Tuesday 7 May 2024

Rogue Raid 2024 – Mud, Mangroves and a touch of Sunshine for the Mountain Designs Wild Women

Mountain Designs Wild Women Kim and Nicola teamed up for the 2024 Rogue Raid based at Donnybrook.  Given the weather in the days and weeks preceding the event, we knew that there was going to be plenty of mud out on the trails and having raced in the area before we knew also that when the tide goes out the entire area turns to mudflats, so mud was going to be unavoidable.  The weather forecast was not awesome either with no sun and plenty of rain on the radar predicted….so we were in for a real adventure for sure!

With the Rogue Raid being a points-based event, all checkpoints were optional, including 8 stages, 86 check points; with an opportunity to complete 28-64km of kayaking, up to 45km of trekking and 36-128km of mountain biking.  The course was also cloverleaf style, meaning that we would come back through HQ multiple times. There was plenty of time before the start to try to plan a strategy, which we made the most of as we had also to consider tide times, current conditions, and course cutoffs as we poured over the 7 maps. We could have decided to spend more time on the bike as that is our strength, but it did not turn out that way.  Our basic plan was to spend enough time on Stage 1 Paddle (outgoing mid tide) and Stage 2 Trek, so that we would not have to paddle back at low tide. Then we noticed that there were good points available on Stage 7 Paddle and Stage 8 Trek that were worth being back, for so we set ourselves a time to be back at HQ for 5.30am. So, the time we would spend on the bike, was determined by how long it would take on the bike to get from HQ (after the first 3 stages) to TA2; we would then work out the maximum time we could spend on the trek and leave enough time to get back to HQ from TA2 on the bike again.  So, we highlighted some CPs on the map that we definitely wanted to get, planned a rough course and left ourselves plenty of options to add or drop checkpoints.  We had an option to bring a kayak trolley for the paddle, and I am so glad that I brought it to the event and then decided to take them with us on the first paddle.

Maps and course planning - need glasses to see the map!

Kim and Nicola - ready to race!

Off we go.... run to the paddle 
Three hours of planning time was over in a flash and soon we were on the start line ready for the 10.00am start.  Nicola and I were in the lead for about 200m…. we certainly did not think we should be leading…… it was not long before we were overtaken.  Stages 1,2, and 3 took us well over 8 hours and into the darkness. We were going so well on the kayak we decided to go for the big points – CP4 (90 points) – it ended up being a mud drag and potentially not worth the time and effort, but we persisted, and it was definitely an advantage to be lightweight. So, we were mixing it up with most of the usual AR teams at the pointy end dragging our kayaks up a muddy creek and surprisingly in front of some until Nicola realised my paddle was missing….. yep up s#!*t creek without a paddle! So we both ran back to find it. Nicola found it stuck in the mud where we had left the main channel where earlier we had been dragging the kayak through mud and mangroves.  After rejoining our kayak we had to try to cross a road without getting hit by a car…phew we survived only to find we had chosen the wrong side of the canal to re enter and had to somehow get the kayak down a 2 metre embankment onto oyster clad rocks.  We survived that too! Upon arrival at TA1 we had so far cleared the course 😊 Stage 2 was a beach trek at the southern end of Bribie Island. I remembered some of the area from the 2023 Wildfire Raid. We had not planned to clear the stage, but once we were out there and it was flat and fast travel we decided on doing a few extra bush-bashes, avoid a swim near CP17 and make the most of our fresh legs. We arrived back at the TA just in time for a sunset paddle back to HQ.  We were delighted to see dolphins and just as it got dark we had fish jumping  everywhere around us….and into the kayak!  It was getting cool, so we enjoyed a fast paddle back to HQ sticking to our planned course, dropping 4 CPs (110 points). We were so glad we had a trolley as the portage was quick and easy.

Trek on Bribie Island

Refilling bladder before paddle back

Securing trolley wheels onto the back of the kayak!

Off we go on Stage 3 - The sun set paddle on high tide!

