Updated: Jul 4, 2022
Last weekend, a horde of Australia’s craziest athletes all descended upon Sydney’s Hawkesbury region for the running of the True Grit Aussie Titles 24hr Enduro, an event that holds a special place in my heart and for good reason. It is the ultimate test of a competitor's body, mind and spirit. While this report will focus more on how the actual event itself went down, you can check out my “What is Enduro” Blog to learn more about it HERE For an event happening in Winter in Sydney, the conditions were about as good as anyone could have hoped for. After the wettest start to a year in a century, a few rain free weeks in a row led to the Dargle Farm site being fairly dry and ready for racers. The True Grit team (TG) opened up the area Friday night to allow Enduro athletes to bump in their tents and scope out the work the team had done to get the festival area prepared for a savage weekend of racing. Weather forecasts predicting lows of 6 degrees celsius Saturday evening and no hints of rain led to optimism all around from everyone I spoke to hitting the event the following afternoon. After setting up our area I started to take in the size of the event this year, tent city was smaller than I have ever seen at Enduro and I began to hear just how many athletes had pulled out of the event. The lead up to this year's Enduro had been an absolute disaster. Originally planned for the 6th of March, The aforementioned rain had been catastrophic all up and down the east coast of Australia and the Hawkesbury region is prone to flooding in any case. It was hit hard just weeks before the event. From the reports I heard, two weeks from race day TG went from having everything nearly ready to go to finding their obstacles in trees kilometres from where they started. The festival area where the festival stood was eleven metres underwater. This led to TG pushing the event back to the 26th March, only for the rain to return weeks later and wash out the whole region again.
With all the uncertainty around when the rain might finally cease and possibly for other reasons unknown to me, TG pushed the event out to June, and here we are. So with multiple reschedules, the event now landing back in winter and what I find to be a general lack of eagerness in the general public post-pandemic, the number of athletes at the start line were lower than I would have liked to see.
That doesn’t mean that there was any lack of enthusiasm from the racers that did attend and it certainly didn’t stop TG from putting on the high energy event we know and love. With True Grit changing hands around 2020, this is the second Enduro that the new team have hosted and they pulled out all the stops to ensure a top notch event.
Multiple new obstacles and variations to the existing course made for great enduro racing and the TG team really lent into their military inspired roots, with more cargo net climbs up rock faces and better use of the natural terrain.
This was also the first year that racers were monitored via camera the entire time they were on course, racers were instructed to wave at the many cameras around the course if they got into any trouble, the TG team were monitoring all the cameras from their HQ trailer and would dispatch whatever help was required.
This was a fantastic new feature that really made me feel like I was as safe as I could be, especially while dragging my 42kg log around the course at 4am (More on that in my Log Blog)
With Enduro set to kick off at 2pm on Saturday, the morning was full of racers hitting the 10km course for the standard True Grit Full Course event.
I watched the elites take off at 8 30am and caught them coming into the finish line. There was a fantastic finish between Dylan Pardy and Chris Woolley, with Dylan just getting Chris on the final net after a small error from Chris.
This was probably the best finish to an OCR event that I’ve seen in Australia since the Marvel Stadium Spartan event, where the two battling for the finish were Chris Woolley and Liam McKenzie.
You can catch the finish video, plus also an interview with Dylan and Chris at my insta post below
One standout performance for me was the winner of the elite female race, Jordan Green. Jordi handily took out the event, with a lead of minutes over seasoned racer Monika Holmwood. Jordan then went on to complete 6 laps of the 24hr event that day. Here were the elite finishers, with Chris and Dylan coming over the line in 56 minutes and Jordan Green breaking the tape at 1.08 for the girls.
1 - Dylan Pardy
2 - Chris Woolley 3 - McKenzie O'Brien
1 - Jordan Green
2 - Monika Holmwood
3 - Sam Gilchrist
After watching racers hit the short course all morning, nerves were building in the pits for the enduro athletes getting ready to push into the pain for the next 24 hours. At 1:30pm TG held the race briefing and finalised the rules. There would be a 20 burpee penalty for incomplete obstacles (up 5 from last year), multiple attempts were allowed and there would be 3 must complete obstacles, the sandbag carry, ammo carry and swimmer scout (pee dam).
