Tuesday 2 May 2023

Stepping In and Stepping Up – Mountain Designs Wild Women – Rogue Raid 2023


Kim and Ash - Mountain Designs Wild Women

Stepping in

The title of this report relates to our latest Mountain Designs Wild Women Team member, Ashild Krige who stepped in for Nicola Jelinek just a week out from the race.  Nicola was itching to race again but had to be wise and wait for a knee injury to settle, so she got in touch with Ashild (Ash) who was willing to step in and give it a go, at such short notice.

Stepping Up

Ash has a running background and more recently been mountain biking, but her only AR experience was the Wild Women AR in 2019 (which she won) and the Wild Women AR in 2022, where she was 2nd with Nicola.  Ash had always wanted to give a longer race a go but had just not yet been sure she was ready, so with no time to get any faster, fitter or more prepared, it was her time to just step up!

Getting your head around a 24-hour rogaine style adventure race

Usually, I would not want to throw someone into the deep end and see if they could swim, before helping them to be a bit more prepared, but Ash is a strong and capable women with plenty of experience in outdoor adventurous activity back in Norway, where it would not be unusual for her to pack a bag with some food and warm clothes and set off for an adventure!  Also being a mother of two meant that I thought she would be more than strong and capable in this situation.  So, I approached the race as an opportunity to pass on some of my skills and experience to Ash and to be honest, this was part of the reason for creating the Wild Women team in the first place.

So, when Ash started firing a few questions at me about where is it and how long is the race, I was extremely vague, saying things like, well I don’t exactly know where we are going and don’t know how far we will be out there, but there is a swim which we need to maybe use flippers and a board, mountain biking, trekking, paddling and navigation.  Luckily, we then received the logistics planner and I was able to write all over it, which was really helpful for Ash to plan her food and equipment.

Logistics Planner with Kim's notes

So much to do and so little time

Race start was 1pm, bike drop was 9.15am.  Map handout at 10.00am, so on paper it would appear that there was plenty of time…..but one thing I have learned over my years of racing, is that it feels like the clock started when you get there and not when the gun goes off, it’s almost a race, just to get to the start line on time!

 As I had not raced with Ash before and she had not ever done an adventure race of this type or length, it was really challenging to work out what CPs to go for and what to drop to get through the course.  So, with 8 stages, points seemingly equal across disciplines and some sections part of the route you had to go, we marked up our maps to attempt all of the on-route sections and left all of the more optional points to decide when we were out there.  This meant for Leg 4 - Trek, Leg 6 – Paddle and Leg 7- Trek, where points ranged from 0 – 520, that we would just aim to spend about 3hours on each section.  So, I set little time cut offs for us to use, just to help us try to make the most of the course.

Course notes with the points and our notes

Off and racing with boogie boards, flippers and PFDs

I am sure if anyone had have been watching (outside the AR community) they would have wondered what in earth was going on…..watching around 180 people running off randomly into the bush carrying all that jazz!  The family who were taking photos on the lookout were certainly shocked to see all these random runners carrying weird stuff, scurrying towards them. We decided to go for all of the CPs on Leg 1, this meant we did not really have any bottleneck issues when trying to slide down the bank on our backsides, replace shoes with flippers before jumping into the water for our swim.  It was actually really good to be hot, but the best feeling was going faster than most down the river, especially the inflatable ducks….I felt so sorry for them…but could not help myself from singing …..rubber ducky you’re the one, you make bath time so much fun.  By the time we were getting to the exit point at TA A we saw the first group of paddlers on Leg 2 heading upstream to CP 6, we gave a few waves to the Avengers and the Tri Adventure Giants, which made us think…..we could get that CP too as it’s actually not that far.  So, by the time we got onto the paddle, more than half of the teams were on the water, as we paddled up the creek to CP 6 we saw Tri Adventure TARA exiting….they warned us about the logs.  Moments later we were trying to lift and carry the CTR kayak over fallen trees and logs and then do it all again on our way back. Ash managed a few firsts on this leg…..longest paddle ever, hardest paddle ever and first time paddling rapids and glad not to capsize like the guys ahead of us.

