Sunday, October 29, 2006


Blackwood Marathon Relay 2006

The Blackwood Marathon Relay has come and gone for another year, and as usual it was a great event, the local community really gets behind this and makes it a success. Despite going for 28 years it has changed little over the years and still has the earthy feel it's always had.
Pre-race is when old friends catch up, injuries and age are given as pre-emptive excuses for any poor performances that might occur during the day. Clive Choates was doing his 19th ironman and looking foward to his 20th which will be next year. I always have trouble with names and faces so I just kept calling everyone "mate" to hide my embarassment. Ypu only get to see these people once or twice a year so you can't really be expected to remember all these faces can you?
Since I was doing the canoe leg I had to leave early so as not to get stopped by the road blocks for the runners. We parked at the top of the hill and carried the kayak down to the canoe paddock. Another round of gossiping to catch up on the canoe news and then we waited for the runners.
Each runner is given a good cheer and a the canoeist , full of adrenaline races off down to the river with his canoe in tow. "Canoes" ranged from sprint boats to surf skis to bathtubs. My runner came in quite late, suffering the combined effects of age, flu and lack of training. At this point I might add that I was a ring-in for team number 1, the Bridgetown Tearways, which has been doing the event every year since it's start but were being whittled away by those events that many years bring. I was required to do the canoe and the swim but having also suffered a flu for the last few weeks I invited Banjo to do the swim which he relishes.

The water water level was the lowest anyone could remember and there was the usual traffic jams in the tight spots but other than that no significant problems. A lot of people could have done themselves a favour by getting to know their craft a bit better or even getting a faster boat. I stopped to help a young girl who had an ocean type ski and still had the rudder tied up out of the water. The low conditions required a few portages but for the second half it was full steam ahead. A young girl rode my bow wave for a long way and I was quite impressed that she kept up, we were amongst the tailenders and she obviously new what she was doing. At some stage my rudder had been bent at right angles but it didn't seem to be much of a problem so I ignored it and kept going. I picked up 30 places which took our team from 90th to 60th place.
After lunch the swimmers assembled in a long line to await the swim. The hot weather made the water inviting. Banjo did a good swim, picking up a few places, handing over to Ric on the horse.
The horses suffered in the hot weather, with a few being serverly distressed. Ric held our place overall, riding sensibly on his borrowed horse.
The cycle leg is very hilly, setting a trend for the other marathon relays, with a series of long unending climbs up out of the valley. It starts of with a stretch of uphill gravel which requires a good shove from a helpful bystander, "keep pushing until I clip my feet in!"
Once again our rider Barry picked up a few more places to give us 51st place overall.

After helping out with the horses some of us went over the Wheatly farm. located near the horse finish for a coffee and cakes. The farmhouse sits on top of a very high hill with commanding views over the whole area. Sitting on the verandah in wicker chairs with the sun setting over the distant hills it was one of those "Life doesn't get much better than this" moments.
Eventually we headed into Bridgetown to the finish for the presentations and long stories over cold beer. Tim and Sarah, a married couple had once again taken the winning Ironman and Ironwomen titles. Tim has long had bragging rights as being the faster but Sarah is just a few minutes behind and is getting closer each year.

Winning team was Skilled Engineering, who come back and win year after year with a team that has varied little over the years, setting very high standards for the rest of us.

People I chatted with include; The Wiesse extended family and friends who are organised and move like army ants to keep their athletes supported.
Damon Willmore who is working hard promoting the Karri ride. (Which is on top of my TO DO list this year.)
Racheal, who I used to train with a few years ago and haven't seen for years.
Grant Pepper who organises the resurrected Naga Challenge, one of the best small mutisport events I've done.

Well that's the Blackwood for another year, now it's back to the real world.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



I went for swim today in our local council pool. It's the first time in a while that I've swum there, preferring to travel to Bunbury to use their pool. But today was a nice day, I'm still on holidays and the pool was uncrowded and best of all, it's now heated!
I paid my entry fee at the new heated price and entered. There was hardly anyone about, school was still in and there was only a few young people sitting talking on the grass. One person was in the pool, swimming laps. I guess he was an underwater hockey player because he had giant flippers and was wearing a snorkle.
So I dropped off most of my clothes, and luckily had my bathers on underneath, and thought of pleasant things as I dropped into the water. I have to think of things other than the water or else I'll procrastinate forever for fear of cold water. Once I'm in it's ok. After swimming half a lap to stretch I start my stopwatch and swim.
The temperature was a fraction too cool, maybe one or two degrees warmer would be nice. At the deep end it felt cool but at the shallow end it was ok. I suppose the water from the heaters must enter the pool at the shallower end. I did steady neat strokes, not trying too hard on my first swim. The water was crystal clear, and I could easily see the full length of the 50 metre pool underwater. The concrete bottom of the pool needed painting, and the tiles looked a bit uneven, but this pool is about 50 years old and at it's opening would have been equal to almost any pool in Australia. At the Shallow end it's 3 feet 6 inches deep and at the other end, which takes up about 10 metres, is an area which is 11 feet deep. There are tiles with the depth painted on them set into the concrete at the sides. There is a low diving board, and also a higher one but the actual board and ladder have been removed. There also used to be a slide but that's been taken away too. I guess these days such things would be deemed too dangerous and an insurance liability. You'd think kids died in droves in the old days compared to the way young people are mollycoddled now.

So I forced myself to complete 1000 metres and stopped my watch, just over 22 minutes, a bit slow but not bad for a first swim in ages and I'm just getting over a flu. Some other people were getting in the pool so I decided to swim a few more laps and added another 500 metres to my swim.
I got out, dried and dressed myself and wandered over to the shop. I bought three pythons, which are like snakes but bigger. (The lolly type of course.)

I left feeling clean, cool and refreshed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Collie Marathon relay

Well the Marathon went well, no one got lost or injured and everyone said they enjoyed it. The only hitch was the fire brigade who marshall on the corners got there late and there was no-one to stop cars, from the feedback I gathered there was only one close call. A big thank-you to everyone who helped out on the day, it was great. I really feel like we've created a truly fine event. Moving the event three weeks closer to summer certainly made the water a lot warmer and the weather was perfect.
The night before I had a nice dinner at the Premier hotel with Robyn Korshid and a few friends, fish with garlic prawns, highly recommended even though I'm not a big fan of garlic. Then after the event I had chinese with Roy, Rebekah and Sheryl. Brian rolled up later, his skydiving at Hillman Farm had been cut short because of problems with the plane but he got one jump in.
Roy and Rebekah slept in the van at my place and in the morning we went out to Mumballup to meet Meg and Neil and others for a mountain bike ride. I chose to take them out to Gibralter Rock which is a large rock formation in the middle of nowhere. I'd traced out a route from old maps and uploaded them to the GPS which meant we ended up scrub bashing on overgrown rail formations. After going up a few dead ends we eventually got there. We returned via a different route which was a bit easier, except for one point where we were going parallel to a creek and I decided we had to cross to a track on the other side so it was a bit more scrub bashing and then an easy ride back to Mumballup for lunch, which consisted of sweets and pizza.

In the last few days I've been doing a bit of paddling and swimming. A team from Bridgetown has invited me to go in their team in the Blackwood Marathon Relay. They're team number one and have been doing the event since it started. I also was at the first event and I've done theIronman six times. I think Tim Wiesse may have passed on my name to Peter Wheatley who is the horse rider for my team. Tim and Sarah stay at Peters farm for the marathon weekend. My paddling is really slow, I'm so out of condition it feels like I'm starting from scratch. It's been a brutal winter and I've been busy with many other things so I've a lot of catching up to do.

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