Red Dog Relay 2016

The Red Dog Relay is an outdoor, multi-sport adventure, which is fast becoming known as one of the Pilbara’s most iconic annual events and is held on the WA Day Long Weekend each year.  Why Red Dog?

“Red Dog was a friendly kelpie cross who lived his life hitching rides and travelling throughout WA’s north before he died in November 1979.  Tally Ho was his first name, given to him by his first owner and the one who brought him to Dampier.  The nickname “Red Dog” has been attributed to the red dirt of the Pilbara Region.  A second owner, was a bus driver whose work allowed Red Dog to travel via bus around Dampier, Karratha and surrounding districts, thus the dog became very well known by the locals.  After his second owner died, Red Dog spent a lot of time travelling on his own and was taken in by many members of the community, some who took him on trips as far afield as Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Samson & Port Hedland.”

I had only just moved to the Pilbara a couple of months before this event last year but had tagged it for one of my future hitlists.  Lucky for me, a Panna team was being formed this year and they weren’t too picky!  I didn’t put in a lot of effort towards training for this event, although I had done some mountain biking and running several weeks out, time just got away from me to be able to put a dedicated effort in.  While this event is a competition, it has a very friendly and relaxed vibe and I wasn’t stressing too much about completing the distances as each leg is completed as part of a team effort.  There were some 25 teams entered this year, with over 300 competitors and support crew making the most of the Pilbara region with an 18km run, 4km paddle, 48km mountain bike, 180km 4WD, 9km walk, 1km swim and 123km road bike leg through some of the most picturesque and diverse landscapes the Pilbara has to offer.

The Pannawonica Team, Panna Pikey’s (team name care of the Irish contingent), consisted of six members with three females and three males.  As we were very well prepared…ahem….we decided to hold our first meeting two days out from the event to make sure we had a support crew, all the right equipment/food/accommodation etc, and to decide who would be doing what leg of the relay.  I could be wrong, but I think our process for deciding who got to do what, was based purely on who sucked the least on each leg.  Obviously, we were a highly competitive team…watch out for Panna Pikey’s!

LEG 1: 18km RUN (Three members of the team to complete either 8km, 5km, or 5km)

The race kicked off from Dampier with the run leg first up, early on a wet and miserable Saturday morning.  Apparently the Red Dog Relay is getting a bit of a reputation for being a dirty, wet weekend, all part of the fun I was told.

LEG 2: 4km PADDLE (Four members to participate, 2 x 2km in a double kayak)

There was a little controversy amongst the team over certain positions in the tandem kayaks.    Now I am certain that there are no tall people in Pannawonica….ok, there might be a couple…..but I generally find that I am the tallest person around, especially out of the girls, and I am probably what you would politely call solid.  The night before the race, the team was sitting around having a quiet drink and talking strategy when the paddle leg came up and the topic of kayak position was open for discussion.  Obviously in the tandem kayak, balance is key and you will generally have your heaviest person in the back of the kayak.  My paddling partner, who is tall and lanky (and Irish, just saying), without hesitation declared that ‘Beth is DEFINITELY in the back’.  Really?  Sheesh, maybe I have been hitting the chocolates a little hard but couldn’t he have hesitated a little, or pretended to at least consider that I wasn’t the heaviest?  Lucky I grew up with a father who affectionately called me Big Bertha, so meh…water off a ducks back.

After our runners did a fabulous job, we were up first for our team in the paddle.  After all the ribbing he received after his comment the night before, my paddling partner sheepishly told me to take the front position.  Despite some doubt, we nailed it….yep, chunky but funky!!

LEG 3: 180km FOUR WHEEL DRIVE (4 Drivers, 4 Quizzes)

This section covered many miles of red dog country from Dampier to Karratha, Cossack, Roebourne, and finishing up in Millstream National Park.  It was divided into four sections with a questionnaire to be answered before the next transition point and driver change over.  As the organisers didn’t want to encourage speeding this leg was an untimed leg.  Hmmm, we read this as stop and get a coffee at Macca’s, as you do during an adventure race.

