Thursday, 10 May 2018

Mountain Designs Wild Women Race Rogue Raid

The Rogue Raid Samsonvale 2018 set the record for the biggest field in a 24hr Adventure Race in Australia, partly because it is now a part of the Adventure 1 Series in Australia, but mostly because of the quality Rogue events that Liam St Pierre has been staging for the past 10 years.
With so many top teams lined up for the event, it was set to be a thrilling race for the dot watchers, at home and out on course, as all of the Adventure 1 four-person teams were carrying trackers. This provides everyone who’s not racing with the opportunity to follow the teams as they move through the course, and this also means that any navigational mistake or blunder is out there for the world to see over and over again….. Carrying a tracker even helps the team out on course, because we can be thinking at times….. ‘I wonder what our dot is doing right now’….and after the event we can go back to the http://livingitlive.com.au/20180505rogueraid/ website and view our course and look at what routes other teams chose. This type of feedback can be really valuable as a learning tool for future races, so it certainly adds value to the sport of adventure racing.
About the Mountain Designs Wild Women Team for Rogue Raid 2018
Kim Beckinsale – feeling fresh and recovered following…. Red Bull Defiance, Coast to Coast, XPD and the Scatter Raid; Kim the team captain and lead navigator was very excited that we had such a strong team and was looking forward to really giving the teams at the pointy end of the field a bit of healthy competition from the girls!



Cass Kimlin – absolutely on fire following Red Bull Defiance, XPD and TRE-X; Cass supports Kim in the navigation and is super strong on the bike….the powerhouse!



Ali Wright – the little ‘pocket rocket’ was on fire leading up to this event; Ali had not raced for a while was super excited to finally be pulling on the Wild Women Gear again after having to withdraw from Wildside in October 2017 following some gymnastics move that went wrong! Glad to have you back in action Ali 😊

Elizabeth Dornom – ‘the new girl in town’ Liz travelling all the way from Melbourne, needs no introduction really….. Liz finished in the Top 10 elite women in Coast to Coast and was a member of the Tri Adventure Antelopes who were the winners of XPD Tasmania 2018. She was looking forward to doing a bit of navigation especially on the bike and paddle as well as providing a bit of light entertainment for the team.
Preparation
While I was making sure I was getting that final bike ride and final paddle in leading up to the race, Liz, down in Melbourne, had other ideas…..she was working on her singing (I’m so excited……and I just can’t fight it) and dancing skills (footloose) in preparation for an all-nighter with the Wild Women and had Cass and Ali hooked on Messenger for the next couple of days wondering what would be next! Liz arrives at Noosa and soon there is a jam session on our balcony……drums and guitar……I thought wow…. this is a fun way to prepare for an adventure race!



Race Day – Rogue Raid – Lake Samsonvale
We arrived just as the sun was rising over the lake and the fog was lifting so it looked like we were set for a perfect day…. plenty of time to get all our gear sorted and to go around to chat to all the other teams prior to registrations and map handout. Interestingly all of my former Mountain Designs Team (Gary, Sloshy and Leo ) were racing but none of us in the same team, wow this would certainly bring on a bit of friendly competition – not that the girls really would have a chance against the mixed teams but I thought it will be heaps of fun mixing it with them out there! The course was revealed - 7 stages -  all optional, and leg 6 and 7 can be done in any order.
1.Trek
2.MTB
3.Paddle
4.Trek,
5.MTB,
6.Trek,
7. Paddle



At this point all of the top teams basically try to clear the course, however for an all-women’s team it is unlikely that this would be a wise strategy for us, so for me this is probably the most challenging part of the event….course planning! We knew the bike would be hilly and hard, however this was one of our strengths, and the points in Trek 3 looked like they were better value than trek 1 & 2. So we decided to go for CP 1 on Leg 1; to clear Leg 2 MTB; drop 8 on the paddle Leg 3; not get sucked in on Trek leg 4 and really look at our time most likely dropping CP 19 & 20; but maybe even 17 and 18 as well; then get back on the bikes and try to almost clear Leg 5 MTB; however we knew there were plenty of points on Leg 6 Trek (roughly planned to go anticlockwise via CP 48  ) and Leg 7 Paddle (roughly planned to get the big points on the paddle CP 49 -100;  CP57  80 and CP 54 70) however we would really just need to wait and see, as the bike looked pretty epic and we had been warned of the hills.