We left HQ at around 8.00pm to embark on Stage 4,5 and 6 with a loose plan to be back by 5.30am. Oh, I forgot to mention the sun did not shine all day and it had been drizzly most of the time and as we started riding….the rain got heavier…just as we ventured off the tar and into the trails. Oh yeah, it was wet, muddy and super slippery out there, but we spun our way through the maze of trails and managed to clear all of the CPs on the stage.  It took us about 2hrs 30, so we then thought well we will need that amount of time to get back. TA 2 was at Beerburrum and it was time for a trek in the glasshouse mountains. Thanks to all of the volunteers who provided the all night café, we passed on the sausages before we headed out on the trek, but knew they would be just what we would want on return.  We planned an ambitious route up Mt Beerburrum then the  Yul-Yan-Man Trail to CP41 because it was 80 points and then across of the top, to come back to the south via CP37 and CP 42. We left at 11am and attacked Mt Beerburrum first it was steep and slippery on the concrete track, but so much easier on the way down, we thought of a bush bash shortcut, but opted out when we saw how steep it was. Nicola was  so quick and nimble on her feet, I asked her to go in front and look for the trail, so I could concentrate on the map and where we were…..the Yul-Yan-Man trail was rocky and slippery and extremely slow, it took us less that 30 minutes to go up Mt Beerburrum, but 1 hour to get from the start of the trail to CP40 so 1km/hr.  I had a bit of a dodgy knee and had already had a few close calls, but when I fell quite hard and really hurt it, I said to Nicola we may need to bail out after CP43 and run back around on the lower trail. We came across the Alpine Avengers as we travelled from CP 44 to CP 43 and then Cass and Nathan as they were making their way back up to the track. So we said our hi’s and bye’s then tried to get out of there. The creek line was so very slippery it was more like ice skating on rocks. We made it down to the lower trail and somehow I could run…..so I just spent the rest of the night chasing down Nicola…who was on fire! So we ended up running about another 10km collecting CP42 (which we had to attack a few times after missing the creek junction) CP 47 (big bush bash out as the trails to the south of the creek were overgrown) and CP48 (had to back track because trails were overgrown on our route out) before heading back to the TA for our well earned sausages. So far it had not rained heavily, so we were not too cold. We checked in with Fiona Crossley who was manning TA2, scoffed down 2 sausages and set off at around 3.15am (just 15 mins later than planned. We had planned a definite 7 CPs on the way home, but because the travel was so fast compared to the previous mountain bike stage, we opted after collecting CPs 58, 59 and 68 to get CP 67 as well. We came a bit unstuck after this as not only had it started pouring rain and we had had to put jackets on…. we were also a bit confused as to where we were. We came across Gary Palmer and his team ‘Yeah the Chatter’ and they said they were also confused but thought they were almost at CP 70. Oh, really we said…. well that means we must have gone through the OOB. So we went to 70 and thus were 100% aware where we were and also that we had gone OOB, so I said to Nicola, we have to go back to where we think we went wrong and come back again to 70 before proceeding on the course to avoid penalty, because it was not our intention to gain an advantage, but what we had done was a shortcut. So, we backtracked out and back to 70 before hammering back to HQ (Nicola was on the front setting the pace and I was just hanging on) collecting CPs 69, 72 and 73 along the way, arriving just 10 minutes after out 5.30am plan.  

Stage 5 Trek - Not too bad with the navigation I suppose!

 Realised we had gone OOB, so back to the corner where we thought we went wrong! Not far enough!

HQ was surprisingly quiet at dawn, there were most of the kayaks sitting there ready for stage 7 paddle, a few officials manning the check in desk and Chis & Sarah Dixon (Wild & Co) sitting on the stairs, procrastinating!  We transitioned quickly and portaged our kayak to the water having a chat to Chris and Sarah along the way.  We were not sure if we had enough time to clear the stage but knew that we would have to be back by 8.45 to give us a chance to clear the final stage trek. (This was ideal as there were some good points available). Anyway, off we set heading north first as there seemed to be more points up for grabs, but we did not really think about the current. The main bonus was it was now light (so no need for lights) and it was high tide. We travelled clockwise collecting CPs 77, 80, 81, 82 then had to paddle against the tide to CPs 78 and 76. I was timing our travel along the way and calculated that we had time to get CP 75 and 77 (clear the stage), so that’s what we did and guess what….. the sun came out and there was a bit of blue sky, making it that little bit more enjoyable.  I think Nicola could not wait to get out of the kayak by this stage, as we had done so much paddling, but it was worth it.  We set up the portage wheels quickly and manage to get back to HQ for the final stage around 8.40am.  There was no time for chatting and we set off on foot to the north to get CP85 and 84 first as they were the higher scoring CPs. We bush bashed from CP 85 to CP84 and think it was a bit quicker than the run around on the trails. We came across Thought Sports and Alpine Avengers as were on our way to collect the final 2 CPs on the course…... there was a battle going on there! It was only 3.5 k to go but it was hard after being out all night, but Nicola was just once again out in front setting a good pace. We finished with 15 minutes to spare and were totally satisfied with our efforts. Finishing right up there in points against some of the best adventure racers and rogainers in the country.

