Multi-sport maestro takes on Queensland

By Pat Kinsella 28 November 2013
Reading Time: 3 Minutes Print this page
A team of athletes was put together to take down one Melburnian at the 2013 Magnetic Island Adventurethon.

IN 2012, MELBOURNE-BASED adventure athlete Jarad Kohlar went up to tropical north Queensland and trounced the Magnetic Island Adventurethon’s race record.

So sound was his trouncing that organisers issued a call to arms to the region’s best paddlers, mountain-bikers and trail-runners: form a team and reclaim the race – if you can’t beat him solo, bring him down as a bunch.

To their credit, the locals rose to the challenge with as much gusto as Far North Queensland’s weather – which served up race-day conditions so feisty that the paddling course had to be changed at the 11th hour.

Involving 26km of ocean paddling, 29km of mountain-biking and around 20km of trail-running, the Adventurethon has earned a reputation as the toughest one-day off-road event in Queensland – if not the country.

As readers of Australian Geographic Adventure‘s Adventurethon feature (Jan–Feb edition) will know, the distances don’t even tell half the story. The terrain is rough, the course crippling, the elevation gain alarming and the wet tropical climate brutal.

Adventurethon 2012: the challenge

The switch of direction for the paddle stage seemed kind at first, with plenty of runners to jump on and a following wind pushing the Ultras north around the island. Once the far buoy had been turned, however, the return paddle was a 13km slog into a 25kt headwind, going against the current.

Virtually burying himself in a king effort to win the paddle leg, Kohlar edged out Stellar-sponsored elite paddler Matt O’Garey in the sprint to the finish and was out of his boat and onto his bike in pole position.

A four-time winner of the Freycinet Challenge (the de facto Australian Multisport Championships), among numerous other titles, Kohlar is a hard man to catch once his nose is in front, and the challengers spent the rest the day chasing his shadow.

The “hottest race since Borneo”

The Adventurethon’s reputation has grown so much in the last couple of years that Kohlar faced stiff competition from the likes of surf life saving legend Guy Andrews, and Kiwi multisport athlete Sam Goodall. These challengers were both suffering under the searing sun, however. “The run was the hottest I’ve had since Borneo,” reported Andrews later. “I had to slow the pace just to survive.”

Local legend Sam Stedman – an elite Townsville-based adventure athlete who’d owned this race for years until Kohlar showed up – had no such dramas. A combination of course knowledge, a fully acclimatised body and an attendant support crew put Stedman on the Melburnian’s heels by the end of the bike leg.

The local man then put in a fantastic chase across the stunning mixture of singletrack, tracks and trails that took the Ultra athletes across the roof of the island in the bittersweet run to the finish at Picnic Bay.

Magnetic Island is a very long way from Port Melbourne, where Kohlar does most of his training, and the tropical heat was gradually wearing him down. “This is definitely one of the toughest one-day races in the country, but the humidity makes it so much harder,” he said afterwards. “Today was even more gruelling than last year. I didn’t have anything left at the end.”

But he had enough to take the win and set yet another course record. Kohlar beat everyone across the line – all bar one team: ‘Last Minute’. The locals had managed to take six minutes off the Melbourne man – but it had taken three of their best athletes to do it.

Get your entry in now for next year’s Magnetic Island Adventurethon, March 2014, or check out the July Adventurethon National Challenge Festival, a two-day event out of Townsville on the weekend 13-14 July 2013.
More info here


Multi-sport adventure at Magnetic Island

Top 10 Australian multi-day walks

More great multi-day Aussie walks

Training for multi-day treks

How to think tough: Mental stamina

How to be an adventure racer

Survival how to: skills in the wilderness

Kayaking tips for adventure racing

Adventure race training: no rest for the wicked

Top 8 wilderness camping spots in Australia