This was a 6 hour, teams endurance race on the Kaituna River. The course consisted of a grade 4 whitewater kayak, immediately followed by a 1.5km run back to the start where the race bibs were swapped over. Laps took between 13-20minutes depending on ability and fitness. Each team consisted of 3 people and it required a minimum of 1 woman.
This year my team consisted of Dave Jaggs and Kylie LB. All 3 of us are extremely fit but we were up against some of the best whitewater kayakers in the world, including a few olympians. We rated ourselves as having a chance finishing top 3, but in reality we had no idea where we would come.
The day kicked off at 11am, with Dave running the first lap. The first lap was a mass start of 25 teams, so it was utter chaos in the whitewater section, with plenty of people being rolled and a few bailing out. Dave started well, keeping out of the mess, and putting us in 8th. For the next 6 hours we battled on and worked our way up the rankings. The top team quickly established themselves but 2nd, 3rd, and 4th battled hard all day and traded places on almost every lap. Part of the fun of this sort of race was the fact that every competitor had different strengths and weaknesses, so to stay in front required a lot of strategy. Many teams relied on their men to power them through, but we knew they would quickly tire and we also knew that our Kylie was an awesome athlete and could take a few of them down a peg or two.
With 17 minutes left to go, we just made the cut off for the final lap (the course closes at 15minutes to go). With racing still extremely tight, I put on the bib, jumped in the water, and headed off on the hardest lap I had ever done. On the water I was puffing real hard as I fought to stay in front of my 3 closest rivalries, and to not make any mistakes (rolling here could be disastrous). Hitting land, the marshal told me I had 10minutes to make it back to the finish line. At that stage I didn't care what it took, all I knew was that I was going to make it. Cranking up, I put everything I had into that run. Nearing the end, people were screaming, my heart about to explode, and my legs almost uncontrollable, but I was still in front! I collapsed on the finish line stoked after taking 2nd spot, and still not quite believing what we had all achieved.
A huge thanks goes to my team mates Dave and Kylie. We all ran a great race and it was a pleasure to be able to stand along side such great athletes. A big thanks must also go to the race organisers, the other 24 teams, and all the sponsors who supported this event.
Yeow...bring on 2014!