2008 Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport - Solo

In the wetsuit, in the dark, awaiting the first swim.

My head and part of my wetsuit can be seen here finishing the first swim.

The lovely lake Jindabyne we got to paddle and swim in.

A shot of the first run to bike transition.

Julie on her way through the gully.


On my way up the bitumen on the long bike leg.

The Event

The past two years I have competed in this event (Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport Classic) (2006 Jindabyne Sri Chinmoy Multisport Classic, and 2007 Jindabyne Sri Chinmoy Multisport Classic) with Randall, Shanyn and Bruce. However I noticed Tom, Al, Seb and DJ competed last year almost AR style with at least two people from the team out on most legs. I thought it would be really neat to do the entire race as a team. I was however unable to talk anyone into joining me in this plan.

The event consists of 6.45AM Start (solo athletes), 6.55AM Start (relay teams). 1.5 km swim / 9 km paddle / 7 km run / 9 km mountain bike / 2.5 km swim / 5.5 km paddle / 11 km mountain bike / 12.5 km run / 42.8 km mountain bike / 1.4 km swim / 9.5 km paddle / 5 km run. Basically a bit like the triple triathlon but with paddling thrown in also. I have been doing a lot of paddling this past year so I should at least be reasonable at bike and paddle legs.

For some reason, though I am not a good runner, and have not done any swimming to speak of in 6 years, and no serious swimming (three or four mornings a week swim training) since I was 15 I still wanted to have a go at this event solo. Probably because it is such a damn pretty part of the country and it would be nice to see how far I could push myself out there solo.

The Lead Up

Andrew Rowe agreed to come along as my support crew, which was much appreciated, he would be snapped up by many teams for paddling or mountain biking if he had been keen on competing so I really appreciated him agreeing to help me out on the day.

I had been planning to get back into my swimming at the start of December, however stitches in my arm put paid to that plan. Eventually I did not start swimming again until February, however I got to the point I felt comfortable slogging through long swims slowly. I could breathe reasonably well and simply keep going without stopping. Sure it was slow but my intention was never to try to light up the course at this race, I could leave that activity to Dave, Julie, Randall and Alex who were also going solo.

I was looking forward to the race and fairly confident of enjoying a long day out there, then on the Thursday morning prior to the race two unfortunate things happened. 1. I had a crash on my mountain bike, this made walking difficult and sore for the next two days, I had no idea if I would be able to run, it seemed to be getting better at a rate that would allow me to run if I was careful of my technique by Sunday. 2. On the other hand by around midday on Thursday I realised I was coming down with a cold, as I do not get very sick often (until this weekend I had had 6 days of sick leave from work in 7 years, 2 of which were for my stitched up arm late last year), so I generally do not get really sick much. I was hoping it would pass over as a mild cold by Sunday morning.

The Race

Alas the cold got worse, by the time Sunday morning rolled around I did not feel like leaving bed, why in heck would I want to exercise, if this were a work day I suspect it would have added to my small sick leave total. Why in heck was I so intent on heading out and seeing how far I would get. I guess at least one good thing is that my hip was able to handle walking with no pain and running was not too difficult on it by now. The bruise is still pretty huge but at least it is just muscles affected.

We rocked up to Kalkite waters and got into our wetsuits, then we swam around a bit to get wet, I found I was unable to breathe easily in the cold water conditions, largely due to the cold and my chest being restricted already, the water made it worse. They started the solos off and though it would have been nice to try and sit in the wake of another swimmer, I had to stop and get a breathe too often to be able to do that. I eventually finished the swim with a lot of the teams having passed me, in 37 minutes. Something I should remember is leg times for all following legs include transitions, so I do not really know how long I was in each leg for.

I hopped in my time bandit and settled in to the paddle and cruised along at a comfortable easy pace, fortunately after about 10 minutes on the water my breathing and HR calmed down a bit and I thought I may actually be able to keep racing. Also because I was so near the back of the field I got to pass quite a lot of people on the paddle, though at one point I was passed by a K1 paddler, slow first swimmer for that team I guess. I also saw a SES boat pulling a blue K1 out of the water over near the shore, so someone had fallen in again this year trying to paddle a K1 and not handling the conditions. When I finished my paddle Andrew mentioned Dave had also fallen out, however he was close to shore and only lost around 5 minutes due to the mishap. Dave was paddling Andrew's Time Bandit so I am sure Andrew was carefully watching to ensure the boat was being handled with care.

