2019 Fairy Bells Adventure Race

Terrible name, but the short course version of the Hells Bells Adventure race was something not typically really on the radar (since my retirement of AR), but since trying to get Pete to do an event for the last 15 odd years, and now he is doing an Adventure Race nearly every month – it was probably time to do an event together. The trigger to do this was back in Feb 2018 when we did Hut2Hut with Fridja, Danni and a bunch of other cool Mountain Goat runners, but we ended up running the last 50km as a team – and this trigger the new team name of “Hut2Hut tigers”.

Leading into the event, my running / trekking was fine, as was my biking (with my nice newish bike) and kayaking – I am sure we could get through.

Finding out before the event, we had a course map given to us;

Having done quite a few of these types of events in the past, I knew I would be fine – and the plan was to just have fun as a team. Packing relatively last minute (fortunately I had all the stuff from previous races) and we headed up to Maroochydore on the Friday night as we had an early start on Saturday morning.

Logistically. we had had a busy Saturday morning, 6.30 departure to drop kayaks off, 7.30am pick up maps, 9am, race briefing, 10am depart on bus to race start point. 12.30pm – start race.

Starting with the kayak, it was good fun paddling with Pete, although it was gusty and choppy we made good time and found the checkpoints easily and was out of the kayak in relatively good time. Cold, but we knew the next section of trekking, would also include some gorge swimming so we didn’t bother getting changed at all.

The trek provided a good sense of adventure. Up and down steep gorges, rock hopping, and even swimming in the gorge for what seemed like a good hundred meters or so.

Then finishing the trek or trying to run wearing PFDs for about 6kms up to Kondalilla Falls, towards the next checkpoint. Fighting to beat the sunset, we missed it and had to get the lights out just before the next checkpoint. But of course had to stop to get the sunset photos.

From TA2, great to get on the bike and Bike Leg although with fairl bit of road riding, I was looking forward to finding the trails. When they did come, and some great ongoing navigation work from Pete and Fridja, I was just enjoying being the scout and trying to find the checkpoints and checking if tracks are the right ones or not.

Finally reaching the next TA3, it was a rogaine circuit of a choice of 3 checkpoints around a forestry area. Thinking that it was a flat area on the map, it turned out to be deceiving hilly. We managed to find the first two, relatively easily, then the third took abit longer – but we got there! Then the hills back to the TA3. The section all in the dark was more of a trek than a run but considering the hour – all was good still.

The last section of the bike started off back on the roads, then a bunch of fire trails with some nice hills – both up and down. We managed not to make too many mistakes and made up some good time with the route selections.

The ride back to Maroochydore was flat in the scheme of things, with a bonus tail wind. Finally getting the last CP on the island (fortunately there was a bridge) relatively quickly, we finished around 3.30am. With a small crowd, a quick photo, we headed home to get some warm clothes and a very late dinner then bed.

Kudos to Pete and Fridja for pretty much all the navigation!

Not prepared for a podium finish, we got 3rd place in the premier mixed… not a bad bonus to a fun weekend!

2019 The Guzzler 100km

Finally a long event on the doorsteps of my hometown, although not sure if this a good thing or a bad thing. As I knew a fair bit of the course, and lots of friends doing it – so it was pretty much a no brainer to do it. Plus I need the ITRA points for an upcoming event.

Preparation was good, lots of runs in the lead up months, no injuries and been living a healthy lifestyle with minimal work trips in the week leading up to the event – sthat was a win.

Solid entry from the Mountain Goat Trail Runners!

Race plan was to take it real slow and enjoy myself, and if I had anything left at 50km, then try to go faster then.

The start was a low fanfare event, literally a quick welcome from the organises and then we were off at 6.30am, heading out for the first of 3 dams, Enoggera Reservoir (Walkabout Creek) at 17km mark. Trying real hard to keep a steady trot, aiming at keeping my power at 200w for the first 50km – it’s surprisingly hard. Fortunately I had a few good chats along the way to the first check point at 17km and through to the 23km checkpoint, with the usual friendly faces of the Brisbane Trail Runners – with an unusual mandatory gear check of a “bandage”. Mine was at the bottom of my pack, so happy for a clothing change at the same time – as it was getting hot!

From the 23km checkpoint, down to Hell Hole (love the skeleton? at the bottom of Hell Hole) and also the Crampfix station back at the top. Although not needed, it was good to have the cheering at the top of Hell Hole. Then a gradual down over to the Gold Creek Reservoir at 31km for the next checkpoint.