It was a fun leg and you really got to see a lot of the diverse Pilbara countryside as well as learning lots from the quizzes you had to complete.  Only two of the four sections were actual four wheel driving but not very difficult.  It was a long leg, over four hours of driving, and I have to say it is sucky being a girl on these adventure races, there are no toilets anywhere out on the road.

LEG 4:  48km MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE (3 team members – 12km, 22km, 14km)

After four hours in the car, I was more than ready to get on with the mountain bike leg.  Our first rider had driven ahead and was ready and waiting.  It had been fine for all of our 4WD leg but of course it decided to rain just as we came in to tag into the mountain biking.  This part of the course had actually copped a lot of rain, it was muddy and washed out in some places.  First riders made it through, but as second rider I was stopped just before 10km as some of the track was a little unpredictable for flash flooding.  To be honest, I was completely bummed.  I had just started settling into my ride and felt a little ripped off.  Not to worry, I decided to join my team member for the last section of the mountain bike leg.  I am so glad I did, this section was a beautiful ride.

And that was the end of Day 1.  My wonderful husband and kids, and the rest of our fantastic support crew families, had driven ahead and set up camp at Millstream Homestead campground (at least those that didn’t blow a fuse in their car did). It was a fantastic location and camping with the team and support crew was a great way to end the day.  After a wet night, a bacon and egg breakfast was provided the next morning to fuel us up ready for the second day of competition.

LEG 5:  9km CROSS COUNTRY HIKE (2 team members to complete together)

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Our trail walkers off to an early start.

LEG 6: 1km SWIM (2 members, 2 x 500m)

All the teams came in pretty close together on the hiking leg, tagging the first of the swimmers for their teams.  The Panna Pikey’s were sitting at about middle of the pack, so several swimmers had headed off in front of our first swimmer.  As you already know, our team is very supportive and would never dream of having a bit of a laugh or paying out anyone on the team.  So I won’t mention how our first swimmer dove in and headed in the opposite direction because that would be a little embarrassing.  I imagine it would have been hard to know which direction to go when only 10 or so other teams had gone before you right?  Lucky the support kayak managed to cut him off and point him in the right direction.  No, that definitely wasn’t the rest of the team rolling on the ground with laughter.

Even without training at all for the swim, good old muscle memory kicked in, and I managed to pull back a couple of places in the swim.  It was a beautiful morning and I loved the swim at Deep Reach Pool.

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LEG 7: 123km ROAD BIKE (4 team members – 31km, 20km, 36km, 14km)

The final leg of the race started about 20km drive from Deep Reach Pool.  The distances for each ride leg were a bit confusing and weren’t the same distances as detailed in our handbooks.  Our game plan was a little back the front as our riders with actual road bikes ended up doing the shorter sections while the two of us with only mountain bikes clunked along for the longer rides.  The first section wound through the stunning Chichester Ranges and was a tough but scenic ride.  Our second rider whizzed through the next session and I was barely ahead of her in the car to be dropped off at the checkpoint.  Initially, we thought the two middle legs were about 27km which I was fine with.  I was feeling a little weary after yesterdays activities and an interrupted nights sleep, so was happy thinking that I might have a shorter than expected section too.  Why I thought my section would be shorter as well didn’t really make sense when you do the maths, and I was about 10km in when I realised this.  My support crew stayed a cautious distance away when they told me this section would be about 36km, approximately 10km more than I had psyched up for.  They threw some lollies out the window at me and then dropped back to trail a safe distance behind.  I admit my head was not in the game for this ride.  It was a long flat ride with the occasional slow climbs thrown in and I was my own worst enemy.  The middle 10km dragged on in the worst way until I spied another competitor in the distance.  Yay, someone to try and catch and enough incentive to get my focus back.

 

It really was a fantastic weekend and I would encourage absolutely everyone to give this event a go if you are in the Pilbara for the WA Day Long Weekend.  Go Team!!

 

 

Rockin’ the Timetable – Fitness Challenge Completed

There is a reason I love having my hitlist, well there are many reasons, but one of them is that it keeps me focused and allows me to feel like I’m getting things done.  It is easy to get caught up in everyday life, in being reactive and surviving the days rather than achieving and moving forward in whatever form that may take.  Over the next few weeks I will be aiming to cross a few items off my current hitlist.  Can’t remember it?  Neither could I, so here is a refresher…..