And then, all of a sudden it was 2pm and to the blasting of flame cannons we were off and racing. I had heard from racers all day about the muddy conditions, but while I had personally expected there to be plenty of mud in the muddy mile, I had underestimated just how much there would be everywhere else. A good five months of rain had left maybe half of the 10 - 11km course pretty soggy, with many parts becoming downright treacherous, especially after the pee dam at the halfway point. I wore some Altra's on my first lap and after sliding around like I was on rollerblades for the second half of the lap, decided on something with a more aggressive lug profile after that. I knew after this first lap that we wouldn't be breaking any records out on the course this year, there was a big difference in how confident the elite athletes were running in these conditions. After looking at the 2021 event, the first lap times were around 10 minutes faster than they were this year and that's for the quickest athletes. With a change to the way the last 2km of the course ran, athletes would be hitting the final 11 obstacles in a row. This would mean more fatigue and therefore more burpees slowing competitors, the extra 5 burpees would add up too over the 24 hours. There were also more places where runners were getting wet, be it some new creek crossings, the knee deep muddy mile and the rat pipes coming into the final obstacle gauntlet, making those final obstacles that much tougher.
As many of you already know, I was taking on an extra personal challenge at this year's Enduro, opting to carry a 42kg log with me around a loop of the course. I planned to do this at the part of the race where people are struggling the most, leaving at 3am in the cold. I had originally planned to run three or four quick laps then settle in for a little rest before taking the log out. This would give me some time to chat to other racers, give my clients and first timers some coaching and advice and ensure that I was ready for the carnage that was sure to come. After finishing my second lap as the sun was coming down, I had already started to have a few little niggles and cramps in my little stabiliser muscles, my groin, hip flexors and glute meds all fatiguing more than expected in the slippery conditions. The temperature was also dropping way faster than expected and it was starting to look like a very cold evening.
I had estimated my log lap to take around 5 hours, I was now estimating 6 hours at least in the conditions we had, so I decided to stop at 2 laps and save my energy for my 3am task. After I stopped moving, it got cold fast and it just kept getting colder. After relocating to the Gold Coast a few years back I tend to feel the cold more but as the night went on, the conditions were getting tougher and tougher.
I started to see experienced athletes stopping to wait until morning and knew that this 3am lap was going to be a bit rough, before I knew it I was suiting up ready to go.
The early hours of the morning are an interesting time on the Enduro course, it's a mix of crazy die hard athletes and race leaders, people who are literally walking while asleep and the people who refuse to quit, absolutely grinding out a walking pace. With the lower competitor numbers and the near freezing temperatures, 3 - 6am was a lonely time to be dragging my big piece of timber around. I managed to keep a fairly good idea of who was in the podium spots as people passed me throughout the night. Watch out for my upcoming blog about why I carried the log and what I learnt along the way, but here are some highlights.
After finishing the lap with the log around 10am, I quickly ate and put on some speedos for a final hot lap of the course. Quite a few competitors had thawed out in the morning to tackle the course again, though the morning sun didn't make that dam any warmer. The course also just got muddier and muddier, tired muscles making things much sketchier. I was lucky enough to chat to most of the athletes that picked up podium finishes on my final lap. It had been a tough race for every single person out there. At 2pm Sunday, one of the biggest events on the Australian calendar came to an end. The fatigue was evident on the face and body of every single athlete that braved the elements. Here were the podium finishers. Male
1 - Jamie Hunter - 11 Laps
2 - Joel Murcia - 11 Laps 3 - Blaine Bourke - 11 Laps
1 - Robyn Koszta - 10 Łaps
2 - Jennifer Hynes - 10 Laps
3 - Shannon Hunkin - 9 Laps Massive shoutout to Run Vault who's athletes took out the double gold, with co owner Jamie Hunter winning the event outright. Both Jamie and Robyn Koszta also won the March event in 2021.
As athletes and the real mvp's, the pit crews packed up their cars, I could hear people already discussing changes they would make to get the edge over next years competitors. Enduro athletes really are a special breed. To everyone who competed in this year's event and even to those that didn't, the racing industry has been hit hardest in the last few years and needs your support more than ever. If we want this sport that we all love to continue, we need to turn up to events and bring as many crazy people as we can with us. Supporting vendors who help the industry and purchasing merchandise also go a long way to keeping us all running in the mud. True Grit especially has done everything right by their racers over the last few years, at what I can only imagine is great financial cost to themselves. You can sign up to their upcoming August QLD event or the WA event in October HERE Use the code OMR22 for a discount on race entry. The official race photos also went live a few hours ago, check them out HERE
Congratulations to all of the OMR athletes who completed the course, many of them were first timers and they all killed it. Some are pictured here, but watch out for a post coming very shortly listing all of my legends!
Do you want to take things to the next level with your obstacle racing? We offer online and in person training completely customised to each individual athlete. We then keep you on track all throughout the training period modifying as we need to to guarantee you results. Book a FREE call with me below to find out more.
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I'll be now hosting a FREE OCR style workout on Sundays at Australia's largest gym, EMF Nerang, join this weekend here