We have approached Female Adventure Race competitors to tell us why they compete and what makes them keep going back for more as we often find that all women have some inspiring stories to tell. So read on for a firsthand account of what makes this sport what it is – and proof that you too can do it!
These ladies both bave remarkable and inspiring stories which we hope you will enjoy and build enthusiasm from. Read on...
My first Adventure race was in 2008 when I got roped into doing the run leg at Anaconda Lorne as part of a corporate team. None of us had been involved in Adventure racing before, so we had no idea what to expect. We were all very excited (and nervous) about the event. It was harder than I’d expected, but it was also a lot more fun than I’d imagined! Every time I reached the top of a hill I thought to myself “that must be the biggest one”, then I got to the next (even bigger) hill and just laughed. When I waded through the water under the bridge for the second time I had a big stupid grin on my face as I was thinking ‘this is stupid!’ (see picture attached). I watched in awe as the solo competitors crossed the finish line. I couldn’t imagine attempting any of the other legs, let alone the whole course in one hit! Those peeps are crazy.
In 2009 I started mountain biking. The first time I rode single track I tore a ligament in my knee going over the handlebars! That was the first of many crashes as mountain biking became a new passion.
In mid-2010 I was at a party on a Saturday night and I met a girl who’d completed the Anaconda solo. I told her my idea of doing both the run and the MTB in Lorne that year. And she said “Just do it all”…
So I did.
The biggest challenge was always going to be the paddle leg – I had a distinct lack of experience and equipment. A friend-of-a-friend invited me to the Geelong canoe club and asked one of his friends to organise a “beginners” kayak for me. It was this friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend (Chris Porter) who made the biggest impact on my Anaconda preparation! After my first paddle on the river, Chris said “see you at the pool tomorrow, 5.45am” then drove away before I could argue. SHIT! I’d never swam more than 1km in my life. This was going to be embarrassing. I’ll never forget that first squad session! I was puffing and panting and having to skip every 2nd or 3rd lap to get my breath back or stretch my shoulders. I floundered and splashed my way from one end of the pool to the other. That hour felt like a lifetime.
The swimming got easier and more enjoyable each week. The progression of my paddling skills and confidence was a lot slower. There were many moments that I thought it would be impossible for me to make the distance. I was falling out of the boat a lot. But with a bit of persistence and the help of some good friends, my strength and confidence improved just in time for the race. And luckily it was a lovely, calm day!
Doing the Anaconda solo was easier than I expected, and still more fun than I imagined! The atmosphere of off-road racing is highly enjoyable. I chatted to other competitors along the way (even during the swim!). I had the support of my friends cheering for me along the course and telling me everything I needed to hear. I took my time in transition eating, drinking and changing clothes. I wasn’t all “decked out” in a tri suit like most of the other competitors. Part of my game plan was to be comfortable and not stress about the time. I crossed the finish line at 6hrs 30 mins with a massive grin on my face and felt more satisfaction than fatigue. I’d managed to stay in the kayak and I’d swam further than I imagined was even possible. I ran every hill without stopping to walk and I didn’t fall off my bike! Everything went to plan.
In 2011 I pushed myself harder and spent less time in transition. My quads cramped coming off the kayak into the run. Then they burnt like crazy on the bike. I did it tougher than 2010. But my finish time showed a great improvement and I felt very proud of myself.
To all the women out there who love a challenge… give it a go! You can do anything you train for.
(An additional profile was written on Eliza that covers her remarkable medical history in January 2012 that can be read here and Ross Burrage prepared a follow up profile on this amazing woman here - she really is an inspiration to us all when you read this).
Why adventure racing? Because I can.
After paddling for many years I needed a new challenge, I started mountain biking and running, it was great to get out into the bush and learn new skill's.
I saw a flyer in a local bike shop advertising WA's 1st Anaconda adventure race. I realised this was perfect opportunity to link my new skills together. It looked like fun and a challenge. Whilst attending the 1st familiarization course I met a group of people from all backgrounds (sporting and life) we soon realised it would be fun if we trained together and learnt from each other. This group stays in touch and still trains together.
Everyone I have met in adventure racing from legends i.e. Richard Usher, Sean O'Neill to the people that struggle to finish, have been as intent on having a great time as they are in racing. There has never been a shortage of friendship and advice (competitors stopping mid race to help you back on the bike if you fall off etc) and who can compare cruising through the bush, to riding along a suburban road ?.
Admittedly sometimes you have to dodge kangaroos or snakes (wombats in Tassie) but that is part of the fun.
One briefing comes to mind when a race official said "we have moved the river crossing section on the MTB leg 200m upstream because there have been salties(crocs) seen at the usual crossing, and to watch out for the Cassowaries as they have chicks and may attack if you get too close.
With adventure racing you do not have manicured courses with the obvious path to follow, but that is part challenge. It is not uncommon to see fast but inattentive competitors heading back from a wrong turn. The race directors love throwing little challenges at you, like jumping into the ocean during a run leg, and other tricks they can think off to keep you guessing.
These are events that involve all of your senses, you cannot switch off and just go through the paces.
Because of the different terrain it evens out the disparities between entrants, competitors may have to help each other through a tricky section, this sort of competitor/camaraderie is not found in many other events.
There are many social and serious training groups along with experienced coaches who run courses and set training programs.
I cannot imagine a better way to have fun, see great places, and meet interesting people. If you like a challenge this is something you must try. Age and experience are no barrier just get out there and have a go.
“I come from a triathlon background, but swapped over to adventure racing about 2 ½ years ago. Once I tried adventure racing, I realised how much more fun being in the bush was and that you get to see so many amazing places.
I hope that by being a part of this female ambassador program, I can do my part to grow the number of females in the sport. My own positive experience is a great example of just how much adventure racing offers and I believe that virtually anyone can make the transition.
As an Ambassador my aim is to give some guidance, good training tools and relevant insights that will encourage women of all ages to give our racing a go. I guarantee that once you have completed your first adventure race you will be hooked. I certainly was !
Remember, anything is possible if you have the will and in adventure racing the personal rewards of achievement are very special.”