Wenzhou Outdoor Challenge – China

Bags packed and sitting on the plane headed for China I was about to race my first multi day adventure race against the best teams in the world. The format – teams of 4, with one member being female. Our team included me, Jarad Kohlar (‘JK’), Alex Houghton (‘Horse’) and Bernadette Dornom (‘Bern’). With this being both mine and Bern’s first trip to China and the first time I had met both her and Horse, it was going to be an interesting few days.


I arrived at the race hotel, checked in and met the team. I grabbed some lunch and then it was time to build my bike and get everything together for gear check. With everything ticked off, race bibs on and the photos taken, we got together to go through the plan for day 1, and then get our gear and nutrition ready and in the correct tubs for each transition.

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Day 1; Breakfast – then onto the bus to the start destination for the opening ceremony and start of the race.

The first leg was an 8km rollerblade. Yeah not really up my alley. I was happy to see quite a few other wobbly people rolling around but still just wanted to get it over and done with (this was the only time the blades would be on during the race). So with padding around the waist, bike helmet on and PFD on under the race bib (the paddle was next) we were off. The plan was to push or tow me, the towing didn’t work very well so we settled in with towing using one of my poles. Two big falls, some skin off my knuckles and hip plus a bruised right buttock and we were into T1. Blades off grab shoes and paddles and tag out of T1 for the time to stop before the paddle as only 1 team at a time could climb down the cargo net.

Tag in and down the cargo net two at a time, JK ended up hanging from his head which was an amusing tale afterwards (there weren’t many other opportunities to hang it on him). We paddled well, we caught a few teams. I started to fade in the last half hour, maybe nutrition or maybe just a flat spot. T2 – onto the bikes. We had road tyres on for this stage as it was a 12.5km hill climb on concrete roads. We caught another team on the climb. T3 – runners on and out up the stairs where another team was heading. We stopped at the top to check the map, all of day one was unmarked and we had to navigate each leg tagging checkpoints along the way, we decided to head a different way, across the dam and off into the bush. We met the trail and found the check points. There was an abseil after 9km and then a fast downhill (on rock stairs) 5km run to the finish. Day one done and we were in 5th place! A great result. 8km Skate, 27km Paddle, 12.5km Ride, 9km Run, Abseil, 5km Run. 5hrs 34mins

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I was quite nervous going to sleep that night as we had a 35km paddle on day 2 and I didn’t want to bonk again.

Day 2; on the bus again and off to another location.

1st leg was a 16km run. We were getting set off in finishing order (from Day1) at 30 second gaps. The plan was to bridge two teams before the climb, we achieved this just before the first steps. The steps kept going and going, after summiting the mountain we had steps all the way down the other side then a hard flat run to the kayaks. We found ourselves with two other teams and ran together. With 1km to go we surged to give ourselves a clean start on the water. Into the kayak and we were paddling against the current, sticking close to the bank we weaved our way through rubbish, dead pigs and the odd tree branch. A few km’s in and the tide had turned so we moved to the middle of the river to take advantage of the current. Finishing the kayak we had to carry the boats up a wooden path to the transition area. The paddle went well for us again and I felt a lot better during this than yesterday (thanks to JK for shortening my paddle so I could keep the rating up). Onto the bike, up and down small climbs before we hit the big one. There was a bit of hike-a-bike on some of the rockier trails. A massive decent into town and preparing ourselves for the abseil to the finish. When we arrived in T3 the officials told us only 2 had to do the abseil, JK and horse were up. I was a bit sad not to be able to do it but quite happy to miss out on climbing the stairs to the top of the building! Both guys down and we sprinted to the line. 5th again for the day. 16km Run, 35km Paddle, 45km Ride. 7hrs 36mins.

