Kiwis Excel At Raid 100


Report - Andy Reid

Photos - Raid 100

A group of 16 Kiwis, including a couple of gold card holders, took part last week in the World’s longest ever Rogaine, the “Raid 100”. One Hundred hours of navigating and picking up checkpoints by bike, foot and kayak, in the rugged wilderness of the Borderlands between NSW and Queensland, Australia.

Australia invented the sport of Rogaining and Liam St Pierre and a few mates have taken it a step further by incorporating the format into a major expedition race.

This was ground breaking stuff and there was excitement in the air, as 126 competitors of 43 teams, largely comprising of Australians, listened intently as the secret course was announced at the race briefing. We were treated to a google flyover of the course, which left most gasping and somewhat concerned about the huge undertaking ahead.

We were then issued with 22 largely, foolscap maps, and left to work out our planned course and logistics, with a brief interlude for evening dinner. Crickey, so many decisions to make, with so little time to plan, unless we stayed awake all night.

Two coaches left at 7.00am the next morning and travelled in convey for the 6 hour drive to the race start in the Girraween National Park. Shortly after the half way refreshment stop the front coach blew a hose and there was an anxious 45 minutes or so waiting to see if “Damo”, the rather large and heavily tattooed, but friendly coach driver come mechanic could fix it. Have to admit I wasn’t feeling overly confident, particularly when he lit up a fag next to the engine, as he waited to see if his handy work had done the trick. But give him his due, after a couple of further stops, he completely replaced a hose and managed to nurse the coach to the start line, just ten minutes past the official 1pm start time.

In the space of 20 minutes, we relieved ourselves, got given our spot trackers, picked up our bikes boxes and gear box and headed for the start line. The gun went off at 1.30pm we all started by building our bikes for the 2nd stage. We then headed off on foot in different directions to pick up our optional checkpoints. It was great to get started and our team, Adventure Racing Coromandel, decided to get just the one compulsory checkpoint on this stage. We were going to be struggling to complete the course and so had set ourselves a strict plan of only picking checkpoints close to the fastest route between transitions.

A few other teams seemed to have a similar plan and we found ourselves in the good company of the “Numb Nuts” on the way back to transition. One of the great aspects of the rogaine format is how social the event is. Generally, at the start of an event everyone is going hell for leather, with little time for chit chat with other teams.

We pretty well kept to our strategy throughout the race despite a few minor navigational errors and close encounters with Australian reptiles. We bivvied down for 30 minutes about 5 feet from a rather large python.

Fortunately, Max the Townsville Vet, who we had been riding with, decided not to go through with the practical joke of placing it on one of our bags while we slept.

Max was a wealth of information during the event. Did you know that the barramundi (or ”Barra”as the locals call it), a large river fish, present in the Clarence and Tweed, on which we paddled, is sequentially hermaphroditic, with most individuals maturing as males and becoming female after at least one spawning season? It was great having Max and his partner Laura for company during parts of the race.

The scenic highlight of the race for me came interestingly at night. We had been struggling on the final mountain bike stage, an epic 160km, ride with 4,500 metres of climbing. We were passed by a team of singing wild women who we caught up with at the next checkpoint. They recommended that we switch of our lights at the 1,000m high Pinnacles lookout. What a spectacular view. A star filled sky and 3/4 moon showing the cauldron in front of us with the daunting silhouette of Mount Warning in the middle. This helped to lift our spirits along with the singing.

As we walked the final stage along the Gold coast beach, on a hot Saturday afternoon, passing by a surf life savers competition in full tilt, a women approached me and asked, “Whats the go?”. I explained that we were taking part in a 4 day adventure race. She then asked , “is that some sort of beach walk?”

Our strategy paid off and we ended up finishing the full course in 21st place and topped the men’s pairs. Couldn’t believe it, a top half result, just, and by far our best performance to date. We managed to beat rivals “Kanga Racing", who were a little too hungry for checkpoints on the first stage.

So how did the other Kiwis fare?

On the whole, remarkably well.

The winning team, Wild Earth Tiger Adventure, scored an impressive 427 points out of 500, and included two Kiwis, Kim Skerman and Tim Skima. Kim and Tim had recently won the ARC Adventure Race in Coromandel, NZ.

Our full team of 4, “Deliver Us”, from Opotiki, were doing very well when they suffered a terrible misfortune. Team member, Hedley Meacham woke from a brief sleep with agonising kidney stones. Apparently, this is more painful than childbirth and would end Hedley’s race. Other team members, Destry Harte, Nicole Ranger and Nick Lowe carried on to a-mass 257 points.

The NZ Teams of 2 performed extremely well.

Fuse Creative’s Leigh Cockerill and Anne Lowerson, scored 302 points and came 13th overall, were the top veteran women’s team and top pairs team overall. They had to run the last 15km along the beach in bare feet to reach the finish line with only 5 minutes to spare.

Just 9 points behind and 14th place overall, Date Loaf and the competitions oldest participant, 69 year old Rob Garden and partner Marquita Gelderman, winning the mixed pairs category. These master strategists and extraordinary navigators (except for that last bridge that we followed you over) are an inspiration to us all.

Not far behind came the 2nd NZ pensioner, 68 year old Nick Collins and race partner Cath Heppelthwaite with 265 points and 17th place overall. I am pretty certain that these were the most talkative pair on the course and we ended up getting lost with them on a rather navigationally challenging part of the trek. This was a remarkable achievement from Nick who had completed the gruelling Godzone just a month earlier.

Finally, Ken Livingstone and Hubertine Wichers of Team Really, who topped the short-coursed teams by achieving a 22nd place.

Did the Rogaine format work in an expedition race?

I particularly liked the format of the race and how it keeps all teams engaged for the duration of the event.

To me it was a more balanced test of physical and mental abilities than the normal adventure racing format, which makes it a bit easier for cunning older buggers like us.

The scenery, terrain and wildlife were fantastic and the maps first class. The organisation and volunteers were wonderful, incredibly friendly and welcoming at every transition. Thanks Jan, for showing us your pet Huntsman at TA3.

But perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this type of racing is that it was far more social than your typical expedition race where after an hour or so you end up racing with just a small handful of teams and often for days on your own. Teams are constantly crossing paths and it’s amazing how many people you get to know during the event and then to top it off there is a mass finish at the end with everyone finishing within a few minutes of each other.

Congratulations to Liam and the team for putting on what has been my most enjoyable expedition race to date