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I have quite a few of these underway or completed, but this week was all about completing the gym timetable.  Initially the aim was just to attend all the classes, at least once, when I have the time.  I really like trying different things as how do you know whether you will like them or not if you don’t give it a go??  I always find there is a lesson to be learnt in each new activity I try.

This week I decided that enough was enough I needed to start crossing some items off my hitlist starting with the timetable challenge.  Just for fun, I decided to do all the classes in one week.

Timetable

It was tougher than I thought, especially the tail end of the week from Bootcamp onwards. Bootcamp was good old fashioned fun outside with big old tractor tyres, battle ropes, sprints, plyometrics, and good old squats, push ups, and sit ups.  It hurt, and it ensured that the rest of the week hurt too.  Ouch!

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Mother’s time on the Monday was 100 Club which if you have been following along, you will know it is 100 reps of about 6 different exercises broken every 5 minutes by a 1 minute plank.  It’s a great mixture of upper and lower body strength work, core, and cardio, that leaves you gasping for breath and hurting the next day.  Burn is a session that is typically up to the trainer’s discretion but always lives up to its name and ensures that your muscles will be burning by the time they are finished with you.  On the Monday it was a great little whole body workout with barbells, medicine balls and lots of lunges.  Lucky for me Tuesday was a rest day from classes and a chance to recover.  I did squeeze a short training run in with Team Rangas though.

Wednesday was Bootcamp as explained above, before doing a double on Thursday.  Mum’s time was a killer partner circuit followed by a barbell workout in the Burn class later that night.  Friday’s 100 Club was probably the toughest session for me as we had spent the day in Karratha, I was tired, sore, and it was a Friday night.  Some days you just have to suck it up and get it done.

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Following the hard slog on Friday night it was downhill from that point, just had to push through an Aqua session which was a little harder than expected.  Not so much the ‘blue rinse set water aerobics’ I was half dreading and instead a good mix of strength and cardio.  The final session of the week was Yoga (thankfully Jana was the trainer on this swing otherwise we would have been doing a boxing session, which I have done previously and it possibly would have broken me).

And that, people, is how you rock the timetable!!  Ok, now I am crawling back onto the lounge and enjoying a rest day!

Have you tried all the classes at your local gym?  Do you mix up your routine every now and again?  Go on, give it a go….

 

 

The Overland Track Tasmania (Guest Post) – Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet start with this post, but for everyone else Katie’s story continues…..

Day 02 – Waterfall Valley to Windermere

Well … we woke up this morning to some beautiful blue sky!! Big Yay!!!  So at least we got some glimpses back towards Cradle Mountain and Barns Bluff.

Lake Will

Day 02 was one of the smallest distances to hike with a side trip to Lake Will.

I think Ange was really in her element today … she seemed to have really found her stride and enjoyed the walk.  Me … not so much … I think my body was just so fatigued from the day before that I struggled to find my rhythm.

Everything was still very very wet from the day before however at least we got to see some of the beautiful surroundings of the area. We did do the little side hike to Lake Will for lunch with views back to Barn Bluff – it was lovely just sitting there on a little sandy beach in mountains.

Today’s hut was down by Lake Windermere which was beautiful. We went for a walk down to the lake to soak our feet in the water! Believe me … it was definitely a wee bit cold! Got a cramp in the calf straight away! Brrrr but oh so nice on the feet!!

And today was the day I got to see my first ever Wombat in the wild!! YAY!!! So awesome!! We were walking along and heard a branch crack, making us look over and there is a Wombat frozen with stage fright half way over a log! Cutest thing ever – two front paws up and shy face poking over!!

Wombat

Day 03 – Windermere to Kia Ora

Longest of the day hikes – think it was about 18km?

Windermere

I really enjoyed this day, the body was feeling great, I was feeling more energised, the bag was sitting just right, there was better padding on my shoulders (where the bag had been rubbing on my collar bones) … I had finally found my rhythm!! Big YAY!!!

It was a beautiful day and we walked through sooo many different types of environments! Open grass lands, open plains, forests and rainforests, on boardwalks, natural rock, flats and the main the challenge for the day … there was a massive stretch in the forest where it was just a big old mud slush!

