Preparations were smooth in the lead up to this years Baise Outdoor Quest. Personally, I had some concerns about my form, as I had been seeing mixed results in training, some days I was on fire, and other days I felt flat… I was still suffering a bit mentally as a result of my Coast performance. I didn’t feel my usual confidence and excitement and this worried me. I took the few days before the race nice and easy, hoping that things would fire come race day…
Total time 3:59:03 | Distance 51.57 km | Elevation Gain 2,449m / Loss 2,450m
A short run to start and the legs came to life, as did the memory of how much I love to race… phew!!.. things were going to be ok…
This quick run was followed by a wheelbarrow leg (we are Multisport athletes after all). Marcel did the “wheeling” of the barrow, while Sam and I clipped on and towed. Simone enjoyed the ride!
I found this task quite difficult as the legs struggled to adjust to the weight of the barrow. We worked hard as a group and were happy to come into the bike transition in second place, just behind Team Purao Biomedi (formerly Raw Adventure).
Onto the bike and I was still carefully assessing myself, worried that I might crack at any second… “don’t be stupid, you’ve got this”. I settled into my work riding well and again the worry disappeared, replaced by the joy of racing hard and feeling strong. I was back. The ride was roughly 28k and included a one km “hike a bike”. The field remained very tight, with 4 teams all quite close together for most of the ride. As we came into transition it had dropped to 3 teams, Purao, Thule and ourselves (O2B Healthy Ltd).
Following the bike was a short GPS orienteering section. This leg proved to be rather humorous for us, as my GPS was the only one that seemed to be able to acquire satellites… and I’m pretty sure Purao didn’t even bother turning their’s on. This resulted in a bunch run through the city, with our team controlling the pace (we even made a pee stop). So the orienteering section basically became a neutral leg and thoughts were directed toward the next TA where we would be doing 20m of ascending up a hanging rope using jummars.
Into this TA it was all on. We wanted to gap the other teams and had done some research and practice to ensure our jummaring technique was solid. We were climbing a rope hanging from an outdoor man made rock climbing wall. With one rope per team, I went up first. It was a workout, but our technique and set-up were good.
I made the top first. Ignoring the gaping hole between the top of the wall and the solid landing area, I stepped over and clipped onto a flying fox. The flying fox took me across a river where I dismounted and waited for the team. We smoked it through this challenge, getting the gap we wanted and headed into the next TA in first place (by roughly 5min!).
The final leg was a run. We kept a lid on our pacing and focused on doing our own thing through here. The run was awesome, with some neat rocky sections, inspiring caves and the usual share of Chinese stairs. Unfortunately we were caught by Purao on this section and moved back into second place. Nearing the end of the run we started to feel the effect of the days effort, but we held on, crossing the line 3 min behind Purao. Thule finished in 3rd, only 1min back. Super tight racing and a great start for us. I was loving it!
Total time 3:43:01| Distance 55.08 km | Elevation Gain 2,125m / Loss 2,895m
Day two was a simple duathlon, a hard and fast run followed by a mountain bike. The paddle this day was unfortunately cancelled due to a lack of water in the lake.
A mass start ensured the pace was hot from the word go. We smoked it down hill finding our rhythm and getting the blood back into the legs. Into the hills, we settled into our pace.
The run took us into the mountains and past an amazing sump hole (see the image below). Sam and I were lucky enough to get to zip line over the edge of this.
After the zip line was a quick run into the MTB TA. We entered here in 3rd place. Working well on the roads, 4WD tracks and some pretty mint single track, we finally reached the finish for the day. We were a bit surprised to hear that Thule had taken the stage win, beating Purao by a good few minutes which lifted them in the overall lead.
Sitting in 3rd overall, the body and legs felt strangely awesome. I was optimistic about our chances of lifting our position with two big days of racing still to come.
On the bus ride back we had a bit of drama, breaking down while also beaching ourselves… here’s the other bus (behind) having a good crack at passing the broken down bus (to no avail)… only in China and all part of the fun. After an hour or so on the side of the road, the driver got the bus rolling again and we made it back to the hotel… it looked suspiciously like we had simply run dry on fuel…
Total time 6:59:17| Distance 60.89 km | Elevation Gain 4,218m / Loss 4,220m
This was a bigger day with a run, swim, kayak, bike, run and final kayak to keep us entertained. And entertained we were when we found out that we had to swim in our life jackets, shoes and helmets because the run to the water was so technical and steep. Teams were set off at 1 min intervals (based on their overall ranking) to avoid bottlenecks.
I was on a tow line for the swim but was stoked to find that I didn’t need it. It’s funny, adding all that surplus gear changed the swim leg and made everyone rather even… 1km flew by. It was then into the kayaks for a 3k sprint and then onto the bikes.
We were in tight formation with Thule for much of this ride and came into TA (atop of a massive switch back climb) slightly ahead of them, with Purao up the road and already onto the run.
The run leg was simply EPIC. The track looked rather new and snaked its was along the side of steep limestone mountains, with beautiful vistas over the lake we had just paddled. The terrain was super technical, which would usually have suited us, but poor Simone bruised her foot early on and every steep was extremely painful for her. We moved along as best we could and were happy that when Thule passed us they didn’t seem to be pulling away too quickly. I was very impressed with this track and wish we had some better photos to show how gnarly it was.
We were passed by 3 more teams on the run before we made the lake and jumped back into the kayaks. Simone had really suffered for the team and now it was our turn to work hard in the kayak. Moving well we quickly caught two teams and made our way up into 4th place.
The paddle was an “out and back”, which allowed us to see the gap to the teams ahead. We paddled well, but the gap was too big. Exiting the boats we blasted uphill for a painful 2km run to finish in 4th place. All in all, not a bad day.
Total time 5:18:01| Distance 59.08 km | Elevation Gain 3,066m / Loss 3,055m
A big day to finish: 29 km Mtb, 29km mountain run and 4km GPS orienteering.
The final day saw us start in the middle of town. We blasted straight out of there and into a solid climb. The ride was a prelude to the mother stage of the day and we were happy to be racing in tight formation with Thule and Purao for much of this leg. Into the TA it was Puro ahead, with us second and Thule close behind.
The final leg was a biggie! After 3 and a half days of hard racing, we were treated to a mega mountain run. I loved this section and there were times when we were absolutely flying! Simone was wearing a pair of my shoes that had a bit more padding in them and thankfully she had no problems with her foot on this day. This allowed us to really go for it! The team worked really well together and it was a strong leg for us as a unit. We came into the last TA in second. Not far into the GPS orienteering stage was a zip line. This is where we spotted Purao, only a few minutes ahead. We zoomed over the zip line and gave it our all on the last section of running with Purao in our sites! We finished the stage second, just behind Purao. We were tired, relieved, and elated.
We ended the 4 days of racing 3rd in the overall standings, only 4 minutes behind Thule. Purao took the top spot, a well-deserved result.
Total race time: 19 hours 45 minutes. Total elevation gain: 11,858m.
What an awesome 4 days! It was refreshing to get through a China race with no major issues and to finish feeling strong.
Cheers team, that was epic.
Stage four podium shot;
I’m stoked to be heading back to China on the 10th of May for 2 more races.
The countdown is on!