On 21st April, the 2013 Subaru Australian XCM Championships were raced in Atherton, Queensland. On a mixture of new single track, well established trails, double track and dirt road, the 32 lap took in close to 1100m of climbing. Many of Australia’s best Marathon and Cross Country racers turned up to aim for the green and gold jersey -or just benchmark themselves. There is no hiding in a small National Championship field.
After the previous announcement regarding the length of the women’s race, all women’s races started at 8:30am. The temperature was already heating up. Half an hour later, all the men’s races took off, with all Full Marathon competitors racing 3 laps. The start was fast for a few pedal strokes, and then eased. Most racers then seemed happy to dash into the single track a few hundred metres later.
The next section of trail didn’t allow much passing, and wasn’t without drama. Adrian Jackson (winner of the Wombat 100 last weekend) had chain troubles, and needed to race back to the front from the middle of the Masters field. I had chosen to follow Target-Trek racer Ed McDonald. He was on a 5:30pm flight from Cairns, so I thought he may set a good fast pace for me to follow. And I’m sure he would, if I didn’t mistake an A-line gap as a roll over. After a o-ring tightening stoppie I managed to stay upright, and ended up with a jammed chin after kneeing the shifter and pedalling in the air. And now I was in the Masters field.
And it turns out that pace suited me really well. The day was set to be long, and hard. With minimal racing and training, and a ‘no DNF’ promise made to myself, a steady ride was in order. In short time it was a case of seeing those who were not coping so well. Anthony Shippard was seen at the feed station part way up the climb, stuffing a stocking full of ice in his crotch, bemoaning his English upbringing for an inability to function in heat. Having seen this occur to him before, it was a fair statement.
Rohin Adams had flatted, but bombed past soon afterwards, making his way back into the field. Through the rainforest section about 18km into the race, already the back end of the women’s races were being caught. Clearly a fast pace at front presumably set by Jenny, Jenni, Peta et al was doing damage.
Coming into transition I could see Dylan Cooper washing his bike, and had spotted Subaru-MarathonMTB team mate Nienke Oostra on her way out. She was hurting, and ended up pulling out son afterwards. Imogen Smith was next, and was in quite good spirits. In the rainforest again, after a brief Ewok sighting on the climb (eat and drink more…) I saw team mate Naomi Hansen, and then Roeland Suys. Roeland had been smashing it at the start, but succumbed to dehydration, vomiting, and then being pulled from the race by medics.
The third lap came, after seeing more people pulled out at the start/finish. Anthony Shippard was now servicing riders, as were many who had pulled out. It is always fantastic to see how some racers put their own disappointment aside to help those with feeds and tech service who are able to carry on racing.
This lap was a death march. I saw few people except Jodie Willet, who ended up 5th, and Sarah Riley, who was 4th in women’s. It was a battle to avoid walking on the steep climbs, and to manage hydration without feeling sick. The trails were still great, the temperature had dropped, and I was looking forward to just being done. Coming into the finish, stories of carnage came out. Many had DNF’d.
At the front of the race, Andrew Blair had lead with Pete Hatton. Adrian Jackson and Peter Kutschera were close behind, with Jason English and then Shaun Lewis in arrears. Blair continued to lead, and AJ paid for chasing (and being ill) and pulled out after two laps. English kept his laps consistent and passed Blair in the last lap, crossing for victory. Blair was 2nd, and Pete Hatton 4th. Michael Crosbie had a brilliant ride for 4th overall and the U23 win.
Jenny Fay rode a brilliant race on a course that could have almost been designed for her, with so much climbing. Peta Mullens pulled out ill after 1.5 laps, and her team mate Jenni King was chasing. Fay ended up victorious, but King claimed the jersey as Fay is an Irish National. Terri Rhodes rode a brilliant marathon for 3rd, with Sarah Riley 4th and Jodie Willet 5th. Naomi Hansen had stepped upto Open from Masters, and finished 6th – or 5th Australian? Naomi will have a full women’s race report up soon.
Full results can be seen on Durt.com.au