Kiwis Dominate Magnetic Island Adventurethon

30/03/2015 by Steve Knowles


Departing New Zealand at a cool 17 degrees and arriving in Townsville with a sultry 32degrees, along with the kind of humidity that is like a slap in the face with a wet fish, saw the New Zealand contingent arrive and the scene was set for a tough, challenging race on Magnetic Island.

Photos - The Go

Starting at Picnic Bay, Adventurethon sends its competitors around the tropical island for a paddle ride and run over some of the Queensland’s toughest landscape. The Ultra competitors set out on the 13km paddle to Radical Bay, completed a 4.2 km run and then paddled back to transition. One might be forgiven for being distracted by the stunning views during the paddle - great contrasting scenery of hoop pines and granite boulders, but were soon brought back to reality by the conditions of the paddle itself.

Blustery conditions tested paddlers’ technical skill, and saw a lot of paddlers out of their boats many times, dealing with sea sickness or turning back early to escape the conditions. But not our fearless visiting New Zealanders. Even Speight's Coast to Coast champion Jess Simson, who was only on her second paddle, completed the two 13km paddles with times on par to most of the boys.

Clark exits paddle

“Coming into the race Joel (Event Organiser) said it was going to be hard, I had a romantic notion about paddling around an island but in reality it was much different. The heat was something else and managing it became a focus” said Jess Simson about the race. “But to be able to race one day and then be sitting on the beach relaxing the next is just the best. Going to a race like this is what I consider ‘lazy travel’ – when you go there you are pretty much guaranteed to see all the best spots of the island”

Once back at transition, they headed out on a 29km mountain bike ‘ride’ (including a ‘hike-a-bike’ section). We say ride loosely because there are sections where the only way through involves carrying your bike. This is complemented by some very cool downhill sections, beach riding and paths overhanging rocky headlands. The usual water holes on the bike course were empty after a particularly dry few months and so the heat fest continued with athletes trying to keep cool any way possible.

Simson MTBing

When asked if Adventurethon is as challenging as Speight’s Coast to Coast Sam Clarke explains that the “The toughness of Adventurethon is just compressed into one big ball of pain,”

After the bike section competitors finished with an 18.4 km run. Jess Simson says “My favourite bit of the run was the granite boulders and the view up from the hill checkpoint. The views there were unique and not something I had seen before.”

Sam Clarke, Jess Simson, Toby Neilsen, along with (now living in Queensland, Australia) Andrea Peebles represented New Zealand with dominance, all finishing with podium spots. Sam Clarke (5:45:37) beat Australians Guy Andrews (5:51:20) and Sam Stedman (5:55:57) to cross the line first in the BNG Sports Ultra – Elite Men’s Category. Sam Clarke took out the Aussie favourites but had stiff competition by Andrews who lead the individual paddle from the first paddle. Jess Simson finished first (7:08:35) and Andrea Peebles second (8:18:38) in the BNG Sports Ultra Female Category and Toby Neilsen finished first (9:03:54) in the BNG Sports Ultra Male Grand Masters Category.

“Adventurethon looked amazing, the short and fast course challenging, and the ability to compete against some super strong athletes had me hooked. But I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be. I was so glad to cross that finish line.” Andrea Peebles

Simson & Clark

One of the highlights to Magnetic Island Adventurethon is the party atmosphere, with everyone congregating in a central location and cheering each other on throughout the event. The cheering as you head down the mall to the finish line, be awarded that medallion and head to the ice bath and then the pub all add to the atmosphere, and are part of why Magnetic Island Adventurethon is consistently a sellout event. 

“The atmosphere is unique because the island is large enough to provide the Adventure and small enough to feel like everyone there is taking part in creating an exciting weekend with pre and post event activities and atmosphere are second to none, says Guy Andrews, Ironman turned adventure athlete.

“The atmosphere is so friendly, welcoming and well organized. The spectators on course with ice or hoses made it so much more bearable (especially the random kiwis). The central transition, with all the cheering was excellent – as it gives you that extra boost of energy before you head back out and go again,” Jess Simson said.

At the end of the day, over a beer and laughs, the pain, battle scars and glory are all shared between competitors and volunteers and a new year of goals is born.