The start of the Rogue Raid 2023

This is how we started trekking to 5 CPs before the swim

Heading into those hills

It was such a bonus to finish the paddle before dark and get on the bike just as the sun was setting. This meant that we were about an hour ahead of our time schedule and we were not freezing.  We changed into dry gear for the bike leg and managed to then fit in all of our wet kayak gear as well as everything for Leg 6,7 and 8 into our kayak bag.  Ash was on fire, as soon as we jumped on the bike and it was not long before we were catching teams, who had opted to miss CPs on the trek and paddle.  We came across the Tri Adventure Giants at CP10 but separated when we decided to opt for some hills!  As we were ahead of our time schedule, we decided to head up to CP 13 at Mt Nebo, after all, I had never attacked Mt Nebo from this direction before!  Unfortunately, we had to change our route when the track we chose seemed to end in a creek, so we backtracked and just headed for CP 12, but then as we had done most of the climbing, opted for CP13 as an ‘out and back’ anyway.  Our hard work was rewarded with some fun descents and orange and white flags at CPs at 12, 11, 17 and 18 in that order. ‘

Arriving at the Little Mermaid Lookout Trailhead TA C was a highlight, Fiona Crossley had an array of goodies for us to choose from: lollies, fruit cake and even easter eggs, I had plenty of food, but this was just there, so why not!  These Tri Adventure super-volunteers including Michele Krome and Jan Leverton had a fabulous time managing this TA….dancing, singing, eating real food and doing a bit of maths …..until it started raining.  Ash and I planned a conservative route on this leg as we were now probably an hour behind our schedule, yep those hills on the bike took a bit of time, but points are points in this style of race.  Our aim was to leave the TA by 1.00am, which meant we only had 2 hours, so we opted to head to CP24 first as it was 70 points and then see if we could get 25, 26 and 23.  CP 25 was a bit of a lantana jungle and after two attempts to find it only to be met by walls of lantana, we opted just to keep going.  I explained to Ash that I hate leaving CPs and that had this have been a ‘normal’ adventure race (not that any adventure race is normal) we would have to get it. Time was ticking by so we ran to CP26 as the very light drizzle turned to rain…..so jackets on!  By the time we got back to the TA, it was pouring, and I felt sorry for the super volunteers as they had been inundated by teams trying to stay dry.  Luckily we had put the lid back on our box before we left, but our shoes were soaked…oh well they were about to get wet anyway.  

CP 25.....we were so close...

Hills, Single Track or Rail Trails – the love hate relationship

It’s funny, we know that hills make to strong, single tracks improve your skills and rail trails are flat and fast….but in the middle of an adventure race, we both love and hate them.  To get to the next TA, we had this very long bike leg, to get the points along the way, we had to choose hills to get to CP27 and single track to get to CP 28.  So, you choose the hard way, and you get rewarded with the points, so that’s what we did.  On our way to CP 29 (which was worth 90 points) we came across Greg and Mitchell Krome (Tri Adventure MGs) at the trailhead shelter.  They said had found the CP, but it was tricky and there were so many bends and nothing like what was shown on the map.  They mentioned a rocky creek…..so we headed in and rode and rode, sort of ignoring the map and looking for a rocky creek….we started climbing and got to a track junction and both Ash and I thought…well we certainly did not find a rocky creek.  So I studied the map and said, well we just have to find that watercourse, it should be more obvious as we head down the hill.  So, back we went, and we stopped and looked at the most obvious spot and found the CP, I had to admit….it felt like sheer luck!  Then we headed for the rail trail, it was nice to have some flat riding after all those hills…..but because it had rained so much and was still raining, it was not super-fast like you would think….in fact it was a bit of a slog. Ash declared that this was now here officially longest bike ride ever and that she did not love the rail trail…. But we both knew we just had to get there…. just like everyone else.  We finally arrived at TA D around 8.00am.  Oops, we were about 2 hours past our proposed arrival, but the sun was out and it was no longer raining – bonus!

CP 29 - we overshot it but found it on the way back.....at least we did not waste time searching 

To paddle or to trek that is the question

In order to get to the finish before the 1.00pm time cut-off we had 5 hours we knew we would need to allow 1 hour to get home via the fastest route but would also have to transition.  So, that left us with only 3.5 hours to both trek and paddle.  We could have chosen either or, but it just felt right to have a crack at both.  We had to paddle first so we got organised and still had just enough energy to carry our kayak down to the water, we decided to get CP 37, 38 and 39 as they were close, worth good points and decide about CP 40 when we are out there.  Poor Ash was feeling it….as backing up from your longest paddle ever and your two longest rides ever is not going to be easy, and then factor in that she did not get to prepare by doing any paddle training,  I was so impressed, but could hear the relief in her voice, when I said, I don’t think we should get 40, we can have more time on the trek.  I made a bit of a navigation stuff-up after being a bit too chatty with Tri Adventure TARA as we crossed paths….they were looking as fresh as daisies and motoring - and I told them so!  Part of what I do love about this format of racing, is that you do get to see so many more teams out on course and that you never know who is in the lead and where your team fits into that mix.