Mountain Designs Wild Women - Rogue Raid 2024 - Our GPX Course

Thanks to Liam St Pierre and his team of officials and volunteers for providing us with another great strategic adventure, it was fantastic to see so many teams out there despite the weather conditions, supporting the event; especially all our Tri Adventure group whether racing or volunteering, you just put a big smile on my face every time 😊

Finally, thanks to Nicola for teaming up with me and representing the Mountain Designs Wild Women once again, you were so strong and so amazing for the entire 24 hours. I look forward so much to teaming up with you, Del Lloyd and our newest Wild Women Katy Booth for Mountain Designs Geoquest, where we have entered two Mountain Designs Wild Women Teams for the first time.

Just a little shout out to our sponsors and supporters:

Mountain Designs, Tri Adventure, Ay Up lighting Systems, Venture Cycles and Foot Motion Noosa as not only do they support us, but also the sport of Adventure Racing.

Photo Credit - Rogue Adventures - Margarete Oti










Wednesday 6 March 2024

Mountain Designs Wild Women - The first ever all-women's team to win an ARWS Expedition Adventure Race

This is an insight into the Mountain Designs Wild Women and how as a team they became the first ever all women’s team in the world to win an ARWS expedition length adventure race - ARWS Legend XPD 2024Yes, this group of 4 strong and capable, yet ordinary women have achieved what many in the sport once thought was unachievable! In our previous blog, we provided 10 simple explanations as to how this was achieved.....this is the expanded version with a few race highlights!

Mountain Designs Wild Women - Kim, Cass, Alina Del.

 Each member of the team has been racing for many years and have many years of experience in the sport, in fact we worked out more than 78 years.

So, we put this experience to the test in the race when Alina and Kim both got sick in the early stages of the race. Alina was seasick on the paddle (she forgot that she gets seasick) and Kim suddenly became ill on the 2nd bike leg (Leg 5) less than 12 hours into the race. Because of our experience, we did not panic, so on the paddle we slowed, worked as a team and Kim kept paddling while Alina was ‘feeding the fish’ then on the following Trek, Del looked after Alina while Kim and Cass concentrated on finding the CP’s. 2.

Start of Legend XPD - Apollo Bay 10.30am Sunday 25 February 2024

Picture perfect day on the water for the start - the big swell has eased!

Mountain Designs Wild Women get off to a great start in perfect conditions!

Our youngest member of the team is over 40 and has at least 10 years of AR experience and our oldest is 56 – age is no barrier!

This event ended up being much shorter than we had anticipated, thus the potential for the need to be super-fast and efficient, was probably not in our favour. So, when up against strong, young fit teams, we have to call upon all that experience and not even think about age or gender, we just go out and get the job done.

Leg 2 - Trek along the coastline from Kennet River to Jamiesons Creek

Kim loves running on the rocks....brings back memories from the Lorne Anaconda & Keen Races.

Mountain Designs Wild Women lead the race heading into TA 2

Each member of the team has completed in, and finished, expedition length adventure races before in both mixed teams and women teams.

While our transitions have been identified as an area where the team can improve, the transitions from paddle to trek and then trek to bike and then bike to trek and then trek to bike were pretty quick, so this is partially why the Mountain Designs Wild Women did manage to get that early lead in the race, with expert navigation on the 1st trek (Leg 2) and super quick transitions – because we have competed in plenty of AR events before where you have to pack and unpack your bikes, we were able to make smart wise choices and get out of the transition areas before the other teams saw us.

Go Pro Footage - All smiles at CP 3 - Leg 5 MTB - Start of the Great Ocean Road 

All the team members can navigate, and we share the role throughout the race.

