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!

Hells Bells 08 – Fraser Coast

This year Glen Singleton, Paul Kelly and myself decided to participate in this years Hells Bells race. The race was organised by Geocentric Adventure Racing (GAR). With all of us not thinking about it too much before the event, preparation and organisation was limited, but we had done of these events to hopefully be able to plough through what ever was thrown at us.

We drove up early on the Saturday morning, leaving Brisbane at 5am and reaching the Bike Drop off point right on 9am. Unpacking the bikes we soon realised that our Map Board had broken off in the wind in the journey up. Fortunately Tim had a spare and we were good to go. We were also missing a speedo on the bikes but we figured we would survive without it.

The race started at Tin Can Bay (at the RSL). 10am was the pre-race brief, along with getting the maps of the course. In the race briefing Craig decided that this year we are going deviate from the usual Adventure Race format, and go on a Treasure Hunt. After a long winded story about how there is apparently some treasure lost in the region, we were going to assist to find this treasure. Craig also mentioned that it would be a great event or a flop, read on to find my opinion.

With the race starting at 11am, with a Boogie Board leg across the channel towards Rainbow Beach. We decided to run around on land for a few hundred meters, and then cut across a shorted section of the channel. I soon discovered that sneakers in scuba fins was not a good idea for kicking (note to self 1). Also going across land and mud, it also provided grief putting the fins off and on in the mud. Anyway, we finally reach the boat ramp, and headed across the point to Rainbow Beach, with Boogie Boards and fins in hand we legged it through the township, then to the Surf Life saving club for the next check point.

After making it to the sand beaches of Rainbow Beach, we had to swim out to locate a further checkpoint, and work out where we were to go next. The next leg consisted of a trek up the beach to the to point where we had to lug the boogie boards and fins, assuming we will need them in the not too distant future. Wrong. We made it to the point, some 12ks later (with some “teva style” key searching along the way). Finally able to dump the boogie board and fins, we hit the next CP. Pumping up the dodgy kayaks was always going to be fun, as usual the first one was faulty, so another had to be started from scratch. I would have thought that GAR would have sorted this problem by now! Anyway after a lovely paddle over to Fraser Island. With many dolphins and in the realms of darkness, fortunately we has the other kayaks lights to keep us going in the straight line. After what seems an eternity we finished the kayak leg (with some magic of finding the correct inlet) we made it to the bike transition. We managed to overtake a few teams who had some issues with the river system, and at the checkpoint there were alot of already frustrated racers. Happy to be at the CP, and have a chance to warm up, we knew that what lies ahead was some cold times! It was only around 10pm and we were already freezing!

The next leg was a trek which involved alot of backtracking. Although it was good to warm up and have a chat to some other teams!

The race this year was setup so that once you reached the checkpoint, you would then be given the next set of maps, to take you to the next checkpoint. So we spent some time on the next leg noting down the next set of CPs that we needed, and then finally ending up at Prices Pool (somewhere in a circled region on the map).

Onto the bikes, we found all the CPs, albiet freezing and having the issues of riding with a borrowed mapboard and limited lights. Some good trail rides in the area, so will need to keep that in mid as well.

We were onto the next transition in high spirits, as we were keen to get to the next box and put some more warm clothes on. Unfortunately the transition never came….

After circling around the same area for some 2 hours and at 4am we decided to ditch the CP. Unfortunately it was the transition CP, and we didn’t have a map on where to go next, so we did the only thing we could do and was to ride back to the HQ. Game over.

The only good thing was that we arrived back at HQ in time for the 7am BBQ and got our sausages warm! We packed up our gear and was on the road by 8am home. 

Not the most memorable event. Although it was good to catchup with my team – Paul Kelly and Glenn Singleton!