Thursday, 19 December 2019

Mountain Designs Wild Women get set for 2020

Well 2019 is almost at an end and Mountain Designs Wild Women finished the year off well with some great results and some interesting stories to tell. While I was over in Fjji representing Team Namako in ‘Eco-Challenge - The World’s Toughest Race’, Cass and Ali teamed up for the Mojo 12hr event where they finished 2nd outright. Unfortunately I can’t share much about Eco Challenge until after the TV show created from the event is screened on Amazon Prime Video in early 2020, but I can say that Cass and Ali were on fire.  They then went on to win the Wild Women Adventure Race, making Cass a 4-time winner of the event. I put on my Tri Adventure race directors hat and with Jan Leverton successfully hosted Noosa’s First Zero Waste Major Event. 

Cass & Ali - Wild Women AR Winners 2019
The new year is fast approaching so how lucky are we to have so many amazing events to choose from in Australia. Mountain Designs Wild Women will be out in force again in 2020 at many of the major events on the Australian AR calendar and are very excited to be representing a brand that is certainly one of the sports most recognised major sponsors. Mountain Designs has been a major sponsor of ‘Mountain Designs Geoquest’ since its inception and more recently ‘Hells Bells’ – one of Queensland’s iconic events. In 2020 Mountain Designs will also be sponsoring the Australian Adventure 1 series which consists of some very well-known adventure races including - Rogue Raid, X Marathon, Mojo Raid Wildside and a new race in Victoria called Explore Gippsland. We are not sure if we will get to every race in the series, but definitely the ones in Queensland.

Geoquest 2019
Then there is the ARWS Oceania Series which includes Geoquest, XPD, Hells Bells and a new event called Terra Nova which is being held on the central NSW coast. 


Mountain Designs Wild Women will be racing Geoquest and Hells Bells and Cass Kimlin and I will be teaming up with Debbie Chambers and Emma McCosh who are well know for their amazing achievements racing for the NZ Team – Girls on Top  for XPD Rivers of Gold Cairns in July. We look forward to putting our knowledge and skills together to take on one of the toughest expedition races on the world circuit. Debbie & Emma were part of the Girls on Top Team who finished 3rd in the ARWS XPD Flinders Ranges. 

There are also plenty of other events to get you away from screens and out into the wild for some fun laughs and lots of adventure so why not have a look at what’s on around you and start ticking a few thinks off that list. Go to to find out what events are coming up. 

Cass, Amie, Jan and I are all heading to NZ in February to take on NZ Coast to Coast . I am paring with Jan to tackle the 2-day event on Jan’s 60th birthday however Cass and Amie are taking on the ‘longest day’.  In my opinion this is definitely one of the most physically and mentally challenging multisport event in the world and so it should be for a World Championship. Here is the link to my race report from 2018

Multisport events are great training for Adventure Racing as they help you to focus on the physical fitness and skills training required for the disciplines of the event and more often than not usually involve some sort of running, biking and paddling. In Australia we have the Adventurethon Series  and also the TRE-X off Road Triathlon Series enticing triathletes to get off the road and into the bush and take their fitness to the next level. 

To help maintain our sense of direction and hone our navigation skills you will see us at Foot Orienteering,  Mountain Bike Orienteering and Rogaine Events as well, so there are certainly worth checking out if you have never done an adventure race before. I am a member of the Sunshine Orienteers and try to get to local events when I can fit them in. 

If you are keen for take on a new adventure in 2020 why not start training for an event near you. If you need some tips on training or any more support and advice, I can certainly help point you in the right direction or even help you out with some coaching or finding someone to train / race with, just look me up at 

Then all you really need is some basic gear which is not hard to find at Mountain Designs, a sense of adventure. My advice is to get started is a good pair of shoes, socks, waterproof jacket, backpack and or drysack for your gear and first aid kit; compass and you are ready adventure in 2020!

Written by Kim Beckinsale – Mountain Designs Wild Women Adventure Racing Team

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Mountain Designs Wild Women survive the freezing conditions at Hells Bells AR 2019.

Hells Bells is a winter race so I suppose we have to expect cool conditions but I think this year many teams were a little surprised at just how cold it was out there! Mountain Designs Wild Women not only survived and finished another Hells Bells but also had another strong race finishing 1st Female team, 8th 4 person Adventure 1 team and 10th overall, we were beaten by 2 two person all male teams. So, here’s how it all played out!

HQ Revealed – Picnic Point Park Maroochydore

Given that I knew the HQ was at Maroochydore and the bike drop was just 35k from there, I was hopeful that we may be heading into some familiar territory. So, when the logistics planner was released just over a week before the start the fun began guessing where we might go! Sloshy, also a Sunshine Coast local who was racing with the Alpine Avengers, and I both thought maybe Baroon Pocket Dam, Kondalilla, Cooloolabin and Parklands; but that meant no coasteering and for some reason we thought there was going to be, so we moved on to other options from HQ. Who would have thought that we almost got it right on our first guess! Speculating where a race may take you is definitely one of the most exciting parts of adventure racing and is one of the reasons why I love the sport because even if you are local and know parts of the course you can guarantee that you are going to visit some amazing place that you have never been before and this course did just that!

Logistics Planner

As mentioned, we received the logistics planner a week out, one section that instantly caused me to think overtime was the notion of an elite trek. Who was this really targeting? What would be the style? – rogaine with time credits, or something like Geoquest where if you complete more than other teams you rank higher? It turned out to be something completely different and even more risky! Anyway, at the time we were not to know, so I sent out my estimates to the team which helped everyone to get gear ready before the race. We had Annie Alford joining the team (Kim, Cass and Amie) for the event and she had never done an adventure race before so I thought this would be a real benefit. I took a photo of the planner with all my notes and sent it out to the girls. It was an anxious wait of about 7 days to find out the location of the bike drop!

