Day three 60m abseil followed by a 25m traverse. It is much scarier than it appears!
The great Chinese adventureThe Great Adventure in China
Our latest Multisports adventure started about 3 weeks ago when we headed off to China to help out with the MSOQ Adventure race. This race is a 4 day stage race ranging from 5-8 hours each day. Roch and I went to help with the race and met up with Huddle who was finishing up his month long stint in China. I had heard a lot about this race as in the past Paula, Roch and Huddle had all done it but nothing prepared me for what these people were going to have to deal with over the 4 days.
We arrived in Lijiang about 5 days before the race was to start and this would allow us to check out some of the parts of the course and also help out with the set-up. There is nothing like jumping right into things – the morning after we arrived we went straight up to 11,000 feet to check out the run that they teams would do to start out day 4. I looked at the description of the “run” 14km and an estimated time of 2hours+ - I am thinking to myself how can 14km take 2 hours, surely they must be taking into account that the teams will be tired from the 3 previous days so they add a bit of extra time. Off we head up the mountain with our fearless tour guide Dave Jewell (Mr. RoadRunner himself). It became quite clear to me very quickly that the reason that the time estimation was so much was not because the teams would be tired out but it was rather one of the more difficult trail runs/hikes that I have ever seen. Within about 30 mins of starting I could tell that my quads were going to pay dearly for the pounding downhills and the unrelenting uphills. We eventually find our way to the proposed transition area right around the 2hour mark. This put things into perspective for me. I am a runner and so you would think that the running sections should be bearable for me – this was one of the hardest runs/hikes that I have ever done. All I could think about was that these athletes will have completed 3 days of racing before even getting to this run and will have to continue on for another 5+ hours until the finish. I had a newfound respect for the adventure racing community and so did my burning QUADS!!!!
The next day, Dave Jewell and I were off to mark a nice flat 8km run that went along a river and then check the markings on the “adventure run” that the teams would do on Day 2 – a short 4km run with an estimated time of 1hour 40 mins. In the middle of this, the teams would do what was the most incredible looking abseil of 100m. The river run was nice and flat as promised and my body was thankful for that but the “adventure run” – OH BOY!!! We start up the hill and were able to run about ½ mile at the most when we we reduced to a walk/scramble up the hill. The trail was there but it was the steepest thing that I had ever climbed up and this continued on for 50mins. We went past the abseil and then headed back down. I was very glad to hit the bottom – my quads were in worse shape than they had been from any Ironman!!!
While I was chasing Dave up the mountain, Roch was having his own fun kayaking down the river and also checking the lines etc for the canyon section that the teams would encounter on Day 3. The teams had to go through a canyon which consisted of crossing the river a couple of times and also completing an incredible abseil. Roch was psyched as he was able to do the abseil and check out the rest of the canyon run. It was clearly one of the most beautiful sections of the course.
Huddle’s duties for the race were slightly different he was what they called a “camera athlete”. Basically he followed the teams through the entire race and videoed them. He had a neat little camera attached to his helmet and also did some shooting with a hand held video camera as well. This sound like a cool job right? In essence, Huddle had to do almost the entire course himself without any team support whatsoever. I did not envy his position whatsoever, he was definitely the hardest working of us all.
Well the teams arrived into town and the next day the race began. OF course there has to be at least one bad day of weather and the first day was rainy and cold. The teams would have to deal with cold, muddy conditions making the mountain biking extremely difficult. Most of the bikes got so caked with mud that the teams had to carry the bikes for some long stretches – this is not easy considering the course and that the bikes ended up weighing about 50 lbs with all of the mud. After the first day however, the weather changed for the good and the remaining 3 days were picture perfect.
As for the teams, Team Nokia from Finland was the defending champion and considered the team to beat. This didn’t seem to matter to the Team Down Under (which consisted of an Aussie, a Kiwi’s and two American’s including female Danelle Ballengee) they gave the Fins a supreme whooping. From the first day, Team Down Under gained a substantial lead and kept increasing their lead throughout the 4 days. It was very impressive as an outsider to see how hard these teams are working each day to put together a winning performance over 4 days – there is no lollygagging!!!
The MSOQ event was a huge success and a great fun to be a part of but I don’t think you will be seeing me on a team any time soon – I’ll stick to triathlons!!!