When Kim’s physical state spiralled into a state of uncontrollable shaking on the Mountain bike, the rest of the team did the right thing, stopped, and rested (had a 45-minute sleep) and made sure Kim was comfortable. Then after Kim had a big loud spew (according to Del it was pretty loud) she was up and ready to go. But once again due to the experience of the team, they were not phased, and Alina then took on the 2nd navigator role in the team and Del ensured that Kim did not have to do too much work by carrying her gear for the rest of that leg and the next leg. Upon arrival in Forrest where the team chose to MTB again instead of TREK (there was a choice of order) again it was the experience that helped the team make this choice. The teams that had passed by during the night while the Wild Women were sleeping had all decided to take on the on the MTB first, so for the Forrest MTB trail Rogaine – Alina went to the front and had a ball! We did not leave Forrest after the MTB / TREK in front, but there was no panic, we looked after ourselves by enjoying a pie and coffee at the local café…. much better than a dehydrated meal.

Three of the four team members are mums with children ranging from 14 down to 3 years of age so they have excellent juggling skills, and the other is not a mum but a teacher, so we all just understand each other!

Kim was feeling better so was back on the maps with the navigation for the next bike leg, but instead of fanging it out of there the team just moved along efficiently, single file trying to make sure that no one person was doing too much work. When we passed team 8 looking for CP 13 (in the wrong place) we all had a quiet smile and a chat amongst ourselves and thought, wow – wonder if we are back in front now??? The transition onto the paddle was probably not our quickest, so we did give away a bit of time to the boys who were chasing us for the entire paddle down the Gellibrand River. This was a stunning paddle, and we were pretty excited to see a Fairy Penguin –yes really….it swam beside the kayak and danced in front of our eyes.

There are no egos out there, we just dig deep and get the job done when faced with challenging situations.

The kayak legs were the most challenging, at the end of the Gellibrand paddle we had a compulsory portage over a bridge, this is where you must carry your kayaks and all the gear. This was hard but we just worked as a team, and got the job done. Then on the next paddle, yes that now famous mud drag paddle – at Aire River we executed this again.

Nearing the end of the Gellibrand River - no one believed us that we saw Fairy Penguins

Kim and Alina portage the kayak...Cass and Del are way in front.... oh to be 10 years younger!

Del is on fire, so she runs back to get the bags......yep she's 10 years younger!

Our team captain is a quiet achiever who leads the team with diplomacy and the utmost integrity, so we have this super safe and supportive bubble to lift and carry us from the start to the finish.

So, when it comes to rules, Kim is a stickler for making sure everyone does the right thing, not that anyone would deliberately do differently, sometimes if you don’t think or are not aware you can make a mistake and receive a penalty. As so as it became apparent on the kayak in Leg 11 that there was little or no water to paddle in, Kim reminded the team that we would have to always drag the kayaks with us and them within 25m of us and despite this seeming to be an impossible feat, we proved that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it.

Live tracking showed MDWW (1) got all of the CP's on the paddle and MMI (8) did not!

We have women in the team with different personalities, so without even thinking, we have managed to implement the 6 thinking hats process and we can jump from one to the other seamlessly!  White – facts; Yellow – positives; Black – risks & difficulties: red – feelings & intuition; green – possibilities & alternatives; blue – keeps the group under control.

The Mountain Designs Wild women know each other well and each team member brings to each event a different set of skills and abilities, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we are well aware of those, but it is what we can do out on the course to maximise our strengths and weaknesses is what helps the team to keep moving forward and minimising any mistakes. For instance, Kim suggested that Alina navigate Leg 10 the 12 Apostles MTB / Trek, because she is a good lateral thinker, Del was obviously the strongest on the bike, so every time we were on the bitumen, she would just jump in front, and we would all try to hang on. Cass the quiet achiever is always there thinking too, and she can put forward some great ideas and solutions whenever the need arises. 

The 12 Apostles on Sunset - we missed the sunset but this what it looked like, we just had to imagine!

So, when faced with a mud drag that was seemingly impossible, we just go on with it and worked out solutions to make the job faster easier and more efficient. This proved to be the crux of the race, as the chasing team did not think they could ‘drag their kayaks through the mud’ so missed 2 CP’s. The Wild Women were totally shocked to see Team 8 MMI pull up beside them when they pulled into the final TA of the event at the end of that paddle, but soon became clear that the Wild Women had so far cleared the course and Team 8 MMI had not.

The fun factor is a huge part of what we take out on the course with us – we know we are going to have to suffer at times, so being able to do sing a little song, or do a little dance and name a new day….’Wild Wednesday’ keeps those spirits running high.

