WENGAN OUTDOOR QUEST CHINA
If you want a cool way to see deep inside real rural China, where you pay 60c for a beer. Then this could be up your alley. A China adventure race was on my bucket list to try. I’d heard crazy stories over the years but I wanted an experience with a crew I could rely on, kick some butt with and still have some fun.
BEERS ALWAYS LEAD TO GOOD
So earlier this year in New Zealand over a beer prior to Coast to Coast in NZ the idea was mentioned. If I was to do a China adventure race with anyone it was to be king & queen of adventure the Usshers from NZ. The problem was Richard had stopped racing, but with a little arm twisting from his wife Elina (who won Kathmandu Coast 2 Coast this year!) we landed in China as Team Adventure Sports NZ. Along with AR gun Stu Lunch in for the adventure as well.
Ok triathletes… stage adventure racing works like this. A team of 4 with one female mandatory must run, MTB, kayak across whatever course is thrown at you marked or possibly on GPS or using compass. Mud, single track, no track, road, rice paddy, mountain, water plus don’t forget your own climbing gear? Each day the overall team time is taken and over three days the fastest wins. Simple right?
STAGE 1 – 4hrs 14mins
Day 1: After the local fanfare of the opening ceremony the China adventure race in 2017 started with 3km running…. catch was having 20kg of sand in a woven basket on your back! Just what you need at the start of a torturous 3 days running, riding and paddling through the Chinese mountains.
The stage was raining, muddy, and with the early racing close between teams the worry wasn’t what we had eaten the night before but what was in the mud consumed along with nutition out on course.
Now remember that climbing gear? Well before the last 5km running 3.5hrs into the route the climbing harness and carabiners came out to slide across a 100m wide gorge.
Adventure racing has its fair share of quirks. From running for kilometres on end with helmets and climbing harnesses? All to save a few seconds in a Transition (TA). To the homemade towing ropes which start their lives as retractable dog leashes. Ride or run, if someone is falling off the pace the stronger team members rope them up and pull them along! The China adventure race guys are a savy bunch. Always looking for the next self-made innovation in equipment to get the jump on the competition.
The hardest part of the day though could be seen as the cleanup and next days preparation after the racing has long finished. Bikes to clean, nutrition to refill, wheels to fix & and time for recovery plus sleep has to be slotted in there too.
STAGE 2 – 6hr 33mins
Day 2: This turned into a monster stage. In the middle a 27km kayak, nearly 3 hrs of paddling double plastic tubs down a pretty scenic gorge. The kicker was the 500m elevation climb on foot straight out of the boats while legs are dead. Check out the elevation graph below from my Polar M400 I used while in China to record the adventures.
STAGE 3 – 4hrs 4mins
Day 3: With teams starting 30 secs apart in order of results the first 10km today was a faster road run through the little towns of cheering crowds. Then onto a shorter 11km kayak but one team member (in our case Richard Ussher) had to draw a short straw at the 5km mark and run 500m up vertical cliff, only to abseil off the 180m high bridge back into the boats. Worth the run-up Rich?
Faster day to finish with mostly rural roads to contend with up til the final 4km orienteering course which was the major contributor to time differences on the day. Throw a cargo net in there and a vertical climbing wall as the final finish line it’s never easy going, but always something to keep you occupied.
Thanks to Flight Centre Sports and Events for making the travel to China adventure race a breeze. Check out their sports packages for guaranteed entry to major events.