So how did it all pan out???
Mountain Designs Wild Women finished the race in 6th place overall on 2410 points spending 23hrs and 23minutes on the course. Mixed teams rounded out the top 4 places (Thought Sports 3080; Rogue 2840; Wild Earth 2810) and all-male team (Peaky Blinders 2770) in 5th. Our rival women’s team finished 53rd overall on 880 points, however definitely worth a mention is the women’s pair (Jordan Hougan & Michelle Houston) who completed the 24hr in 35th overall on 1540 points.
You could say we had a great day out and a successful one at that, so….. What are some of our secrets to success? What went well? What did not?  What did we find challenging? What is it about the Rogue that has girls like us think is great and why do we keep coming back? What do we look forward to most after finishing a race like this?
Firstly, why not have a look at our tracker!  Team 19 http://livingitlive.com.au/20180505rogueraid/
I made a blunder on the way to the very first CP….yep made the silly mistake of just following the crowd….thinking we were all going for CP1, didn’t even think that the teams trying to clear the course would do CP2 first. Eventually got it…. but felt a bit stupid! Making a mistake early is not always a bad thing as it settles you down and makes you think relax….and don’t get too excited!
The next part of the race went really well, we were on fire on the MTB, and worked extrememly well as a team! Cass, Liz and I all had map boards on so were all taking turns on the front and this helped us to keep our speed up. Then when we hit the hills it was hike a bike time, I reverted to the throw your bike over your shoulders and just carry it up the hill! I personally find this much easier than pushing a bike.


The kayak portage was certainly a challenge, but wow….Liz was so  so strong! Going to the front and carrying two boats while Cass and I held on to the back. The straps worked well, but it was still quite difficult to carry the load ….and of course the ‘all women’s teams’ had the heavier Cabos! This made the actual paddle feel quite easy, so we opted to clear the course….and make the most of the effort put in to the portage!
Careful navigation was paramount on the second trek, so when we were off track we took it steady! We were pretty excited to find an old mine shaft / cave structure as we headed down to Enoggera Creek from CP13 to 14. We also wrote on our map don’t get sucked in so we had to weigh up whether to do the creek walk….we took a chance as we were making good time and spent a bit of time chatting to the Peaky Blinders. We were losing light, so I upped the pace a bit on the trails…….little did I know that Ali was suffering way too much….sorry Ali but great communication at this point was key!



Transitions provide a great opportunity to refuel, recover a bit and prepare for the next leg, Ali got a chance for a little extra rest while Cass and I rode the skills track for a bonus 20 points…allowing Liz a bit of time to get some extra video footage.  Yes, having a video camera on the team can be a great motivator at times…. thanks Liz!
The bike back to the TA was the most challenging part of the event, as not only were some of the CP’s really hard to navigate to (CP 39, CP 29 and 33 in particular), it was a tough ride. Team work and sharing the load here was a key strategy….Ali was not 100% so Liz carried her pack, I pushed up the fire trails, and Cass towed on the road…..teamwork at its best. This was also the most fun part of the event as there was so much single track to ride….so the fact that we could all ride the single track with map boards was a bonus….( all those MTBO skills come in very handy). Liz sang the Peanut Song which was really funny, so through the early hours of the night, a bit of light entertainment never goes astray! I found it hard to see the map (probably need glasses) however, having 3 sets of eyes on the map helps….especially when your navigator rides straight past CP 37….! Oh no…. it’s the witching hour…..a signal to eat something sugary…..out came the golden lollies….and I passed them around….sharing is caring for your teammates, as your food can give them a lift too! Then we had to ride past a a private property where we were warned of an aggressive man ready to let his dogs out to attack anyone who went past! I am not sure what was in those golden lollies, but for some reason we were not phased and just rode as quietly yet as fast as we could to CP36, and our alternate route out proved better anyway! Phew.



It was still dark when we got back to HQ, so we opted to trek, however because we had spent so much time on our legs, we were not travelling as fast as we had anticipated, so strategically we decided to drop 6 CP’s on the run and instead go for 7 CP’s on the paddle….and it worked! We had fun on the paddle as Liz was entertaining us with the Goat Song and some problem-solving riddles. My brain was not quite smart enough to concentrate on cryptic clues navigation, so I asked the girls what they most looking forward to eating after a big event like this. Liz wanted something fresh, Ali a cup of Tea, Cass…. well I can’t remember, and me well it was a toss-up between Steak & Chips or a whole chicken…..the thought of yummy food gave us a bit of extra energy to power through the last few CP’s we planned for the paddle. We finished the Rogue with just over 40 minutes up our sleeve, very contented with our race, our strategy and our team work.