Now something I have been thinking a bit about the last few weeks, Crash has a rather cute saying about running. If God had meant for us to run he would not have given us bicycles. Running really is a painful sport, no where to hide and much more injury prone than cycling. I have decided to extend the above expression and apply it to water also, If God had meant for us to swim he would not have given us kayaks. Sure swimming is not injury prone, but if you need to get somewhere in water kayaks are so much easier. Running I can understand, to the extent that some areas are either closed to mountain bikes or inaccessible to bikes yet you can still find a pretty run there. This definitely applied in the Jindabyne race with the runs 1 and 2 going through some spectacular scenery. I guess swimming is cheaper than buying a boat too, ahh well.

Anyway I had originally been intending to write this report on the basis of trying to swim or run between the fun (kayak or bike) legs and see what happened, then I got sick and everything became harder. I put my HR on for the run and simply started cruising along at 145 to 155 bpm for the entire run. Strangely I passed one or two people, however I got passed by a lot more, near the end of this run I realised I needed to go to the toilet, fortunately the house we were staying at was 5 metres from the course in Tyrolean village and I was able to duck in and sit down on the toilet. I do not know what caused it, being sick, or the gels and other food I was consuming all day, however I had to visit toilets for the sit down sort of visit a lot during the race. I went again a the porta loo at the end of the second bike leg, then again in the pit toilet at Saw Pit creek 300 metres before the end of the run, again not long after on the long bike leg before crossing the river and starting the really big climb of the leg and finally one more time before hopping in the water to try and do the final swim.

I finished this run and hopped on the mountain bike, I really love this leg as it suits me to a tee, mountain biking on technical trails where I can keep riding and most people have a lot of rock induced walking. Today I was not able to ride the entire course without putting a foot down which I guess can be explained by being more worn out from the previous legs and my concentration just was not at the level needed. However it was still a lot of fun and I finally got to pass more people at a comfortable pace. When I got to the finish of the leg I was unable to jump into the air out of the gully as someone had gone in right in front of me and was not getting out of the gully fast, ahh well I probably should not be showing off anyway. The next leg was likely to be the hardest for me mentally all day, the longest swim of all at 2.5 KM. Fortunately my breathing had improved a bit by this time and though still not breathing normally on the bike I felt a bit more able to breathe.

I hopped in the water and slowly made my way through this swim, eventually finishing it and able to hop in the kayak for a cruise across the lake. Interestingly the few times I was able to see the bottom of the lake (mostly near the end of this swim leg) I had the feeling I was being dragged in a strong sideways current, so panicked and started swimming too hard and on funny angles. It took me a while to work out my mind was playing tricks and that I should simply ignore the sensations in the water and keep swimming in the direction of the finish of the leg that I could see above water.

I felt sorry for a few paddlers on this leg as I passed one she said I seemed to be paddling a black bullet it was so fast and effortless seeming, which it was as I was cruising without putting any real effort into the paddle. Though in the last 300 metres of the paddle I sprinted a bit to make it to shore in front of two people on teams, no idea why I bothered as I still had to transition so would be well behind them anyway. The next leg is what I refer to as the boring mtb leg, I tend to forget about it, somewhat short, no interesting scenery and it starts in sand along the shore line, then some hard pack fire roads, some paddocks of thistles and then the finish. Got through the mtb leg, went to the toilet, had some food, put on my running shoes and headed off for the long run.

This walking track along the river for a while and then up to sawpit creak really is lovely, I had settled in to a very slow run with my HR around 140 - 145 all the way and drinking lots. Someone who passed me said hi Steve, I am fairly sure it was a Bilby, can not think who it was now. I ran out of water before reaching the sawpit underpass, so I walked down from the track to the creek and refilled my water bladder as much as I could in it. Then when I got to the underpass I was ecstatic to find an aid station there so I filled my bladder up to the top again and headed out for the 3 KM out and back of this run. I was amazed to pass a few team runners on this next section, I suspect it is because none of these people had water with them, I can not fathom going for a run longer than 10 minutes without water, why anyone would want to do a run on a hot day that could take 2 hours without water is beyond me. I suspect the reason I was able to pass them was they had overheated and dehydrated a bit.

