Adventurethon – Interview with winners Clark and Simson


It was a clean sweep for the Kiwi’s at the Adventurethon  Magnetic Island - Townsville Australia, with the blue water paddling and tropical islands attracting a top field.   

After some close racing in the hot tropical conditions it was 2x Speight’s Coast to Coast champion Jess Simson and top multisport Sam Clark who came through the heat as victors.

Interview with Jess and Sam

Sam -  Magnetic Island is the crown jewel of the Adventurethon series. Nestled off the coast from Townsville, “Maggie” is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and offers great running, technical riding and a stunning coastline for those keen to take to the ocean.  Adventurethon gives Competitors a real “ Tour de Maggie “ for reasonable fare payable in sweat.

The sold out race started at first light, a flotilla of nearly 200 craft set out into choppy seas.  Adventurethon Ultra starts with a 13km Surf Ski paddle then onto a 4km run, 13km paddle back to Picnic bay, 29km mountain bike and then another 18km of running.


13km Surf Ski Picnic bay to radical bay

Jess - The last time I paddled a surf ski in the ocean was at the Augusta Adventure Festival 2+ years prior.

Tackling new physical and mental challenges are a regular occurrence in the racing game. I was confident I would get through it, just not confident in what I was doing. Facing the roughest conditions the race had experienced yet there was definitely some apprehension at the start line.

Lined up knee deep on the beach the hooter went off & 200 athletes jumped into their boats & headed north up the coast…except me – I jumped in & fell out instantly! Hilarious. I quickly hopped back in & this time I was away. Paddle technique went out the window as it was all about keeping above the water as waves came at you unpredictably from all angles. It felt like I was in a giant bucket of water being relentlessly shaken.

Sam - Ironman Champion and all round legend Guy Andrews set a cracking pace, showcasing skills from a career in surf paddling.  My month spent away from paddling made me a little shaky,  though  the bravery medal goes to Jess, who had only stepped into a ski the day before

Jess - Concentration levels were high but thankfully the last minute decision to swap into a Stella SR surf ski was paying off as I did feel surprisingly stable. It was more a mental battle of why was I putting myself under this stress when I was hanging out for a holiday after this summers racing? Low points such as these are also a regular occurrence in racing, but so are the highs & paddling into the calmer waters of Radical Bay that was lined with giant granite boulders and getting to land on its white sand beach was one of them.

4km run - Technical single track from radical bay to Horseshoe bay and back

Jess - I was very happy to have a short reprieve from the water & vegetate my mind over a nice out & back 4km piece of technical singletrack.


13km paddle - Radical bay back to Picnic bay

Sam - I trotted through the sharp 4km out and back run then paddled back to home base. Arriving a minute behind Guy and fifteen clear of local Sam Steadman.

Jess - Back in the boat, although still very much in the “shaking bucket”, the waves had eased a bit making the 13km paddle back to the Picnic Bay pier easier than anticipated.


27km mountain bike - Horseshoe bay and surround area

Sam - We climbed onto bikes for a ride which went over the Islands central ridge, through some unspoiled national park and out to ‘Maggie’s” northernmost point. Then home via a mix of singletrack, fire roads and beach sand. Though I passed Guy early on, the sun was really baring it’s teeth and by the end of the ride I had guzzled more than two litres of drink.

I rode conservatively, but the heat took quite a toll. 

Jess - I decided to keep the pace steady conscious I had a very hot run ahead. The bike leg was a true adventure taking in some fun technical trail descents, beach riding, smoother coastline roads, and even a couple of hike your bike sections.


18km running - picnic bay, heads into the heart of Nelly bay, enters the Magnetic Island National park

Sam - On the run my legs felt sluggish but I kept pushing forward.  Some locals had set up garden hoses to cool each athlete as we passed, and I paused at each station to re-energize . At the halfway point though, competitors were met by a friendly bunch of volunteers handing out cold drinks and cups of ice before sending us along the winding, technical trail to the coast.  

Jess - Putting my feet into my run shoes that had been basking in the 33 degree heat was like stepping into two soft ovens – a solid reminder that the hardest part of the day was still yet to come. After I picked up some energy from the race HQ I exited into the final 18km run. With limited shade & the heat still pounding down I maintained a conservative approach jogging the flats & walking the hills. I would have sweated buckets standing still so I was reluctant to push the pace (which would have further increased my body temperature) & instead just focused on nailing my nutrition & hydration plan.

Kiwi’s take wins

Sam - I was really suffering from the heat and the finishing chute was a welcome sight.  With great pleasure, I crossed the finish line and crashed down into the paddling pool “Cooling zone”

Guy followed through in second place and Sam Stedman in third.  After a rocky start, Sam Stedman had steamed back to the front with a very impressive run.

Jess - It was really cool running across the rocky National Park hill tops amongst the Australian gum trees (& random lizards?) looking out at the wild coastline we had paddled not long before. Regularly placed energetic volunteers & the occasional legend with their garden hose out blasting your face on request helped ease the slog back to the finish line. It was a great feeling to complete the course & an even better one once relaxing in the cooling pool, cup of icey water in hand & feeling equally stoked for Sam who had also managed a win.

Sam - Jess crossed the line a little while later followed by Coast’ 8th placegetter Andrea Peebles.   Jess was relieved that she didn’t fall out of her first Surf Ski  “There were some scary shadows in the water”

Adventurethon a cracker race & holiday in one.

Sam - Adventurethon is a great excuse to go and see “How the neighbours do it” The team put on a great event and made it super easy to compete;  They organized accommodation at the Grand Mercure Apartments and provided awesome Stellar surf skis  for us to paddle.

In a time where some events are going a little soft,  Adventurethon offers a tough but rewarding experience for those brave enough to take up the challenge.

Jess - Confident that the race course had taken me through the best that the island had to offer, it was easy to spend the next day relaxing under the palm trees at Horseshoe Bay. Not a bad alternative to a day tour at the Great Barrier Reef. The perks of racing on a tropical island!

Big thanks

A massive thank you to the Adventurethon crew for their warm welcome & hard work putting on such a fantastic event. Their genuine passion for increasing participation in adventure sport is very admirable & it was great to witness the positive effect on the local community that their team has. They host 5 races so check them out if you’re up for an adventure…or should I say Adventurethon haha. 

Sam - Thanks Joel and the Adventurethon team for getting us involved in a great event. Stellar Kayaks Australia for hooking us up with the fastest boats, and my own sponsors and supporters for making sure I have the right tools to get the job done.

Foot Traffic Coaching, Merida Bikes, Stellar Kayaks NZ, Legend Paddles,  La Sportiva, Ultimate Direction, Balance Sports Nutrition

Jess - Another massive thanks to my sponsors, particularly New World St Martins, 1791 Diamonds, Torpedo7 & Icebreaker who continue to support my limit testing endeavors!

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