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Day 3; the ocean kayak leg was cancelled due to strong winds. The day started with an orienteering section in a housing compound and then a 12km run to T1 where the bus would then take us to T2. The run was a lot of fun through fields along banks, up a scramble climb and then down onto the beach to the finish. We ran extremely well with the 3rd fastest run time for the day. 2 hours in the bus and the legs needed some shaking to get them ready for the bike ride. This was to be the biggest climb of the race. The day was also heating up. We were set off in 1 min gaps. We got out of transition the same time as the Redbull team as they had to pump a tyre. We rode together for a lot of the initial climb. Off the concrete and onto rough rocky road. The climb was long with steep sections.  Lesson Learned: next time I will be using different gearing that’s for sure. Another big decent and into T3 where we then had a 2km (which was more like 3) run and a wall scale to the finish. We had a sling with us and made it up the wall really well with each person over on the first attempt. We finished 6th on day 3. 2km Orienteering, 12km Run, 50km Ride. Another big day with 4hrs 44 mins of racing but 6hrs 33mins of total time taking the bus ride into account.

Wenzhou 2014- B Side 107

After scoffing some dinner down we went to check the results. We were still in 5th and needed 3 minutes to move into 4th. Time to get some sleep and let the body recover for a fast last day.


Day 4; this started with JK abseiling off a bridge, swimming to us and then a 14km kayak. The plan was to make the front bunch and get some of the time we needed then. We made the bunch and things were going well. JK moved to the front and we both had a turn at pushing the pace. Then we settled back in behind Redbull. Into T1 and out on the bikes we tried to keep with the front teams and bridge any gaps on the descents that appeared on the climbs. Just before T2 we passed Redbull who had a flat. That put us in 3rd on the course. Out of T2 and we started cranking the pace. My legs felt pretty good at the start of the run but when a few more steep little pinches came, the previous 3 days had caught up with me. We still had the 4th fastest run time but Redbull passed us back and we finished 4th for the day. We started the clock to wait for Team Multisport.fi. No sign of them for 4 minutes we knew 4th overall was ours! A great result. 14km Paddle, 25km Ride, 9km Run, 3hrs 50mins for the last day.

A total of 21hrs 46mins of racing over 4 days.


Such an amazing race with so much going into each day – from organising the gear, working together as a team throughout using tow ropes on the bike and run (pushing each other further than you would go on your own is all part of this type of racing), the climbs and speed the race is set at over the full 4 days.

The days were long, as the average bus time each way was 1hr45min. So 5.15am the alarm would get us up, we would head down for breakfast then onto the bus. After the race we had some time to eat get changed then back on the bus. Once back at race hotel we could shower, head down for dinner and then get the transition tubs. Clean any gear that needed it, fill bladders and bottles with nutrition and then load the tubs for the next day. Get the tubs down to the basement (this was always fun trying to get them into the lift). Then off to bed by about 9.30pm.

I learnt a lot about myself, how fit I am, how fit I could be and how to hurt just a little bit more than I have.

Huge thanks to JK for giving me the opportunity to race. I will be back any time.

A big thankyou to Bern and Horse for the support, teamwork and an awesome adventure. And to Simon for helping out so much with gear, food and friendly chats.

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Time for a bit of recovery and start planning the next adventures.

Cheers, Benny



Headed up to Eildon for the inaugural e2a (Eildon to Alexandra). With all the gear checked in and my warm up run done it was time for the briefing and race start. With Liam Delany in the field the run pacer was set. We set off at a reasonable pace and then it wasn’t long before we hit the climb. I kept Liam in my sights and pushed up the climb, the descent was down some cool single track and then onto another fire road that was on the side of the hill. Once at the bottom and just before the camp ground there were heaps of Kangaroo’s racing around, some leaving it until the last minute to turn away which was awesome and scary at the same time. Into T1 and a couple of minutes down on Liam and in second place.

e2a starte2a single track e2a run

Out onto the river and getting ready for the rapids. I had paddled the river a couple of weeks ago however it was 2000mega litres lower now. The water was moving slower and there were more rocks exposed. I tipped out through the rapid, looking back I had entered at the wrong angle and feel that’s what dragged my boat sideways. I swam to the side and back in the boat. 3rd place had caught me while this was happening. The rest of the paddle was good and I was ready to chase on the bike.

e2a kayak

Out of T2 and knew I had to bridge a couple of minutes. I pushed along the flat getting ready for the climb. Once I hit the climb it was a lot steeper than I had thought and struggled to get a good pace going. After summiting the climb I knew I would be a tall ask to catch 1st and 2nd on the decent into town. As I came into T3 I was a bit bummed that I hadn’t even caught a glimpse of them on the ride. I slipped my shoes on and ran the 1.5km o the finish. 3rd on the day, a good result but had hoped to go a little higher.

e2a ride

The race was well run and the paddle through the rapids was cool. It has definitely got me thinking about the ‘coast to coast in NZ’.