Bike Drop

On Friday morning, teams were notified that the bike drop was at Kondalilla Falls. Cass & Annie and I met up at 6.30 am race day with the bikes and box A with all our stuff and food for 10 hours or so (as if we were doing the elite trek) meanwhile Amie was securing us a sunny spot back at HQ.

Map Handout & Final Preparation

Because we received the logistics planner early there was not much box packing to do, however when the course was revealed it threw me into a bit of a spin as, honestly, by the planner I thought in a 24 hour race we had the time to complete the 3-5hr elite trek. However, we soon realised that the final paddle cut off was 7.30am (an hour earlier than I thought we would arrive if we attempted the elite trek) and that the estimated time had changed as well and was not longer.  The rules stated you had to start it before 6.30pm however would that be enough time for us to finish???? There were quite a few teams questioning Chris the Race Director about this and he made it clear – start and not find all the CP’s you would get a time penalty for each CP not found, start and finish elite trek but not make paddle cut-off you would be short coursed. Because of this dilemma I found it really hard to concentrate on the map planning for the rest of the course, so luckily most of the areas we had some local knowledge, which I suppose was a huge advantage. We were soon all ready to go and jump on the bus – Amie had the control card, Annie had the tracker, Cass and I had the maps! Let the excitement begin!

Leg 1 Paddle Baroon Pocket Dam – 6k

Busses pulled up at the dam and soon everyone was either dashing for either the toilets (lucky there were some there) or to get a good kayak. It was freezing as the wind was blowing forcefully and chopping up the lake – we did not have enough warm gear on but hey… was just a short paddle and soon we would be running! Cass & Amie paddled together, and I paddled with Annie – this was her 2nd paddle ever! Navigation was not too tricky as most of the teams went one way or the other, what was difficult was steering the kayaks now almost sinking due to the wind and wave action! We were pretty glad to return to the grassy bank and gear up for the run!

Leg 2 – Trek Obi Obi Creek to Kondalilla Falls

Despite how freezing it was and how under-clothed we were, this leg was actually my favourite and I look forward to going back on a really hot day in summer! We started with a rope slide down into Obi Obi Creek and soon we were rock hopping. Now I just love this sort of thing but not the thought of jumping into freezing water! We were so lucky that the sun was shining brightly as when I hit the water for that first swim it was so cold it almost felt like your chest was burning up! We made a break on a few teams here while some others forged ahead a little faster, we decided to take the track after CP4 so warmed up as we ran up the switch backs and bush bashed down a very steep spur. We saw Wild Earth coming up, so thought at least we were not the only ones! We hit the creek again but at a point where there was another big pool so, across we swam, but pretty happy to be bang on the creek line we were hoping to find. 

We overshot CP 5 and looking back at the live replay it seems like 90% of the teams did the same including the top 5 teams, so we got to see an amazing waterfall as did many others, no doubt! After realizing we had gone too far we turned back to see quite a few teams coming up and bummer, we lost a bit of time here! Anyway, we stayed in the main creek for a while before heading back up to the track to Kondallilla Falls and up to the TA in the park.  Amie managed to get some great footage of us in the creek…..check it out!

Leg 3 – MTB Kondalilla, Flaxton, Mapleton Cooloolabin

By the time we hit this TA we had pretty much decided we were not going to attempt the elite trek, so this meant we could leave a whole heap of gear and food behind. I had not packed shoes in box B thinking I would wear those from the trek, so had to carry mine. I also suggested to the girls to carry waterproof pants if they did not have any in Box B or C as when we get to the paddle it will still be dark and potentially freezing. We probably spent a bit too long in this TA, something that out team definitely needs to work on…..but eventually we were off! Cass was having bike issues! This was not a great sign right at the start of a bike leg. It seemed like the derailleur spring was not functioning, so she had limited gears as we rode up on the path out of the falls!

The sun was going down as we rode the ridgeline up to Mapleton and we did not have any trouble with CP 6 as it was pretty easy. I was very excited with this next section of the course as we had ridden most of these parts before. We found the  Sunshine Coast Great Walk trail and rode out to find Ubajee Viewpoint and CP7 with no flag. Unfortunately we lost a bit of time locating the trail to CP8, as for some weird reason my map-board compass was doing weird things and the minor track that I saw just did not seem to be on the right bearing, we tried another track near but it took us onto the Great Walk again and then headed back where we had come from looking for something else. Eventually we just had to take the track that we had seen before and hope for the best. It was right and soon we caught up to the teams that had just passed us at CP8. Annie was the ferret and was doing a great job running into the bush looking for the hidden CP’s. I had never ridden this trail before so it was exciting to be finding somewhere new to ride up here in the Mapleton area. Eventually we came back out onto the road that connects with the motorbike trails and we headed for the main road – Mapleton Forest Drive. It was almost dark now so on went our trusty Ay Up lights.

Now this was easy for us as I knew the area, however just looking at the maps the road did not look like a main road at all, so I can understand why some teams would have had trouble with this section of the course. Cedar Pocket Road looked like the ‘better road’ however in reality this was quite misleading and a very long way to CP9. Anyway we thought this one would be tricky as the CP description was vague and the CP not on an evident feature! I set a west bearing and aimed for a big gum tree about 50m from the junction. I think Annie spotted the CP glowing in some bushes…..not sure about the 20m N of creek description though…..anyway we got it and moved on. Now for some reason we still went via the TA for the elite trek even though we knew we were not going to attempt it. Upon arrival we had 1 minute to get out of the TA and give it a go… way….we thought! We saw that only 4 teams had headed out, so we quickly moved on. In hindsight we should have ignored the TA and just gone on the main road to CP10, it would have been a bit of a climb, but I think way faster! I was very familiar with the way we went around the back of Cooloolabin Dam, so it was a nice ride just a bit undulating all the way to CP10, easy to find on the Pt Glorious Sign. We had the Shallow Watermen right behind us (Steve & Rowdy) but somehow lost them just as we turned off down Python Break to CP11. This section we chose to continue on the forest trails as opposed to the long road way around…..again I did not think it would be faster but may put us in a better position to find CP12.