I must say the only thing that I was not fussed on about this race was the food at the end. Yes, I know that the thought of Pizza & Garlic Bread is quite appealing to many, however I am definitely not a fan of ‘Fast Food’ and as a HPE Teacher I am even more concerned about Fast Food associations with major sporting events as it sets a precedent that it’s ok to eat crap because you have just done something epic, when the reality is there is not a lot of good quality protein in most fast food products and they are often full of artificial colours and flavours….probably the last thing adventure racers really need. I am much more in favour of a simple BBQ (Burger and healthy salad) served up by the local scouts or community organisation, no subliminal advertising and the costs go to a worthy cause!
So that’s what I thought of the Rogue 2018…..here is what the girls wanted to add:
Cass
My favourite thing about the Rogue is getting to see the other teams so often out on the course and the fantastic maps. Best leg was the bike legs with the single track. Most challenging part was the night time foot navigation, as we had to really concentrate to find those vague gullies. I love the teamwork in our team and being able to share the navigation. I learnt 2 new songs about goats and peanuts. I had a great race gals! Thanks for making it special!
Ali
Greetings from the cloudy coast! Back in my civvy clothes sitting at a desk. I did remember to button up my shirt properly today though. Bonus! Seem to have pulled up pretty well too which is particularly impressive given I spent a bit of time on Struggle Street in the first half! Thanks for the help getting through that. I love the format of the Rogue, with multiple disciplines and rogaine style racing - always tops my annual list of adventure races. Liam does such a great job. My least favourite leg was the frantic first one. Never been a fan of kayak portages either and have two nice bruises on both outer legs from boat bashing, haha. As for favourite legs, I really did enjoy the single-track MTB too, getting tired legs from the run up a wee hill or two was a challenge for me this time! All women’s team racing: I love challenging the status quo and flying in the face of convention! Thanks everyone - I didn't expect 6th overall - fantastic
Liz (Liz had to travel back to Melbourne that night)
Wow, well I think the plane had started taxiing but I am definitely sure I was asleep before I took off last night. I was happy as got some lovely fresh salads and soup at the airport first, then some crisps and juice for the flight just so I didn't have to eat my race food if I got hungry. Even more amazing is that I have somehow survived a full manic day at work and even did all my notes and admin. Probably means I am going to crash later in the week but feeling pretty good at the moment.
I loved the strategy required for a course that was not just linear. It certainly was exciting seeing lots of team’s multiple times throughout the race and the fact that you had to keep going for the whole 24hours, no sense getting into cruise mode to cross the finish line because you actually had no idea where you were in the points standings. My least favourite leg was the first leg, a bit too short and not great having other teams riding and trying to pass. Most challenging part for me was also at the start as I had to concentrate really hard on who was actually in my team as I have raced with a fair number of other people in the race and so didn't want to get caught following the wrong team!!! Favourite leg was probably the last kayak - pretty special conditions (and we were off our feet) but I also really loved the single track on the MTB. I also learned that next race I will pack some corn chips as they were an absolute winner for race food……and sudocream is still the best thing ever!!! I thought the team dynamics were great and the fact that none of you complained about my tone-deaf singing and husky voice which I am amazed lasted as well as it did.
Here is the link to the video that Liz created ……we hope this may inspire more women to have a go at Adventure Racing and or Rogaining.
Thanks to our sponsors Mountain Designs, Ay UP Lighting Systems and Tri Adventure. Thanks to Venture Cycles for keeping our @trekbikes in great working order, and finally thanks to kayak Noosa for supplying some of the extra kayaks for the race….I know the Cabo’s were heavy but they did keep us much drier than the Spirit CTR’s.



……and that’s a wrap for Rogue Raid 2018 next up #GeoquestAR at Diamond Beach where we will baptise two new ‘Wild Women’ – Kelly-Anne Speight and Amie Munson.




Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Mountain Designs Wild Women go wild in Tasmania's Bay of Fires – XPD 2018


Having completed Mountain Designs Geoquest and Wildside AR successfully in 2017, XPD Bay of Fires, Tasmania was next on the AR bucket list for the team consisting of Alina McMaster who was a member of AROC at the very first XPD in Broken Hill 15 years ago; Cass Kimlin two time XPD finisher Townsville 2015 and #ARWS World Champs Shoalhaven 2017; Gina Dunsdon two time XPD finisher Flinders Ranges 2013 and Townsville 2015; and myself, Kim Beckinsale two time XPD finisher – Tasmania World Championships 2011 and Flinders Rangers 2013 as a member of the winning team Mountain Designs. Our goal for this XPD was to complete the full course successfully, which meant finding every single CP, as an all Australian women's team, having fun and enjoying the great scenery Tasmania has to offer along the way! We certainly had a wild time out there, so here are some of the highlights of our adventure proudly flying the flag for #MountainDesigns the iconic Australian outdoor adventure gear brand!


HQ & Registration-St Helens
St Helens was a pretty cool spot for HQ as it was right on the water and the place we stayed certainly captured the ocean views perfectly. Pre-event registrations and checks were at the community hall and as usual a hive of activity, with gear checks, navigation checks, first aid, safety and environmental talks taking place, while we mingled with some of the other Aussie and international athletes also preparing for this epic event. We were excited not to have to do a competency paddle, however did take the time to work out the best set up in the CTR Spirit Kayaks we would be using in the event.
Navigation Checks
Jarad Kohlar helps us with Kayak Set Up
Cass and Kim take boxes down to HQ after registrations
 The Lockdown – Short event briefing before the course is revealed and planning begins.
We received our logistics planner 7 days prior to the start however we only received the maps just 2hrs before we were to board a bus to a mystery location. So, it was certainly a bonus to be provided with 2 sets of water proof maps and instructions with each leg clearly labelled across the 24 or so maps, however, it was a real challenge to try to do course planning in such a short time. Anyway the most important thing we did do was get Alina to draw north lines on the maps indicating the declination for magnetic north, as Gina worked on logistics and Cass and I completed some very basic highlighting of CP’s and proposed routes. Conditions for racing were absolutely wild with severe gale-force NW winds forecast, this meant that Leg 1 & 3 Ocean & Bay Paddles had to be cancelled. We were told we would start at a mystery location on Trek Leg 2. In what seemed like just minutes our planning time had dwindled to seconds and it was jackets on as we gathered our gear and boarded the busses for a wet and wild start to #XPD Bay of Fires 2018.

