The Sri Chinmoy Googong Challenge 2006 Race Report
Hills in races. you either love 'em or you hate 'em...
If you don't care for hills and plenty of them, the Sri Chinmoy Googong Challenge (Long Course) will NOT be your cup of tea. On the other hand, if you relish the challenge posed by the ever-mounting slope ahead, and the thrill of the descent, and if you love full immersion in the Australian bush.
The mountain bike and second run legs of the Googong Long Course can only be described as relentlessly hilly, the type of terrain on which champions thrive. Run-away winners in the Solo Male and Solo Female Categories, David Baldwin (who raced with a later-diagnosed broken hand) and Julie Quinn (pictured, right) both waxed lyrical post-race. Julie enthused:"I love this bike course. With every hill I seemed to get stronger and stronger. And the countryside out here is really beautiful." David agreed:"That last run is a doosie! You go up and up along that ridge and then the descent is pretty hairy: I just loved it."
Googong Dam was constructed in the 1970s as a supplemental storage facility for Canberra's growing water needs. 10 kms south of Queanbeyan, it is about 30 minutes' drive from central Canberra. The catchment area feeding the reservoir has been designated a Nature Reserve: gentle rolling former farmland on the western shores gives way to quite rugged densely forested hills to the east and south.
First staged last year, this Sunday 29 October saw the second installment of The Sri Chinmoy Googong Challenge. There are two races: Short and Long. The Long race comprises a 5 km run / 10 km paddle / 31 km mountain bike / 5 run format, while the Short race is a 3.3 run / 5 km paddle / 11 km mountain bike / 3.3 km run. Both races can be entered by Solo athletes or Relay Teams of 2 or 3 members (generally the same team member will complete both run legs). The race starts at the northern end of the reservoir, not far from the dam, and concludes at the southern end, at a picnic area adjoining an historic disused woolshed.
Strong, cold winds the previous day did not bode well for an easy paddle on picturesque Googong Reservoir, yet in the hour before the start the waters seemed to become becalmed. Bright, clear skies smiled over the race throughout, with mild sunburn the only lasting legacy of the weather.
Not surprisingly, almost twice as many entrants preferred the Short Course option, with its milder version of âfun' still affording great views, fantastic countryside and around 2 hours of fresh air and honest exercise.
A warm-up run along the foreshores spread the field prior to entering the first longer leg, a 10 km (Long) or 5 km (Short) paddle on the pristine lake.
Star performer on the water was Australian representative Tom Warne-Smith of the"Swamp Donkey Adventure Racing Team," whose 50:05 for the 10 km was faster than some recorded for the Short-Course 5 km paddle!
The first 3 Open Male place-getters in the Short Course race- Alan Boyle, Kieran Day and Glenn Folkard - each led home all the Teams. Strangely, there were no Solo Female participants in the Short race this year. Amongst the Relay Teams,"Blunders Never Cease" just pipped"David Wawn's Team" by 13 seconds in the Mixed Category, with the first All-Male Team"Yikeshurt" just over a minute in arrears.
Only the star-studded"Swamp Donkey Adventure Racing Team" finished ahead of Solo athlete David Baldwin in the Long race- in 3 hours and 28 minutes. To their great credit, every single Long Course entrant completed the grueling contest, even if it took 5 and a half hours to get there. After their exertions, contestants enjoyed a hearty veggie-burger from the barbecue at the finish line at the rustic London Bridge Woolshed, one of the most tranquil of race venues.
A group of Armed Services personnel, many from the UK in search of some enjoyable cross-training, contributed almost half the field amongst the Relay Teams with 6 teams bearing the name"Roofless Efficiency" entered in both races. Their good sportsmanship and jovial spirit added much to the atmosphere both on course and at the finish line.
A special thanks to the Queanbeyan SES who provided support services and communications on the water and throughout the bike course; and to Environment ACT and the Ranger and Staff of Googong Foreshores for their kind cooperation.
Check the full results by category for the 2006 Sri Chinmoy Googong Challenge, and view the event photo gallery.