them.
Wow only a 13 km downhill MTB and a 3 km beach trek to go. With this in mind and the knowledge that they had requested hot guys with hot towels, the girls were on fire and they sped off down the road averaging 40 kms an hour. This is a feat that was only made possible for Debbie, Anne and Zoe due to their new full suspension Ellsworth Truths, Ally on her carbon Scott has been riding like this for years. The girls skidded into transition, had a quick chat to the boys and then jogged off down the beach for the final three km beach run, remembering to walk in the non-competitive nature reserve zones.
Wow what a race!!! The girls finished 8th overall, beat all the all men’s teams and won the all female category. For results, reports and photos go to: http://www.geocentricoutdoors.com.au/geoquest/race08/leaderboard.htm
They now have their sights on the Bull of Africa in August (if they can secure sponsorship) and another of their favourite events organised by the Geocentric team, the XPD Expedition race in the high country of VIC and NSW in Australia in November.
Train Like Tarzan, Race Like a Girl – The Girls on Top Story - Geo Quest 2008
In something that hasn’t been seen before in Adventure Racing, the Smartwool Girls on Top team have come in 8th over all at Mountain Designs GeoQuest 2008. The girls have beaten all of the all male teams which include 2007’s Hells Bells winner, team SCAR.
The team have finished in just over 38 hours. The team were happy to finish and were unaware of how well they had done. They are thanking their navigator Annie who made no navigational errors in the entire race. They are also happy that Zoe, their new team mate did well as it was her first longer event. Their worst leg was the first kayak where Annie was sea sick and their best leg was the final mountain bike where they sat on 40 km per hr.
So who are these girls? We saw them at the 2006 Mountain Designs GeoQuest for the first time. The team narrowly beat the Cowgirls (who are also racing this year) and just made it to the finish only just beating the 1100 am cut off on the Monday. The first Geo was more about managing to finish the course than racing it. Since then, the GOT team has competed in XPD Tasmania and XPD Whitsunday as well as many AR events on their home soil in New Zealand.
The start of their team bio reads as follows:
www.girlsontop.co.nz was formed late in 2002, the aim of the club to get more women (of any age) into the outdoors and let them experience different outdoor activities in a supportive environment that is non threatening, safe and most of all fun. The result of this capititilating into a team of four girls who joined together to experience the adventure journey mainly having fun and a lot of laughs along the way (not to mention nudity and some well chosen words along the way). True friendships have been formed and also some tested as support crews have waited for many hours whilst the girls still journeyed! But the most important point is still maintained, to have fun and remain friends at the end of the race. Occasionally the fanger sisters will appear out of nowhere, then just as quickly vanish as morning arising sun breaches the horizon and the never ending supply of lollies takes its toll. This years Geoquest team will be much more secure with the addition of Britney Elsmere to the team. Training undercover and with a wide range of experience in hand guns and other dangerous items, it is advised not to mess with Britney, especially if its late at night.
To learn more about the team head to http://www.girlsontop.co.nz/home.asp - there is a page dedicated to their adventure racing team.
G.O.T take on the ARC - March 2008
The latest exploits of the Girls on Top adventure racing team saw them take on the ARC 24 hour adventure racing event on the Coromandel Peninsula on March 15th. . The team was made up of Debbie Chambers , Anne Lowerson, Zoe Albon and Fiona McBryde.
The morning of the race dawned with a couple of the older team members mumbling something about early rises and imminent retirement from the sport but once the sun came up and the event got underway all that was forgotten. The first leg of the race was a short run followed by a kayak rogaine where teams of four could split up in order to collect as many point as possible. Anne and Debbie elected for the longer paddle with no swim and Zoe and Fiona were left with a slightly shorter paddle course that included a swim to an underwater control to get the clues for the next stage and a bit more running around the Islands. It was a stunning paddle with calm water and beautiful scenery and all too soon we found ourselves back at transition marking up the maps for the second leg.