Awesome checkpoint, of having the surprise seeing Lisa and Rupert and the massive MGTR squad offering a smorgasbord of food, which I happily topped up with.

Not sure if it was the stopping for a while or I was overheating, but my middle ear blocked up again just after this checkpoint. This also happened at Terawera, and I had tried to fix it, but obviously not enough and unfortunately I had my ear drops at the next major checkpoint which was at the 52km mark.

Pushing though, not being able to run properly, as my ear was blocked, it felt like my heart was beating excessively (but it wasn’t), so I could only fast walk – this also started to trigger some cramping, but I kept pushing though, as I knew the next sections were relatively flat and relief would come with the ear drops.

Getting to the 40km aid station was also a relief as I was out of water. Apparently lots of others were too! It was hot. I filled up all my water and after a chat – continued on. I also heard that I was one of the last to get water at this aid stop – as they had ran out.

With 16km to the next checkpoint, this was a tough section, even though was flat and downhill – I couldn’t run and felt the time slipping by….fast. The section had lovely runnable flat trails – which I could only walk on. Such a scenic area – most of which was new to me.

Finally getting to 56km to get my aqua ear and was welcomed by Riggers who gave me the royal treatment to keep me going (getting me food, encouragement and support – love the MGTR community). It was about to get dark, but I needed to spend 20 mins here recovering and re-calibrating for the next 44km in the dark with lots of ups and downs to come! I actually felt good, except for my middle ear. Having the aqua ear helped and then I was off again.

After about 1km, I was able to start running again, although now was a massive incline up Job 6, so far track it was, I had a new spring in my step as my ear was behaving. Although I was 3 hours behind where I wanted to be, time didn’t matter – I just wanted to finish!

Now completely in the dark, getting to the top of Job 6, was the first milestone of this section, but next was Township Break – having never done it before, how hard could it be! Turns out it really sux, a long steep sliding downhill and it kept going down. Fortunately I had my poles – so it made it easier. But still managed to land on my butt a few times. Then at the bottom, it was good that it was dark (as I couldn’t see the top) but then it was lots of steep back ups. Trekking up with Eva helped share the cursing to get to the top, but not knowing this section of the course, it was just a matter of running where I can, and trekking to steep bits – back to my original plan of the race 🙂

Finally hitting the second McAfees Lookout checkpoint (83km), the Brisbane Trail Runners were there still in force! Geoff – who I saw in the morning was still there late in the night! Legend. Having another decent rest and feed – it was the final slog home!

Straight back down Hell Hole – it seemed longer second time round, but back at the top it was actually higher spirits – as I knew it was pretty much downhill “known” trails now. Running for most of this, I connected with – which we kept pushing each other – and I was using her light as my ay-ups were fading – and I couldn’t be bothered to get my other one out. I was keen to push harder so I guided her to the start of Kokoda and I took off and wanted to push it harder to get it done. Kokoda which I knew, wasn’t too bad, and the final section back down the other side was just as good to get it done.

Guzzler 100km finish

Finishing with a small crowd, but enough to make me feel special and get my stuff for finishing, it was great to get the shoes and gear off, and warm up. After a bit it was a scary 1-2km walk back to the car, but thanks to Erica for the lift back to the car, it was a quick drive home and to bed, which by the time I reached the bed, the sun was about to come up…..

Gear:

  • Old Faithful but broken Salomon SLAB 12l pack. Probably the last wear as the zips have corroded hard to use and holes through the back section.
  • Lululemon Pants – worked well at Terawara, but got chaffing this time around. Think the fabric had stretched in the last 6 months.
  • MGTR Top and Hat – easy and reliable
  • Salomon – Sense Wave 2 shoes. Love these for the harder trails. I was pretty happy with these in my trial runs on the trails, but the size 12.5UK were a tad to small and over the 100km – gave my big toe alot of grief. Good chance of losing the nail. Still very happy with them, and since moved onto the 13.5UK – which should be fine going forward.

Nutrition:

  • As a base – protein balls; dates, plant based protein, coconut oil, LSA, almonds and coconut flakes.
  • Water – 1 x 600ml and 1 x 600ml alternating Arbonne PreWorkout and Hydration between each checkpoint.
  • Snacks on course: usual glucose lollies and salt chips
  • Hot noodle soup – mainly the salty soup was drunk, went down so well at night.

Yes – I’d be keen to do it again next year!

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