Tag Archive: adventure racing

ARC Journey to the End of the World

I had been tossing up between the NZ Rogaine Champs and the ARC adventure race (both were on the same weekend) but Michael pretty much refused to do a 24 hour rogaine so the ARC it was. We had really wanted to do the 12-hr but getting a double racing kayak is pretty hard and I was pretty disorganised in getting on to it so we settled on the 8-hr with the intention of racing it as hard as we could. But as the day was approaching I was feeling less and less keen...not helped by the fact I'd been sick for 2 weeks and had a lot of other things on my mind. It felt like deja vu from last year.

Michael working on the raft

We had race briefing the night before and I have to admit, I started to feel quite excited, although pretty apprehensive, especially about the final mountain bike stage which had the potential to be the make or break section of the race and we all know how anxious I feel about mountain biking (well, you might not but basically it scares me half to death no matter how much of it I do). Then the morning of the race we had to get there early to build our raft...we were able to use 2 inner tubes, 2 lengths of wood and some rope and were supplied with wooden paddles.

The 12-hr and 24-hr teams set off on their first kayak leg

We finished our raft in time to see the 12-hr and 24-hr teams set off for their first kayaking leg and I really started to get excited, anxious and a bit jealous that we weren't out there kayaking (although also secretly relieved as the thought of a surf landing sounded pretty scary).

Our first stage was the rafting. We were starting in the second wave of 8-hr teams at 8:20am and had to paddle our rafts across the estuary to the other side and pick up a couple of checkpoints then paddle back.

Stage 1: Rafting

Let's just say that our raft was, um, not so good. I think we needed the tubes further apart as it would tip over when Michael would try and get on so he basically swum the whole way while I swam most of the way. There was a bit of a current on the way over but on the way back it had got pretty strong and I got tangled up in some boats! The checkpoints were also a bit mysterious as the checkpoints ended up being round the wrong way which caused a bit of confusion. I was pretty relieved to get out of the water 'cause I was knackered! Swimming in shoes is tough work.

The first 8-hr teams set off on the rafting section

After a fairly quick transition and a change of clothes and shoes we set off on the second stage which involved a mountain bike ride to the rifle shoot then on to the transition area at Wentworth Valley.

Stage 2: Mtb and rifle shoot

It was a pretty easy ride along the main highway then on to some gravel roads. At the rifle shoot we each had 5 shots at the "ducks". Last year I'd got 5 out of 5 but clearly I was feeling a bit cocky this year because I stuffed up the first two shots which really frustrated me. Fortunately I managed to pull it together for the final 3 shots. Then it was a fairly short ride to the transition area where we dropped the bikes, grabbed quick bite to eat and a swig of water and then changed shoes for the trek stage.

Stage 3 was a trek through the Wentworth Valley and up through the bush as well as an abseil down the Wentworth Falls (you can see a picture of the falls here). We caught up to a few teams on our way up the gravel road to the first checkpoint and raced onto the mining track we figured CP0 would be on. Found a mine (it said Danger Do Not Enter) but couldn't find the checkpoint. A few other teams turned up and also went in and had a look but we were racing off to see if there was another one by then. Success. So then we were off as fast as we could to keep ahead. CP1 was pretty simple. But then we made our mistake...although we didn't realise it until much later.

Stage 3: Trek and Abseil

From CP1 we bashed up a very indistinct trail through the thick native bush to CP2 and then bashed even further up (scaling some cliff at one point and passing some teams who started in the first 8-hr group - one of the guys we passed called me a 'bloody machine'!) to CP3 where there was the most incredible view down to the coast at Whangamata and beyond. I wish we'd had time to take a picture really. Then it was down through the bush (trying not to slide over although I did have a couple of falls) to try and find CP4. This was when Michael started to question what was going on. For some reason he'd thought the abseil was at CP4 but we were no where near water. We both started to freak out until I had a look at the checkpoint descriptions and realised we were supposed to have gone to the abseil from CP1 then start up through the bush. Bugger.

Instead, we raced on to CP5 then down to the transition and raced back up the way we'd already come at the beginning of the trek to get to the abseil. It felt like a hell of a distance going back and we were going pretty fast to try and make up time so by the time I got to the waterfall I was knackered. I was in such a hurry I wasn't really thinking about how cool it was that we were abseiling down a 25 metre waterfall. Would so have loved to have done it again!

We made it back to the transition again in record time and got back on our bikes for Stage 4 which was a ride back to base. Pretty easy and so nice to be cruising on the bikes again after a pretty intense trek stage. I was definitely starting to feel weary by then too as I don't normally race longer events like this so hard!

