2010 Blackheart 8hr in Murwillumbah

In 2010, Craig and Liam raced the first ever Blackheart 8hr adventure race in a new area on the NSW Tweed Coast. An interesting format with plenty of bonus check points saw us out on the course for the full 8 hours.

The old report from the race can be found below.

The weekend of May 22nd/23rd saw the Blackheart Events team host their inaugural 8hr Adventure Race series in the hinterland region of northern NSW with the imposing Mt Warning as a backdrop to the weekend’s racing. This was the first event of its kind in this region in recent history, surprising giving that the area seems purpose built for adventure racing with a great mix of forestry trails, waterways and hilly trekking terrain.

An early map handout had a relatively small number of teams at registration. While numbers were low, it did make for a more intimate race. Route choice for the course appeared relatively straight forward – run, kayak, run, bike – with the trickiest decisions coming down to which bonus CPs to collect right from the first leg. This meant that the field remained relatively bunched up with teams leap frogging throughout the race, allowing novice teams to complete the course while more experienced teams were pushed to the full time limit. Furthermore, this particular race would finish with an extra trek leg at the end with a swag of unknown bonus CPs. We, along with the other quicker teams, decided to go for all bonuses at the start and make a call on the final leg bonuses at the finish.

The first leg had us trekking around the forestry hills of Clarrie Hall Dam. Route choice came down to longer “in and out” routes via the fire trails with significantly more climbing or a shorter cross country route with some solid bush bashing contouring around the ridges. We chose the latter route, and whilst being very conservative with our pace, spot on nav saw us less than 10 minutes behind the leaders with a full punch card.

As an aside, I’ve been having issues with hydration in a number of races over the last year, resulting in some pretty unpleasant racing and training experiences (vomiting, cramping, etc). Ultimately, I was advised to track (via weight loss) the volume of fluid lost through sweat, which should give an indication of what I require for replacement. It turns out that during training on a cool autumn afternoon, I sweat at a rate of 1.6 – 1.9 L/hour in the first hour of exercise, but drinking less than half that much! Hence, at the start of the race I smashed into the water from the get go, drinking my first 3L in 80min. Ultimately, I drank over 10L in the 7.5 hours of racing (along with plenty of electrolyte tablets), and have not felt that good at the end of a race in years.

The initial trek was followed by a scenic traverse of Clarrie Hall Dam on kayaks picking up a number of mandatory and bonus CPs on the way, and was my favourite leg of the race. Dropping off kayaks, there was an additional run leg at Cram’s Farm. We probably sold ourselves short on this leg not realising how quick it actually was and not pushing hard enough with a 45 min timed out car shuffle to follow.

A race restart followed the initial stages back at the HQ area. Stopping halfway through a race proved an interesting experience. For us, it meant we got an indication on not only how far behind the lead teams we were, but also how far ahead of the next trailing teams. In hindsight, I think you are better off not knowing as we were overly conscious of the cost of any mistakes. Unfortunately, being first onto our car load, we only had about 6 mins back at HQ with our food and maps before we had to head off on the bike leg. The break also saw us switch off from race mode a bit, and the start of the bike leg had us making our first navigation error, probably costing us about 15 minutes in total. A number of unmarked tracks in the area required close monitoring of distances and contours on the bike. The riding was great, with a big hill climb at the start, fun trails with a mix of grass, hard pack dirt and single track with a screaming downhill to the finish.

In the final trek, which covered the same ground as the previous ride, we were again very conservative with our route choice, in keeping with our game plan of just getting out and enjoying our first race back in a while. Ultimately, we collected only 6 of the 9 bonus CPs and came back with over half an hour to spare, which, along with the time lost due to errors at the start of the bike leg, saw us slip to 5th place overall. Still, I can’t remember having that much fun in <24hr race in a long time, with a novel race format and a beautiful new area to race in. I’m not sure I’d be keen to see the bonus CP format take over the regular linear race format for all races, but it was good to have a bit of variety and bring in that extra element of strategy. To top it all off, the meal provided by the Interaction crew was above and beyond anything I’ve ever experienced at a race before, and given the other facilities available at the HQ, I’d definitely be keen to return to the area to race again.

That night, my partner drove down to join us at the race HQ for a charity race hosted by Blackheart Events the following morning. It was her first crack at this AR business and it was great to have such a relaxed and friendly environment to give it a go. Indeed, every team at the charity race had at least one novice racer, with a whole bunch of children’s teams ripping around the course. Race director Amanda, who was shadowing two of the children’s teams on foot, was kept on her toes as they whipped her along the track. The short course was a blast, leeches aside, and a great chance to pick up where I’d made errors the day before, with the post race lunch again worth sticking around for. I’m pretty sure we saw the next wave of future adventure racer’s out on the course that day. Anyway, all told it was a great weekend of racing and, with luck, the race will grow in years to come.

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