I’ve been hassled by the lovely Leah to get into triathlons. Paddy Pallin’s adventure race of mountain biking, running and kayaking counts as a triathlon, right?
I was super keen on this race, something a little different but right up my alley. I managed to wrangle a friend (B-real) in to join me in the mixed pairs and together we tackled the unknown.
The layout of the course is kept secret until the day. You have a list of things you need to take, such as pens to mark out your map, safety whistle, a compass, etc, but that’s about it in terms of hints of what you will be doing. B-real stayed the night before, easier to get up and get to the event, and we went through our backpacks, our plans, how much water to take, and goodness did we take a lot of food! Better to be over-prepared though! We both had no idea what to expect.
We arrived, set up our bikes, and headed over to get our maps. Taking a look at the maps I realised that the first run was completely familiar to me from mountain biking through Royal National Park. The bike leg was straight forward and fast, the next run was new and gorgeous. After that, back to the bike, another run, and then into the kayaks for the final leg. I’m glad the kayak leg was last, we ended up soaked from the hips down. Carrying the kayak down to the river for our last leg the photographer commented that I had the only genuine smile he had seen all day. How couldn’t I smile, I was having a ball!
It was fun to plan the route, though this one was simple and straight forward. I estimated the distances between our check points but being a novice map reader, I didn’t spend much time making myself familiar with the landmarks. This would have been much more helpful in identifying how close we were to a checkpoint, and on the bike legs I didn’t really have a good estimation of the distances we had travelled. We were pretty good at guessing how far we had run, but again, better attention to landmark details and it would have been much smoother and faster.
If you’ve thought about a Paddy Pallin event but you’ve never tried one, I recommend it. About half of the participants were new to this racing format, so we weren’t alone. On the first run leg, a pair in front looked back and saw we’d just missed a slightly hidden checkpoint and yelled to us where it was. Everyone was like that – maybe not the top 10% of serious racers who are in it to win it, but everyone else was super helpful in finding the checkpoints. A couple of people who had done them before told us to do it at our pace, to take it easy, which we did. We need to work on our kayaking skills, but other than that we just jogged along the trails, cruised on our bikes, and get soaked in the water. Afterwards they put on a meal for you and cake!
So what’s next? Hopefully I’ve sparked some interest in friends to try more adventure races with me, but in the mean time, more cross training. Riding, running, lifting weights, hitting up races of all sorts and practising my skills. Oh, and eating cake.