This leg was a mountain bike ride with a mystery activity thrown in to keep us on our toes. We set off with a little bit of intrepidation wondering what Keith and Andy had in store for us, as in previous ARC events we had experienced 5 meter jumps and speedy slides that had us shaking in our boots. The mountain bike ride was approximately 40 kms of tricky navigation, steep gravel roads, soggy mud cowpat covered 4 wheel drive tracks and awesome bush covered single track, with a steep hike up Castle Rock in bike shoes thrown in for good measure. The highlight of this leg for us was making a route choice that saw us put time on some very experienced teams. Go the girls! The mystery activity turned out to be relatively tame and all four of us completed the jump or climb without losing too much energy screaming. We made it back into transition having made only a few little navigation slip ups and feeling rather pleased with ourselves.
It was great to see our happy little helpers Megan, Fay, and Tineka back at transition and even better to tuck into the food they had prepared for us. After marking up our maps and soaking up the atmosphere we headed out onto the next trek leg which was packed with action. First up we were faced with a rifle shoot, this was followed by some bush bashing through gorse, and then some rock hopping and waterfall climbing up a river. As if this wasn’t enough we then clambered around in an underground mine, abseiled 30 meters into a large black hole which ended in another underground mine half submerged in chin deep water, and ran through the Coromandel township in our wetsuits and mangy hair dos, just as the bars were closing. Bloomin heck what an adventure !! This leg put us back in our place navigationally as we spent more time than necessary searching for a foot bridge that didn’t want to be found. However, we did manage to find every other footbridge in Coromandel township and got to see some lovely gardens in the process!
The next leg proved to be the most challenging and exciting for us. It was a night kayak leg which saw us paddling into the pitch black with no vision and sole reliance on our compass. What a blast. The paddle started out relatively serenely and straight forward but by the time we started heading back to transition the wind had picked up considerably and the wind against tide combination had whipped up quite a swell and chop. It was like paddling blindfolded in a washing machine and it certainly kept the adrenaline high. Unfortunately due to the swell we were unable to locate a checkpoint in a cave on a point and we headed back to transition feeling a little bit disappointed and despondent. Our despondency was soon dispelled as we arrived back to transition to loud screams of support from our trusty helpers and some hot risotto.
We knew the next leg was to be a mountain bike but we did not know quite what was in store for us. All race we had been joking about the Intrigue mountain bike race which we had done earlier this year and how we were so glad we were doing the ARC and not that. Comments such as “If you could choose between doing this and the Intrigue what would you choose?” “The ARC of course” or “We may be kayaking at night but lucky we aren’t doing the Intrigue.” “Hell, yes” or “Imagine if we had to turn up to the start of the Intrigue now.” “Haha”. Much to our disbelief and horror we found ourselves staring at the map of this leg and you guessed it, it was the first half of the intrigue course. OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO BE JOKING !! Being the troopers that we are we loaded up our packs and headed off for the next stage which was to be a 27 km mountain bike leg on the Intrigue course followed by a 16km trek and coasteering leg and then a final 27 km mountain bike leg back to the finish. What a mission this was turning into. So much for the “we are over half way” comments mumbled prior to this stage!!
The first part of the ride was a massive climb up a gravel road to the start of the single track. The initial part of the single track was a blast but half way through it turned to slippery steep inclines and gooey muddy descents. We managed to haul our bodies and heavy packs to White Star Station around 11.30am and decided that after around 27 hours of racing we should pull the pin and head back to the finish line for prize giving and lunch. After a welcome hot cup of soup we teamed up with Dave and his mate from Wellington and headed back to transition and the finish line via the road. We crossed the finish line around 1pm with mixed feelings of a sense of accomplishment that we had given it our best shot and had a reasonably smooth race navigationally, mixed with a sense of disappointment at not having completed the full course. What an adventure we had had. We ended up winning our category which as not expected as we were the only all girl crew in the event and 7th overall.
