A diary of Wildside 2014 from two contrasting riders.

What’s Wildside really like? The real stories of adventure are back in the pack, where riders of all abilities and fitness chase their own goal or look for that rush and experience that an event like this offers. This years event article has been covered by two riders in stark contrast of experience and what they were wanting out of the event. Phill Murfett has been riding for around 9 years and has just finished his second Wildside. The experience came in handy, but there are things that this race will throw up at you, becoming a battle of mental strength. In stark contrast is Angelique Sanders, who has recently discovered mountain biking and is hooked. It is here first time to this event, with nervous energy playing a part in the unknown adventure unravelling over the 4 days. Follow a day by day diary as the fortunes, challenges unravel.

Saturday Stage 1 – Cradle Mountain

image taken by Scott Bowden with #tasendurance

Phill – Saturday morning was cold and windy not a temperature I have been used to competing in Wildside in recent years, it was 4.5 degrees but the apparent temp was -1.5 Brrr.

Ange – Wow, excitement plus! Cruising down to Cradle Mountain Chateau for my first Wildside event with 450 other riders hanging to get started. I was so nervous, thinking ‘OMG, what am I doing here!!!’ It was so cold, even rugged up with thick warm gloves. All I was thinking was please stay away rain…

Phill – I started in group ‘J’, with my mate Turbo in group ‘I’. With the short intervals between groups I was really hoping to catch him, with this being my goal for this stage. The starter counted down from 30 secs and the whistle blew. We were off at a rate of knots straight in to a downhill and left hand turn. The epic had begun! It wasn’t long before I came across Turbo, literally 500 metres into the race and there he was  on the side of the trail with a flat, so here was my chance to get some time on him. I yelled “you ok mate?” and he said “gotta flat” plus a few other choice words! I replied “See you at the finish” and clicked up a gear, thinking to myself to power on and don’t let him catch you.

The track was fast early, then we came to the creek crossing where people were clambering over each other to get through the cold mountain water and back on the bike and away again. It wasn’t long until we turned left, up the long rocky hill. With the rain starting and the wind in your face made it tough going, mixed with spongy grass and single track it looked like it was a long way to the finish.

As we headed up over a climb and down a short road, I was not paying attention, missing the left turn and went straight on for another 200 metres before I realised I was not going in the right direction. A few choice words to one’s self about time and stupidity and I was back on track, really having to motor over a gravel road before hitting the single track the finish. All in all I beat my previous time but was disappointed because I cost myself, but I still beat Turbo home.

 Ange – Pumped to finally get in my start group, but they all flew out the gates. I finally caught a few along the trail before the first creek crossing. Jumped off without incident and back on to take on the first climb of the day. Cruised past a few guys, super excited and feeling good, but telling myself ’3 days to go, 6 races to go, hold it together’. It was beautiful scenery, great fire trail roads, single track, moss and rain forest. What a stage 1… Amazing!
Cruising.
Phill - The cruise to Que River was a time to reflect and recover, talk and meet other competitors on the way. Time to take in some of the most breath taking scenery from the top of the big climb before loving a fast downhill to the lunch time spot. Our team regrouped with support crew to compare times and fuel up for the afternoon session. A while later the question was ‘Where is Turbo?’  Turbo broke his bike after he fixed his puncture. Unrideable for the remainder of the race, it found a home racked on the support car.

Ange – The cruise stage was nothing like I’d expected. Yes we ‘cruised’, but you still have that urge to go a little faster. It was nice to have a rest, refuel and have a coffee,  along with meeting some great people. Thanks to the Clayton Brothers for being my wind breaker for the cruise stage.

