3rd Place in the Jura Raid!
Staffan Kallback and I travelled to the Jura region for the Jura Raid last Sunday. It has been a busy few weeks for me with a new job and preparation for Ironman Zurich really the focus of daily life and especially the weekends but when Staffan asked me to compete with him I couldnt turn down the opportunity to race with such a talented and experienced adventure racer!
Staffan and his girlfriend Annika who was also our team support picked me up from the train station in Neuchatel where I had arrived to the scene of a stag party conducting a tug’o’war with some tourists outside the train station. We arrived to the race centre Le Locle at about 17.30 on Saturday in time to get our race bibs and look at the previous years race maps on display.
It was all a bit hard for us to get our head around the information. My broken French combined with Staffans German meant we understood 90% of what was going on but that 10% of “unsureness” could really cost you the race. We figured out that the race was in 9 stages, each stage would be relatively short, most of the time we would be on the bikes. Some of the stages were rogaining and others we could pick up controls in the order we liked. It was more or less forbidding to deviate from the obvious routes between controls on most sections also, which was a bit annoying. But rules are rules.
We drove to our B&B, set up our bikes and got some food. The B&B was run by two “characters” think a young version of Meatloaf, and his girlfriend. It got really interesting when we tried to find something on the menu in the way of pre-race carbohydrates and we were being offered bone marrow (a local delicacy) with toast. However in the end the food was delicious, I had a beef burger for the first time in years and it was mmmmm! I also got about a kilo of potato`s on the side.
Crash Course in Inlining
We also had some time to figure out how we were going to get through the inline skating. This was not going to be a problem for Staffan, an experienced inline skater with years of cross country skiing under his belt. Im sure he was looking forward to the inlining section too as he just got a new pair of K2s with GIANT wheels. However, I am very wobbly on inlines. I already landed on my bum last weekend and got some serious roadburn where my shorts had ridden up, I was dreading that section. Dreading it to the point I was getting nightmares about it! We did a few laps of the car park and developed a system where I would just hold on to Staffans backpack and follow his lead as closely as possible. I could relax, there was the possibility now I would survive that section.
We also decided that I wouldnt carry a back pack and just use a neat little camel back waist pack instead to lighten my load. I was pretty ok with that as I had been out running with Staffan a few weeks beforehand and I knew that he was quite a bit stronger than I. So this would even us out a little bit.
Bedtime and an early 5.30am start.
I woke up during the night to the sound of downpouring rain.
Rain like we get at home in Ireland.
The kind of rain you do NOT want to go outside in.
When I woke up the weather had improved somewhat but it was so grey and we knew that we were in for a really wet day. By the time we arrived at the centre where the start was – it was pouring again. But what can you do? Just grin and bear it. Once you keep warm that is the main thing. Being wet is not such a big deal, being cold and wet, is.
So. Surrounded by French and Swiss we put our elbows out and got ready to rock`n`roll at about 7.30 am. The pace in the first stage was furious. But I felt really good. I was flying around the trails with Staffan in the lead. He did a great job on the navigation, we picked up all of the controls and headed back to the transition to get on the bikes for stage 2.
Annika was waiting for us and informed us that contrary to what we thought, we would not be coming back to this transition again. So we had to stop and grab everything we would need, put it into backpacks and make sure that we had it all. I had to carry a backpack after all! We lost the time we had made up on the first section and left the transition in a close third position, but the day was going to be long so it was more important that we had everything we needed rather than panicking about rushing through a transition and forgetting something.
On to the bikes. One of the other mixed expert teams was now close on our tail. We kept opening up on them but it was hard to shake them off. It continued like this for about 20 – -30 mins then finally we pulled away from them. Confident we were opening up on them we plugged on however disaster struck and we make a navigational error that cost us 5-10 minutes. That consolidated their lead on us.But the mountain biking was so great, the trails were quite technical, some great single track! It really reminded me why I like to do adventure racing so much!
We pushed and pushed and I felt as though I was red lining most of the time. There was no let up. A race only 6 hours long means that the pace is fast and you need to just get on with it. I kept eating and drinking and I never felt really bad and I knew that I could keep it up especially as the race was broken into so many stages I knew that I only had to survive until the next one. However the mountain biking leg felt really long. It felt like it would go on forever! But we were making friends with some of the other guys teams and it was nice to have a group to push with and share the navigation.
We finally reached the kayaking section…
more to come and a detailed breakdown of the results!