Thank goodness for my hiking poles … it was a lot of hopping and a major balancing act from slippery root to slippery root to attempt to miss the slush in between.  I swear this area took twice as long as it should have. Did have a bit of slide at one stage there … bam … down on my knee before I knew it …  no damage done but there was a bit of laughing on how to get back up with a pack on your back – he he … the unexpected challenges we came across!!!

Oh yeah … today is Christmas Day!! Merry Christmas!!

We settled in at the hut (which was a lovely hut) to have our deliciously savoured dehydrated Roast Chicken Christmas Dinner  …. m… mmmm!! How amazing it was too … salty goodness… which was actually all my body was craving!!  Oh … yeah…. we had also come prepared and trekked with some delicious “Vino” to compliment our nightly dinners in style (best decision ever). We totally lived it up on Christmas Night sharing a Christmas pudding with some new friends in exchange for our delicious Rum Balls and Macadamia and Ginger nut balls we had made for ourselves!!

Kia Ora Hut

Day 04 – Kia Ora to Bert Nichols (Windy Ridge)

We woke to a bit of dreary wet morning – not much you can do about the weather so you just wet weather gear it up and head off!! Woohoo!!!!

So today is Mount Ossa day – The highest Peak in Tasmania. The first part of the day is heading up to Pelion Gap where they have a little area to drop off your big packs so you can climb the surrounding mountains.  So we get to the gap and it is pouring … actually it more like sleeting!  It is that bad that some hikers pick up their bags and keep heading to the next hut!

Windy Ridge

Windy Ridge 2

So… the little guide book (that we were sent to “guide us”) tells you that “you should not attempt to climb Mt Ossa if there weather is bad”…. so what did we sensibly decided to do? Yes Of course … you guessed it….  we didn’t come all this way and get this close not to give it a go! What have we got to lose … if it gets too bad we will just come back down!! Meh!! Easy!!!

So I am not sure how you defined when the weather gets too bad? Is it the point when I stick out my tongue to catch the snow? Nah … of course not … but that was totally awesome!! Nothing like being committed to the cause!

We passed 3 guys coming down the mountain (the only 3 other people who attempted Mt Ossa that day) and they told us that it was just blanketed in cloud and they couldn’t see anything! Ah… shame … but still we were here already so we may as well see what can see when we get there!! So up we go … it is a lot of rock scrabbling  … and as we started to get higher and higher the nerves started to get a little shot! But as we were up there and just about on the way down we had a miraculous moment where the clouds cleared from around us and the sun came out to shine on us!

Wowz … the view that came out … so dramatically spectacular!! It was one of my favourite moments – sitting on top of the world (or Tasmania) and just watching the world below you!! What an achievement!!! Yay for us!!

Mt Ossa

When we got back down to our big packs we decided to have a celebratory cup of tea whilst enjoying the brief rays of sunshine, as it wasn’t long before a shower came across to get us on our way again. Fortunately it didn’t last long – by the time we were at the huts it was sunshine again so decided that tonight was the night that I would camp!! Woohoo for me!!

Camping

So it turned out to be the coldest night EVER!!! I had 2 thermals on, + outers, + thermal sleeping liner + beanie, gloves, socks – all the normals, I was tucked in my sleeping bag pulled over my head with only a small breathing hole out the side. Yup I know…. style all the way but I made it through the night!!

Day 05 – Bert Nichols to Narcissus

I think we were both a little fatigued on Day 04 as it had been a 4 hour return trip up My Ossa + 2 hours before and 2 hours to the next hut.  The body was definitely not quite feeling quite at its peak, but we still pushed on.  Along the track today was one of the originally built huts (all made by hand) as well as a few side trips to see some beautiful waterfalls.

Waterfall

Both of us were keen to push on today and enjoy some rest time at the hut (which was amazing – newest hut of the whole walk and we felt like were back in civilisation)

Day 06 – Narcissus to Lake St Clair Visitor Centre

Last day – Downhill run to the end.

We started early today as we had pre-booked a ferry ride across Lake St Clair at midday.