Saturday Stage 2 – Que River

Phill – Wow here comes the stage I hated the most last time around. It riddled me with cramp and pain that I was never sure I wanted to ride a mountain bike again so what to do different? Hoping I was stronger and fitter this time I think was the key. I moved up to group H after my time from the first stage, so I had the chance to really have a go. It was furious at the start, so being experienced and knowing the single track was coming up, I was keen to get up there with the front riders so I wasn’t held up. The plan worked and I had a clear track. We headed towards the dam track which is normally a fairly fast bit of road, but straight into the head wind soon put the idea out of your head that you were going get an easy ride, and best to save yourself for the climbing to come. Soon we were at the creek crossing where you carried your bike on your shoulders and waded through cold mountain water up to your waist, which was so relieving on screaming legs. After exiting the water and a short jog through boggy grass and deep mud piles, we reached the gravel track where the real undulating riding began. This is where it was make or break for me. I got myself into a good rhythm and mind set, with it paying off.  Soon I came across Nathan ‘FXy’ Fellows from our group, which surprised me, but was glad to see him as for years he has been a great motivation to me and my riding. We had a quick chat and he said “Mate, leave me and go”. I knew I must have been feeling great, and off I went climbing better than I ever had before on the mountain bike. Soon I was on the fast track towards the rocky downhill before the finish. I was going hard to try and take some more time off,  smashing it down the hill then hitting the squealing brakes hard, into the left hander towards the single track for a few metres and over the finish line. Wow what a ride! A Cruise in to Tullah village and Day 1 was complete

Ange – Well if I thought the scenery was good Race 1 it just got better and better, especially around the Lake – Que River. I totally smashed Roadie Delight, and tried to hang on to the train for as long as a could, riding along, it was super fast!  Hills, hills and more hills, they were never ending. I was up one and down before another appeared, not before a creek crossing (the best one of the ride). I jumped into the river,with it coming up to my hip thinking “Please don’t fall in!” It was crazy stuff but awesome !!

 

Sunday Stage 3 – Sterling Valley

Phill – Day two didn’t start so well for me. I woke with a swollen knee and was in a fair amount of pain. I got ready for the cruise to the start of Sterling Valley stage by taking a couple of pain killers and hoping for the best. As we were heading to the start I said to Turbo “Mate, take my bike. I don’t think my knee can handle the climb”. He suggested I harden up and just cruise through. I thought ok, I’ll try. As we started the stage I was in pain, but after a while on the most awesome bit of single track it came right. The track was damp under the canopy, but wasn’t boggy that you lost control or traction. A group of us were climbing well together and about two thirds of the way up we came across a group of spectators cheering us on. One guy said “awesome we must be at the top?” A spectator replied “No a fair bit to go yet”. Fair to say, this guy dropped his bundle and we didn’t see him for the rest of the stage! Once over the top of the climb, we hit the 4wd track with a steep pinch before heading towards the school grounds, followed by competitive single track to the Rec Ground. Here you had an option of taking the high or low road to gain a position close to cheering spectators which kicked in the adrenalin up, pushing me to a faster time and position at the finish line. Sore knee and all I enjoyed Sterling. It was a vast improvement on my previous experience.

Ange – I was feeling nervous now that we are placed into our Age Groups for timing. This group included 4 of the top 5 ladies. This stage had everything that I love: single track, rocks and roots. It was challenging and kept you honest. Excilarating climbs and scenery once again featured, with my running practice very handy when having to jump off to get over the Big Rocks.

Saturday Stage 4 – Montezuma Falls

Phill – With Sterling behind us and a hot afternoon upon us it was time for the challenging Motezuma stage. This is by far my favourite stage of the race, even with the knowledge of knowing its 30 km distance, starting with a steep 7 km climb on exposed roads in the 30 plus heat before hitting the downhill track towards the bridge. I was moving along fast, wanting to get to the bridge for a quick refuel before the long haul to top of Montezuma. Along the journey I was following two other riders at close range and we came to a deep boggy mud patch which was the width of the track. The only way was straight through. The guy at the front got bogged half way leaving me to smash in to the back of him, laying it over into a face plant in the mud. More fortunate riders passed me looking and laughing as I wallowed in the mud trying to get back up and moving. Once I composed myself  by swearing repeatedly, I got to the bridge with everyone having a good laugh at my expense at how filthy and smelly I had become. I have been told the view from the bridge is spectacular, but having a fear of heights, I have never been game enough to look. I shuffled across just focussing on getting off the damn thing. A rider crossing with me found it amusing to give the bridge a little bounce. I was far from impressed, stopping dead in my tracks waiting for it to stop, before I shuffling faster to the far end and off. The next section was a focused climb to the top, why? Because the best part was to come in the form of a superfast decent where the track flows and the gears are big. The lines are so incredible, you just need to navigate the big puddles and holes in the road, with this decent a total rush. I was so pumped riding fast taking risks and loving the ride if I could go back tomorrow and do it I would. This stage is so picturesque, great scenery challenging and fun.