What a great experience. We will be back in 2009 to take on the next ARC adventure race. Perhaps this time we’ll nail it ?! Thanks to our support crew and thanks to Andy, Keith and Rita and the team at ARC for putting on such an amazing event.
We are sure the things we learnt in the ARC will put us in good stead for the series of races we have coming up in 2008. Next up for us is the:
ARC re-run on May 3rd www.arcevents.co.nz
Geo Quest 48 hour in Aussie in May www.gar.com.au/geoquest/geoindex.htm
The Bull of Arica in August www.bullofafrica.com
The XPD in Aussie in November. http://www.xpd.com.au/
As with most Adventure racing teams we are searching for financial support to assist us with costs to these events. If there is anyone out there who can see value in developing a business relationship with the GOT adventure racing team www.girlsontop.co.nz contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Day Night Thriller - Females in fine form!
Sep 18 2007
Five girls with one aim, head off to tackle the Day Night Thriller a 12 hour mountain bike race in Taupo. Racing against 2500 other athletes on the 8km forestry loop
.... this team of ladies soon showed form racing for a podium finish. Here's their story.
The brilliant idea of chilling out in a tent eating lots and drinking copious amounts of coffee whilst watching scantly clad lycra bodies zoom past us, seemed like a good choice for a bunch of 5 Girls On Top, so off we headed, with tents, bbq, and lollies in our laden cars Taupo bound for the Daynight Thriller.
After optimal tent placement on top of the hill (so that we got a better view of the riders of course!) and a chilly night camping we awoke to a crisp, clear day of riding ahead... The team consisted of Zoe Albon, Alysha Blackwell, Anne Lowerson, Debbie Chambers and Ally Davey, four of whom had just returned to NZ from the recent 10 day adventure race XPD Whitsunday in Australia.
The Jamis Day Night Thriller is a socially based 12 hour or 6 hour multi-lap mountain bike ride, where riders pass a transponder between them and the aim is to ride as many laps as possible in the allotted time frame.
The course for us would be described as a 'Sprinting' 8km laps amongst a plethura of various skill levels, costumes (or lack of) and bicycles that some had outgrown since a couple of years after their birth!!! The course was flowing varied terrain with some great switchbacks challenging the speeds of many, enough short sharp hills to give the quads a solid burn and plenty of distractions to pull your attention away...i.e. g-string (only) cyclists.
The 12 hour option seemed great on the entry form, but after the first couple of laps, the 6 hour option was looking more favorable, and we started to daydream about all the relaxing things we could have done instead of throwing our bodies around the track. Luckily we snapped out of it and re-focused on the task at hand. Heck how hard can it be, our heart rates weren't even rising!...(well actually we did record a 190 max on one lap).
A consistent pattern of streamlined transponder transfer, lots of smiling down hill and then puffing uphills soon had us lapping at between 22 and 25 minutes, more lollies then another lap and so on.
As darkness fell, the lights came out and the fun started. Riding through the night forest, all is silent except for the occasional "passing on your right", "thanks" and the sound of pedals turning in tune with breathing. A constant line of bobbing headlights intertwines between the trees and the occasional root that quickly brings you back into focus and reality.. stop daydreaming and ride girl!...
It was a relaxed and jovial atmosphere in our Polar tent and our achievements as a team towards this race were based around literally having fun!
After 11 hours 58 minutes, 28 laps later we were digging into BBQ Angus steak sammies and homemade pickle topped off with peanut slabs for desert. What more could you ask for? Oh that's right, the hot pool swim the next morning on the river...then pancakes for breaky... the best thing about riding is the eating that goes with it and the laughs with friends...and we even managed to pull off a second place in the female four to five person categor
Zoe summed up the event well for all of us "It was a hard and fast course of which our supportive group of girls encouraged each other to the end resulting in what I can honestly admit to saying that I gave it my all and loved every minute of it! And it was pretty choice getting a silver medal for our efforts!"
Thanks to our sponsors Polar and Go-lite.