Start Leg 2 Trek – St Helen’s Point 16km
The mystery location was in the sand dunes north-east of St Helens however, to get the first CP teams were challenged to work out their exact location. We could do this and after the mayor sounded the starting horn we found ourselves running just behind the Tri Adventure Antelopes...being able to move fast here was a bonus as we had about 4 teams all looking for the same CP's on stakes in the dunes! Soon we were coasteering and settled our speed down as the field started to spread out, despite the wind and rain we enjoyed this leg and within 2 hours were at the TA ready for Leg 4.
Leg 4 MTB – Flag Staff Hill 22km
It was bucketing down with rain and the wind was almost blowing us sideways off the road as we started the leg, so in a way we were relieved to hit the hills in the bush. CP 6 was on a tower, so we were treated to hike a bike number 1, then our route choice to CP 7 involved both a down hill hike a bike and then a steep hike up, oh well at least we were in the right spot! A flat tyre at that point put us back a bit and tested our team work skills, yet soon we were one again riding some pretty steep forestry trails towards CP 10 the final CP on this leg. We thought our route choice was not great, however arrived at the TA in around 4th spot!
Leg 5 Paddle – Scamander River 13km
The sun was now shining on and off, so conditions were looking good for our first paddle of the event. The TA was in a nice sunny spot and it looked like we would finish the paddle in the light, so jackets on but no extra paddle gear was really required. This paddle on the Scamander River I had previously done in the Mark Webber Challenge, so it was somewhat familiar as we got going and I remembered we did not want to get sucked into the lake, so hugged the left bank. There were a few portage possibilities however as we could not tell the difference between private property and forestry we opted to stay in the boats and paddle. Just towards the end the water seemed to run out so it was a bit of a boat drag up to the TA, however we were excited to see some familiar faces at the TA – Steve, Shan & Dyson, however not too much time to chat as the light was fading and we wanted to get out on the bikes!
Leg 6 MTB – Up to the Midlands through St Mary’s 65km
We had two routes drawn and decided to have a look at the short option as we got about 1k out from the TA, and as it looked good we took it. There were many contours on the map and it was a steady climb up to the next CP so Cass and I got the tow ropes out and Gina and Alina hooked on. This was such a great way to keep us all together early in the race. After more than an hour we were in complete darkness and found ourselves heading to CP12 which was in a cemetery, we got a bit of a fright when Mike (media) and Igor (Race Referee) popped up out of nowhere. We had a chat posed for a few photos and then we were off again. We passed through St Mary’s in a flash, and as it was well into the night no shops were open! As we headed towards the Break O Day Forest things were getting a little funky, as you can see by our tracker! The track we were on seemed to come to a dead end, we had a little look but could not see anything, so we went back and took what looked like a forestry track which we hoped may join up, however after about 2.6km of winding around all over the place we went back out to the road and had another look for the track we were after, again we saw nothing so went back to the forestry trail and tried another track which veered off early! Nothing seemed right, however we then saw another team’s lights in the distance, and by the speed they were travelling it looked like they were on the track we were looking for…..so we just walked cross country in their direction. They told us the track was very indistinct and you had to cross a fallen bridge….mmmm we did not even see that! Oh well, we kept on moving towards CP 13 which we did as an out and back. It looked like a long way to travel, however as the CP had been changed I thought the tracks further up may have been a little weird, so the long way around worked well for us, and apparently, we made up time we had lost earlier! I must say in the dark with a 1:50000 map it was really hard to read the contours…..Cass and I prepared the girls for some awesome downhill, however it turned out to be a climb! We eventually made it to the top of the climb and were rewarded with a wicked descent down to the Esk Highway into the TA at Fingal. Here we had a compulsory bike wash prior to entering the community hall.


