Suqian “Eco-Quadrathlon” - Alex Hunt Reports on Team Purso Biomedi win
Thanks to Alex Hunt for the report from winners team Team Purso Biomedi racing alongside Jacky Boisset and Myriam Boisset and Dan Jones.
The Suqian “Eco-Quadrathlon” is a bit of a departure from the typical Chinese stage races, being only a single day and typically taking the leading teams around 15-16hrs to complete. The course is flat, generally pretty fast and mostly on sealed surfaces.
The 2017 race followed a pretty simple format, similar to previous years with a 2k swim, 128k bike (2x64k loops) a 55k lake paddle and a 43k (shortest distance) gps based navigation run. Much to the delight of most teams the 20k inline skate that has previously featured was scrapped for this year.
Arriving on Friday, we were pretty pleased to leave the cold, wet Tassie and Wellington winters behind, for some typically warm Chinese weather. However after the usual pre-race packing and briefings come race day we were greeted with some unseasonably mild weather with the threat of wind and rain lingering in the air.
The swim, as all adventure race swims are, was an eventful affair with the usual Chinese contingent charging off the start line only to begin doggy paddling once we hit the water. Once things settled down the large mix of abilities resulted in plenty of pushing and shoving and more than a few tangled towlines. Exiting the water first it was the three teams expected to be vying for the race win, Adventure Sport NZ, Team O2B and ourselves (Team Purso Biomedi), closely followed by Peak Adventure #1 and the Swedish/Kiwi team of Corinne, Klaas, Yari and Rickard.
We formed a fairly strong 3 team bunch on the bike, with the biking super team of Adventure NZ occasionally trying to break the elastic, fortunately for us, it seemed both Dougal and Sam were a bit undergeared to properly put everyone to the sword. Just before the completion of the first lap Mimi picked up a bit of fishing line and caught a hook through her tire, unbelievably the tyre sealed and although it was leaking air the whole second loop with a bit of effort from the team she managed to stay in the bunch the entire time!
From here the long slog in the paddle began, conditions initially had us paddling down the lake with a strong tailwind, with O2B surging clear of the two chase teams. After the turnaround however the short chop and lack of spray decks made for plenty of bailing and a few boat dramas saw 02B slip back, resulting in ourselves leading Adventure NZ back to the beach for the first, slightly shorter 25k loop. The rain which had threatened all day finally arrived, impairing vision and making picking the most effective route through the tangled maze of fishing nets very difficult. About 10k’s later at the next CP Adventure NZ had made contact and paddled on our wash until the final turnaround a further 7 or so k down the lake, from here they took on the pace making responsibilities first to the intermediate CP and then finally making a very welcome return to the beach!
Everyone struggled their way to the final transition of the day, knowing the advantage of being out of sight for a navigation based run we pushed through quickly, but were impressed to see 02B entering transition as we departed. Clearly it would be a tight race to the finish between the 3 teams.
Knowing this was our strongest leg we started solidly, opening a reasonable gap by CP2, approximately 20k’s in. We pushed onto CP3, but after coming across a large creek crossing and high plastic fencing it was obvious we were struggling to pick the fastest route through the rabbit warren of roads, trails and footpads that are seem unique to semi-rural China! Prior to reaching CP3 and after about 28ks in my watch finally went flat, it was clear this was going to go a bit longer than shortest predicted route of 43ks!
CP4 and CP5 were both located in the large botanical gardens of the Santai Mountain scenic spot (mountain only by name, in most locations you’d struggle even to describe it as a hill) involving myriad of paths and roads to potentially lose or gain significant amounts of time. At CP4 it was obvious we’d made a few errors, with Adventure Sport NZ arriving only moments after us. With renewed focus and new found energy we made our way to CP5, departing a few minutes ahead of Adventure Sport NZ, obviously themselves now struggling to find the fastest route between checkpoints. From here it was a relatively straight forward run via CP6 to the finish line, we pushed pretty hard to the finish, knowing it would be difficult for those behind to make up a lot of time on us. We crossed the line just after 9pm for a total of 15hrs and 20mins of racing, Adventure Sport NZ arrived next 12mins in arrears, closely followed by O2B another 5mins behind.
Prize giving and gear collection followed immediately after finishing, which in many ways was nearly as exhausting as the racing! Looking back from a personal perspective I’d have to say the race was one of the toughest we’ve done in China, while other races have been as physically demanding the nature of the course made it one of the most mentally challenging and I think the long slog in the boats will remain etched in my mind for quite some time.
I have to give a massive thanks to the team Jacky Boisset and Myriam Boisset and Dan Jones who were as strong as ever. A big thanks also to our supporters, Purao BioMedi+, Suunto & Skins New Zealand and my personal supporters Moo Brew, Endure Sports Consultancy, Shotz Nutrition and Ride Bellerive. I look forward to bringing you the next report from the Tai Mountain running race.