We got a bit bamboozled at one point when we took an unmarked track to a dead end, Cass searched for something, but it certainly was not a real track! I then fell on my bike whilst trying to walk out of there and broke my brand new map-board…..not happy as I just keep breaking them! While we were trying to zip tie it back on we broke my brand new mini pliers – these goes about $150 in a flash! Anyway, we soon got going and found the correct route down to Kureelpa Falls. Amie had been there riding just a few weeks ago so also knew the way across the creek. Just as we were crossing we came across Tri Adventure Vintage (Jan & Sharon) who were on the Fairy Bells Course. CP 12 was on a really cool spur and a spot we had never been to! It was a bit challenging to walk bikes down such a narrow ridge but we all survived and found the CP along the way. We then got out on the road and hightailed it to the TA at Wappa Dam.

Leg 4 – Trek Wappa

Jan and Sharon were in and out of that TA in a flash, however we were not that fast! Mmmm definitely something we must work on as a team! Anyway, we can run so soon caught up and travelled together up Mt Wappa. I was looking for an old trail that we knew that went from the power lines up the Northern Ridge, but could not find a trace so just bush bashed anyway! We got to the top and exited to the SW down a spur which was a really great exit route that the Alpine Avengers were travelling up. We then travelled to H with Jan & Sharon and then went our separate ways. Fairy Bells only had to get 3 CP’s on this leg, but we had to get all 6. We found the Alpine Avengers in the creek looking for CPH and then travelled to CPI. Well that was our plan but we just had trouble getting there! Initially we took the creek line out of H towards the track but it was slow and overgrown, so we headed up the slope to Mt Combe. Silly me should have looked at all those contours… was a huge climb and in reality no faster than staying in the creek! At the top we seemed to be on a driveway and then hit a road, it just did not make sense and we did not see a trail. Amie found a letter in a bin and the address was Mt Combe Rd, so we went along the road for a bit just to check exactly we were.  Eventually Annie mentioned a gate she had seen when we were running down the driveway! Yes, was exactly what we were looking for, so we then were back on track again and got CPL and K seeing a few other teams travelling in opposite directions. We did a little bush bash from the trail out of K to Beeston Rd…..well it did not seem like a road, it seemed more like a trail through a cow paddock. We crossed some power lines and soon were confident we were on the right trail to CPI. It was not long before we were back to the TA and onto the bikes again.

Leg 5 MTB – Wappa Dam to Dunethin Rock via Parklands

The most important thing we all had to remember here was to bring our plastic pants for the paddle. It was now after midnight and we had about 3 hrs before the paddle, we just had to navigate our way through Parklands. We had not really marked up the route but I was fairly confident we could work it out on the fly! We could collect these in any order, so we decided to go 17, 14, 18, 16, 15. We entered via Shenans Rd and looked for the entrance, it had been a while since we had been that way! Then we travelled along Road Rage to a significant bend. We got the CP really quickly and soon were on our way to Cancer Tree. CP 14 was in the creek and we continued out in the same direction meanwhile other teams chose out and back. We took fire trails to Hoe Chi Ho and then rode/pushed our bikes up to the high point for CP18……the ride down was fun! The climb up Radar Hill we made a bit tougher for ourselves by getting sucked up the little high point just before! Oops….. we were quickly back riding up the hill to find CP 16 on the fence at Radar Hill. We took the fire trails down to CP15 which was in a really familiar creek line, and I even knew the best way to skirt around the waterfall to access the CP…..yes this had been a spot where there was a CP in one Hells Bells many years ago. We arrived at Dunethin Rock to see Mitchell Krome at the TA – we were surprised to see him as previously he was at the Elite Trek TA.

Leg 6 Paddle Dunethin Rock to Maroochydore Finish

There was a nice fire going so we changed into our fantastic Gore-Tex jackets and pants and made sure we had thermals and buffs too! Given the winds we knew this was going to be chilly at least until the sun rose! We got our kayaks ready and soon we were off down river! It was really beautiful and the sun was beginning to rise…..but the air temperature was getting cooler. We had a slight tail wind, it seemed, and the water was glassy. Birds were beginning to chirp and we saw eagles, pelicans and heard Kookaburra’s along the way. 

We were very cold, and it was really hard to stay awake. We were all falling asleep but trying to stay alert by singing! CP19 was easy to spot on the bend and soon we were heading south towards CP20. It was a long way and Annie was doing so well again as it was only her 3rd paddle, we had some really fierce headwinds  and cross winds to negotiate from CP20 to 21 but after we passed under the motorway we had a tailwind and it was all smooth sailing to CP21. Now this was tricky…… 30m W of East of island, base of tree no flag. Well there were no trees at that end of the island just mangroves and it looked like at high tide the CP would be under water. After a grid search, we eventually found the CP – well spotted girls! We had a little race to the finish line with an all-male team of two. To our surprise we managed to lift our kayaks up onto the grass and run to the finish line before them! Sorry guys, but thanks all the same!

Woo-hoo, we were pretty glad to finish Hells Bells at 8.32am, around 3hrs before the cut off time, collecting all CP’s on the Hells Bells course except for the elite trek. This was Annie’s first adventure race, so honestly our main goal was to get her through and make sure she had a good time! She did find it hard (especially the paddle) but loved the single track on the MTB and enjoyed the course and the nature of AR. So, what’s next for the Wild Women??