Our route Leg 6 from St Marys to CP 13 and onwards
Leg 7 Paddle South Esk River 38km
We were told in the briefing that instead of paddling to the first CP we would have a 5km trek with our paddle gear, and we would find the kayaks at the CP. So, the instructions at the TA were to follow a farmer’s track until you hit the road. To find the farmers track you had to go past the old Gaol but not past the Police Station as that was OOB. Instead of getting straight into it, the team decided to take a 20 minute sleep, I must say this was really a bit of a disaster, as we just ended up wasting lots of time, as we slept after we had had a good feed of Back Country Cuisine, and then the TA just seemed to be really noisy, so for 20 minutes rest, we were in the TA for more than 1hr 30. Anyway, it was a long race and we soon got our paddle gear sorted and set off looking for the farmers track! Well it was more like a wombat trail beside the river and as we did not want to be OOB we stayed near the river way too long, we took turns at bashing through the bush and eventually came up out onto some open land. We had been walking for over an hour and thought we must be almost 5km…..however nothing on the map seemed to make sense. The track to the kayaks must be obvious as they should use it to get the boats down to the river. As the sun was beginning to rise we started to try to work out the features on the map by looking around us and we headed for the train line. Cass then looked at the map and we realised the map was 1:50000 and not 1:25000 as we had thought, meaning out trek was more like 10k. So that was a huge relief and soon we found ourselves on a big farm road taking us all the way to the road to the kayaks and CP 15. There were a few other teams around us by now and we were ready to get paddling. The water levels were pretty low most of the time so it was very slow going, yet the little rapids did make it quite fun and exciting…..as did the wind…..NOT! Well as the day went on the wind got stronger and stronger and when we were on the open wide sections of river we would see these massive wind squalls heading right for us and we would just have to brace and keep paddling strongly. I had my map in my leg and the wind just blew it away…..Lucky we had 2 maps and Cass had hers in her pocket! I thought the wind in Coast to Coast was strong…. but compared to this that was nothing. Alina was doing as awesome job steering and Cass and Gina were following our route through the low branches and trees. We even had to get out quite a few times and carry the boats hundreds of meters to find water to paddle in. It was hard to work out where you were exactly however luckily there were two bridges about the ¾ mark and then a bridge to paddle under right at the finish. At around 4pm ish we arrived at the TA in the tiny little town of Avoca, a little wet and cold as both kayaks were caught in a tricky little rapid just 1k out from the finish, meaning we all went for a swim!
Leg 8 Trek Avoca Stacks Bluff Ben Lomond 43km
We were quick to get off all our wet clothes and get into our trekking gear, and made use of the hot water at the TA to cook up some Back Country as well as cup of soup for instant warming ! We were wide awake following our refreshing swim so keen to get out onto the trek and make the most of the little daylight hours. This trek ,while only 43 kms, was set to take us 22-24 hours so we knew it must be hard as we were also going up into freezing cold alpine country so we opted to take our Mountain Designs Down Jackets aka puffy puffer jackets! We managed to get CP 17 in the light and made the most of the fading daylight as we climbed and contoured around rocky boulders on our way around and up to CP 18. The navigation to this was really tricky once it got dark so we just took it pretty slow and steady…..think were looking pretty good as we paced our way up to CP 18 and got it bang on! I made a slight nav error after 18 by bearing a little too far to the left down a steep spur, so when we crossed what I thought was the creek we had to cross, it was actually just a gully. This meant that as we walked up the next spur it did not keep going up. We had a team discussion here about what we could have done, and how to recorrect. Alina was great at getting us to re orient our maps and we put the brains trust to work! We did a reverse 180 bearing back to the gully, so followed this down to Storeys Creek and as it was massive, we were pretty sure we were now in the right place. Next it was up to a high point on the map, so as we climbed we found many teams looking for an old tram line, we thought however we were nowhere near that at all, so we just kept going up trying to follow the ridgeline in the night. We found this a little tricky and for some strange reason we found ourselves feeling like we had to go in the wrong direction…. we were tired now as it was the 2nd night out. So, we stopped and got the brains trust together again and re-evaluated our position, as we were up really, really high! We thought if we follow a certain bearing for 150m we will hit the track that connects the tram line, if we are where we want to be right now. We did this and bingo…. we found the track….and remnants of an old man-made feature such as a tram line, however it was vague and did not seem to be safe to follow to the CP, so we hiked up the track and took a bearing to CP19. We got it bang on, hiked back up to the track and stopped for a 2 hour sleep. I had carried a sleeping bag and the other girls bivvy bags, so they rugged up and we all then somehow slid under or into the Bothy Bag……we had an awesome sleep!

Our rote that took us to CP19 
We were soon up, it was now somewhere between 2 and 3am, it was pitch black as we hiked through the old mining town of Rossarden up to CP20, the shoe clean spot on an old oval. Here we came across two other teams who had also had a sleep. The timing worked out perfectly as the next section of the trek was the most difficult as we headed up ‘Stacks Bluff’. We were on a fire trail for a few kilometres which turned into a non-existant track marked with red high vis markers on trees and cairns, just as the sun was rising making the travel a little easier. It got steeper and steeper and soon we were above the tree line hiking up glacial moraine up through a tiny gap in the bluff! We were in awe of the view and stopped to get a few photos! We were very thankful at this point that we had helmets on as just as we got to the steep sections two other teams caught us and were a little less cautious on this section than us, it was risky business up there and one slip or fall could have sent big rocks falling. We veered left and let them get ahead, soon we reached the top and wow, what a view, we were now in the alpine country of Ben Lomond, and there was ice underfoot….it must have been cold!
The sun was shining as we climbed Stacks Bluff!
  There was a trail marked on the map that we were trying to follow and it seemed to be marked by cairns, however this soon disappeared and we were just walking in water up high on the plains with the craggy peaks behind us. I just used the compass and the features around us to try a work out a route as there was no clear track, and using a 1:50000 map many of the rocky features we could see, were not significant enough to register on the map. Soon we could see a major watercourse and headed for that as it was in the perfect spot, however travel was very slow. At some point, Cass noticed the map said that there was no actual trail and that it was a cross country ski route, I unfolded my map and saw the same writing!
We did a great job at following the proposed course!

