Sunday, August 19, 2012

Winter Challenge 2012

Our marshal point for today's Winter Challenge multisport event in Franklin was a little further up Hope Hill than last year. Our little job was to open two farm gates in soggy fields dotted with large cow pats ready for the runners in the 10.7km run leg that starts the event, make sure the runners followed the correct course, alert emergency personnel if someone needed help and close the gates once everyone had passed. By the time runners reached us, they had completed more than three quarters of the run and only had a steep downhill left to go (through  the aforementioned soggy fields and cow pats followed by mud and gravel roads). Apart from one guy limping, all the runners were in amazingly good shape when they reached us. Last year there had been a few more injuries.

I am amazed how many runners were either chatting with each other or took the time and breath to say good morning or thank us. Really, no need to thank us - it's a privilege to watch and be inspired by you all. After the run, there's an 18km mountain bike, 37km road bike and 11km kayak to complete. Phew. I heard that close to 50 people out of the 500 participants had entered to complete all four sections, the rest as a team or relay. Wow. Loads of respect for you guys.

After closing our farm gate, no cattle in sight, we walked back downhill to watch some mountain bikers on a nice muddy downhill. Only a few spills this year. Later, we took the dogs down to the foreshore and saw some of the road bikers and kayakers coming in. Around the start-finish area it became obvious how much high tech gear is involved in competing in multisport events like this. Every second car had a muddy mountain bike or a kayak strapped to the roof and an entire team of supporters camped on chairs nearby to transport it all.

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