Ange – What a great experience, actually the best! The combination of mud, tree roots, climbs, a bridge crossing at the Falls made for nothing like I have ever ridden before. The unreal 4WD tracks were totally ripped up, trying all the time to navigate huge clay puddles of depth unknown. Today was adventurous, fun and challenging, even when I face planted into a huge clay puddle, coming out looking like a clay man!

Monday Stage 5 – Spray Tunnel

Phill – The Zeehan Time Trial was a real buzz and  a test of strength, going up against the clock and your partner and chase down the riders ahead. I loved this stage as it was a real road riders paradise, with big gear fast start over some jumps in to some tight undulating single track followed by the dark spray tunnel which is even darker if you have your sunnies on! Heading up the big gravel road climb and then a gradual but fast climb on a forestry road to the finish. I gave my all and beat my partner by a few minutes and my old time considerably, so fair to say I was a happy rider. And now the cruise to Trial Harbour where the cool ocean water waited to sooth sore muscles before the hardest stage of Wildside in the afternoon.

Ange – I’m freaking out as I was not a roadie. I kept thinking that it was going to be super fast and riders will be fly past, but I surprised myself, after going for it and ending up second in my age group. Phew! What was I worried about. Best thing was the Spray Tunnel. Being lit up and halfway through, it felt like the darkness was eating me up. It was scary, but made me go faster!!

Monday stage 6 Granville Harbour

Phill – In a nut shell I cooked. I was out there far too long, nearly 2 hours and suffered the whole time. It was hot it was rough and rugged big rocky climbs, dangerous descents and after the first two crashes in the first 10 km I was clearly over it. There was a solid head wind, I couldn’t climb and with all the self-doubt creeping into my head I was literally on the road going nowhere. It wasn’t until a mate Peter came up behind me suffering just as badly as I. This was the lift I needed, just seeing a friendly face increased my spirits. I think it worked for him as well, as we got on with it until the last 3 km’s when Peter dropped off. The difference between us in the final part of the stage was I made it up a climb with Peter having to unclip and walk up.

I had forgot there was a nasty pinch up to the finish as I tried to drive it to the line. I came around the corner and saw the climb and my heart sank. I was out of legs, was beyond caring and just wanted it over. I literally crawled over the finish where Fxy and Cade, tipped six or so drink bottles over me to cool me down. Soon Peter came across the line. It was the most spent I have ever seen him. Fxy had to help him off the bike and they proceeded to pour water over him as well. Granville was the most mentally challenging part of the whole race. I was so glad to get a cold beer later that night and put the nightmare behind me.

Ange – The hill out of Trial Harbour was great riding down when cruising in, but then I remembered that I had to climb it for Stage 6.  I finally got back to the top and hit the granite trail. It was slippery and my legs were killing. The climbs so steep that only goats would get up. I felt like one of those goat’s when I actually was able to climb it. There were creek crossings that not everyone liked, judging by their comments as they got to the other side. Sand hill climbs and flying down the boulders to sandy tracks made for amazing views. If it wasn’t for my great support crew, I would have passed out at the end of that one. It was tough!

 

Tuesday Race 7 – Hells Gates

Phill – It was the last day. The internal banter was high in the group about the little competitions that were going on. I was two minutes behind Peter and had to go hard to catch him. We were starting in the same group and with a strong tail wind down the beach towards Hells Gates I thought I was a chance to get this time back. We headed off and hit the beach. I saw Peter on my left take off, so I got back past him and went to top gear. It felt like a Sunday cruise. The tail wind was so good. I needed to get away here because Peter was technically better in the bush. I reached the end of the beach ahead and into the trails which were layered with thick soft deep sand. There was lots of getting off and running. Peter caught up to me with around 7 km’s to the finish as we headed along the gravel road towards the finish. Turbo, Peter and I took turns on the front into the wind, with the km’s ticking away. I was ready to call the race with Peter off but there was this hissing sound. Peter had a puncture with around 3 km’s to go. I took the chance and went for it taking off to the finish line tucking in behind any one I could that could give me a tow to the road. As I hit the road I took the front and clicked into top smashing myself to the finish. Waiting for the final result in our own little race, it was concluded Peter beat me by a few seconds. The result didn’t matter, as I had achieved nearly everything I set out to do this time around at Wildside. I beat all my previous times. I rode faster and stronger and really overall enjoyed every part of the event from race stages to our nightly discussions about the days racing. The overall camaraderie of our group, and to have been with such great friends made the event totally memorable. (except for Granville. I’m still scarred!)