Cass & Kim lead the way through the alpine plain

Alina takes a selfie

Gina is looking cold.
Oh well, however I decided to try to follow that line anyway as it seemed to go exactly where we wanted to go. Eventually we got down to a lake and it was about 500m long, so I timed how long it took to walk that far……it was about 10 minutes for 500m, so 20mins/km so we were lucky to be travelling at 3km per hour, as there was some very amazing moss and vegetation that we had to be careful not to step on as well. I must say that if it had not been so wet and there had not been so many thigh-height prickly bushes, this trek would have been so much more enjoyable, it was beautiful but very tough, and despite good sunny conditions it was freezing up there as we had jackets, buffs and hoods on for most of the day.
Kim still hangs onto that map


Wild Women approaching CP 21

Pretty excited as we are almost there!

It seemed an eternity to get to the ski-field end of the map, and I took the girls up high to the right side of the plains on the edge of the bluff to travel on rocks rather than in the wet scrub, and despite it being a little longer it was faster travel, well until we hit a bigger set off craggy rocks! Here just around the corner we were spotted by the media (David Barlow) who had been up there all day…. we posed for a few photos and headed for the now visible ski poles and the little village on Ben Lomond. CP21 was at the community shelter, where again we posed for a team shot after disposing of our human waste that we had to carry with us off the trek. We saw Jan (media) and Igor here again at the CP as well as Dyson who had called out to us earlier from a rocky outcrop up high on the plains. We were in great spirits as we headed along the ski trail which too us to the TA at CP22 Carr Villa a little ski hut, and even better it was all mostly downhill! At the TA we could get boiling water and inside it was warm and cosy, however outside in the sun where we were getting our bikes ready for the next leg was also a very nice spot to be.

On the trail down to Carr Villa

Cass leads the charge.....click on the video for more action


Leg 9 MTB Tin Trail - Mathinna Forest Reserve & Blue Tier to Weldborough 115km
The light was beginning to fade as we headed down off Ben Lomond for this epic bike leg, we were all feeling good and ready to hit the hills, we put plenty of warm clothes on for the descent and Alina lead the way setting a cracking pace at the front. Once we got on the flat I think someone must have needed a rest as we stopped for a 5-minute snooze on the side of the road, just before we headed up into the hills towards the Mathinna Forest Reserve. Off the bitumen and onto the dirt and soon we were off the bikes and walking…. not sure if it was that steep or if we were just tired from being out racing for more than 48hrs! Up we went then down towards CP23 which was in a creek and as we headed towards the little town of Mathinna….it was dark and cold when we punched CP24. I was extremely cautious as we left this CP as it looked like we were headed into forestry, we made one wrong turn early just because we were going to fast…. but I managed to call the girls back. Then when we headed up a trail heading towards Diggers Hill Road, the bearing just did not seem right, so I thought maybe the trail is not going to go through….so a quick scan of the map showed a possible alternate route up Mathinna Falls Road, so we back tracked and took a gamble. I was motoring at the front, just wanting and hoping that it was all going to work out, not noticing the girls were falling asleep behind me. I pushed us on again after a mini nav error and everything seemed to be working out. So, I promised the girls we would have a sleep once we got out onto Diggers Hill Road. We got there at the same time as another team had who had been with us when we turned around, it seemed that either way was tough….so nothing gained nothing lost - all good, so we rode about 2km and had a 2 hour sleep. It was now around 2 o’clock in the morning and we were headed for CP25 – St Columbus Falls, unfortunately we could not see much in the dark, but finding the CP was easy.

Our Mathinna Forest Route
We were then headed towards the Pyengana Cheese Factory, but it was obviously closed. We were now making our way towards the famous Blue Tier MTB Trail but had a big climb in front of us…. from the Tasman Highway it was 7km to Lottah then another 4km up to Poimena to the trail head and it was pretty much all up hill. We paced ourselves well by riding, walking and even took another 5-minute sleep before the top so we would hit the downhill single-track alert! Alina had ridden the trail before so we put her in the lead, and we enjoyed the descent immensely, even though I must say it is a bit challenging riding single track with a map board, but at least I didn’t really have to try and navigate. As we descended the sun started to come out and it was full daylight by the time we exited, we saw Alina’s friend and former race partner Kris Clauson out for an early ride and our Tri Adventure Supporters (Steve, Shan & Dyson) as we approached the TA at the Weldborough Pub. Unfortunately, the pub was not open for breakfast but the volunteers (Michele Krome & Linda Davis) had HOT Water for us. I was also surprised to see some of our good friends holidaying in Tassie had been following the tracking and popped out to see me on course – Thanks Sue & Zeg! We shared Back Country and coffee as we packed our bikes and prepared for another trek.