As I had never done this run I was not sure how far out and back it was, I had not seen marking tape for a while so was starting to wonder if I missed a turn, I started walking in order to concentration my GPS and see if I could get one of the screens to display lap distance so I could see if I had gone further than I should on this run. However as I was walking a woman from some team coming up behind me, thus I assumed I was indeed on the right trail so ran on. I never saw her again once I was running again, probably because not long after the track was mostly downhill which suited me better.

Finishing the run I sat around in transition for a while trying to fuel up and get myself ready for the longest leg of the day. My HR had been getting lower all day (I felt less like pushing myself up to 145 bpm) and I was breathing a lot shallower, however it still seemed feasible to keep going. This bike leg, though long and tough was really picturesque and though I was moving slowly I thought it would be interesting to see how I went. Having been to the toilet a few minutes before this transition I did not feel the need again so after sitting around for 15 minutes or more, and learning that Alex had unfortunately had to pull out after overheating I finally hopped on the bike and headed up the road. Andrew (and now Nicky who had been helping support Alex, but now could hang out with her spouse as he helped me) drove up the road to give me my camelback and more bottles of fluid at the top of the bitumen climb. I chugged down 1.5 litres (two bottles) on the way up this climb and definitely appreciated being able to take on all the extra liquid at this point. I also asked for some toilet paper or similar as I was already feeling the need for another stop in the bushes, damn these recalcitrant bowels.

On the descent down the gravel road after island bend I passed another two people, they both seemed reluctant to let go of their brakes so were going slowly. I then however had to stop for a toilet break so they got past me. On to the long hard granny ring climb and I managed to catch two people fairly quickly, then at the aid station I stopped for some gel and headed on up. The only section I needed to walk on the climb was the 50 metres or so of really steep fire road not long after the aid station, I was however moving really slowly and simply span up the climb in my low gears. I did however pass a few more people through this leg. When I got to the Gungarlin river I stopped and splashed cool water all over me for a while, drank a bidon of the cold water and then headed on. On the descent I passed a Canberra woman (Onya Bike Belconnen jersey) and some other person I had seen in the distance earlier. It really is a fun descent, and the grading work done to it meant it was a lot easier and safer than last year, I did not have to put much work or concentration in to going down it at all. Over the rolling hills and I was surprised to get to the finish just on 3 hours after hopping on my bike to climb up the bitumen.

I had stopped eating about 20 KM before the finish, my breathing and HR were both slow and low, I had not been sucking down much oxygen for a long time, however at such an easy pace it had not mattered. Now I attempted to do the final swim. This is I guess where everything got to me, unable to breathe properly most of the day due to the cold. I had not asked Andrew to bring my Asthma medicine across to the swim start so could not even help myself out a bit with that, and my poor swimming form at the best of times, so I hopped in the water and somehow managed to make it to the first buoy at which time I had to float on my back for a while trying to get air into my lungs and ward of cramps. I tried to swim a few more metres and had to lie on my back again. Fortunately an SES boat saw me and came to help, I clung to the side of it for a while and realised I was not going to be able to finish the swim as I could not breathe even with my head out of the water completely. So I called it quits and after around 11 hours on the go had to pull the plug and stop trying to finish.

I lay on the bottom of the boat trying to breathe and stop a cramp in my calf and think about what had happened. When I got to shore I realised I was too late to finish anyway as the cut off had passed for starting the next leg while I was trying to swim. Oh well no matter I had already stopped and that was it. Andrew and Nicky were there to help me out of the boat and give me drinks and food to recover. I ate some of the remaining water melon from the transition and we hopped in the car to head over to the finish and see everyone with their trophies.

Well done to Randall on the second place in solo (and 14th overall), well done to Dave on battling his cramps enough to finish in front of Julie (by 3 minutes), well done to Julie for another stellar performance. Sounds like most people had a good time out there all day, I liked the views and have flagged this race as unfinished business. Which also gives me another year to try to get my swimming back to what it was when I was 15. Thanks to Andrew for such great help with a smile all day and keeping me going out there, much appreciated, oh and thanks to Tim for the loan of the wetsuit.

Steven Hanley <sjh@svana.org>
Last modified: Tue Mar 18 14:44:26 2008