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.

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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