Annie is hooked on AR I think and is keen to come out for another adventure with the Wild Women soon! I will be encouraging her to find a race partner and come along to the Wild Women AR on 19th October based at Habitat Noosa.

Cass & Amie are preparing to take on Coast to Coast NZ in February 2020 World Multisport Championships.

Kim is off to ‘Eco Challenge Fiji – The Ultimate Adventure Race’ in September. Racing for Team Namako (one Wild Woman and three amazing Fijian local athletes who can climb coconut trees, hunt wild boar and are quite handy with a machete in the Fijian jungle)

Thanks again to our major sponsors:-

Mountain Designs – A heritage born of the mountains – proving us the gear that we can trust to get us through any AR conditions.

Ay Up Lights – The most reliable and robust night lighting systems

Triadventure – health, fitness, navigation, outdoors, environment

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Wild Women reflect on Geoquest 2019

Mountain Designs certainly provided us with some amazing gear that helped us get through this year’s event especially given the wild ocean and the wet conditions in the first 24hrs. I am also writing some Blogs for the Mountain Designs websites so now that Geoquest is done and dusted here are the links:-

Mountain Designs Blog Geoquest
Mountain Designs Blog Geoquest Delivers

So for our team post Geoquest blog we decided on a question and answer approach now that we have all had time to reflect…..

So now you have completed 3 full Geoquest events with the Wild Women…
Does it get an easier?                                                                                                                     Geoquest never gets any easier. The combination of physical and mental challenge really takes things to the next level. We were out for over 40 hours this year, so fatigue and sleep deprivation were major challenges. Luckily Geoquest also takes us to some stunning northern NSW coastal areas, so the scenery is a welcome distraction. 
How was the ocean paddle?                                                                                                               After some initial concerns, I was happy to be doing the ocean paddle. I was quite nervous heading out through the rock walls but once we got out into the ocean, conditions were better than I expected. Amie and I did experience some sea sickness towards the end of the paddle, which was a new experience for me. I fed the fishes a few times.
Both you and Kim navigate - What did you find most challenging about the navigation this year?        I love the opportunity to be able to navigate. CP 7 was a real challenge and a reminder that tracks and roads are not always accurate on maps. Fortunately, we had done a good job following the contours and were able to find the high point relatively quickly. The foot rogaine proved to be the definitive leg in this Geoquest and contained the most challenging nav. I felt this was one of our best legs. We hit all the CPs on this leg bang on. Traversing the jungle between CPs F and D was tough going and required a lot of trust in our compass bearing. 
We were quite proud of our tracker on this leg.
You did your first Geoquest in 2018.....So how did this Geo compare to last year? 
Last year being my first race, I didn't know what to expect so this year I felt a little more organised and able to find strategies to cope with 48hrs with no sleep.

What did you enjoy most about the race this year?
I love seeing new places and the NSW coastline is just gorgeous.  It's great if you get a chance to look around and check it out as you paddle/run/ride your way around.  I really enjoyed the paddle legs of this race despite getting terribly seasick during the ocean paddle.

What was the most challenging part?
For me, keeping up with the other girls while riding the hills is always the most challenging part of the race.

What was the best Go-Pro moment?                                                                                                     We came across 2 emus during one of the trek legs.  It would have been a more excellent Go-Pro moment if I could have run as fast as them to get better footage!


This was your first race with MD Wild Women team, so tell us a little about your background...
Way back in 2009/2010 I took part in a couple of small adventure races in the Hebrides in Scotland and loved them. At this stage I was only new to cycling, but this quickly became a passion and my sole focus. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to race at an elite level in road racing from 2012-2015 across Europe and Oceania, which was an amazing experience. However then decided to hang up my shoes and take life a little easier.... for a little while, before I found the racing bug again and have begun enjoying adding the new disciplines in involved with adventure racing.

How did it compare to racing in previous teams?
This is now my third adventure race and first with an all-girls team. It was great to be part of a team of all girls, where everyone looked after each other, man these girls are tough!! 

What was the most challenging part of the race for you?
The paddling.... the end hehe! I literally could no longer lift my arms by the end of the race...70km of paddling in an uncomfortable bathtub for someone who has paddled a maximum of three hours was super hard! 

What did you enjoy the most about Geoquest?
Funnily enough the beginning of the last paddle into the night, when we all became delirious but were relaxed and making silly conversations whilst star gazing! 

So – what’s next for you?
After some rest, I'm trying to brave the rain and get back out on the bike and into the hills, and looking forward to racing Hells Bells on home ground in six weeks. 


You did your first Geo back in 2005.....What makes you keep coming back to this event every year?
Well in this sport the course changes every year, so we are always exposed to some part of the amazing NSW coastline that we may not have experienced in that way before. This sport takes you to places that you may otherwise never go. More recently I have loved the challenge of leading women’s teams to finish the full course fully ranked.

What do you look for when selecting your team-mates for an event like Geoquest?
I like to try to pass on my knowledge, skills and experience to girls whom I think are going to continue in the sport, so usually much younger than me. I suppose I look for those girls who demonstrate a desire and willingness to improve their skills across all disciplines as well as having that true grit that sets them apart from others, they don’t have to be the best, but have potential to improve. They need to just love a good challenge and being in the outdoors enjoying nature at its best!

You are not getting any younger so how do you manage to keep up the training and racing at such a high level?
To be honest I am not sure…. When I was 30 and in triathlon I thought I was getting a bit too old. I started adventure racing back 2004 and by then was approaching 40, however it opened my eyes to a whole range of new exciting challenges. I focus on the skills side of the sport and rely on my years of endurance training to get me through. This year at Geoquest, getting the team through the rough ocean paddle and then the navigationally challenging foot rogaine were the real highlights and also the biggest challenges, so I suppose rewards like that are everything to me! Also, racing with younger girls certainly keeps me on my toes, so while the body, mind and spirit keeps loving what I do, I am going to keep at it for as long as I can! 

If you are thinking of doing an event such as Geoquest AR in the near future or a shorter event just to get the feel for it, please contact Kim or Jan at as we just love what we do and are certainly keen to see more women out there in the sport.  

We have the Wild Women AR coming up on Saturday 19th October, so why not check that out too!


Monday, 6 May 2019

'Mountain Designs Wild Women traverse the Border Country' - Raid 100

Without a doubt this edition (the first edition) of the Raid 100 was the most strategically challenging expedition adventure racing event that I have ever been a part of and I am sure that many of my fellow competitors and teammates agree.  Liam St Pierre and his quality team from Raid Adventures and volunteers pulled off an amazing event and overcame many logistical hurdles along the way, which allowed us as competitors to race over a spectacular and physically challenging course which took us from Girraween National Park to Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast via the QLD/NSW border ranges!

Team Mountain Designs Wild Women
Pre-Event Preparation
Unlike many expedition events these days, we did not get a logistics planner until the course was revealed then only had just over 3hrs to plan our proposed course, eat dinner and pack gear and food to match the timelines we set ourselves to complete stages of the course.  I found this rather stressful as I knew I had tried to be ‘as prepared as possible’ in advance but time flies as soon as you get started, so we ended up having to ditch the course planning and just focus on getting gear and food right.  As a team we tried to pack our gear and food leg by leg, making sure that we were all on the same page. A ‘preparation strategy’ is paramount especially when you have less experienced athletes in your team, as everyone has different key roles and it can be easy for someone to forget or miss something if you do not work as a team.  We decided to carry all our maps with us as we did not want to rush and accidently put a map in the wrong box.

Packing, organising, reorganising and just waiting.....

Finally we get the maps! Do we look a bit concerned?
Race Day & Transport to Start
It is not often at an event like this that you get your meals and accommodation included in the entry. The Tallebudgera Recreation Camp was a prefect venue for HQ, so we were up early for breakfast before departing our cabins and jumping on a bus destined for Girraween National Park. Unfortunately, there were a few delays along the way with the bus in front breaking down a few times, lucky for us the drivers were on top of it and got us to the start…..although a little late! On arrival we had to find our gear so we were ready when the gun went off to build our bikes before heading off on the trek…..another interesting way to start an event which would break teams up right from the start.

On the bus.....very happy to be almost there!
Leg 1 Trek Girraween (6 CP’s approx. covering approx. 25k in 7hrs)

We gave ourselves 8hrs originally for this trek and planned a route with many options to cut home early. We headed like most to Castle Rock CP4 first then to 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 in that order. When deciding to go for 12 we were well ahead of schedule yet is was soon going to get dark.  A minor nav error saw us get sucked up the wrong peak as light was fading. We persisted and worked with Team Dynamite here to work out a solution and soon headed towards the correct peak in darkness and eventually found the CP.  As the navigation at night was so much slower we opted for a 5k run back to the TA and did not worry about looking for CP5 & 6, saving a bit of time for the next leg. We finished this leg in 6hrs 30 and left the TA in around 7hrs.

Off we go.....the start of the Raid 100
Cass leads the way up to Castle Rock
CP 10 in an old ruin
Cass and Amie think we can sleep here for the night!
Leg 2 MTB /Paddle / MTB – Storm King Dam & Boorook National Park (10 CP’s approx. 85km in 10hrs)
We had a bit of trouble finding CP14 in the dark as a copse of pine trees were hard to spot in the dark…. Eventually we got it thanks to Amie and then headed to Storm King Dam for a paddle picking up CP 16 & 17 along the way.  We packed our waterproof pants and wore our jackets so we would be warm and also took off our socks, so we had something dry to put back on when we started riding again.  We saw Jan and Adam Power and this TA and I think they were surprised how much we enjoyed the paddle……it was well worth the 9 points on offer.  We headed off on the rest of this ride, collecting all of the CP’s along the way to the TA. We did not opt for the CP’s 25,26,27 as they were an out and back and we were a little later than we had planned to arrive at this TA. It was dark on our arrival; however we expected the sun to be up before we left.  There were many teams here at this point who had opted for less CP’s in Leg 1 and maximised sleep in lieu of chasing points.

Checking the maps

Leg 3 Trek Cataract National Park (9 CP’s approx. 40k approx. 14hrs)
We planned a route which took us up high on trails and over the hills to avoid having to bush bash along the Cataract River, which we had been warned would be slow.  I must say however that the hills on this leg were relentless and despite the route being mostly on trails you had to have your wits about you with the navigation.  There were some great options to short cut large sections of trail if you were game enough to take the risk. We had not yet managed to stop for sleep, yet did not want to lose time while the sun was up, so we headed off and managed to find CP 28,29,33, 24 and 35 in good time. The navigation from 35 to 36 looked challenging, so we opted for a 30-minute sleep stop before we set off again, as it also looked really steep.  This paid off as we were fresh for the big climb and to search for the trail on the spur which was marked yet barley there!

