With time for dust to settle, blisters to heal and plenty of sleep, members of the Navy Adventure Racing Association - Commanders Steve Arney, Gary Holgate and Cliff Kyle and Chief Petty Officer Raimund Winkler - have been able to reflect on the highs and lows of their experience of the GeoQuest 48 hour adventure race.
Prior to the event the team committed to an intensive training regime for the arduous 200km of non-stop endurance racing.
“We were all training in 6-8 hour sessions just to adequately prepare for 48hrs of non-stop activity,” Commander Kyle said.
“We focussed on the three major disciplines in the event - cross country running, mountain biking and kayaking, but because the course isn’t revealed until the night before, it was hard to bias training towards any particular discipline.”
“Hindsight is wonderful but I think, if anything, more preparation with respect to particular equipment would have benefitted the team and crucial technical aspects of the race could have been better understood if we’d studied previous Geoquest reports and race briefs,” Commander Kyle said.
While the association members all take fitness seriously there are other aspects to an event like GeoQuest that are harder to train for.
“When mental fatigue kicks in, the little things make a big difference,” Commander Kyle said.
“Things like not accounting for magnetic variation while navigating or missing vital instructions at checkpoints.
"Some of the challenges were predictable – such as having to swim across rivers in the middle of the night without getting our clothes wet due to fear of hypothermia, but I don’t think any of us thought we’d be managing the hallucinations we experienced as a result of sleep deprivation.
"These kicked in around the 36 hour mark and were most pronounced at dusk and whilst on the water in a kayak where depth perception was also a problem in obtaining correct bearings.
It was the association's first race of such a distance and they were up against seasoned teams so the main goal was to finish.
"We’ve competed in a number of done a 24 hour races so this seemed like the next step up for us,” Commander Kyle said.
“Our team has a number strengths, particularly the ability to not get stressed in situations where some other teams may have, and the trust and understanding we’ve built up from doing previous similar races. We understand that each person goes through highs and lows throughout the 48 hours and as a team you just have to keep them moving forward, which we did."
While finishing was a definite highlight, Commander Kyle said there were other aspects he enjoyed.
“There were some pretty awesome coastal runs, especially over the Stockton beach dunes and you cannot underestimate the sheer relief that comes from navigating your way to a checkpoint in the middle of the night after you were seemingly lost in dense bush with no references apart from the compass.”
Commander Kyle said the friends and family in the support team played a crucial role.
“Without our support crew we quite simply would not have been able to complete the race.
"Whether it was hot soup or dry clothes, sometimes the thought that your support crew was only an hour or two away was what kept us going.
"Certainly the sound of my children’s voices in distance as we were cycling towards the finish line at 4.45am made me pedal just that little bit faster."