So. I have finally gotten around to writing part II!
The lake we paddled on was so beautiful! Click to see the location on Google Maps.
Staffan and I arrived at the kayak section of the race to discover that we would be ‘off the clock’. Im thinking “score” cause I needed the time to have some food and organise before heading out on the water. We had a choice between a Canadian canoes or sit-on tops but as there were no kayak paddles and plenty of canoe paddles we decided to go for the Canadian Canoes on offer and take the canoe paddles as it would be harder to apply power with the canoe paddles in a Sit On Top kayak because of the low sitting position in the boat.
We shoved off from shore and got stuck in. We started making up time on the teams ahead of us and we began to tick off boats. This was going well! We passed quite a few boats. This stage of the race was relatively short, it probably took us about 30-35 minutes and we did quite well. However we were shocked and annoyed when we saw the other two mixed teams we were competing against our category with kayak paddles. Apparently there weren’t enough kayak paddles for all the teams in the race and they were on a first come first serve basis!
1. make sure there are a set of paddles set aside for us next year
2. get to the boats ahead of the other teams
3. have a word with the organizers about this (which we did, and they took it on board for next year : )
On Foot Again
When we reached shore we made a quick transition to foot and started running towards the cancelled rope section to pick up the controls that were still mandatory. However, about 2 minutes into running, Staffan realised he couldnt find the compass. He returned to the kayaks to search for it and was given the bad news that one of the organisers had it in her posession but she had returned to the bike transition to return it to us there! So we had to do without the compass for the rest of that section. Oh well. By that time our friendly French friends had caught up with us and we ran the next section with them.
Off the Clock – Picnic Time!
We were soon joined by our friends Alexandriou & co. and when we reached the ropes section we were also allowed some time “off the clock” this was ok for me as I was beginning to get a bit heavy on my feet. We were joined by some other teams and we set off again together through the forest undergrowth. There really were some nice trails in the area and I loved running through the woods and forest around the lake. We were climbing again quite high to where we had left the bikes earlier. Finally we picked up all the controls on foot and we arrived back at the bike transition to pick up new maps. I noticed that Annika had put my Nutella sandwiches in my bike shoes and Staffan had a banana in his. That was great. Little things like that make a big difference during a race! We got on our bikes again and headed off again, over half way through the race the important thing was to stay focused and on the task.
Best News of the Day!
On the way out of the transition area I asked one of the organisers if the inline-skating had been cancelled. He shrugged and said…”maybe” but I asked him again “Oui o Non, s’il vous plait..?” (“Hey man, this is not the time to play games, we are talking life or death here” was what I really wanted to say) and he confirmed that it had indeed been cancelled. Yeeehaaaaa! I was delighted, that was the best news I had all day. The prospect of my very dodgey inline skating combined with the very wet roads covered in leaves and all sorts of perilous obstacles such as acorns and pebbles had being weighing heavily on my mind. I could now race with the peace of mind that I was not facing imminent death by roller blade!
Biking Biking Biking
The following bike section seemed endless. Probably because I was getting tired. I was cursing not having my sunglasses for protection as sometimes I couldnt see anymore, there was so much grit in my eyes from the road. The great thing though was being surrounded by other teams and trying to always keep the pace up with them. I knew that the team in second place couldnt be far ahead but we never saw them. This 5th stage took us about 90minutes over mostly fire road and some single track but nothing very technical and led us straight to the transition which would have been inline skating.
Stage: Ghostly Inline Skating and “One on Bike, One on Foot”
Dib dib dib dib through all the controls we would have been dibbing along the section of road for the inline skating and next up was the ‘one person on a bike, one person running’ Rogaine section.
Staffan had agreed to be the runner earlier in the day (as his running is much stronger than my running) and I would go by bike. It all seemed really unfair, and for the first 15 minutes I felt so sorry for him. Although it did make more sense as he was a much stronger runner than I, on the road I would be much faster on wheels and expending much less energy. I towed him for the first 15 minutes of that section on the road, but then we went off road and through fields and very very muddy forest sections. Staffan was navigating and flying around the place and I was finding it really hard to keep up with him now as my wheels were getting bogged down with mud! After a while it made more sense to get off the bike and push it, the going was so slow…my legs were beginning to feel like lead! I knew I was just going through a slump and that whatever happened, it would get better. Staffan was really encouraging and a great teammate to race with and we worked really well to get through that section and back on the bikes. When we got on the bikes again we found out that we only had 10 minutes to go until the finish line and then the surprise activity at the end of the race (enough surprises for toaday thanks!) but excitedly we hopped on our bikes and got going. It was now raining quite heavily with a strong wind too. Oh the amount of grit in our eyes we couldnt see a thing! I have no idea how Staffan could even look at the map! But we made it to the sports centre and within a few metres of the finish line. Off the clock again we were presented with archery as our suprise activity. How cool!
Even cooler is the fact that Staffan is an ace archer. If it was darts I would have definitely stepped in, but archery? Hmmm, if it is anywhere near as bad as my clay pigeon shooting then its better that someone else do it. I graciously passed the task over to Staffan. He just took the bow and arrow and shot 3 really great targets. We had to then sprint to the final two controls and finally we crossed the line, in third place.
We were happy with the result. We had hoped for second and to push the team in first place but unfortunately we didnt have such smooth race. Where we lost time was in transitions, misunderstanding information and lack of organization partly due to the language challenge. But all in all it was a very positive experience and for me it was a great return to AR after a 5 month break since Abu Dhabi! I would love to race with Staffan again and hopefully get together a strong team for some more races in France and Switzerland.
Staffans next big race is in Sweden. He will compete as a soloist in what I understand is the equivalent of their National AR Champs. I wish him the best of luck!
Next up for me is a 1/2 distance Ironman in Rheinfelden, near Basel. I have picked up a little foot injury so I will have to see how that is healing before I decide to do the run section as I don`t want to jeopardise my preparation for IM Zurich. I will also spend a lot of time in the mountains over the next month leading up to the Ironman. I will also do some races in August but I will decide on what ones to do closer to the date, perhaps the Alpen Brevet and an ultra marathon.
Here is a little insight into some of the gear I used in the Jura Adventure Raid. I have spent quite a few years trial and error now with different bits of gear and I can strongly stand behind the below as my must-haves for AR races!
Haglofs LIM Ultimate O Jacket
So light, so compressable, so waterproof, this is the ultimate packlight jacket!
Osprey Talon Backpack
I have already reviewed this in a previous blog entry but this backpack doesn`t fail. The only advise I have is to make sure you put the bladder in the correct compartment because in our confusion Staffan took it and put the bladder in the main compartment with the hose sticking out and the zips kept on opening while running. So – set it up properly!
I used an older version of these Innov-8 Running Shoes. They were really comfortable and extremely secure while fell running in wet conditions. I didn`t slip once!