Well, it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t pretty. But this mother of four, who couldn’t run four months ago and couldn’t kayak as little as four weeks ago, finished her first Enduro adventurethon – 5km paddle, 2km beach run, 4km paddle, 22km steep mountain bike ride, and 8-10km trail run. This is how the event unfolded (you may want to get comfortable and grab a coffee). We loaded up the car and headed to Albany on the Friday before the Saturday event.
Albany is approximately 400km south of Perth and we had quite a leisurely drive down. I will do another post on the different things we did in and around Albany as it is definitely worth a visit. As we drove down the main street of Albany, it was a little overcast, a little cold, and really windy.
As we arrived a little before check in time, we decided to cruise around and check out some of the locations as per the course outline posted weeks earlier by the organisers. First we took the scenic route around Royal Princess Harbour with the windmills of the Wind Farm glinting in the distance.
Then we headed to Camp Quaranup and Point Possession. This was the point where we would paddle out to from Anzac Peace Park, complete a run, before paddling back.
We did try to visit The Gap and Natural Bridge in the Torndirrup National Park but found that the road in was closed At this point the hubby had lost his tolerance for my ‘just drive and see what we can find’ approach as we hadn’t yet stopped to pick up a map, so sadly we didn’t checkout the blowholes. Next stop was to check out Mt Melville, one part of the epic mountain bike ride. We found signage and tape marking for the course which was a little bit of a reality check.
Off to check in at the Albany Holiday Park which was basic but had everything that we needed. Pre race briefing was that night at Due South, a lovely restaurant right on the harbour. As we pulled up the wind was blowing a gale and the water was really choppy. I think I may have peed my pants a little at this stage and the first tendrils of real doubt crept in.
Pre race briefing did not help matters as race organiser, Joel Savage (the same guy who answered my naive questions and knew I was not so experienced on the paddle), ran through all the safety concerns for an adventure race. You know, beware of the bitey things in the water, if you can’t manage the paddle just signal the crew in the safety boats (I am sure Joel was looking straight at me, eek), don’t forget 2 compression bandages must be carried so you can deliver your own first aid for broken bones, snake bites, cuts and grazes, you know, minor things. Ok, forget the quietly freaking out stage, I was in full freak out, blowing into a brown paper bag at this point!! Doesn’t help when it was only a fairly small race number and everyone there looked fit, firm, and fantastic and I felt every inch the mum with four kids hanging off me. Obviously there is risk involved, like any outdoor activity, and duty of care requires that every eventuality is covered where possible. I know this, but my slight nervousness may have exaggerated the import of these gentle reminders. Poor Hubby, every five minutes that night I was in his ear…”Do you think I can do this?”….”Will I be able to paddle on that choppy water?”….”Have I done enough?”…..”What do I do if I can’t do the paddle?”…..Are you asleep, nudge, nudge, elbow to ribs..”Was this a stupid idea?” He was so very patient and supportive, and so certain of me and my ability to do it. If I wasn’t such a tightwad I swear I would have given it all up then but I hate to waste good money so suck it up I did.
I spent most of the morning on the toilet (no wonder you don’t need to go for the remainder of the race…nervous pee anyone?), but the other part of the morning was spent organising all the gear, honestly hubby had that pretty well covered, and chatting to other competitors. Everyone was very friendly and happy to help out where possible. Lovely Dave, who was worried about having the slowest boat (he actually may have had the slowest boat as he did have a very heavy kayak which took on a lot of water). Dave would paddle 2 hours to work and walk his kayak, on his homemade wheels, up through the city to his office, how’s that for amazing? Members from the RSL did a brief welcome speech and provided information on the history of the area we would be covering and the relevance to our ANZAC’s. It was great to hear a little more information on the area, pretty great start to the race…Why should I worry about a little old race when the ANZAC’s were heading off to war from this very spot about 100 years earlier.
Five minutes into the race and I was once again cool, calm, and collected. I was confident that I could do the paddle and that I could get back in if I fell out, I was comfortable that I had done enough training and that I could hang in there to the end even if I hadn’t quite done enough. From that point on I let the doubt go and began to enjoy this event that I had invested so much time and energy on. Once I got the hang of the tipping and rolling motion, I started to pick up my pace a little. We headed past Cheynes Whaling Boat, a shipwreck marking our turning point to head to Point Possession. Once we got past the shipwreck we encountered much smoother conditions and I really started enjoying the paddle. After pulling up on the beach, throwing on an old pair of shoes, the run section took us across the beautiful white sandy beach of Point Possession up and over a steep rocky outcrop, back along the beach on the other side and back into the boat. It was frustrating not being able to run (due to the calf injury I sustained 8 days out) but I took the time to eat a banana and have a drink…a leisurely stroll really. Caught a couple of the guys again on the paddle back to the mainland, and then my boys were there to cheer me on.
Quick stop to pull on shoes and helmet and off I went for the bike leg. There were lots of hill climbs, some quite technical with loose gravel, stairs, and tree roots, which I am not so good at. I did find I was pushing my bike a lot! The first wooden berm was quite steep with a steep drop at the end..was glad that I walked it as one of the guys had come off on it just as I came across it. Once reaching the top of Mt Melville we headed across town and up Mt Clarence and Mt Adelaide.
Yep, three mountains in one day. I had a little stack on some sand, quite embarrassing really, but other than that the ride went OK.
What to say about the run…it still frustrates me that I couldn’t run it and see what I could do with the run. I probably would have walked the hills still but the flats were killing me. Everyone was so friendly on the course and I thank the couple of guys that stopped and had a chat along the way. The calf was a little twitchy especially on the rock hopping section, where you are jumping from rock to rock. Usually I love rock hopping, but I was nervous of the calf the whole time. Having a complete stack and landing knees first on some sharp rocks didn’t help matters! Blood started dripping from the knee, so it was lucky I had my bandages to wrap it up. All good still able to finish just added a few bumps and scrapes. It was really good to finish this race and I was actually pretty emotional, mainly cause I had so much doubt this time round, and it was just nice to prove to myself and others that we are stronger than we think we are and can do so much more if we set the doubt aside and just go for it. Honestly, it was a great event and if you have done some training there really is nothing to be afraid of. Forget tours to learn more about a town or city just do an Adventurethon.…the best way to see the sights of the city! And women, get your butts out here! Grab some friends and do a team event, do the Taste of Adventurethon, or go the whole hog yourself…….the kids will love training with you and you will surprise yourself!
If you are interested in reading more about my journey to adventurethon, the ups and downs, and what I did training wise you can follow these links: