Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Red Bull Defiance 2018 - Wanaka New Zealand

Cass and I decided to go and have another crack at the Red Bull Defiance again this year, as in 2017 due to snow and poor weather conditions the run course on day 2 had to be shortened, so we missed out on reaching Roys Peak, but did get to race in snow!
Luckily our flight arrived into Queenstown on time and we somehow managed to pack 4 bikes and 3 people into the hire car and drive to Wanaka just in time for the race briefing.  Weather conditions in 2018 were completely different to last year as Wanaka was almost in drought and temperatures were in their 30’s. Following registration and gear checks we just had to put all of our day 1 gear into the transition bags and check our bikes in as in the morning we would be transported by bus to the start.

It was awesome this year to have a terrific bunch of fellow Aussies at the event and staying with us in Wanaka; including one of my other Wild Women Team Mates – Gina who was racing with Dyson and also, Bern Dornom who was racing with my former team mate Leo. Jan, Steve & Shan and Leo’s wife Frankie were also along as the official cheer squad!

Day 1

Leg 1 Mountain Bike 43k – Minaret Station (elevation gain 800m)

As per last year, competitors were bussed to Camp Creek, where we all piled onto a barge which took us to the other side of Lake Wanaka to our starting point at Minaret Station. Despite the warmer conditions it was extremely windy on the barge and quite cool, lucky we could leave a gear bag with our unwanted extra clothing. We had a 9am start planned, however arrived by 8.15 so there was plenty of time to get warmed up and ready for the start.
Cass and I knew that we had to really go hard at the start to stay with a bunch to get the most out of the drafting as we could, and this year I think we did a much better job at this as we were in front of some of our main rivals when we arrived at the first big climb about 40minutes into the ride. I was loving the one extra gear I had on my bike, however it was sloppy and muddy in parts, so we definitely had some hike a bike ahead of us! In fact, I heard one guy say ‘Braden must love walking his bike’!  It was extremely hot, so the river crossing was actually quite refreshing, and we enjoyed the cool breezes on some of the steep descents, however we did have to be careful on some of the sketchy corners. The course markings were limited so lucky we had a few other teams around as we neared the end of the bike to get us to the TA in around 3hrs.

Kim’s Race Nutrition:- Endura Opti; Ems Power Cookie, Water

Leg 2 Run & Abseil 11k – Rocky Mountain (elevation gain 490m)

Temperatures were now over 30 degrees, however it was not too hot for us Queenslanders! Cass and I had a quick transition to the run and did make the effort to take extra water with us. The climb up to the top of Rocky mountain started as a run, but soon we were scrambling up a rough track looking for track markers! Cass was a bit fatigued, so I put her on the tow rope to keep us together, soon the trail widened and it was a walk jog to the top before a small & fun descent to the abseil spot. Here we found Jan in volunteer mode, fitting harnesses to the competitors! There was a line up and minimal shade, so we took the time out as the clock had officially stopped, to take in some food and hide under some shade. I absolutely loved the abseil this year and took the time to look down and behind me as I slid down the rope. Cass was down next and we had a fun scramble back down the mountain.

The run to the TA was tough as not only were we battling the heat, it was extremely windy to the point where we were being blown in all directions at times. This meant that there was potential for the paddle to be cancelled……however we hoped it would still go ahead! We arrived at the TA stocked up on some Gels and then had a short 2k run to the paddle start!

Kim’s Race Nutrition:- Pure Nutrition Gels; ‘All Natural Lollies’, Water

Leg 3 Paddle – 17k – Lake Wanaka

We had to climb over a fence with our kayak and then haul it to the water for the start, the wind was up and there were whitecaps on the lake! We did have a bit of trouble getting our spray decks on (again) but soon were underway heading towards Glendhu Bay.
This was so much fun and our ocean paddling skills came in very handy. We were stoked to pass another female team very early on and see Steve & Shan on the beach as we passed the white turning buoy at Glendhu Bay. There was a nasty head wind and side chop to manage before making the final turn towards Ruby Island and Wanaka. Cass and I paddled strongly taking advantage the swell, doing some surf style paddling all the way to the finish. We were stoked to finish the day in 3rd place Elite Women’s category just ahead of Sia Svenson who had won this category in 2017. This year she had teamed up with Jacquie Slack who was doing her first RBD and not an experienced paddler.

Kim’s Race Nutrition:- Pure Nutrition Gel; Water

Rest Repack Recover

After the finish we jumped into the lake to cool off, breathed some food in and after seeing Dyson & Gina finish we headed home to repack our gear for Day 2. After dropping off our transition bags we enjoyed a good feast and put our legs up, ready for day 2.
Kim’s Nutrition: - Chicken Wrap; Chicken & Salad; Red Wine; Water
Day 2

Leg 4 Paddle 27k Lake Wanaka & Clutha River to Albert Town

It was dark as athlete descended upon the shores of Lake Wanaka ready for Day 2 of the Red Bull Defiance, as we had a 6.15am start. Cass and I decided to pre-fit our spray decks to the cockpit of the kayak to save us the difficult task of fitting them while in the frantic rush of the start…..we did not want to be left on the bank like last year. It was a splendid looking day as the lake was calm and the skies were very clear.
Athletes assembled under the race arch and soon we were off and racing! Dyson and Gina had an awesome start being lined up next to Braden Currie and Dougal Allen, Cass and I had to run a bit further however we managed to jump in and get a good start. It was an amazing site seeing all the kayaks scattered across the lake all heading for the Clutha River.

As we approached the river the sun was in our eyes, making for some spectacular views on the river banks as we paddled down the fast-flowing river! We were greeted by Frankie standing on the river bank just after the second rapid and from then on paddled hard, mostly on our own through Oxbow, then on to the finish at Luggate.
I felt almost crippled as I extracted myself from the cockpit of the kayak and tried to run.  Cass on the other hand seemed to be a million dollars and had paddled super strongly and was on fire on the run to the TA, when we saw Gina and Dyson on their bikes exiting with big smiles on their faces!

Kim’s Nutrition:- banana, water
Leg 5 Mountain Bike 31k Criffle Range (Elevation Gain 1278m)

This year the bike was about 3k longer as we had a 3k ride back along the banks of the Clutha River to the shooting at Oxbow! When we arrived, Jan was on volunteer duty and all smiles as we were right up there in the women’s field! I took the gun and by the time I saw the clay, my shots had completely missed, luckily Cass shot the clay on her turn, meaning we could proceed on the bike without penalty! We crossed main road and started ascending, up, up and up again, false summit after false summit all the way to the top. We saw Gina and Dyson in good spirits on our way and were passed by two female teams, one being Sia & Jacquie; we held our own and kept moving strongly on the course! It was so hot, I was just surviving on lollies now as nutrition (I had finished the Endura and a bar) and I knew that would not be enough, but it was so hot, the lollies went down well. No snow this year of the Criffle Range, so we could really enjoy the speed on the descent down into Cardrona Valley. The river crossing was mild and very refreshing as we crossed and made our way to the TA. At this point we thought we were in 4th and had our work cut out to catch the other teams to finish on the podium.
Kim’s Nutrition:- Endura Lemon Lime; Carman’s Bar, All Natural Lollies, water.

Leg 6 Run 33k Mt Alpha & Roys Peak (Elevation Gain 1848m)

When we arrived at the TA, we had our cheer squad greet us….Jan, Steve & Shan seemed so excited!  I filled up water as it was  extremely hot and very sunny, as we certainly did not want to run out of water! Cass grabbed some extra ‘pure sports’ nutrition before we headed out of the TA!
Well, I felt pretty ordinary, yet Cass was motoring on the little flat track as we approached the hills…..we had taken our poles, and before long we were using them. I know I am not great at ‘walking’ so I decided to run / walk and this seemed good, as it motivated me to be able to keep up with Cass who was just as fast walking! It was hot and it was hard, and just before we reached the short course point, we saw Bern & Leo just 100m ahead. I though cool, we must be doing ok, not knowing at the time that Leo was suffering and Bern was towing him most of the way! It was a good thing as it fired them up and we kept trying to catch them! I loved the skyline ridge, and had fun running along the ridgeline trail to Mt Alpha (stage high point) and then some cool descents before the final hike up to Roys Peak! Unfortunately I realised I had run out of water and I knew it was 8k off the top back to the road, then 6k to the finish…..oh no! I was worried, but just had to forge down the hill. Unfortunately the down hill was a massive big superhighway and was hot and exposed, not like what we had experienced on the short course descent last year. I just had to ignore those negative emotions and keep running. We came across someone in distress who had heat stroke, but had no water to help…..about 2/3 of the way down we came across a stream where others were filling up! We stopped and filled our bladders and poured water over our heads…this was our saving grace…..we thought at the time! After about another 20minutes of running down the track we arrived at the car park and were delighted to have water, ice and even Red Bull on offer, to help us to the finish! We stopped and filled up again, even though we had just 6k to go!
Now it was 33 degrees, Cass was strong and set great pace as we travelled towards the Millennium Track. We came across Jan, Steve & Shan on the track cheering us on which was very uplifting! We made it to the finish and were greeted by Jan, Bern & Leo who had finished just 10 minutes ago! We downed a can of coke each to try to kill any bugs from drinking the water (thanks to Bern’s advice) then hung at the finish to see Dyson & Gina’s finish!
Kim’s Nutrition:- All Natural Lollies; Peanut Butter Sandwich; water
We were super stoked to hear that we had finished 2nd Elite Female team, however unfortunately we heard that one member of team 2 collapsed with just 500m to go and did not finish - they had been in front of us since they motored past us on the ride with one girl on tow;  and one member of the team that was 1st across the line on Day 1, was unfit to be able to back up on Day 2, so a great ‘survival of the fittest’ result for Mountain Designs Wild Women! Thanks Cass for joining me on this adventure and thanks for Mountain Designs for your ongoing support of Mountain Designs Wild Women Adventure Racing Team. We celebrated afterwards, enjoying some NZ Fish & Chips and cracked a bottle of French Champagne!
The 2018 Red Bull Defiance was brought to you by Godzone Adventure, with Bex Laws as the Race Director. The event was logistically well managed and safety of competitors was an obvious priority. This multisport event is definitely one of the most spectacular multisport events you will ever do, however be prepared for the extremes of racing near Wanaka  (South Island of NZ).

Here is a list of the best gear you could want for a race as tough as this.....we used this gear on the day or included it as a part of our mandatory gear:-

Mountain Designs Women’s Pro Elite Gore-Tex Jacket

Mountain Designs Superdry Women’s Thermal Top & Pants

Mountain Designs Lightweight Fleece

Mountain Designs Merino Gloves & Beanie

Mountain Designs Coolmax Running Socks

Mountain Designs Superlight Dry Sacks

Salomon Agile 12 Running Pack

Salomon Sense Ride Trail Running Shoes

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles

SOL Emergency Bivy Bag