Big thanks to Megs and Schmity for being my support crew.

And for the Pete, Sharon, Nicole, Terry, Josh, Speedy, Fi, Max and Will for cheering my on.

Cheers, Benny

XTerra via Benny

The original goal was to qualify for the world champs. With some commitments now in October this was not going to be possible, so when it was suggested I should change my entry to ‘pro’, I thought why not. It does give me 2 minutes of clean water before the fast swimmers in the age group wave swim over top of me! Passed the criteria check and got my blue swim cap, sweet.

The next challenge was to not worry about the time when exiting the water. I really didn’t want to get into a negative frame of mind by worrying about the time. The swim will be what it is. Just get going on the bike was the plan. With the swim supposed to be 1K, 2 x 500m laps with a 100m run in the middle I was a little shocked when my watch said 1.8K when I pulled my wetsuit down. So, a little more time to catch up then. 76th for the swim.

Onto the bike and started making my way back through the field. It took a few minutes to get my heart rate back down and into a rhythm. When we hit the first part of single track I had to get around a couple of people then had some fresh air to get the flow going. Back onto fire road and up a couple of climbs. There was a lot more fire road than I thought. I had ridden what I thought was the course but was obviously riding the single track beside the fire road. It’s a shame they didn’t use more of it. 8th fastest ride and back up the pointy end.

A super quick transition and out onto the run course. Along the sand and then up the ramp and GOR trail. Ticked off a couple of quick K’s on the path and then onto the sand. Up over point road knight ridge and back onto the beach for an out and back section. The tide was on its way in and it was really hard to find firm sand to run on. 4.20K’s was about as quick I could manage in the sand. Got a good look at where I was positioned as the leaders were coming back along the beach. Once back over point road knight the sand was a bit harder and I knew the path along the river was getting closer. Onto the path and the pace rose for the final 1.5K to the finish. Across the line and happy with the race. 16th fastest for the run. I finished 9th in the pro category.

I would have won my age group by 3 minutes so at the end of the day my goal of qualifying was achieved which was great.

Thanks to Megs, Speedy, Fi and Ren for the support on the day.

Great results at 3Peaks and Lake Eildon Challenge!

Marcus, Don and Matt headed up to Falls Creek for the annual 3 Peaks pilgrimage, with all 3 riding well and Don and Marcus finishing comfortably inside the cut-off time.

A big team of 14 from Speed Cycling tackled the inaugural Lake Eildon Challenge on April 5th, with Gerry, Thy, Stacey, Amanda and Yak riding strongly, and Marcus winning his age group and coming in fourth overall. It was a great weekend and an event that everyone should have a crack at next year!

Strengthen your quads and glutes!

Here’s a great exercises for building glute and quad strength!



Some of the team from Speed Cycling Systems – Marcus, Fiona, Ren and Andrew – are heading up to Lake Mountain for the Granite Grind MTB race this weekend. Come and say hi if you’re up there racing….it’s gonna be a great weekend!


Australia’s foremost camping Cycle Tour company, Wide Open Road Cycle Tours, and Speed Cycling have joined forces to come up with a wonderful offer – bring a friend along on any Wide Open Road tour and receive a 6-month tailored coaching package from Speed Cycling Systems!
Visit www.wideopenroad.net.au for more details…

Speed Cycling’s Ben Pattie takes 3rd at Baw Baw.

Ben Pattie had the right formula on Saturday to take out third in the Seasons of Pain off-road duathlon at Mt Baw Baw, which will stand him in good stead for his upcoming Kona qualifying attempt at the X-terra champs in Lorne in March.

Also the Victorian Road Series kicks of this weekend (Feb 7th) with the Tour of East Gippsland, and young gun Brad Kester will be representing Speed Cycling.


I’ve had lots of emails lately regarding interval training – how to do it, how often, how hard etc.
Here’s an article I wrote for Bicycling Australia on that very topic….


Long Weekend

Just a quick reminder that the studio is shut for the long weekend after Friday night. We are back at it for Tuesday classes as normal.