Upper Murray Challenge 2018 – A Hot Competition and Stunning Day!
As participants met for the legendary 2018 Upper Murray Challenge (held on October 6), they were greeted with the most beautiful Spring weather imaginable. The bright sun, blue sky and light breeze made for perfect conditions as contestants took off from the Khancoban town centre at 8am.
The first leg of the race consisted of a 28-kilometre mountain biking course around the Khancoban Country Club and Khancoban Station, followed by a gruelling 27km paddle around the Swampy Plain and Murray River. To top it off, contestants also completed 23.5 brutal kilometres of running.
Event winners Tim Boote (Males) and Maria Plyashechko (Females) took an early lead during the mountain bike leg and managed to maintain both their strength and composure until the very end.
Upon reaching the finish line, Tim said: "It does not matter how long you are out there - Every single person is working really hard to get the job done. I just love the challenge. The paddle is really fun, you don't often to get a chance to paddle on rivers like this. It is a really challenging race, great atmosphere and it just attracts really good people to the event. The environment and the terrain are just beautiful".
Maria also explained: "The Upper Murray Challenge is one of my favourite races. The opportunity to race does not come often. Today my plan was to hang in on the bike, get into the lead on the paddle and see what happens during the run. However, I managed to get a comfortable gap on the mountain bike and I knew my paddle leg is strong and I would get a bit of advantage there so I was quite reassured going into the run. However, that 23.5 km run over Mt Elliot is a really brutal one, so you never really know how well you will do up there. There is no way to be 100% confident, especially on a hot day like this. I was pretty excited to get a second win in this event after a 5-year gap. I was also glad to see a solid women's' field this year with Sorcha who did her first UMC, while Emma came back to this event after doing a relay few years ago, as well as Marlena, a National team marathon paddler."
A remarkable effort was also made by eight St Leonard's students who took part in the challenge. Each student successfully finished the course and, of course, there were many proud educators and parents waiting for them at the finish line.
Melbourne local Emma Morris who finished third in the Solo Female category coordinated the St Leonard's team, in which one of the students was actually her daughter. Emma stated: "Both of us are stuffed and proud to have completed the whole Upper Murray Challenge solo. It was an excellent event with the most stunning scenery of the Kosciuszko snow covered range on all the high points. I am so proud of my daughter Elly for completing the track in less than 10 hours."
2nd place winner and bronze finisher of the 2017 New Zealand Coast to Coast race James Pretto said: "The race was harder than I remember, though the run was spectacularly beautiful. The climb up to Mount Elliot and back really smashed my legs. Well done to Tim who was just too strong on the day, and great job to all the other competitors. Thanks heaps to the local community and their volunteers as the race simply could not have happened without their support."
Upon reaching the finish line, there were many tired, yet smiling faces basking in their glory. Albury Wodonga athlete and Adventure Junkie AR Team Member was able to keep his sense of humour after the race, stating "The race went terrible. My times weren't great. Nothing about it went well for me really other than not stacking it on the bike paddle or run. But the day was so awesome and I loved every minute of the pain I was feeling."
The 2018 Upper Murray Challenge was proudly supported by Snowy Hydro, Corryong Health, Snowy Valley Council, Towoga Shire Council, Full Cycle of Albury, Shotz sport, Shane'O café and multiple volunteers and crews such as the SES, VRA and Wodonga Albury Radio Club.
For more details and a list of full results, please follow the Upper Murray Challenge Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/UpperMurrayChallenge/, as well as the event website at http://uppermurraychallenge.com.au.