We have heaps of fun out there always and enjoy playing little fun games when we are trying to keep the sleep monsters at bay. We also enjoy seeing other teams out on course and are spurred on by the thought of competition. As an all-women’s team we were never eligible for the major prize as in Adventure racing the ‘Premier Category is Mixed’ so the biggest battle in this race was between two teams who were both just racing for the honour of just doing the best they could do. So, there was definitely a bit of healthy banter out there between the Mountain Designs Wild Women and MMI. They would have been able to hear us from a mile away when we passed them while they were sleeping – we were singing and laughing just to try and stay awake and get our tired and exhausted legs all the way to the finish line. Wild Wednesday was the wildest day ever!

Go Pro Footage - 48k Trek - High up on the hills in the Otways - over 2000m of elevation on this leg.

Go Pro Footage - Alina forgot to pack a cap, so fashioned one out of a buff and a foil wrapper


Go Pro Footage - all smiles after punching the last CP on the final trek.....just go to get to the finish!

We love and respect nature and the environment - so we are out there searching for cool stuff that without being in this sport, we would never get to see.

The Legend XPD course produced by Chris Dixon and the Wild&Co team, was so amazing and there were so many spectacular parts of the race that we now have etched in our memories. The ocean paddle was just stunning and the views along the great ocean road at various times through the race, was just so captivating. The fact that you can just immerse yourself in nature and hang out with some of your best buddies is what makes the sport of AR so special but different to any other.  This is why the Mountain Designs Wild Women are still out there racing!

Go Pro Footage - we saw these amazing tree ferns on the final trek along the Great Ocean Walk

Go Pro Footage - It's Wild Wednesday and 'here comes the sun'


The long hard slog to the finish line, hoping the finish line adrenaline to kick in soon!


The finish is just a few steps away and the reality starts to sink in!

‘Anything is possible in this world’ – Icehouse – Code Blue Album 1990

Mountain Designs Wild Women - Historical win at Legend XPD 2024


Mountain Designs Wild Women - in recovery on the couch!

Post Event Presentations - with Chris Dixon - Race Director 

Mountain Designs Wild Women - Kim, Del and Alina with CEO of the ARWS Heidi Muller

Mountain Designs Wild Women 

Kim Beckinsale – Queensland - 56

Alina Mc Master – Canberra - 55

Del Lloyd – Victoria - 44

Cass Kimlin – Queensland - 42

 "Adventure Racing is certainly not for everyone, but if you love the outdoors, love nature, love maps and challenging yourself climbing mountains, then there is nothing stopping anyone from achieving something remarkable in their lives. Age is no barrier - anything is possible!”

Kim Beckinsale Mountain Designs Wild Women – Born of the Mountains

Photo Credit - Wild&Co Facebook - Margarete Oti - margareteoti.com

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, well here are a few extra links that may be of interest if you are thinking of taking on and expedition adventure race and or in fact just signing up to something really small to get you started...... after the race we were interviewed by Brian Gatens from the Darkzone Podcast and by Stephanie and Abbie from the Women of AR. If you want to listen, click on the links below!

DarkZone: An Adventure Racing Podcast - Mountain Designs Wild Women - Winners of Legend XPD

Women of AR Legend XPD Debrief with Mountain Designs Wild Women

Kim has also put together a short video of our race and shared via the triadventure1 You Tube Channel 1, so here is the link if you have a spare 20 minutes or so.....spoiler alert.....it does show some footage of the kayak mud drag.

Mountain Designs Wild Women - Legend XPD 2024 - You Tube

So what do the Mountain Designs Wild Women do after a race??? Why not just go and jump in that great big ocean and go back and spend some time exploring some of the course highlights!

Thanks to Morgan from MMI for taking all of these pics on my phone! 

We tried to run to the water!

It was more like a hobble!

Ready for the cold therapy!

 Mountain Designs Wild Women - trying to wash off the mud from our jerseys!

Photo Credit - Margarete Otti- Chris, Heidi, Di, Kim, Jan (RD;CEO;Logistics;MDWW;Referee) 

Photo credit Margarette Otti - Kim, Jan, Heidi, Chris, Di

Photo Credit Margarette Otti - The Legend XPD 2024 - Nothing but iconic!




















Sunday 3 March 2024

Anything is possible in this world - Mountain Designs Wild Women - Legend XPD AR 2024

Legend XPD AR 2024 - Mountain Designs Wild Women are the first ever all female team to win an ARWS Expedition event, not just in Australia but around the world.

How is this even possible??