This was a very social leg as we came across so many teams including Dynamite again, the Sunshine Unicycles, GT Sloths 1 & 2 as well as Dated Load and Pikelet. This was great as it kept everyone’s spirits up as we made time to stop and rest from time to time and have a chat as well.  After collecting CP 41 we decided to short cut a bit of trail and hike off track up to 43… hindsight the creek travel was slow and the spur was so steep.  I think the long way around on track would have been faster…. but hey….not as fun! We were going well so were able to get from CP 43 to 44 in the light and to our surprise were greeted to a lovely trail running down the spur all the way to CP 44.  We put our lights on ready for the trek up the creek up to the TA.  We heard Gav and Ange from Creak Adventure yell out to us that they had been trying to get up to the TA on the west side of the river for an hour and could not get through.  The east side was however OOB and we did not want to do the wrong thing, so I just went into bush bashing mode and forged a way up through the scrub!  We thought we would have to swim across the river as we neared the TA but Cass spotted crossing point just 100m opposite the TA so over we went.  We arrived at the TA around 7.30pm but were not permitted to leave till midnight, so great opportunity for dinner and sleep before the start of the trek/kayak leg. We enjoyed our Absolute Wilderness and Back Country meals and then jumped into our Bivys for a sleep. It was pretty cold so Cass, Amie and I all woke up and moved to the TA shelter where there was a fire. Ali must have been so tired as she just slept outside the entire time.
Photo compliments of Wendy Flannagan
Leg 4 Trek / Kayak Upper Clarence River ( 3 CP’s 31k Trekking 10hrs & 21k Paddle 4hrs)
Another very social leg as all the teams set off around midnight for the long trek up the section of the Clarence River that was not suitable for paddling.  There were AY Up lights shining everywhere as the group accidently ended up on the wrong side of the river in an area we were not welcome, so were all turned back about 2k and set off and stayed on the left side until we reached CP 46.  This was a very physical section of the course as there was not really a clear path, just lots of scrambling under and over trees the whole way following little animal trails along the side of the river.  As the sun rose travel became a little faster and by now the groups had all spread out, we enjoyed some time travelling with Gav & Ange (Creak Adventure), AP & Ian (Isodopes) and Michele & Greg (For Better or Worse). With only 5k to go we saw some teams change to the opposite side of the river and cut up a big spur shortcut, we weren’t sure so stayed left….this was a really tough gnarly section of bush bashing through lots of lantana. We came across a farmer on a horse wondering what we were doing…. he did not seem mad, but just curious as to why so many people were ‘on his property’ which was right next to the river near CP 47.  Anyway, we had a nice chat to him, explained the river did not have enough water to paddle and teams were just doing their best to get up to get up the river to this point….he seemed fine and said have a great day!

Can you spot the track?
Ali, doing a bit of footcare!
I tell you what after such a long time on our legs we were looking forward to paddling, so we got organised quickly, putting our packs in dry bags and securing everything to the bungee on the CTR Kayaks.  We soon set off down our first rapid…. ha ha….it was so shallow we could not get through….. so yes, this leg had quite a bit of boat dragging.  We did get to paddle some nice long open sections though which we really enjoyed.  I paddled with Ali and Cass with Amie.  We arrived at the mandatory portage only to realise we had about 1k to portaging… we had not really noticed it was that far….anyway we quickly tied on the straps and the long haul.  Ali and I turned this into a little interval session – 10 steps strong, then easy, 20 steps strong, then easy, 30 steps strong then easy….stop rest and go again.  This worked well and before too long we could see the Clarence again and were on our way to CP 48 and the TA at Tabulam. We arrived at the TA and it was a hive of activity, as many of the teams who were in the overall standings rolling in as we were at our boxes preparing for the next leg. We had a 1hr sleep here too which was really not that productive as there was so much going on…. however, it did allow for a bit of needed rest for the legs before starting the final MTB stages of the event.

Cass and Amie

Kim & Ali
The 1k kayak portage
Off we go again.....
Leg 5 MTB Cambridge Plateau and Richmond Range National Park (8CP’s 70km 10hrs)                     We were all fired up and ready to roll out just as darkness was settling in…. however we were warned of a brown snake near the grid we were heading for by Team Rogue who for some reason were heading back to the TA….did they forget something???? Anyway, after stopping and assessing the situation we ran the gauntlet past the snake and continued on our way.  The first section of the ride was flat and fast however as we approached CP 51 and 52 the climbing began.  We ended up deep in the forest looking for trails that were not there as indicators.  Generally, we were headed in the right direction so all good!  We had a lovely descent into a creekline and sighted teams walking up a huge spur track, it did not look right to me, so we rolled on and checked…we were right and took the trail up to the CP. I was pretty excited to see the CP 53 but unfortunately did not see the barb wire fence between!  I ended up impaled upside down on the fence and bleeding as the other teams arrived. The team punched the CP then we had to stop for a while and treat the wounds.  Greg and Michele Krome were there to help and also to take photos! After copious amounts of Betadine and Fixamol, I was up and going again in no time.

Kim has an altercation with a barbed wire fence.....thanks everyone for the First Aid!
We rode all night it seemed up, up, up and up, yet despite our sleep at the TA we needed a bit more, as not even the singing could keep us awake. Gary and the Wild Earth rode by, super supportive and encouraging.  After a short 10-minute sleep …. onwards and upwards we rolled and soon arrived at the CP 54 party, where there we lots of teams (including ‘Tri Adventure For Better and for Worse and Really’) and toilets!!!  I tried to hurry the girls on as time was of an essence and we had an awesome descent coming up…...!  I put Amie, Ali and Cass in front to enjoy…but they went so fast I could not yell loud enough when we needed to slow and look for the CP 55….so we just had to climb back up a bit! On the next 10k descent into the Dam, poor Amie hit a stick and crashed.  She was okay but a little shaken, so we backed off a bit as we rolled into the TA just around 5am.

 Leg 6 Trek Toonumbar Dam - Optional ( 0 CP’s, 0 Kms, 45mins)
We opted not to do any CP’s on this leg, we had written on our maps that we needed to leave the TA by 5am to have any chance of getting trek CP’s, but we had only just arrived.  We were sleep deprived but decided to get out of the TA and sleep just up the road a bit, so we just refuelled and repacked. 