In Transition at Weldborough
Kim enjoying a coffee

Steve & Shan and the Wild Women - with Linda Davis in the background!
Leg 10 Trek Rattler Range 25km
On paper this trek looked straight forward, however the reality was we were most of the time searching for pink tape on unformed trails. We travelled along roads and trails for about 4k before hitting the pink tape where we were also greeted by the media team who took a short video of us wild women deep in the ancient forest. We were happy to stop and chat and this put us in great spirits for the rest of the trek. 
We stopped for a quick chat to the media crew!

Cass looking focussed on the task!

On our way to CP28
CP28 was a big tree in a forest full of big trees, however a after a bit of a grid search we got it and made our way back to the taped trail which took us up to Rattler Hill. We took a few pictures at the Trig Point before heading off looking for the trail which would take us to the next CP. Not sure what happened here but we overshot middle peak and ended up about 500m to the SW of where we should have been, so obviously nothing was looking right when we tried to find the trail. I made us all walk back up high so we could see the trig point of the Rattler Hill and the brains trust had a look at the map and we realised our error, so we walked up onto the top of the ridge and got back on track. 
Rattler Hill Tri Point

Gina, Alina & Cass dance on Rattler Hill!
At CP 29 we had a shoe clean and then we were looking for pink tape marking a trail, however it was not that easy to find…. however, we eventually did. Looking at the map this next section of pink tape was going to be around 8-10 km and was going to be slow travel, so I put Gina in the front to set the pace and look for the tape. She was on fire and we got through this part of the leg in good time, enjoying the amazing scenery and interesting moss in thick forest that looked like we were in the snow. It was still light as we started to approach Ralphs Falls, we punched CP and headed to the TA just as it was starting to get cold and dark. The volunteers at the TA had the fire going in a little shelter so it was really warm, however I did not go near it in fear of the body wanting not to go out again. Alina’s dropper seat post had a bit of a spack-attack and we had a bit of a tough time getting all the parts back together, but after a while we were all set, well fed and ready for the next leg.

Looks like we are skiing!
Kim is amazed at this moss, as it looks like bleached coral.
 
Alina punches CP 30 at Ralph Falls

Wild Women and Ralph Falls in the background
Leg 11 MTB Ralphs Falls to Musselroe Bay 100km
This map was a 1:100 000 map and covered two A3 sized pages, so I said to Cass that she could lead with fresh young eyes as I know I would struggle to read a thing in the dark. As we took to the road we had very steep 12km descent…. here Alina had two potoroos literally run between her wheels, skid down the hill for a bit then run out the other side…. not sure how she stayed upright!  It was not long before we were in the town of Ringarooma, like all the other little towns we had visited …. nothing was open……not that we needed anything! Again a few of the girls were a little tired so we took a 10 minute break on the side of the road…. Gina was the timekeeper. It was cold and we probably were not moving all that fast as we made our way on mainly roads to the next CP in the town of Winnaleah. We punched CP33 and then used the balcony of the pub as our two-hour sleep spot. We snuggled up in the Bothy Bag again and enjoyed some well-earned rest and sleep as after all it was our 4th night out. After our sleep we headed off again now heading towards the coast along Old Port Road, it was an old bumpy undulating fire trail taking us around Mt Cameron. Here we were looking for CP 34 on a track/creek junction coming off Wedge-tail Peak. Our plan was to count the creek lines as we travelled in an easterly direction – Shallamar Creek, Vicareys Creek, Hardwickers Creek, Ruby Creek and then the one we were after. However, we got sucked up the main trail into a school camp which caused some confusion, but then we headed back and found the trail literally in the three we had crossed. Soon Cass spotted the CP on the left and we thought we were ready to get out of the forest. Cass was struggling to stay awake and Gina was helping to keep here alert, but we soon decided to stop and rest 5 minutes as it was obvious the track we were looking for was not there! Up and going again my map-board broke and Cass took the opportunity for another sleep while Alina and I tried to use the gaffer tape I had in my mandatory gear bag to fix it. It turned out that the exit trails we had hoped to find were not there and we ended up coming out of the forest on a major road South of the town of Gladstone, luckily, we worked this out so we were headed the right direction down into the town. Notes on the map said this was the last shop on the course, and we were in luck as it was open at 7 o'clock in the morning. We enjoyed coffee and hot pies before heading the final 20km or so to the Musselroe Beach TA! It was overcast and windy as we packed up our bikes and prepared for the next leg.