1.    Each member of the team has been racing for many years and have many years of experience in the sport, in fact we worked out more than 78 years.

2.    Each member of the team has completed in, and finished, expedition length adventure races before in both mixed teams and women teams.

3.     Our youngest member of the team is over 40 and has at least 10 years of AR experience and our oldest is 56 – age is no barrier!

4.      All of the team members can navigate, and we share the role throughout the race.

5.    Three of the four team members are mums with children ranging from 14 down to 3 years of age so they have excellent juggling skills, and the other is not a mum but a teacher, so we all just understand each other!

6.  There are no egos out there, we just dig deep and get the job done when faced with challenging situations.

7.     Our team captain is a quiet achiever who leads the team with diplomacy and the utmost integrity, so we have this super safe and supportive bubble to lift and carry us from the start to the finish.

8.      We have women in the team with different personalities, so without even thinking, we have managed to implement the 6 thinking hats process and we can jump from one to the other seamlessly!  White – facts; Yellow – positives; Black – risks & difficulties: red – feelings & intuition; green – possibilities & alternatives; blue – keeps the group under control.

9.     The fun factor is a huge part of what we take out on the course with us – we know we are going to have to suffer at times, so being able to do sing a little song, or do a little dance and name a new day….’Wild Wednesday’ keeps those spirits running high.

10. We love and respect nature and the environment - so we are out there searching for really cool stuff that without being in this sport, we would never get to see.

This is an insight into the Mountain Designs Wild Women and how we as a team became the first ever all women’s team in the world to win an ARWS expedition length adventure race!

‘Anything is possible in this world’ – Icehouse – Code Blue Album 1990

Mountain Designs Wild Women 

Kim Beckinsale – Queensland - 56

Alina Mc Master – New South Wales - 55

Del Lloyd – Victoria - 44

Cass Kimlin – Queensland - 42

 

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Mountain Designs Wild Women tackle the Top Dog 24 – ARWS Oceania Championships

When a new event pops up on the calendar and it’s a part of the Mountain Designs sponsored ARWS Oceania series the Mountain Designs Wild Women jumped at the chance to be a part of the event in Canberra. 

Mountain Designs Wild Women - Ash, Kim, Cass, Del

Mountain Designs Wild Women
Kim Beckinsale
Cass Kimlin
Del Lloyd 
Ashild Kridge 

This was the first time that we have had this team combination, so we were all very excited to get to race together and were hoping we would ride some of the Stromlo MTB trails and paddle the Murrumbidgee River. When the logistics planner was released 5 days out from the event, this looked highly likely. We had a meet up via zoom prior to travelling to the event, as Cass had not met Del, and Dell had not met Cass or Ashild. Kim however was super confident that we would be a great combination, with Kim and Cass navigating, Ash and Del on logistics and ferreting duties. 

We arranged to stay close to HQ, so by midday Friday we had all arrived and spent the afternoon organising our 2 boxes and ensuring we had plenty of gear options, as rain was predicted! The Bike Drop (and Box A) was announced as the Uriarra Crossing Picnic Area on the Murrumbidgee River! So, this was TA 2 – the finish of the paddle – how exciting! We enjoyed a team dinner and then Del embarked on a quick trip to Officeworks – mainly to get bulldog clips for her map-board. She arrived home forgetting to purchase the clips but did manage to make a bento box out of Velcro, zip ties and a pencil case. Kim suggested then that Del use rubber bands on the map board…. great improvising….one of the very important skills of AR. Before going to sleep we completed a final check that we had all the gear in the right places and enough AYUP Batteries, Mountain Designs socks and thermals to get us through the night! 

Race day, course reveal and team photos

It was a rather cool overcast morning and after arriving at HQ, we all had to put puffy jackets on over our race kit, while we were preparing our maps. We did manage to take them off for the photo, but even with jackets on were shivering while marking up maps and listening to the pre-event briefing. The course looked achievable on paper, and we were happy to be starting with a run, so we might warm up as we were freezing! 