We got back to base pretty quick and I attempted to get some more food down before we were off again for the final stage, a 2-hour mountain bike rogaine on the local tracks. It was pretty confusing as we were given 2 maps - a topo map and a trails map that you had to try and merge together to try and work out what was going on!

Stage 5: Mtb Rogaine

Fortunately Michael was doing the navigating while I was just attempting to keep up! But that got a bit tough so we loaded most of my gear into his pack which helped quite a lot on the hills. The route he'd planned out took us up to the highest point of the map before we slowly weaved our way down (with the odd steep uphill thrown in for good measure). The single track was pretty awesome riding (fortunately the rain the night before hadn't been too bad so the trails weren't too wet which was good 'cause they appeared to be clay based) but you had to be on your toes in case you missed the track you wanted or rode right past a checkpoint! We didn't see that many teams out there which I thought was a little weird but probably good as it's a bit frightening to be riding down a trail and meeting a team coming up.

The bike park map for stage 5

We had trouble with a few of the controls mostly due to the mysteriousness of the maps (and the descriptions given for where some of the checkpoints were)!! But we actually managed to find all the checkpoints before we had to race back to the finish as quick as possible as the 2 hours was nearly up (we found out later that we were the only 8 hour team to get all the checkpoints for the mountain bike rogaine stage). Michael was pushing me from behind for parts of the ride along the road at the end to keep me moving fast and we came screaming into the finish but we were still a couple of minutes late. Worth it though for the points we made getting all the checkpoints. I pretty much wanted to lie down on the grass at this point!

Awesome race but probably a bit short as we finished in 6 hours 30 minutes (probably should have been more like 6 hours without the mistake in the trek) but I was dead by the end anyway! 12 hour race next year?

Did I mention we won?

It is possible to eat your weight in food...

'I should put a bolt through you just to be safe.'
Shadow of a Dark Queen by Raymond E. Feist
In preparation for my food being reduced to this for most of a weekend (yeah, terribly appealing)...

...on Friday I had a day of extreme eating out with my mate B in Christchurch. After all, I needed the fueling for my epic race the next day (which turned out to be a bit more epic than I imagined!).

Last time I visited we attempted to go to The Orange Tree but it was closed. This time luck was on our side...yay! The Orange Tree seems to specialise in all kinds of special diets but the main attraction was that it could make vegan pancakes. They were served with caramalised bananas, fresh fruit, jam and maple syrup. Oh man, they were seriously awesome. I have to come back here again!

I also had a ginger chai latte with rice milk on the suggestion of the waitress and it was delicious. The ginger gave it a real, um, zing (?). Yum.

We went climbing after breakfast so got lunch to takeaway...at Soul Food where I just had to get the vegan BLT again (which was served with 3 different salady things). If you come to Christchurch...go here and get this. It's good.

I also got a ginger slice to take away for afternoon tea. Perfectly decadent and unnecessary but it had to be done.

Then came the main event...dinner. We decided (okay, I decided and B agreed) that we had to go to
The Lotus Heart. I think this has to be my favourite vegetarian food place. I can never visit Christchurch without eating here at least once. I started with their wonderful house-made ginger beer.

B was getting some fancy entree but I was feeling like fries. Don't know why. So I ordered their fries with house-made tomato sauce and vegan cashew aioli...their aioli is so incredible. B was impressed with my powers to almost demolish the entire pots of both sauces!

I really wanted to order the Sun Burger again for my main but I resisted and ordered something different instead...the Masala Dosa which is a South Indian lentil and rice pancake filled with potato masala filling and is served with rasam (which is apparently like a sort of soup) and coconut chutney. It was HUGE and defeated me (well, I'm sure I could have tried harder to finish it if I wasn't planning on dessert). But boy was it delicious. Definitely one to order again!!

I couldn't decide on dessert so I listened to my stomach which was calling out for chocolate so I wasn't very original and ordered the vegan chocolate cake with some kind of berry sorbet. It was delicious.

Yep, that's a lot of food (and very few veggies in sight) but boy was it worth it!

So what was I doing this past weekend? TWALK - a crazy twenty-four hour orienteering event held every year in Canterbury somewhere...and you get to dress up!

Yep, there was snow (think patches of nearly waist-deep snow at 2am on the top of a mountain...it was cold!)...and it was awesome fun (okay, there were some patches where I hated it but that's the same with any race). Can't wait until next year...

