I know this might all seem a little drawn out, however it helps me recall the race and all the highs and lows.
The abseil/rappel me was quite the ride. Most of it was in free space and a long way down in the dark at around 2am after one hadn’t slept in almost 24hrs. After this we bush whacked down to a trail and continued our exit of the valley. Right before dawn we decided to take a nap and put the tent up and slept for about 2hrs. Pete & I don’t usually put a tent top unless its raining but was happy to climb inside the shelter with 3 other tired bodied to really only get average sleep with a snoring team mate only 2 bodies away.
We exited the valley to some early morning rain and continued our trek through the grounds of Borland Lodge and onto more trails that connected us with the Monowai River. Even with some sleep I don’t remember that last part of the trek and was in my own Lala land probably taking to myself out loud. Thankfully there is no judgement in AR.
At the river we had to wash all our gear that had been in Didymo infected rivers. Commonly known as Rock Snot this algae like growth is choking some NZ rivers and the Dept. of Conversations (DOC) efforts to stop its spread across Fiordland NP included washing/dunking everything is trek troughs and barrels to sanitize everything. No worries. happy to do our part.
We got on the Monowai after a quick transition and set off down our 2nd river of the race in just over 24hrs. This was fast moving river that meant that the short paddle was over quite quickly. But it was a fun ride with lots of reading rapids and wave trains etc. A teaser for what was to come 24hrs or so later.
We had a couple of km’s portage to do from the Monowai to Waiau River. Which was a deep flowing river with some small wave trains. The scenery was amazing with lots of cool birdlife of Kereru’s and Tui’s and Bellbirds. Along with some funky rock formations. We got off this river around early/mid afternoon at TA #1. Wow 36hrs in and only 1 TA.
Towards the end of this long 150km sections I was beginning to be effected by some bad chaffing. My feet were doing great, but the chaffing between my legs was now at the point of being infected and causing me to walk with quite a gait. As we wandered into the TA I sort a 2nd opinion. This was meet with ewww from a race volunteer. There were reports already filtering out about others having bad chaffing and foot issues already. I dont usually have issues with chaffing so wanted to take care of it quickly. The best response I could think of was to douse it with an alcohol pad… yes that would hurt but kill any infection. And its Adventure Racing and I feel like the letters pain are hidden between the lines of any course description. There was no point in trying to dry it out. This was Fiordland and we were going to be wet…. ALL THE TIME. So on went the alcohol pad and yes it hurt. I’m happy to report after that treatment it did start to improve and actually scabbed over later on in the race.
We left TA1 on our bikes happy to be on the saddle of a bike. After a short ride we reach a caving section where all teams were required to stay there for 2hrs whether it took 30mins or whatever to complete the cave system. There were CP’s in there to collect. We were log jammed by people in the cave and by the time we got out were only had about 20mins rest. But it was still good.
We quickly left there to a setting sun, end of day 2 to the sound of thunder in the distance as we rode towards it.