Looking at the maps and planning a course

The Start - click on the link to see the action

Mountain Designs Wild Women on the start line

Leg 1 & 2 Trek 12k & Paddle 12k Stromlo and the Murrumbidgee 

We started the race on the crit racing track at the Stromlo, but the MTB trails were not to be used (just crossed) for this leg. There were plenty of route choices and some nice off-track running on the route up over the hill and down to the river. We had 9 CPs on the leg, 5 in the MTB park and the others in rough open land towards the riverbank. We had a great start and found all the CPs in good time but were super impressed to see Team Adventurethon Australia paddling the river before we had even made it to CP 8, they must have been super-fast! Upon arrival at the TA, we decided to put on some extra layers to keep us warm and leave our shoes, so we would not need to carry on the bike. We opted to carry our jackets in our PFDs ready for quick access if we were freezing. 

A quick video of Mountain Designs Wild Women in transition 

The paddle was so much fun, we had to get in and out of the kayaks quite a bit as, we could not see the submerged rocks until we hit them and then the kayaks spun around in many directions. The water temperature was not too freezing, so we all had a great time, looking for the 2CPs on the south of the river back and chatting to some locals fishing near CP10. Upon arrival at the TA, we did a full change into dry gear for the next MTB leg. 

Teams paddle the Murrumbidgee River

Leg 3 & 4 MTB 40k & Trek 7k with Mystery CPs – Uriarra Forest to Cotter Campground 

The MTB leg included one extra CP for the teams who had entered the Oceania Championship. On paper CP 14 looked like a hike-a-bike. Some teams rode around the long way, but we opted for the shorter hike-a-bike route which took us 45 minutes. Kim started singing one of Del’s favourites ‘On top of the World’ by Imagine Dragons…. but Del was not quite in the singing mood! Ashild helped Del out a bit by hooking her up to the towline for the second part of the ascent. We ditched the bikes when we connected with a larger fire trail and hiked, without bikes to the CP at the summit. The route to TA 2 looked straight forward on paper, but typically many of the tracks were not there, so we had to just keep changing our planned route a few times. It was pretty fast as it was mostly downhill, a great reward for all of our hard work earlier. 

We arrived at TA 2 just before dark, marked up our mystery CP on the map and found out we would have an Archery challenge when we returned to the TA. There were thus 8 CPs all up and this proved to be the most adventurous part the event for us! We planned to attack the course in the order I, J, K, L, M, then finish with Mystery CP then G & H. I and J were very straight forward, but K stumped us for a bit. The CP was marked in a creek; however, the CP description was – Lookout Cotter Cave N Corner post no flag. We had been informed that the punch had been missing and to take a photo. We were up the creek line when Cass spotted the lookout, but Kim was not 100% convinced there was not something else as the centre of the CP circle was in the creek. Del suggested there must be a track to lookout, but Kim looked at the map and if was to the North. We were surrounded in the creek by thick blackberry bushes when Kim said, well let’s just go up there then….it was ugly and nasty…. but we just put on our tough wild women boots and bashed our way up quite a steep rocky cliff! Kim then found the cave, the location of the CP and …. a little trail right to the lookout! We took this trail back down to the main track, as there was no way we were going to bash our way out on our planned route. We then headed for L and after a bit of a grid search found the CP on the spur. M was bit more challenging as the track which we planned to use as our attack point did not exist, so we ended up having to hike in on a bearing to find it. Lucky the bush was not as thick as around K, and we found the CP with some great scouting and teamwork. Del was asking ‘what is the description’…Spur…Kim and Cass answered…’Spur’. We thought Dell was hard of hearing at this point as she asked these 3 more times, only to realise she was asking ‘what is the direction of the spur’…. which was a very good question which helped those without map in hand. 

Leg 4 - Trek Map


After a short run back towards the TA we had 2 CPs and a mystery question to go. We located these relatively quickly and happy with our downhill finish. Upon return to the TA, we were able to answer the mystery question (Answer – Accountant) and then headed to the Archery! Kim decided that the girls who had not done archery should have a go first, well why not, as AR is about having fun just as much as racing. Ash and Del both had a few goes each and then decided to hand over the PE teachers – Cass and Kim, who managed to get one on the board each. So, now it was time to get out onto the next leg. 

Leg 5 & 6 MTB 16k & Paddle 12k - Cotter Campground to Lake Burley Griffin via Stromlo 

We were at least 1 hour ahead of our planned timings, which always seems to lift the team spirit. We were heavily loaded up with gear as we had to now carry our shoes, we enjoyed some coke before we left the TA, so we did not have to carry it and soon we were riding along the fire trails to the south of Mt Stromlo and ready to jump onto the Bicentennial trail which would take us to the next TA on lake Burley Griffin. Ashild had ridden this trail into the city on her arrival on Thursday, so that was such a bonus, especially at night. It was a super-fast ride to the lake, and we were stoked that it was not raining! We still put on thermals and waterproof top and bottoms to protect from the wind and paddle splash. 