Leg 7 MTB Toonumbar, Border Ranges, Mebbin ( 16 CP’s 170kms 26hours)
This leg proved to be the most challenging of the course so far, not just because of the sheer distance to be travelled, but also the climbs.  Wow, were we going to be riding over some massive hills, as the contour lines were so thick and heavy and there was no easy way to get up and through those ranges except for just going up.  As we left the TA the sun was rising and it was turning out to be another a beautiful sunny day. It was a fairly big climb up to the CP 67 yet we were actually looking for somewhere to stop and sleep.  We seriously almost stopped at the Afterlee Primary School but thought otherwise as it was now broad daylight. Instead we punched CP 67 and just rolled 100m past on the track and slept there as no one would be coming that way.  Here we had an amazing 2hr sleep on the side of a sunny spur….it was probably our best sleep of the race!
When we woke we were all revitalised and ready to ride some serious hills and that we did. From C 67 – 69 it was only 16km, but it took us around 4hrs!  We had to work together as a team to get through this section as it was so steep you could barely turn the pedals over, so after a combination of walking and riding finally we got to the top of the range and admired the spectacular views at CP 68 and then enjoyed a little descent before the climb up to CP 69. Here we were rewarded with an amazing view of Mt Lindsay as well as smiles and hugs from the Mojo photo crew – Erren and Jo.  We punched the CP, stopped rested and ate something as we pondered our journey so far and just as we were about to get up and go the Kromes – Tri Adventure For Better or Worse rolled in to the lookout!  Wow I was so impressed with them again, just moving forward through the course smartly and efficiently.
Approaching the lookout....

Mountain Designs Wild Women.....a little shattered but enjoying the views
Now we were in for a big descent off this ridge, however it was not all down, I had to keep my eyes on the map and make sure we did not take any wrong turns, as that could have led to disaster. Cass and I carefully studied the maps along the way to CP 70, then we smashed down into a small town called ‘The Risk’.  Here we stopped at a hall, filled up water from a tank and ate up again ready for another big climb up the Razorback. Just as we were about to start the climb we were stopped by some farmers, wondering what this orange and white square thing was on their fence!  They were concerned it was a surveillance camera set by some of the anti-animal farming lobby groups spying on them. We assured them it was nothing like that and just a CP that all of us crazy people were searching for as a part of the Raid 100. We provided them with details and then commenced the climb!
Bikes get a rest

......and so do we!
The sun goes down.....another day over....less than 24hrs to go!
Almost 12 hours had now passed on this leg and we were only half way through the 2nd map of 4, we hoped that travel would soon speed up but it didn’t.  We arrived at CP 72 just on dusk and admired the sunset before continuing our climb. I must say time flies when you are sleep deprived, riding up hills in the border country as it took us another 6 hours to get across the top of the ridgeline.  Just before we descended into Mebbin, we stopped put on our jackets and had a 10 min sleep, so we would be alert.  This was a smart move as we rode fast and were safe! It was not long before we were getting really sleepy again and I made a small nav error just jumping us forward a bit.  So, after recorrecting ourselves we stopped for another small sleep on the side of the road, so we could enjoy the Mebbin Trails.  As we approached CP79 Wild Earth came flying past, they were on a mission, but when we arrived at the CP they were still there searching…. we walked straight to the CP and called out here it is 😊

Cass happy yo find this CP on the climb!
Kim spots the next one!
It was a little spooky around here at 4am so we tried to just get through and out of there. We hit the road sand we almost at the end of this leg.  We just had 3CP’s on the road to get before the TA, so we were in great spirts. We came across the Kromes again just as we were looking for CP 84. It seemed like we had overshot it as we could now see some features as the sun was up Michele was adamant we had to go back.  We all did and soon found the little track. We pace lined to CP 85 and then all the way into Murwillumbah rolling in just after 7am.  I was a little concerned as we were meant to leave this TA by 7am and I had promised the girls some sleep and we still needed to transition.

Leg 8 Kayak/Trek Murwillumbah to HQ (9CP’s Kayak 40km 5hrs Trek 12km 2hrs Kayak 2km 35mins
First thing I did was get out the maps and reassess our timings, based on speeds we had paddled earlier in the event and the conditions of the day which seemed perfect.  We had to get to CP 97 the portage at Tweed Heads by 1.30pm to give us enough time to get back on time. Cass and I then got all the kayak gear sorted while we encouraged Amie and Ali to pack up bikes, eat and then sleep as we would be waking them up at 8.30 to depart…. meaning the more you stuffed around the less sleep you would get. We had the Jetboil out so, I made soup and coffees for the team, Cass had some Back Country and soon we were lying dead to the world on the grass in the middle of a crazy frantic TA. We were so tired at this stage after not much sleep at all throughout the race.

My alarm sounded at 8.30 and I bounced up and got everyone going, Cass leapt into action and we got those kayaks to the pontoon, strapped our gear in and got rolling before 9am.  It was a beautiful day to paddle and I really enjoyed this paddle with Ali.  Poor Amie was fighting the sleep monsters throughout the entire paddle I think, but Cass was super strong and kept here going.  We took this opportunity to chat about various parts of the course we liked, discussed our favourite foods and just anything really to keep us moving forward. We made excellent progress and were treated to an awesome tailwind and waves as we headed into Tweed Heads.  Wow this was like being out in the ocean the waves were so big and the wind so strong… much so that we assumed the ocean kayak would be canned.  We were correct and on arrival at Tweed Heads, we were told to pack up all our kayak gear and get ready to run to the finish.

Happy to be almost there....

