Last weekend’s entertainment was an adventure race in Thailand. Most would be insanely jealous. But believe me, racing in the heat and dust, with dehydration and sunburn dragging you down and around over the 6 hour course is not as fun as it may seem.
The adventure race took place in Koh Samui, a romantic little island that costs an insane amount of money to get to. Organised by Active Management Asia, it’s a well put together race with a fun, well marked course. Unfortunately the travel costs reduced the numbers significantly of teams, half the number of turning out compared to River Kwai Race back in March.
I teamed up again with Dan to form the Irish Springboks. We were looking to do well on our second race outing together.
And we indeed started well, completing the kayak and swim section as the first mixed team out of the water.
We grabbed our mountain bikes and headed straight up the first hill. I’d not ridden on sand for quite a while and couldn’t work out how to control the bike from skidding around corners. Whilst I was busy figuring that all out, I messed up on my gears, and got my chain stuck behind the cog. 5 minutes of pulling and tugging at the f*@kin’ thing eventually released it, but not before we had relinquished first place.
We pushed to catch up with the team that passed us again, and were just ahead of them before the run section. It was a long old hill run, with dusty trails cut through idyllic palm trees with views over the turquoise sea below. A hat or bandana was mandatory gear on the section, such was the risk of heat stroke. We thought we had done alright on the hour’s run. And we were literally just around the corner from the checkpoint when I tripped and fell and got the worst cramp I’ve ever lived through in my calf. I thought the race was over. Fortunately the checkpoint team heard my screams and came running to my rescue. A few stretches out, a litre of water, and I was back on my feet for the bike section.
Then, out of nowhere, a Thai mixed team came pedalling past. That was the first and last time we saw them on the course. We pedalled on, catching up with the other mixed team at the surprise slingshot game. Dan’s years of killing small creatures in the South African outback came to the fore, and we were out of there within seconds.
But it was not to be our day. I got more chain suck, and then we lost the markers and a few minutes. We were both tired and sore, with pains in places that we didn’t know exist. But that’s the thing about adventure racing – you just never know what will happen and whether luck will be on your side.
In the end, we finished 11 minutes after the first placed mixed and 4 minutes after the Thai team (full results are here). So we took our third place… and together with four cans of free beer, Dan and I headed straight to the bar to watch South Africa win their rugby match and Ireland trounce Australia in theirs.
Overall, good well organised race, beautiful course, nice hills, brilliant massages on the beach afterwards, and free beer at the end… all I can say is that we lucked out on some stuff, but we’ve lived to tell the tale and race another day.