There were two extra CPs for the ARWS Champs on this leg which took us right past Parliament House / War Memorial avenues up to the National Carillion. Del was keeping Kim and the rest of the team awake by playing a few games…. ‘I spy with my little eye’ and then ‘how many words can we get out of the letter P’. This kept us alert and awake, Kim setting the bearings and Cass and Ash were setting a good pace in front allowing for great wash riding. Canberra by night was very pretty, especially the lights of the National Museum of Australia. The only CP on this leg that was a bit tricky was our final CP ’O’…. because it was hard to see the map at night and there was a little land mass that it was tucked behind. Cass spotted this and soon we were on our way back to the TA. All the officials at the TAs throughout the event were super helpful and hearing the ‘Wild Women Do’ song as we carried our kayaks up onto the bank was definitely uplifting! We made a full change back into dry clothes that we had on before the paddle before heading off on the next leg. 

Leg 6 - Paddle Map

Leg 7 & 8 to the Finish – Trek 10k & MTB 35k - National Arboretum and the Stromlo Trails 

Most of this trek was in the National Arboretum and it was still dark. We were very happy, though, that we were unlikely to encounter more blackberry bushes as most of this would be on trails in plantation areas. There were 6 CPs on this leg with CP T and Y extras for the Oceania Championships. Our course was Z, T, U, V, X and Y – Cass took the lead as she could see the best, Del was getting a bit of assistance from Ashild by grabbing onto her pack strap…while Kim was trotting along following the map as well. It’s never that easy running after paddling, but we were going well and we caught up with a few teams out there, which was especially helpful as they were locals! We were not 100% sure whether we were meant to go off track, but other teams were, so we decided to as well, but we did choose our own routes. We found all the CPs easily, despite CP X being a bit off – Cass and I seemed to look at a blue post and there was the punch…. Despite us thinking it was meant to be the next track down the spur…anyway bonus…we got it. It was a long run back to the TA after locating Y, but we just kept shuffling away excited to think, we were about to head for home. 

Leg 7 Trek Map


The final leg was a super-fast bike path ride almost the same way back that we had travelled before, finishing with 6 CPs in the Stromlo trails. Ashild and Kim had both done a bit of a ride upon arrival, so were somewhat familiar with some of the trails and thus, when deciding on the route during map planning were confident that we should not have too much trouble. Well, Ash was on fire and basically, we just had to follow, Kim had the maps and Ash would take a quick look and then go to the next CP. It seemed like there was a bit of a race to the finish as the male pair team that were had been crossing paths with all race; were now just behind us after we found CP B, but then they got ahead of us somehow between C and D! We think because we had too much fun riding the Pork Barrel Trail just one intersection too far! We enjoyed the green trails – White Gums, Ringtail, Breakout Muck Raker to E and F before finishing off on Old Duffy Descent. 

Mountain Designs Wild Women finish on bikes

The finish line

The Mountain Designs Wild Women crossed the finish line just after 7.30am with smiles from ear to ear…. because we had successfully completed the full Top Dog 24 Oceania Championship course (finding all the CPs) 3 hours ahead of our schedule, 4th across the line, 3rd 4-person team and 1st Women’s Team. As captain of the Mountain Designs Wild Women, Kim Beckinsale would like to thank the girls for taking the time out of their busy schedules to make their way down to the ACT to fly the Mountain Designs flag, especially Ashild who got the call up to the team less than 3 weeks before. You are all amazing women and fabulous to race with. 

It's always a great feeling to finish, knowing you have found every CP!


To check out the full results and live tracking click the link TopDog2023_Live Tracking


Mountain Designs Wild Women were Team 7


Thanks to our great sponsors and supporters – Mountain Designs, Ay Up Lighting Systems, Venture Cycles and Tri Adventure for continuing to support women in this sport and thanks to Chris Dixon and the Wild & Co officials and volunteers for helping to ensure that this new adventure race was such a great success. Well done to everyone who had the courage to enter the race and show up on the day, we hope you had a great time out there and look forward to crossing paths sometime soon! 

The next big event on the calendar for the Mountain Designs Wild Women is the Legend Expedition Race at the end of February 2024, so we will look forward to seeing some of you there!