Anyway, I won't bore you now (or have you think I'm too crazy) but when I get a chance (and have caught up on some much needed sleep) I'll post a race report over

TWALK 2010

TWALK is basically a 24-hour orienteering race split into 5 legs and is held at a mystery location in Canterbury every year by the Canterbury University Tramping Club. Oh, and you get to dress up in ridiculous costumes...at least at the start before they become too annoying and you have to ditch them. This year the race started at the Cave Stream carpark just down from Craigieburn with the Hash House (like base camp I guess) at the Flock Hill Lodge. Basically leg 1 is about getting from the start to the Hash House and all the other legs are based from there. Leg 1 is the only compulsory leg (obviously). Make sense? Good.

At the uni carpark wondering what on earth I'd got myself into but terribly excited all the same.

I was in a team with a couple of Christchurch-based orienteers, Michael and Tane. Tane and I were rocking the Mr and Ms Claus thing and Michael, well he decided to wear a netball skirt and suit jacket...how that fitted with our theme I have no idea but there you go...!

Michael, me and Tane at the start...exciting!

Michael was our trusty team leader having done this race something like 10 times before. Tane had done it about 4 times. I figured that if people had done it that many times and were still keen to come back and do it again the following year then it couldn't be too bad!

A control is somewhere up there amongst good old Matt and Garry (a TWALK term for the thorny matagari bush).

We set off at a fairly reasonable, cruisey pace with the idea that there were many hours ahead of us. It actually wasn't nearly as cold as I had thought and we were all stripping off layers (and bits of our costumes) fairly soon into it. The river crossings were another story though. At least my shoes were super fast draining so the cold water didn't stick around. Navigation wasn't very hard (although Michael will perhaps never live down leading us up the wrong spur to the wrong clearing especially since we all said we trusted he was correct). Once at the control circle though it's a different story.

One of the big elements about TWALK is that the controls are hard to find and the clues are terribly cryptic. They may not even be quite in the control circle on the map let alone in the centre as they are for traditional orienteering. For example, there were clues like 'break me off a piece of that chocolate' which translated as a broken tree branch lying on the ground in a patch of beech trees where there were lots of broken tree branches all over the ground! I was quite proud of finding the control at the top of Helicopter Hill and then fooling other teams around us into looking further down. Brilliant!

This photo reminds me of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe for some reason...all that is required here is a lamppost.

Anyway, we finished Leg 1 in fairly reasonable time (roughly 5 and a half hours - I think we arrived at the Hash House in 4th place which was quite amusing considering we were just cruising compared to a couple of teams who raced past us near the end...clearly speed doesn't necessarily win you the race in TWALK).

Trudging up Helicopter Hill

Leg 2 looked like it was going to be tough...just how tough we were about to find out. It was getting dark by the time we left the hash house (we had a fairly leisurely transition) so we had our headlights on in preparation right from the start. There was a hell of a lot of uphill along a road (looking for controls along the way) and it didn't take long before we were into the snow.

Somewhere along the river I managed to slip over and twist my left index finger back in such a way that it hurt like hell (we now suspect I actually cracked a bone). Luckily it was cold so my hands were feeling a bit numb! Then as we climbed our way out of the river a bit later I managed to stab my left eye (clearly the left side wasn't lucky) with a protruding branch and lost a contact. Guess it didn't matter too much that I was a bit blind after that since it was dark but it did affect my balance!

Yep, it got dark and cold

We could see various trails of lights along the hillside to our right so we figured that was where we were heading. With a bit of luck we managed to find all of the controls up there (turns out that a lot of teams didn't find them...clearly we had the skills or something!).

We had decided fairly early on that we wanted to tackle the controls on the top of Broken Hill which turned out to be a mistake but it certainly led to an adventure. Most teams were turning back by #11 with the idea of trying to get all of leg 3 instead (which looked easy but apparently the clues were ridiculously hard and most teams got very few points despite being out there several hours). Climbing up from #11 we encountered a thick bush of young pine trees we had to bash through for ages which weren't shown on the map before finally getting out into the open and by then we were soaked right through our waterproof gear. Not good.

Somewhere along the ridgeline of Broken Hill before I began to freeze

Once on the top of Broken Hill the snow was getting pretty deep in places (I managed to sink up to my waist once) and the weather felt like it was packing in...rain, sleet, snow and wind were making things very unpleasant. We managed to keep our spirits up for awhile but finding the controls on the ridgeline were proving to be pretty tough and it was too cold to search for long. Somewhere along the ridge I started to get extremely cold and was having trouble moving so the boys pulled out more warm gear from their packs and helped get me into it. They were worried I was getting close to hyperthermic.