Team Cru Vin Dogs.com take on the mixed teams at the Rollos 24 hour race in Nelson
The all female adventure racing team Team Cru Vin Dogs.com lined up for the Rollos 24 hour race in Nelson on Queens Birthday weekend. This race was part of their build up to the 10-day XPD adventure race, which will take place in the Whitsundays, Australia in August this year www.xpd.com.au. The team is made up of Jo Forbes, Mitch Murdoch, Debbie Chambers and Anne Lowerson and as well as focusing on achieving their main goal of completing the XPD, the girls will also be raising money to help those not so physically able as themselves.
So, why the name Cru Vin Dogs.com? Cru Vin Dogs (www.cruvindogs.com) is a company in the States committed to donating a portion of their profits to supporting worthy causes that dogs are involved in. Their mission is to raise public awareness and understanding of organisations out there which help dogs to help people. Through their sponsorship of the girls they aim to raise awareness and funds to help a New Zealand company doing just that www.mobilitydogs.co.nz.
Here is the girl’s take on the event.
This was to be our second ever get together and our first race as a team so we were looking forward to seeing how we would go. We lined up on the start line with the other 25 (19 in the 24hr and 6 in the 12hr) teams at 3.00am on a fine but crisp Saturday morning in Cable Bay, east of Nelson, to receive our map for the first trek stage of the race. What a shock to the system as we took off up a steep farm track struggling for breath in the cold morning air. Once we were at the top we were treated to a stunning night vista of the coastline below. Once the teams spread out we were able to settle into our own team rhythm and focus on each other. The trek took us down to the coast and across the boulder bank to Clifton Terrace School for our first transition.
Lucky for us our last minute support crew Trevor Woodward was extremely experienced and had everything in place to aid us with a speedy transition. After marking the next controls onto the map we set off on the next leg which was a mountain bike ride. Due to our haste to get away we failed to read the course instructions so ended up floundering around like fish out of water looking for the start of the track. Once we were back on track there was no messing around and we found ourselves heading straight up and up and up! Once up on the tops we were treated to a spectacular sunrise. Unfortunately, we were hurtling downhill at high speed and couldn’t stop to appreciate it. The descent into the Maitai Valley for the next leg was mind blowing.
We arrived at Branford Park to find out the next stage was to be an orienteering leg where we needed to split into twos. Luckily three of us have had orienteering experience so we were not daunted by this at all. Mitch and Anne headed off in one direction and Debbie and Jo in the other. This section turned out to be reasonably challenging and we were forced to call on all our map reading skills as well as our compass skills. We were more than happy with our result as we managed to find all the checkpoints without too much difficulty – the only team apparently!! Once we had regrouped we headed off at full trot down the Maitai River to the Nelson Marina.
From here we had to paddle to Oyster Island, located some numbers using a pirate map, and then used these numbers to locate our next transition on Rabbit Island. This sounded simple in theory but in practice turned out to be a little more nerve-racking than we had anticipated with a sizable swell running through a narrow entrance. After a near ship wrecking on a rocky reef and surfing breakers into the beach, we managed to arrive at Rabbit Island upright and dry. Our heart rates took a bit of a beating though.
The next leg was another navigation challenge, which consisted of teams being given two hours to find as many checkpoints as possible. Luckily Anne was on fire and Mitch developed a very efficient technique for clipping the controls and we flew through this challenge without a hitch. We ended up being the third highest scoring team in this leg.
At the end of this leg we were told we had 90 minutes down time and were to be transported by car to the start of the next trek leg. Once again support crew Trev was on the ball and after providing us with a hearty feed he bundled us into the car to the start of the trek to Wooded Peak.
The trek started with yet another no nonsense vertical climb straight up Jenkins Hill and we spent the next few hours making our way up to Wooded Peak (1111metres). Unfortunately, it was pitch black by the time we reached the summit and once again we were robbed of the view. The descent was huge and our pace was somewhat hindered by Debbie’s ITB which had been annoying her for most of the race. The trek finished at the Maitai Dam where we found our trusty bikes and a few treats, which Trev had had the foresight to leave for us. Thanks Trev the “V”, the mars bars and the gloves were a godsend. We took off at high-speed down the Maitai Valley to the Maitai Campground to see what the rest of the race had in store for us.
