There is less than a month of training left in the lead up to the notorious Giant Otway Odyssey and both the male and female fields are stacked!
The first Odyssey in 2007 was a point to point race from the beautiful seaside town of Apollo Bay to the hinterland village Forrest. I raced this event in 2008 and, like many others there, swore never to return but like an insect to a neon zapper I have returned year after year and seen the event morph into the challenge it is today. I believe the Odyssey is one of the hardest marathon mountain bike events in Australia (I would have said the hardest, but last year I raced the Marathon Champoinships at Atherton and that race stands alone) but despite its ominous reputation riders return in pelatons to take on the challenge. The years have changed the Odyssey and it is now a clover leaf of 3 separate loops passing through the Forrest football ground at the start, 38km, 64km and 98km making it logistically very easy to negotiate and an awesome event for spectators.
The Odyssey is the second race in the Maverick Marathon Series, the first race was held in Canberra in March (Capital Punishment, March 15th). To be eligible for the Maverick Marathon Series you have to race three of the four events in the series (either marathon or half marathon distance), if you race all four events the ranking system will automatically drop your worst result. You do not have to enter the series, just race and you are eligible so it is not too late to start and with three stunning races remaining you would be crazy not to!
The remaining races in the Maverick Series are:
- – Giant Odyssey, 27 April, VIC – Taking place for the 8th time in 2014, the Giant Odyssey is Victoria’s premier mountain bike marathon looping a stunning and spectacular route starting and finishing on the renowned singletrack of Forrest in the Otway Ranges
- – The Kowalski Classic, 21 September, ACT – In 2 short years the Kowalski has earned a reputation for endless singletrack in Kowen Forest and Sparrow Hill and has quickly established itself as one of the marathons not to miss
- – The CamelBak Highland Fling, 9 November, NSW – 10 years old in 2014, The Fling is a MTB event that truly takes you on a journey through singletrack, farm, forest and villages in the stunning Southern Highlands. Long established as one of the big events on the MTB calendar
With registration still open for the Odyssey it is shaping up to be a stacked field with the big men of mountain biking going head to head for some respectable prize money. Last year’s winner Chris Jongewaard is coming out of retirement especially for the event and will be challenged by Ben Mather, Brett Anderson, and the Chancellor cousins, Scott and Sam. Similarly in the womens field I am a little intimidated by the pedigree of Jo Bennett, Terri Rhodes, Rebecca Locke and Jess Douglas.
If you are considering entering just do it and you will not be disappointed, Jacoby and his Rapid Ascent Team are a tidy bunch of organisers and the trails in and around Forrest are primo. Sure there are some hills but we are ‘mountain bikers’ and hills is what we do, you are guaranteed to hurt a lot during this race and you may even cry, I have, but that’s racing and we do it for the finish line and the crepes at the Forrest football ground. Do not be afraid.. if you are scared of racing 98km and 2350hm or just starting out, the event offers alternatives; the shorter yet still challenging 50km Giant Shorty, and the 15km Giant Pioneer designed for kids and new comers to the sport.
If you are free next weekend there are course familiarisation sessions available through MTBSkills on Saturday 5 April and Forrest MTB Club on Sunday 6 April, a great way to check out the trails and see what you would be missing: Training and preparation