But not long after, we all started to freeze. The control on the saddle was nowhere in sight, the weather sucked and our morale was going downhill. Michael made an executive decision that we needed to get off the ridge and down off the mountain as soon as possible. Tane led the way, working out the safest route down through the snow and rocks. I was having trouble even walking as I got colder and colder. Things were not good. And then we hit the scrub. I could see the valley below and it seemed miles away (Michael optimistically reckoned it wasn't too far but then he was saying that the whole time...anything to make sure I kept moving). Tane bashed ahead while Michael helped me down. I spent way too much time on my arse but I couldn't keep myself on my feet...not helped by snow and thick scrub. I've never been so happy to reach the bottom of a hill in my life!

We decided that we were just going to curl up in our sleeping bags once we were back at the Hash House and call it a day. Good move since it was already 4am by then. I would have liked to have been out for the full 24 hours but in reality it wasn't going to happen after Broken Hill. If we hadn't gone over the tops I'm pretty sure we would have been keen for more. It was a bad decision but at least we had quite an adventure and it certainly makes a good story!

Oh dear! What a terrible after photo (and this was the best of the bunch). We are attempting to get warm again in the Hash House.

Once back at the Hash House I was so cold that I couldn't move my limbs enough to get into dry clothes so I had to be helped. Not good. I barely managed any sleep and nothing seemed to warm me up but at least I was beginning to feel a little more defrosted. It wasn't until the trip home on the bus that I finally managed to fall asleep...

Drifting off while waiting for the bus to arrive to take us back home again.

I keep getting asked if I'd do this race again considering the conditions we ended up in. Maybe I'm completely mad but I can't wait until next year. Bring it on!

Blue moon adventures

This water gladdened the heart. It was something other than a mere beverage. Its sweetness was born of our march beneath the stars, of the pulley's song and the exertion of my arms. It was good for the heart, like a present.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
So really, when you have a bit of a cold the best way to recover is to rest, take care of yourself and keep warm right?

Hmmm...I'm not known to be good at resting or taking a break. Instead I travelled to Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula with my trusty teammate O, and we embarked on a mega mission which was quite the opposite of all the ways one should look after oneself with a cold - the ARC Operation Blue Moon adventure race! You could expect nothing less really... Rest? Not happening. Taking care of myself? Well, that all depends on how you look at it right? Keeping warm? Well, I did have to swim (clothes, shoes, pack and all) at various points and tramp up a river so that also was not happening. I survived (clearly) but the cold is still lingering around which is frustrating with an off-road half this Saturday. Oh well, still a few days to get rid of it!

Anyway, onto real food ('cause you don't really want to hear about race food!)...

The Chef and I seem to eat out a lot (although it goes through fazes) but we tend to often go to the same places. We're pretty much regulars at The Blue Bird 'cause it's always quick, has good food and is fairly healthy. Plus they sometimes have my favourite dish in the whole wide world (okay, that might be an exaggeration but I do love it) - the kumara chip-topped tofu spinach pies (try saying that 10 times fast!).

There's not a great deal of places I can go and get vegan dessert but you can rely on The Blue Bird for awesome crumble with soy ice cream. I have been known to come here for dinner and just eat crumble...one hell of a big bowl of the stuff!

I thought it was about time I did another shoutout to the claypot place in Food Alley too which I regularly eat at with my cousin D. We are so regular that they know my order asking, "number 27?" every time either of us goes up to pay. Perhaps it's because the tofu dish is not ordered very regularly?

Across from the claypot place is the fresh juice place. D has her regular order but I like to mix it up every now and then.

This is rockmelon and apple. Really good and I like how you can see them juicing everything while you wait.

But I do still cook! I think I like home-cooked meals the best personally but going out is still fun. One of my flatmates described my cooking style as chilled out which, although made me laugh, is probably true. She was referring to the way The Chef was watching me cook and that I wasn't to let him change my style. I'm too lazy anyway so there's not much chance of that. But if he can teach me how to chop things faster then I'll be thrilled...sometimes it's all about timesaving! This is a good example...tofu stir-fry with boiled then fried potatoes. I've never pressed tofu in my life. I generally drain it and squeeze some of the liquid out with a paper towel. Then marinating. My tofu would be extremely lucky to get marinated for more than an hour. It's still delicious!

But basically I get home and ponder what I'm feeling like eating then open the fridge and pantry and see what's there and off we go. Then I just chuck in a little bit of this and a little bit of that and generally wing it...works (almost) every time!

