(Posted - 03 Sep 2012)
Perth's premier endurance multisport event, the Mainpeak Multisport, kicks off this weekend, with more than four hundred athletes out to conquer the 133km course from Toodyay to Houghton's Winery in the Swan Valley.
Teams and individual competitors will trail run, road ride and paddle their way through seven legs all up (see below), on a course altered slightly from last year's inaugural event.
The good news for paddlers is that on-course reports indicate river flow will be favourable come race day, Sunday 9 September.
"With the rain we have had there is no need to plan an alternative to paddling the course," reports Mainpeak man on the ground, Neil O'Leary.
"Even if we had no more rain the level will be okay," reports Neil. "Even at the lowest level, all it means is there are three spots you may have to take a couple of steps."
"I have been taking groups down for the last 7 weeks and even the total novices (now highly trained experts) have had no difficulties."
At the pointy end of the field, the big question is can local elite endurance athletes Kris Plain (who raced in a team last year) and Rhys James (placed third individual last year) hold off the east coast charge with three of Victoria's top enders in Jarad Kohlar, James Pretto and Peri Gray, headed west on a title-snatching mission?
The latter two athletes won this year’s Marysville to Melbourne Multisport Challenge - Victoria’s equivalent of the Mainpeak Multisport - while Kohlar is known for his achievements in multiday adventure racing, including wins in the Anaconda Series and Australian Multisport Championships.
Kohlar and Pretto will be fresh from an adventure outing in China and Mongolia coming into the Mainpeak.
“I’m looking forward to the event and should be pretty fit as I will be arriving fresh from a big 5-day stage race in Inner Mongolia," says Kohlar, who despite his in-form conditioning remains wary of the local challengers.
“Win or not, I love racing in WA as the vibe is always super friendly, and it will be my first Mainpeak so I’m keen to make an impression. I’m looking forward to the pain and hopefully and a nice cold WA beer at the finish line."
James Pretto, who has raced in Kohlar’s shadow for a few years now, grabbed his own spotlight in April with a come from behind win in the Marysville to Melbourne Multisport. Long considered a young gun of the endurance sport realm, he is coming into his own as an established contender and will be looking to make it a two-up multisport win on the back of Marysville.
So, too, will Torquay-based Peri Gray who won this year’s M2M and was second there last year.
"I’m really looking forward to heading west and seeing a different place and doing an event I haven't done before as it makes the challenge all that more exciting," says Peri.
"Some new competition will be great and I look forward to seeing if I can match the WA-based athletes on their home turf. After winning M2M it will be great to see if I can take home both titles."
Last year's second and third placed female athletes, Alice Robb and Kerry Ferguson, will be back to defend local honour and vie to step on the podium two years running.
And the pace will be fast and furious in the teams categories, with last year's fastest mob (and first over the line) Crankin Cycles, led by gun paddler Martin Gunda, returning for a crack at back to back titles.
Starting in the historic main street of Toodyay, teams and individual competitors will tackle: - 7.5km Merrell Trail Run - 63km Julimar Road Ride - 22km Meadowbrook Road Ride - 19km Icebreaker Trail Run - 6km Bells White Water Paddle - 16km Swan Valley Vineyard River Paddle - 700m Houghtons Team Run
The 133km course is shorter that last year's, meaning fresh course records are there to be set for the first time.
The race starts Sunday morning at 6.30am in Toodyay with the first competitors expected across the line at Houghton's Winery from 1pm.
THE COURSE CAN BE ACCESSED ON GOOGLE MAPS HERE
ENTRIES ARE OPEN FOR THE MAINPEAK MULTISPORT HERE
REMEMBER to 'Like' the Mainpeak Multisport FB page HERE