We arrived at the campsite to hot soup and bread and a smiling Trev and to the news that the final leg to the finish was a not so simple bike ride over some pretty rough terrain. So much for the leisurely paddle down the river, or the flat road cycle to the finish we had been discussing on the way to the transition!!! Wishful thinking on our part!
Once again we were faced with the signature climb straight out of transition back into the hills and Hira Forest behind Nelson. We struggled a bit to keep focussed on this leg but managed to hold it together to get across the finish line around 6am. We were proud of our performance and were pleased at how well we had worked together as a team and how we had managed to overcome the typical ups and downs that adventure racing tends to throw at you.
The final results saw Team Gourock in first place, Team R&R Sports Dunedin in second and SQL Services.com in third. We finished 7th overall and took out the overall navigation award.
Thanks to the team at Rollo’s for putting on a challenging and varied course. Thanks to our last minute support crew Trev and thanks to our sponsors CruVinDogs.com, Polar Heart Rate Monitors and Go-Lite footwear. Bring on the XPD in August.
The GOT adventure racing team take it accross the water...
Pre Race Start - Geo Quest Deb, Waxy, Annie, Ally, Amanda, Roby. Last Trek - on the way home after 50 hours!
After a short flight across the Tasman, a nice sightseeing tour through the 5pm Sydney traffic and a few hours sleep at a truck stop it was with great relief that the team arrived in time for race briefing at midday on Friday at the Stuarts Point holiday camp. This was to be their base and the race headquarters (HQ) for the next 3 days. Five girls in a camper and a curly haired Aussie mechanic in tow, the kiwi “chuks” had arrived.
Being an adventure race, teams are tested for competencies such as kayaking skills, safety and first aid knowledge, swimming ability and navigation. After some slightly over zealous navigation to find the swimming competency test, and some nice topless male viewing, the girls made it through to the course briefing at 4pm. The course was then embargoed with no-one allowed on it until the 8am start the next morning.
This particular race had some twists to it. One twist involved swimming out semi-naked in the dark to a “crocodile”, offering it chocolate and if it accepted, receiving a “free checkpoint” which could be used at any time during the race. The other twist was that at one point in the race the team would have to split, with 2 members going onto a mtb leg and 2 onto a trek leg. The race was split into three legs, with each leg consisting of multiple stages. The legs were then split by a compulsory 20 minute transition at HQ and a car drive to the start of the next leg.
The first leg was a sea kayak, the all male and all female teams leaving 15 minutes after the mixed teams. After a solid paddle, the GOT team hit the beach 1 minute in front of the highly favoured Queensland Cowgirls. The Cowgirls proved very slick in transition and headed out in front of GOT, the two other female teams were around 20 minutes behind.
The next leg was a very scenic coastal trek through subtropical forest and beaches, ending at the start of a tubing section. Being the inventive types, GOT designed a super sleek fast tubing mobile and put Olympic tubing expert Amanda on the front. Little did GOT know that while they were paddling their merry way down the river the leeches were firmly planting themselves onto their skin and getting a good feed.
Following the tubing section was the last kayak section for the first leg. This was a flat-water paddle up the shallow Macleay Arm. GOT reached the end of the kayak leg eager to get into the final 9km tubing section down the Macleay River. The only problem was that GOT’s support crew had decided that keeping dry at the HQ was a much better place to be and had inadvertently forgotten to drop the tubes off. Slight problem, can’t do a tubing leg without a tube. After a bit of begging and borrowing of tubes and the arrival of their support crew, the girls headed off onto the tubing section. The water was cold, but the challenge of locating checkpoints placed on buoys in the middle of the river kept the girls warm. The tubing leg ended back at HQ, the Cowgirls cementing their lead by over an hour and a half.