Wengan MOuntain Outdoor Quest
A short flight and not even a week after the Tai Mountain Outdoor Challenge Team Vladivostok was about to embark on the second race of this trip.
This time, however, our team had some major changes. Bobby Dean was racing for another team, and we also had a replacement lady-racer. This time around we welcomed Jodie (also from Australia), and another Alex.
The race headquarters, where our hotel was located was in Weng’an. Not much we learned about this city. While it was exciting to be in China and racing in a new format I was still just learning the organizers didn’t do much to get the cities introduced.
It was up to us to decide how much we wanted to submerge in the culture.
Luckily for us we had several days to recover from the Tai race.
In the days building up to this next race My friends Andris, Alexey and I visited the city to get our bikes fixed, to eat, and for training. The city itself wasn’t too complicated to figure out. It was in a huge valley with basically one main road taking us from our hotel all the way downtown. En route to downtown we often road past this monstrous square that was used for all of the city’s parades whether civilian or military.
I was still super sore from the previous race when this next one got underway. No worried though, we’ll tough it out. Right?
The first day of the race and the very first event, trail running, put a quick end to all my hopes and laughter. During an unfortunate step I rolled my ankle. I was in a lot of pain and could barely stand on the ankle let alone run on it. I struggled through it though but somehow the pain and probably the lack of proper nutrition took a toll on me. I could barely walk through the finish line. Alexey had to come back for me for the last 4k of running and tow me with the rope. I never felt that exhausted in my life.
Recovery went underway immediately after the race. I ate as much as I could, drank as much as I could. Back at the hotel I ate as much as I could. Too bad that by now I got really tired of the same food. And I made the mistake of thinking that I won’t get sick of the water here. See, I didn’t get sick in Taishan, but water was different here. Sickly different. I used the water to mix some electrolyte for the race and it ended up being a costly mistake. For the next two days I had a terrible diarrhea that made life even more miserable.
To make things worse I made another mistake for my team. On the second day I forgot my racing jersey at home. I only noticed it upon arriving to the start of the race, some 1 hour drive away from the hotel. There was nothing to do. I reported it to the race director who smiled but then still gave our team a 10-minute penalty that was added to our finishing time of the day. I felt bad, as you may imagine, and I threw myself out there on that day to motivate and assist my team mates. The initial mtb segment was followed with a so-called biathlon. There we had to use two bikes only among 4 team members. Two would ride up the road, then leave the bikes on the side of the road someplace. The other two would catch up to the bikes, hop on, then ride past the runners. This would go on until we reached our next segment, kayaking.
I have to say this was THE ABSOLUTE WORSE part of the entire race. This was 24km long kayak upstream and it totally killed my ass. I couldn’t have sat in that damned kayak for one minute longer. I did my best to have a decent technique but for some reason Alex and I just couldn’t match our strokes. Halfway through the course I switched partner and I paddled with Jodie from then. We seemed to have clicked on the boat. For one because she took no for nothing. She made sure that I had no choice but to bow and paddle to my best ability and for the rhythm she deemed it proper.
Exiting the kayak was no nonsense effort. And running off wasn’t an easy task, either. We had to scale a giant mountain, often walking uphill, and to the finish line.
The first bus had already left so we waited for the next, some hour after our arrival. Not fun. My ankle was in so much pain at this point that I figured I would visit the medic tent. There, I was given a freaking massage by a who-knows-who, a nurse (?).. I pointed at my giant swollen ankle and she gave it a good rub. I immediately screamed up in pain and pulled my ankle away like it was on hot ashes. No remedy. Got an ice pack and called it good.
Back at the hotel I was back to eating nothing but rice and anything I found even just a little bit appetizing.
The last day was a Run-Kayak-Abseil/Kayak-Run-MTB-Orienteering Run. We did our best not to lose much more time to the teams ahead of us. I think the last day was our best day at the Weng’an Outdoor Challenge. It came late, however, as the final order for the overall standing was already decided at that point. The MTB leg of this day was one of our best effort as we stayed within reach and beat out many teams who eventually finished ahead of us. Unfortunately, the last leg, orienteering, was about the worst, I reckon we left a good 20 minutes in there.
Broken, but full of good memories, the very next day I was already heading back to States side.
Little did I know that this nearly 3-week journey will cost me the rest of the season.
I wasn’t able to walk let alone run for the next month. The ligaments in my ankle was damaged so much I almost had to learn how to use my ankle again.
But then again, the memories will live with me forever.