Ash was super excited to get back onto land and do what she does best, run!  After putting on dry shoes and socks (which is such a great feeling after being soaked for most of the night) we started our run back up the hill to CP 46. Again our strategy was to get the one 70 pointer first and then work out whether we had time for both CP47 and 45 or just 45.  Ash had earlier been mentioning to me that she loved off track running, so now was our chance, as we would see and the undergrowth was reasonably open.  We managed to find CP46 relatively quickly, and then decided to go for 47.  Route choice is a big part of adventure racing, so now it was time to decide go on a bearing or go the really long way on the track.  We started on the track and just as we started a team coming back from the other way said there are these plantation tracks straight to the CP.  This made me think….ok, why not go cross country!  So we headed up the watercourse a bit to get a good angle to attack the CP and came across all of the plantation tracks…they were everywhere. There was no way I could just pick one, so back to basics.  Set a bearing again and use the features to get to the CP, spur, 2 watercourses spur and then the watercourse we are looking for.  We did exactly that and found the CP….a little high for my liking, but it was open and we could see!  We opted for the cross-country route to CP 45, this was definitely faster than the trails.  As we were heading back to the TA, other teams were on their bikes heading for the finish including the Avengers, Three Points of Contact, Kang Racing as well as our Kiwi friends Dateloaf and Pikelet.  We managed to get back to the TA with just over 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare…..now it was our turn to jump on the bikes for the last leg!

Travel off track was excellent on this part of the trek

It's not over till it’s over

Decisions, decisions…. would we go for CP53, we knew where it was (as we went past it on the trek) , but would we have time?  Would 1 hour 15 be enough….we agreed to let 53 go and opted for the conservative route.  As we headed up the hill on the tar (this was fast) we saw team Thoughtsports (2022 Rogue raid winners) heading down the hill on foot….they did not appear to be quite as chirpy as the Avengers.  However, as we were headed out of CP54 they had managed to catch us and were a bit chattier…. Myall did mention that he would rather be at home changing nappies…or something of that nature!  They bolted off and Ash tried her best to stick with them……I thought wow, how can she do that???  I had better try a bit harder too!  I must say it was a great feeling when we came off the track and onto the dam spillway and hit the bitumen, you could see the finish line and knew the finish was just right there.  We finished the race exhausted with about 20 minutes to spare, totally satisfied with our plan, not just for the last leg, but the entire race.  I said to Ash, I am pretty happy with that, and you should be proud of yourself too.  There was only one CP that we looked for and did not find (restated that if it had been mandatory and not a rogaine format…. we would have persisted) and you were just so strong and capable for the entire race.  Ash had so many firsts in that race and that’s part of what inspires us…. doing things we would not have thought possible!

Mountain Designs Wild Women 1st Female Team and 6th overall.  Wow!!

Kim and Ash - Mountain Designs Wild Women

So that was the Rogue Raid 24 for 2023…..well no not really….after the race , I enjoyed lots of pizza and garlic bread, because I missed the first delivery….by the time the next lot arrived most people had gone home.  Jan somehow managed to drive me home afterwards despite her lack of sleep out at TA C all night.  Then it was time to unpack the car….mmmm a bit of mud and wet smelly gear….yes the forgotten last leg that brings back all of the memories from out on the course….that’s adventure racing!

Thanks to Liam St Pierre, the Raid Adventures Team and all of the volunteers for all of that hard work that goes on behind the scenes, you put on a great event and challenge all of us in so many ways.  On behalf of the Mountain Designs Wild Women and the Tri Adventure group thank you for everything!

Raid Adventures Crew and Volunteers

Photo Credits 

Finish Photo - Jan Leverton

RAID Photos - Murilo Mattos

Thanks to our sponsors and supporters

Mountain Designs

Ay Up Lighting Systems

Tri Adventure

Venture Cycles


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