Ange – I was extremely nervous about having to ride sand trails and dunes. My legs were okay, but my arms were aching from hanging on the day before. There were 10kms on beach. A free ride hopefully, but head wind somewhere. My coach and crew always say ‘Go Hard or Go Home” I kept saying to myself on last day. We hit the beach and I was witness to an amazing view for the next 10 km. Flying at over 50km hour was truly a rush. The rest of the stage had everything with a pine plantation very tough, with black sand making it difficult to stay on the bike. Heading to the finish, I was battling the head wind on my own. I was thinking “How much longer? Don’t be soft – finish it off.  Toughen up Ange !” I reached the 3 km to go sign, felt super pumped and gave everything, hitting the road, followed by gravel and had to finish in the soft sand.

Finishing reflections…..

Angelique Sanders – 3rd Female Masters

Ange – The feeling when finished was unexplainable. I felt like I could do it all again due to the adrenaline, joy and excitement. I am happy for everyone single person that had completed Wildside, wether only some stages or all, it was a life time experience. Seeing Ben and Rowe from Launceston at the end after their wins, I could not have been happier They put so much time and energy into helping others to improve and be a part of this wonderful sport is inspirational. A big thank you to my support crew and roomies. Mark Connelley from EFM Fitness Launceston and Roomies Pete Rogers and Clint Dean for all their advice and support.

Phill Murfett

Phill – In finishing I’d like to mention how happy I was for Ben Mather. He has helped me with my riding, my bikes and I’m lucky to be able to call him a mate. He totally deserved his win and I spoke with him that morning and he knew exactly what he was going to do and executed it perfectly. Well done Ben. I was happy for you too Row, and to Ange Sanders. What a machine 3rd in Masters Women at her first hit out. What a sensational effort!

If I don’t mention my travelling crew I’ll be castrated so here you go guys… Support Crew Louise and Robyn along with riders, Single Speeder Cade Richardson from Queensland, Nathan Jackson, Brian Heazlewood, Peter Muller, Clive Tilsey, Zane, Chris Jackson, Keith Turbo Murfet, Nathan FXy Fellows, Wayne Chapman. Thanks Guys, lets look forward to our next adventure and thank you Wildside.

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The rising star of women’s distance running

Last weeks Zatopek track meet is regarded as one of the most prestigious meets in Australia, with the signature 10,000m event renowned for fast times and a qualification opportunity for upcoming Australian teams. Whilst it has been well documented in the media the successful performance’s of Tasmanian’s, including Jake Birtwhistle in the U20 De Castella 3000m, there is one Tasmanian native who has flown well and truly  under the radar…..

 

Milly Clark is a runner on the rise, after an outstanding run to finish third in the women’s 10,000m, smashing her best time and going within striking distance of a Commonwealth Games qualifying standard. Little did most know, but the Sydney based athlete spent her early years residing in Launceston. Millie has been generous enough to answer some of my questions, exposing this talent to the local Tasmanian endurance scene.

TAS ENDURANCE: Can you tell us when and why you left Tasmania?

MILLY CLARK: I actually left Tassie quite some time ago, when I was 11 years old. My family moved overseas to Germany then - and I have been out and about ever since. Nonetheless, I still refer to Tas as “home” despite having spent more than half of my life outside of it. I guess it will always hold a special place in my heart

TE: Where in NSW are you currently living and what group do you train with?

 MC: I live pretty much right in Sydney. I have a wonderful location - its very central and close to the track/uni/friends houses. That is all I really need  My training group is based in Parramatta and go by the name “TFS” coached by James Fitzgerald. Up until about three months I was training alone with another coach. I made the transition a little while ago and I absolutely love it! The group is fun and we all get along so well. Since joining the group I have been jumping out of my skin to get to training and I love it. James, or “Jimbo” as we all call him – is just brilliant.