Hot pies and coffee tasted pretty good!
Leg 12 Coastal Trek Musselroe to Policeman’s Point via Bay of Fires 38km
Cape Natuariliste
The wind was howling the seas were viscous as we wandered off on the trek, the first CP 38 was quite easy to spot as we walked around Cape Naturaliste. The tide was incoming so it was not fast moving, so we made our way up onto a little track for part of the way. As we headed back towards the beach into Cod Bay the tide was even higher, but we worked out a little walk jog technique which seemed to get us through the kms a little faster. At Deep Creek we followed a fire trail up towards Eddystone Point, we were going for CP37 at Picnic Beach. We saw a little track down to the beach, but stupidly I thought no the tide is high we will be better to stay on the road. Cass was right, as we ended up overshooting the CP and closer to the tower. It was a lovely run back around the rocks…. but it was rather time consuming! Sorry Cass, you were so onto it!
Picnic Beach CP
Anyway, at the CP we were greeted by media (David Barlow) and Cass’s husband Darryn who had come out to see the team in action. We now had just over 8km along the beach to the TA so we really got moving as we made our way across the rocks at the bay of Fires…. a nice change up to just sand.


Girls - On the beach 

Gina - Bay of Fires

Girls on the Rocks - Bay of Fires

As we passed the last of the red rocks, the sand seemed firm and we started doing some running intervals, 3 mins jog and 2 mins walk. Alina thought we would be doing 12 reps but it only took us 5 to get to the Kayak Challenge and the TA. Here we had 1 kayak and 2 PFDs on each side of the water way and had to get all the team across leaving one kayak and 2PFD’s on each side. We had two all-male teams coming up behind us, so we got to the crossing first and just got into the TA ahead.


Alina dropped of Gina on the other side 
Alina came back for Cass.
 Leg 13 Kayak Anson’s Bay 11km.
By now we knew we were going to finish the race, we had come into the TA in 6th place – 4 mixed teams and 1 all male team ahead of us; but our focus was not on racing but finishing for some reason. We made sure we ate and put on clothes that would keep us warm before we left the TA, our friends and supporters were there to cheer us on which was lovely, we knew we would see them next at the finish line, but we just had to get there. As the light was fading we set off across Anson’s Bay to Shark Bay Point where CP 39 was located, one of the male teams had passed us and we could see them in the distance, it was windy and choppy, but we were fine as we had all the right gear! I got out and punched CP39 and soon we were headed SW across the bay towards the Anson’s River, now it was dark, so we had the glow sticks illuminated and used the AyUp’s sparingly as we paddled up the spooky river. We were passed by the second all male team as we stopped to get some coke to wake up and at the same point felt like I was dying in the front of the kayak with stomach cramps (had just eaten too many chips with too many numbers). Eventually we made it to the end of the paddle and geared up for the final ride to the finish line. Jarad Kohlar was manning the TA and seemed excited that we were doing so well.
Leg 14 MTB The Final Ride to St Helens 35km
All geared up in our Wild Women cycle gear we set off for what we thought to be the short ride home. We thought just 25km…. but after we were out there for a while I asked Gina…. how far is this??? She said 35km, so instead of 10km to go we had 25! Oh well Alina then said Kim, I wonder if you will get to see a wombat, this is your last chance…. then no kidding we saw 10…. we tried to stop and get photos but they did not work! We were singing away loudly in the middle of nowhere as we were fighting to stay awake as it approached midnight! Soon we crossed the Georges River which meant just 5km to go! Then we saw a sign St Helens 3km…. we were excited to be approaching the finish! At 12.05am we made the final turn into the St Helens Sport Complex and crossed under the finish Arch of XPD bay of Fires, as one healthy and happy Team of Wild Women. Sorry to our supporters for making you stay up so late…. we just wanted to enjoy the final legs of the course!


Mountain Designs Wild Women...all smiles at the finish!
We sat and enjoyed pizza and champagne on the finisher's lounge as we retold some of our favourite most interesting times out there, then were taken home to our little house to enjoy hot showers, more pizza and champagne!


.....and we did it all just for this!
Mountain Designs Wild Women – Kim Beckinsale, Cass Kimlin Gina Dunsdon and Alina Mc Master finished in 8th position overall in a time of 109 hours 20 minutes and 55 seconds and were awarded 1st Female Team in XPD Bay of Fires 2018.


Mountain Designs Wild Women - 1st Female Team XPD Bay of Fires 2018
Thanks to all our supporters and followers out there who either saw us on course or were back at home watching our dots, you certainly helped to keep us going in the right direction…. well most of the time!
Thanks to our major sponsor Mountain Designs for all the amazing gear we used during the race, we certainly managed to cope well despite some pretty challenging weather conditions, and we look forward to testing out some new gear as the brand geos through a period of change.
Also, thanks also to our other major sponsor Ay-Up Lighting Systems; we certainly made the most of the darkness only having 6hrs sleep in 40hrs of dark times, there rest of the time the Ay-up lights were helping us to find our way.
Finally thanks to Tri Adventure for also supporting Mountain Designs Wild Women and women’s adventure racing in general. If you want to get into adventure racing or just want to improve your fitness in the great outdoors, well please look up www.triadventure.com.au as there is plenty of great support and a super friendly environment to get you started or keep your adventures alive!
Next up for Mountain Designs Wild Women is the Rogue Raid in May, followed by Geoquest in June and Hells Bells in September, these events are part of the Adventure 1 Series.