Hmmm, this post is a tad disjointed...sorry about that. My head is all over the place going at a million miles an hour! Anyway, The Chef is cooking me dinner tonight so I should get to relax ☺

ARC Operation Blue Moon

Every adventure race is a little bit different which is part of the attraction but they all have the same basic elements - navigation involving trekking, mountain biking and some kind of water activity (normally kayaking but I haven't got that far yet). Then there are normally some kind of twists or mystery activities which will help you get more points. The thing to remember is there is no set course with markers and people telling you where to go...that's half the fun 'cause it's up to you to work out the best way round each section.

After surviving the 15 hours of Calamity and Cambridge together earlier in the year, Owen and I thought we'd have a go at tacking the ARC (Adventure Racing Coromandel) 8-hour (we'd do longer but, as I said before, I'm only starting out on the kayak...next time for sure!) Operation Blue Moon adventure race based out of Whitianga. Unfortunately I'd developed a cold during the week so wasn't exactly feeling crash hot or very fit. Oh well, I'm not one to give up.

The night before the race we had a briefing in the local town hall where they went over the basics and gave us a quick rundown on the activities involved in each section. As an 8-hour team, we were also given 4 long planks of wood, 2 inner tubes, 10 metres of rope and 2 paddles to build a raft by the start the following morning. No maps at this stage. We were informed that you would only receive the maps for each leg once you'd finished the one before. So we stayed up late putting together our rafts and sorting out our gear for our transition boxes.

Start time was 8am. Leg 1 - paddle your raft up the estuary, under the bridge and out into the sea round the marker and back in again. Sounds easy right? Well first we had no idea if our raft was even going to work and secondly, paddling those rafts was a hell of a lot harder than anyone anticipated. I don't think I got my heart rate up anywhere near where it went during this leg! It wasn't long but oh man was it tough!

The start...it was a little crazy with the 24 hour guys setting off in their kayaks and us setting off in our rafts all at the same time.

Leg 2 - mountain bike UP then portage through the jungle then bike DOWN then attempt Operation Blue Moon then bike to the rifle range and fire a few rounds then bike to the transition area for the first dive. I was actually quite relieved to be on my bike after the rafts and the route looked fairly easy (but steep). We biked up through the farmland and bush tracks for quite some distance before finally making it to the forestry road at the top (or at least we thought this was the end of the climb). Coming down the gravel road was a little hair-raising and we nearly missed the narrow track leading into the bush where we had to push our bikes up and up and up and up. At this point I got a bit feverish but there was nothing I could do but keep pressing onwards so it didn't seem much point to stress about it. I was so thankful to get out of that section and the breeze on the way down the hill revitalised me a bit.

So then we came to Operation Blue Moon...paint ball! You had to get your team through the course in 7 minutes without getting hit by a snipper (you got bonus points for taking out a sniper on the way through). Definitely didn't help being a team of 2 and we both got trapped in some of the trenches and eventually taken out by the snipers. Damn, those paintballs leave some wicked bruises!

Operation Blue Moon - Paint ball...we got inilated!

The rifle shooting on the other hand, well I was a natural! Never fired a gun in my life but I was totally buzzing after that (and hitting all my targets bang on). When we finally got to the transition area I was still buzzing! At transition there was a river dive to retrieve a coin inside a basket. Only one of us had to do this and since I was sick Owen offered up his services. Easy as he said. Afterwards we found out there were eels down there and it seemed most people encountered them but Owen said he never saw anything!

Mystery Activity 1 - the eel dive...but Owen didn't encounter any eels when he went down.

At transition we changed shoes, refilled camelbaks, downed some food (we'd been eating something every hour as well) and set off on foot for the next leg.

Leg 3 - trekking, river bashing and a waterfall dive. We set out jogging but it didn't last too long once we got into the first river and then up into the bush in search of an old mine where we had to pull out our headlamps to find the checkpoint. The mine was cool - like a narrow, rocky tunnel under the ground! Then it was back down and up the river on the other side which was a lot wider. It was a pretty long trek up through the river and at one point Owen ended up chest deep. I managed to miss the hole he'd ended up in so only got waist deep. Let's just say the water was very cold. Once we finally found the waterfall Owen dived again (made sense since he was way wetter than me already) but didn't find anything. So after much debate he tried the other pool much higher up (getting up that wet rock was interesting). Still nothing. At this point we were with a couple of other teams and they hadn't found anything either. I'd packed some goggles so Owen gave it another go and finally, success! It was a bit of a drag back down the river to the transition area and I was quite glad to be on dry land again.