TE: What do you like the best about your current location?

MC: Sydney can be very overwhelming due to its size compared to somewhere like Launceston, which is where my family is based. It took a while to get used to – but now I can’t see myself living anywhere else. I love Sydney for the greater number of choices and opportunities there are around. There is always something to do in the city – and really only an hour flight to Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane or even Launceston. Sometimes it is nice to have the space and the chance to venture around the place.

TE: What distances are your favourite and which are you currently training for leading in to 2014?

 4. At the moment, I am enjoying racing 5kms the most. I don’t quite have the ‘speed’ for the 1500m and haven’t really done the high mileage required to run a low 32 minute 10km just yet. Slowly getting there though  I like the 5km because I find it a really unique mix of speed and endurance - i like the challenge!

 

TE: You must be happy with your Zatopek 10,000m run of 33.27. Did the race go as you expected it?

MC: Honestly, I am absolutely THRILLED with how Zatopek 10,000m turned out! I have never raced 10km on the track before and in previous years I have always run the 1500m event there. I decided to give it a go when I moved coaches – so I was a bit anxious as to how I would fair. I thought i was in reasonable shape after the cross country season – but nothing like this! My goal was to run under 34 minutes, so to come away with a mid 33 minutes and a close qualifier for the Commonwealth Games was so surprising! I had a lot of help from the crowd getting excited as I made my way around 25 laps – so I think i really have the atmosphere and the support to thank for my effort! Perhaps I am a bit crazy to admit I loved every step of that race and would be excited to give it another go next year some time.

TE: Does this result make you reassess your goals for 2014, or does it justify your current plan?

MC: After coming to close to a qualifier it definitely gives me more to think about for the rest of the track season! I had never seen myself as a 10km runner before, but now I just wonder if I trained a little more specifically for it - whether a qualifier is possible or not.  I will race the  Steeple and 5km distances during this 2014 season and see what happens. I may venture overseas to the USA where they have some good 10km races to see if I can chase a time in a high calibre meet

TE: You have won a national title in the 3000m steeplechase. It would have to be one of the hardest track events. What do you like about it?

 MC: I first ran a steeple about three years ago. But funnily enough, up until I was 18 years old I had always been a 400m hurdler and sprinter. The thought of running more than 1 lap was a DEFINITE no! Its weird how things end up. I started doing more distance events and cross country about 5 years ago – so it seemed that having my hurdle background and my new love for the distance races that a steeplechase would be the best combination! I enjoy the challenge and the knowledge that I am competing in an event that not many people want to take on. That said – I do think I now lack the speed and strength to be really competitive, so we shall see what happens over the coming years.

TE: What’s your advice to any young runners living in Tasmania about finding success on the national scene?

MC: When I started distance running, I was so far behind everyone else and it just really frustrated me. People kept telling me to be patient, and consistent with my training and things will soon fall into place. Having had a few successful races, I now understand what everyone was talking about! The best thing about running is that you can do it anywhere and anytime. All you really need is a pair of shoes, a bit of dedication a consistent training approach. Every step, every workout, every week, every month builds toward something really great – just keep ticking off small goals and I think anyone can achieve what they want to.

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Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic in pictures

 

Launceston showed it’s passion for the sport of cycling and proving this is an important event on the cities calendar.

In one of his final races for Orica Green Edge, Wezman tried his best to make something happen for the Tassie riders

The strong man from Campbelltown was another who made em earn it. Will be a massive boost to Drapac in 2014.

The racing speed was blistering. Clocked at over 70kmph.

‘The Hoff’ was a genuine contender but had a night to forget after smashing his chain and endured a lonely walk home.

 

The orange army had the numbers, but still couldn’t break through for the win. AJ third by 0.04 seconds behind Neil Van der Ploeg.

Ben Grenda contemplates another opportunity gone. When will the crit man break through for a win in his home race after so many near misses?

To see Caleb Ewan in the flesh was a revelation. Believe the hype!

Follow Tas Endurance on Facebook and instagram to see more pictures in the coming days.

 

 

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