We were pretty cool with this situation, so we worked well together to get our mandatory gear sorted and off we set with most of the race down the beach.  I convinced the girls to run 1 minute, walk 1 minute and promised we would get there much more quickly.  Soon we started passing all the teams who had left just in front of us, and as a result we made excellent progress.  As teams ran past the Australian Surf Lifesaving Rescue Boat Championships, we were definitely turning a few heads, with people coming up and asking us what we were doing.  I think that finishing the race with a run up the beach, created really good exposure for the Raid 100!  Despite the conditions looking okay on the water to paddle, Liam can be happy that by making us trek there was great exposure of the event to the wider community, which has to be a good thing for the sport.  We ran over the bridge at Currumbin and picked up CP 98 before hitting the beach again for the final trek up to the finish…..there were still 2 CP’s on offer if we got there in time, 99 and 100, and these were kayak checkpoints.  I was looking at my watch the entire way as we sighted Burleigh Heads and it was looking good for us.

Ali and Amie running along the beach

Cass and Kim running too....somehow after 95hrs we still can....
 As were headed toward the finish at 4.13pm we were asked are you paddling or finishing….we said paddling! At this point I got a little over anxious hoping we had made the right choice, the CP’s were not too far away, but we had to carry the kayaks to the water and bring them back up before we finished, and we had about 3k to paddle which depending on the tide in the creek could be achievable or was it????  We raced in grabbed our gear and in action mode got the kayaks down to the water quickly.   Cass and Amie were off, and I realised my boat steering was super dodgy and my paddle was not set up right (my error); so I was in a bit of a mad panic …. sorry Ali!!! Anyway, we soon got moving in the right direction, caught Cass and Ami and set the pace to CP 100 and then collected CP 99 on the return to the finish. We exited the water at 4.50pm, so had plenty of time to get the kayaks up to the TA and then cross the finish line. Jan was of course there waiting for us with a bottle of bubbles to celebrate our teams success in completing the ‘Full Course’ in under 100 hours (99hrs 52 minutes and 1 second) gaining 330 out of 400 points on offer – 10th place overall and 1st female team, 28 points and 4 minutes in front of the 2nd place all female team – Fuse Creative who finished in 13th place overall.
Mountain Designs Wild Women approach the finish line.....all smiles after the final paddle! 

.....of course Aunty Jan is there with Champagne!
Kim said “The Raid 100 was definitely the most mentally challenging expedition race I have ever completed due to the rogaine format.  The event was yet, however, the most social expedition event I have ever undertaken due to the rogaine format and the leg start times and cut off times spread throughout the race. In terms of distance I am sure that none of the team had ever been on their bikes for more than 26 hours before and nor had ever climbed so much on their bikes as well.  I am so glad we did not have to drag our kayaks 31km down the Clarence River, but we would have enjoyed the rapids had the river levels been up! Our favourite leg was the trek at Girraween, as not only was the scenery spectacular, we were fresh and able to enjoy running some of the first sections of the course. The final kayak trek also rates up there as the tailwind behind us on the Tweed River was blowing us to the finish line and we were in great spirits as we were almost there! As usual, our Mountain Designs gear was amazing….our Gore-Tex jackets kept us dry and warm when we needed them.”

Cass said “I found this race to be one of the hardest I have done mentally. Very little opportunity to stop thinking and I spent a lot of time trying to calculate times & distances to make sure we met our cut off times. It was certainly hard to ride past the bakery in Murwillumbah on Saturday morning As usual, my mountain designs gear was top notch, my rambler socks were my favourite piece of gear - my feet held up really well. No blisters and no black toenails!”

Ali’s perspective: “The Raid 100 was the toughest race I've done. I found the sleep deprivation the hardest part, particularly knowing that I could have gone faster and covered more of the course with a bit more sleep and at different times, before totally powering down to zero….so that was hard to deal with. I think you are all super humans for coping with so little, but it did not work too well for my non-superhuman body.  I was amazed how strong I felt after even 1.5 hours in that lovely bushland at sunrise with the birds chirping overhead. The team foot care was fantastic. It was unbelievable to come away from such a foot heavy race with wet feet most of the time and have no blisters or black toenails. Yay. As ever, love those mountain designs socks!  There's always good learning and I've definitely come away with improvements to factor in, including seemingly little things like making sure all batteries have velcro attached so no need to run cables to my backpack as that would have saved time and faff. You kids are so tough. Thanks for getting me through as there were times I never believed it would happen! I also have a weird numb toe but otherwise seem to be recovering well... hope you all are too... sadly my appetite has now abated. GUTTED!”

Amie said “Recovery is taking the longest of anything I’ve ever done. Not sleeping properly (still chasing you girls through the bush so I’m up and down all night) and still can’t feel some of my toes!
I’m sure some rest will sort it all out.  Definitely the toughest race I’ve done yet. Have never experienced elevation like that before.  Mentally I struggled a lot and now the race is over I cannot understand some of the things that were going through my head at the time, so a massive thanks for physically and mentally towing me through the race, I don’t know how you girls do it. I felt like we had everything packed into the boxes pretty well and always had the gear we needed to get through each stage.  Being very new to adventure racing I can see ways to improve in many ways. Glad I’ve got such strong chicks to give sound practical advice.”

Mountain Designs Wild Women really want to congratulate Liam St Pierre, the Raid Adventures team and volunteers for putting on such a fantastic unforgettable event, that people will be raving about for years to come.  The structure of the Raid 100, challenged the most experienced adventure racers no matter how fast or slow, whilst also catering for relative newcomers to expedition racing.  Finally, thanks Mountain Designs for coming back on board as team sponsors and for the continued support from Ay Up Lighting systems, Tri Adventure and Venture Cycles Noosa, as without a great team behind us Wild Women, we simply may not have produced such great results.
Mountain Designs Wild Women 1st Female Team Raid 100 with Liam St Pierre
If you are reading this story and it inspires you to get out and have a go at something like this one day, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Wild Women through Tri Adventure, as although this sort of racing is a bit crazy, the rewards are endless and sometimes life changing!


To all our fellow competitors…. thanks for being a part of the adventure and we will no doubt see many of you out there at the next big one on the Australian AR Calendar …… Mountain Designs Geoquest AR at Yamba.