Terra Nova 24 Hour Adventure Race

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Taking on the Terra Nova 24 at Kangaroo Valley

Press Release / 08.09.2022See All Event Posts Follow Event
Wet conditions at the Terra Nova 24 in Kangaroo Valley
Wet conditions at the Terra Nova 24 in Kangaroo Valley / © Margarete Oti / Wild and Co

Nature threw some extra challenges into the mix for this year’s Terra Nova 24 hour adventure race, held in Kangaroo Valley, NSW.

The race took place over the weekend of September 3/4th and teams of 2 and 4 arrived in the valley to take on courses of 120km and 80km in 24 hours of non-stop trekking, paddling and biking in the surrounding rivers, State Forests and National Parks.  The terrain makes the race challenging enough, but the weather always plays a part, and this year non-stop rain, mud and cold conditions ensured the racers needed all of their endurance and determination to reach the finish line. 

Race HQ was at the showground in the town of Kangaroo Valley, and soon after the start the race route took teams to the historic Hampden Bridge, but not in the way most visitors see it!  After scrambling down a steep bank from the showground carrying an assortment of colourful inflatables, the racers launched themselves into the river, paddling over small rapids and floating under the bridge to reach the first checkpoint.

Adventure racing can include almost any kind of outdoor challenge or skill (it was axe throwing in the last Wild & Co race) and never takes itself too seriously!  

After a run along a narrow and slippery riverside trail carrying the inflatables the racers collected their bikes for the first big stage of the race, a 30km ride into the Morton National Park. They were wet from their time in the river and would not dry out again for the rest of the race as the rain kept falling. 

The ride took them along McPhail’s Trail, pushing for some of it, towards the spectacular Fitzroy Falls and then along the Redhills Fire Trail, which was easier going on top of the gorge, with stops at checkpoints which give stunning views of the falls, on a clear day anyway! 

A varied course continued with trekking and navigation stages in the Meryla State Forest, before a return to the valley and one of the toughest stages on Beehive-Griffins Flats.  It was described as a bike/trek, which meant there would be some unrideable terrain and plenty of ‘hike-a-bike’, which is a mountain biking challenge specific to adventure racing!

Race Director Chris Dixon said in the racer notes to expect “rough terrain and technical riding”, and that “some sections of the Beehive Walking Track were extremely overgrown”. He explained the route here was affected by landslide damage from the flooding in April, which is when the race was originally scheduled to take place.  (The Half Course teams had a much shorter route on this stage.)

Teams had free choice of route to find the checkpoints here and were navigating in the darkness by this stage.  It was difficult even for race leaders Thunderbolt AR, one of the world’s top adventure racing teams.  “We had a pretty good race but lost some time on that bike/trek stage, mainly due to poor selection of approaches to the checkpoints and trouble finding a couple of the them.” Said Hugh Stodart. 

He added, “It was wet and quite cold so that made it a bit slower and harder than we were expecting and forced Chris to shorten the last paddle and take out the final foot/navigation leg to allow more teams to finish.

Race winners Thunderbolt AR

“We managed to pull away again on the final legs kayaking and on the bike and it was great to come away with the win.  Wild and Co. should be congratulated on another excellent race with the logistics all working well, in spite of the inclement conditions.”

When they crossed the finish line just after 3am in the pouring rain, Thunderbolt AR’s winning time was 15 hours 39 mins 15 seconds. They will score maximum points in the Adventure Racing World Series Oceania rankings, and go into next month’s ARWS Oceania Championship race at Gold Coast on a high.  (A win there would secure their place at the AR World Championship in South Africa next year.)

Race Director Chris Dixon, took the decision to shorten the courses in the poor weather conditions.  All of the teams needed to reach the finish before the 24 hour cut-off and while a few had retired due to the cold and bike damage, most were still racing.  (Some teams wore out their brake pads completely!)

The course is also designed to allow teams to make their own choices, so newcomers and elite racers can take part together. Slower teams can drop checkpoints (or stages) if they need to move more quickly around the course, and all of the teams were back in Kangaroo Valley in good time.

The final stages were a paddle on the Kangaroo River and then a ride back into town, with a last checkpoint under the Hampden Bridge.

The top pair on the full course were Resultz Racing (16.14.35) and the only all-female team, Vortex Divas, crossed the finish line with a time of 26.06.06 (with a penalty time added after opting out of some checkpoints).  Only one team retired from the full course, due to cold and fatigue.

In the shorter Half Course race the JTM Kings pair was quickest in 11.46.27, while the first premier mixed team of 4 were The Kooks of Hazard (15.50.28). 

With all of the teams meeting each other around the course and at transition areas, where race staff could encourage them, there was a high finish rate despite the weather, and the novice adventure racers in the field were not daunted.

Trent Maxwell, of Team Tickles and Tumbles,said after finishing.  “My first 24hr adventure race is done and dusted!  It was a great event with lots of challenges. It was cold, wet, muddy and long, but we continued through the night with a smile and determination to finish (with my mate Piers Craig.) We ended up finishing in 6th place and I’m now hooked and can’t wait for the next adventure and challenge!”

There were two unranked teams on the Half Course, including the ‘Landloping Lassies’.  This novice team had to retire due mechanical problems with their bikes, but still relished the experience.  Simi Chee said, “The race was a fantastic challenge, and being in environments that I would not usually visit, was extremely special.

“The experience was a roller-coaster of emotion, with an unequalled sense of achievement; gruelling, inspiring, and with a wonderful sense of camaraderie amongst the competitors.  It was an event that against all your better judgement you want to do again!”

Speaking after the race Dixon congratulated all the teams and thanked the businesses and residents of Kangaroo Valley and Shoalhaven City Council for their help and support, and he now moves on to planning the ARWS Oceania Championship race over the weekend of October 21-23 at Gold Coast. (Entry is still available for this.)

For more information about adventure races from Wild and Co. see www.wldnco.com

For more on the ARWS Oceania Championship race see - https://www.arworldseriesoceania.com

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