Team Australian Geographic Adventure: training for adventure racing

By Amy Russell 8 November 2013
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The ladies from the (novice) Team Australian Geographic Adventure have just started training for the Paddy Pallin adventure race series – with interesting results.

WHERE WERE YOU AT 5 o’clock this morning? Still tucked up in bed and floating peacefully through dreamland I’m assuming. And where was I? Huddled in the back of a taxi on my way to the Northbridge Baths for the first Team Australian Geographic Adventure training session, along with Australian Geographic Adventure’s writer Jo, and sub-editor Josie.

And what are we training for I hear you cry? Team Australian Geographic Adventure is competing in a division of the AROC Paddy Pallin Adventure Race Series 2010-11. And as the name implies, an adventure race isn’t just your regular race – not only are you competing for the fastest time in various legs, but you’re doing so while battling rugged terrain and navigating your way through an unfamiliar course. 

The Paddy Pallin series involves four events and kicks off in Sydney on October 16, 2010. Teams of three will arrive at a secret location and compete for over $5000 in prizes with a run, mountain bike and paddle leg, on either the novice or classic course.

Walking the talk

As sponsors of the event, we felt compelled to enter and fly the flag for Australian Geographic Adventure magazine. There was no chance we would enter the Advanced Course. Josie was keen to compete in the Classic Course (10km on foot, 20km on mountain bike, 5km on kayak), but after discussing our experience levels (slim to none for both the kayaking and mountain biking) we felt our efforts would be better appreciated in the novice race.

So, what happens when you take three girls of average fitness levels and little paddling experience, and add kayaks and an unfamiliar stretch of river? Let’s just say the residents of Northbridge were woken by some less than peaceful sounds floating up from the bay this morning (if anyone asks, they came from Josie).

Arriving for our first paddle class with the team at Northbridge Kayaks, we were greeted by our friendly instructor Ben and his wife Megan. They quickly slipped us into our lifejackets and gave us the run-down on how to hop into, propel and steer these craft. Once we were out on the river, Ben critiqued our techniques and offered some helpful paddling pointers. After only about 20 minutes on the water we discovered a few surprising things: you get really wet in a kayak, there is ALOT to a good paddling technique and as a first timer you really feel the burn.

We also discovered Jo is a bit of a dark horse; she took to the sport like a pro, gliding seamlessly through the water as if she were born with a paddle in her hand. Josie and I were a little less graceful, flailing about in our boats and continually turning in circles then bumping into each other before gliding off in the opposite direction on intention.

However, by the end of the session we looked a little less like crazy baby ducklings getting wet for the first time and more like we knew what we were doing – Ben explained that when you relax and paddle at a leisurely pace, as opposed to fighting the water and charging at full steam, you’ll make greater headway. 

All in all it was loads of fun and an awesome way to start the day – the view from our kayaks of the river and surrounding suburbs was definitely one worth waking up for. And we’ve come up with our first race strategy: Jo is taking the lead on the paddling leg.

Session summary
Josie: “About as frustrating as playing a bad round of golf.”
Amy: “I’ve found muscles I never knew I had and they’re screaming at me in protest.”
Jo: “Nothing like a relaxing morning paddle to ease you into the day”


Enter the race 
Train with the team at Northbridge Kayaks – $25 for a one hour session with an instructor, this includes kayak, lifejacket and paddle hire