I really enjoyed the track today – it wasn’t so “Alpine” environment and actually reminded me a lot of South-East Queensland.  And would you believe it…. there was not a damn cloud in the sky!! It was the most beautiful day you could have ever wished for!! (Stark contrast to Day 01 – look at that sky)

Narcissus

The walk was amazing and as we rode the ferry to the Lake St Clair centre you could look back into the dramatic mountains and be amazed at how far we had come.

Lake St Claire

Reflection

The hike was probably one of the most challenging adventures I have been on, but it was definitely rewarding and I am super proud of myself (and Ange)!!! I look back and remember all those little experiences that came together to be one my best adventures yet. I feel an amazing sense of achievement and can’t wait till my next big adventure!

Shout out to everyone ….

PS. Also have to say a huge Thank-you to my amazing adventure friend Ange!! Can’t wait till our next one!!

Just in case anyone wants to get any more information on the Overland Track head to this website.

Thank you Katie for doing such a great write up and sharing the adventure with us!

 

Over To You the Weekend Warriors

Over the last three months I have been so inspired by my newsfeed from family, friends, and The Exercise Hitlist followers.  So much so, that I thought I would share some of the photos of all of the fun everyone has been up to.  I have tracked down most of you to ask for permission to share your photos but if I have missed you please feel free to let me know and I can remove them if you so wish!

Pretty impressive isn’t it??  What are you waiting for, get outside and explore!

Conquering Walsh’s Pyramid

Along with Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland’s highest mountain that I climbed a couple of years ago, the Pyramid in Gordonvale has also been on my exercise hitlist radar.  Each year in August, the little town of Gordonvale hosts the Great Pyramid Race.  Legend has it that the race originated when two local cane farmers were sitting having a drink at the pub.  The men decided to settle an argument by seeing who could make it to the peak of nearby Walsh’s Pyramid first.  A wager was made and the day set for the very first race.  It generated so much interest with the locals that a bookie took bets on the outcome and The Great Pyramid Race was born.  The first official race ran in 1959 and the fittest and bravest come to compete each year.  After climbing the mountain at a comfortable pace I did wonder how people ‘race’ the Pyramid and am not surprised that this quote is used in promoting the race!

 “A never-ending uphill scramble and a ‘controlled’ downhill free fall”

One thing I love about an exercise challenge is that it can be quite social.  Or maybe I just have friends that are the same kind of crazy as I am.  Even though it was summer in the tropics (read hot and humid) I had two friends immediately volunteer to come with me.  One friend travelled 4 hours to catch up for a couple of nights, and the other was up at 4am to drive ninety minutes to meet us at the base of the mountain.  I am very thankful for such good friends who make the effort as my visits are very few and far between these days.

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I was a little worried that it would be quite difficult to find the start of the track (and copped some good-natured ribbing about my recent adventures getting lost) but I am happy to report that it is quite well marked.  From the Gordonvale Service Station it is only 5 minutes drive along the highway, heading towards Innisfail, that you will come across Moss Road on your right hand side.  There are signs for parking ahead and you will come to a gravel parking area after only a couple of minutes.  The track is well marked, no really it is, I don’t think even I could get lost.  From all I had read this was supposed to be a 6km return climb but the girls and I think that it could be a bit closer to 8km return based on some markings on the track and how long it took us.  The time to the top for us was 3 hours and only 90 minutes back down at a fairly comfortable pace.

We left at 6am from the base and would not leave it any later in summer.  It was a really hot and humid morning and I was literally dripping half way up so make sure you have plenty of fluids if you are crazy enough to do it in Summer.  There were quite a few people on the mountain which did actually surprise us.  It would be a beautiful walk in the cooler months.  It WAS a beautiful climb even in the heat and one everyone with reasonable fitness should try.  The views are amazing.

The track was quite steep in places with quite a few scrambles up rocks however there were plenty of flat-ish sections to catch a breather.

We did find that just when you thought you were near the top…..it wasn’t…..then you would think that this must be it…..and it wasn’t……then finally this must be it……and we still weren’t quite there.  Eventually we did make it and I love this photo taken of my good friend at the top of the Pyramid as it just seems to capture the spirit of adventure and satisfaction from making it to the top.

Thanks ladies for a wonderful catch up, we will have to start planning our next adventure.  This was a wonderful hike, so give it a go next time you are in the area!