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Adventure-Race

Race Report: XTrail China: New Zealand Adventure Race Team

XTrail China: Race for the Finish

We had a good quick change and were onto the bikes again. This area in which we were doing the abseiling and biking reminded me of Central Otago. We charged along these lovely back roads under the setting sun and an approaching front. I remember hoping the rain wouldn't come too soon. After the next CP by the river we charged after George and ended up in a village as it was getting dark and beginning to rain. It became obvious that the route finding wasn't easy around this village, with the old maps and inaccurate roads.

"Which village was it anyway? Not the one we thought as it turned out!"

We biked around some fields and eventually after a couple of hours we were able to work out where we were. However, we lost valuable time and team morale was low. But on reaching the CP we were surprised to find we were still in 5th, which was a boost. Then we were onto finding a track up the left hand side of a river. This was tricky and there was no obvious track but the bearing was right so we went for it. What an adventure this was…up the side of what seemed a steep river canyon with our bikes on wet slippery bluffs above a river canyon in the dark. We did question the route at times. There seemed no way through and certainly no obvious track, but carried on to eventually come to the CP at the top of the river canyon, much to our relief.

"We then had about an 8km descent to finish, fantastic! What can go wrong?!"

But my goodness, it was so slippery and muddy it was hard to stay upright, never mind the sleeting cold rain....this river valley descent took forever. The lights of Altay took a long time to appear by which time we were in for a 2km run through town to the hotel and finish line. Wow, what a relief it was. And we cam in 5th yea! For me, I just celebrated finishing in one piece. China hasn't been good to me the last 2 years and it was great not to have to go home via Auckland hospital!

jo williams outside sports nz

We were happy with the result, but know we could have done better. We lost valuable time with a small slip in concentration when the bike navigation was particularly tricky, especially when we were in a different village to what we thought. It was good to be in touch with the lead teams most of the race. It was great preparation for the Adventure Racing World Champs in one month time. The scenery and cultural experiences were amazing. It was definitely a race to do again.

jo williams outside sports nz

Thanks for all the support from friends, family and Wanaka Physiotherapy keeping my body in one piece, which makes it possible to do these adventures. Thanks also to Outside Sports for keeping my bike on track and supporting me over the years.

The Team’s next big Adventure is in Australia next month for XPD. This year it is the Adventure Race World Championships, which gives us an opportunity to race against the world’s best. Exciting times are ahead.

#WhereAdventuresBegin

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Race Report: XTrail China: New Zealand Adventure Race Team

XTrail China: The Early Stages

Briefing was buzzing, and there were a few wee changes. The logistics of box packing seemed easier, I guess less distance and less reappearance of boxes kept it simple.

Right off the start line people took different lines up to the first check point at the pagoda, but there wasn't much in it with the different routes. Then there was a line of racers which was to stay like that till the end of the first trek.

"We decided to take our own line and ended up at the second checkpoint in front of the leaders..."

who (surprise) queried us about our route. After this we settled into our own pace, always seeing the line of lead teams a little ahead. The scenery was magnificent, open meadows, pine trees, lakes, lovely travel and quite fast, all quite run-able. To me it felt like Heidi in the Alps.

jo williams outside sports nz

After the trek we came in ahead of predicted time and were into the paddle section in about 7th. It was a glorious afternoon, stunning views of glacial blue and autumn colours. This paddle was longer than predicted, and it was dark by the time we finished. So we were cold and found our transition a little slow needing to change and get some warm food. But we had managed to paddle into 6th place!

The second trek was tricky at night but Tom got us there...

"despite having a vomit on the way up the hill"

which was a little disconcerting for us all. We made it up to CP11 in 5th and there was a lovely Chinese volunteer wrapped in a onesy sleeping bag, as it was cold up on the tops. The route to the next CP it was tricky.

"It became obvious the maps weren't all that accurate, with a major river not marked."

This understandably caused some confusion, and extra miles. After CP12 we were in a line of many teams, so wanted to try and get our own space. Again rivers en route to CP13 caused us to question our route and as a result lose contact with Adventure Medical Kit and the Estonian Adventure Race teams.

After a quick orienteer stage we made it to the noodle yurt. It amazed us how the local family was so welcoming and happy to have so many random smelly racers collapse on their communal bed. We were pretty much stacked on top of each other!

jo williams outside sports nz

Jumping onto the bikes we were under pressure to try and catch the Estonians and Adventure Medical Kit teams not too far ahead. That first hill after a 2 hour stop was hard work. This was followed by a steep hike-a-bike, which was rewarded by the best biking of the race, a stunning single track ride through open valleys… and we could see the Estonians ahead. So we chased on through this stunning country.

"We caught and passed the Estonians, but they were chasing close on our tails."

We made our way down a rough downhill for 10-15km, passing a loaded camel and herd of sheep, goats and cattle. Then we had a big 10km climb out during which we were short of water and at this point were struggling to keep up the pace. Eventually we got to the top but the undulating 20kms to the abseil felt like hard work. We had to sacrifice some precious time to get some water at the CP. On heading to abseil Adventure Medical Kits were coming out and as we completed the abseil the Estonanians were starting, so the racing was close. The pressure was on!

To be continued...

#WhereAdventuresBegin

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Race Report: XTrail China: New Zealand Adventure Race Team

XTrail China: Prologue

With only a 6 week build up for XTrail we all boarded the plane with some trepidation and doubt about fitness levels. We knew it was going to be very competitive with a handful of the top ranked teams in the world taking part. Our team consisted of Simon Bowden, Tom and George Lucas and myself. It was the first time we had raced together as a team, but when competing in GodZone over the years we were always very competitive with each other, so were confident we would be compatible and would have a fun time. We were most excited about exploring this remote part of China, close to the Mongolian and Kazakstan borders. "

We knew we were in for a real cultural experience. The scenery on the trailer for the race just looked stunning."

Many flights later we arrived in Lake Kanas, after a hair raising bus ride to the hotel. It was great to catch up with all of our friends who had been racing for the month in China prior to this race. We went exploring on the bikes and checked out the yurt village and the surrounding countryside which helped to get the legs moving.

jo williams outside sports nz

We were told the results for the prologue didn't count. So it was great to all just run together to the boats with no great urgency and a lot of banter. I was a good opportunity to jump into the kayaks and have a practice working out set up and see if we could steer! It was beautiful scenery of Lake Kanas reminding George of Canada and I thought it a little like Switzerland. The autumn colours were beautiful and the river looked great, but maybe not a good idea in the boats we were in, hence the change of course to a lake paddle. It was good to have a look around to see glimpses of the route we would be taking over the next few days. Then we ran around the board walks and forest and found ourselves trotting round with Adventure Medical Kits team, so again some good banter and we were over the line in second place.

jo williams outside sports nz

We got the maps earlier than usual which gave us time to route plan. What can change in 40 years? The Russians no more helpful than Chinese...1:100000 scale was different to what we are used to, so knew we had to take this into account, especially when we were tired later in the race.

To be continued...

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