River bashing.

Leg 4 - mountain bike to the channel where you swim your bike across the water then bike back to the event centre. So yeah, we had to get back onto our bikes (changing into bike shoes and dry socks as well as packing our rope) and make our way to the channel. Roping the bike (plus my pack and shoes) to the inner tube provided wasn't too hard but actually getting the bike down the ramp into the water was a little trickier! There was quite a current in the channel which made it interesting but it was actually easier than I anticipated. Of course, getting out on the other side was a different story. By then you were cold and there was a bit of a breeze. Once back on the bike it felt like my legs were too frozen to pedal.

The portage across the channel.

We made good time back to the event centre (picking up a few checkpoints along the way). It was almost tempting to finish about now but there was still one more leg to go.

Leg 5 - bike over to the next bay then make your way round the coast (coasteering) and up into the hills then back down. Jump back on the bike and make your way to the finish. The hill over to the next bay wasn't really that bad considering what we'd already encountered but when you're feeling tired you feel every bit of incline there is. Tearing down the other side though is good fun! We had to keep our helmets on for the trekking section as we scrambled round the rock (there was some serious rock climbing and parts where we had to jump into the sea and swim, trying not to let the swell smash you back into the rocks). We couldn't find the first checkpoint but it turned out it had been washed away by the surf. Once off the coast it was up into the hills where Owen and I picked up some speed and got ahead of the teams that had been with us. It felt so good to be running despite the fact I was feeling sick.

Once back on the bikes we just powered our way to the finish as fast as we could...which wasn't very fast! It was a pretty cool feeling to finish and Rob and Marquita were there to cheer us on which was cool. 9 hours. Yay!

Owen and I at the finish...and it's still daylight!

On reflection it was probably the best adventure race I've done so far...heaps of fun with cool activities and none of the legs were too long so you got heaps of variation. Plus the coasteering and rifle shooting were awesome. But we both agreed that the navigation was too easy (we are orienteers after all) and we wanted it to be longer which means I have to get cracking on learning to kayak so we can enter the longer races. We'll be back.

Calamity in Cambridge

We are disappointed that you see fit to make light of our latest research on communication between the living and the living impaired. At this very moment we are rolling out Hades Explorer 4.0, heralding an unparalleled increase in the volume of living-dead communications. You will be communicating with us soon, one way or the other.
How to Make a Tornado edited by Mick O'Hare
Wow! What an awesome, busy and exhausting couple of weeks it's been but here I am, still alive and still (vaguely) awake! 2010 is shaping up to be amazing. This past weekend I've been orienteering down in the Hawkes Bay (and sleeping in a leaking tent!) but the weekend before that I was hanging out around Cambridge for an adventure race that my friend SO dubbed the Death Race! At times during the race I wondered if he might have been right but here I am, still alive and loving it (my teammate and I clearly forgot all the pain and suffering and have entered our next one in March)!

Ever wondered what kind of gear you take on an Adventure Race? Well, here's some of my gear out ready to pack for a roughly 16 hour race (no, you don't get a break...I got asked this the other day and I thought it was quite amusing) I did a couple of weekends ago. Yes, there are 4 pairs of shoes there (different shoes for different stages - super-light offroad shoes, offroad shoes, running shoes and mountain bike shoes).

What did I eat during the race? Hahaha! I think I worked out it was 4 protein bars, a small handful of vegan gummy bears and 3 energy blast cookies (recipe to come when I am more organised). Oh, and I drunk a truckload of electrolytes. Yeah, felt pretty good apart from one section where I hadn't been paying attention and had gone nearly an hour and a half without eating anything. Probably should have eaten something more than a cookie before I collapsed into my tent at 2am but sleep seemed more important at the time!

My awesome flatmates had vegan chocolate cake from Blue Bird waiting at home for me the next day. There's no photo because it didn't last long enough!

Fueling up on the days before a big race is always super important. I'm still on a stir-fry for breakfast kick (listening to your body is always important). Breakfast on the day before the race was stir-fry with a chopped up veggie pattie and quinoa. Awesome!

My favourite pre-race dinner is always satay tofu on brown rice and this race was no exception. Ah, I love this meal! It even ended up being my breakfast before the race too (eaten cold out of a plastic container in the car on our way down during the early hours of the morning).

I swear it's way tastier than it looks! I even used a mixture of cashew and peanut butters just to mix things up a bit.