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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...



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