Like gladiators going into a battle where there can only be one survivor, six multisport warriors duked it out for over five hours with no one willing to give an inch. It took until the last hour of the day for one individual to establish himself as the overnight leader.
Defending champion Jarad Kohlar bookended the day, starting with a run that had his fellow competitors stretched and after absorbing pressure during the road cycle and paddle was able to move away on the mountain bike leg to take pole position with a finishing time of 5h 05m 20s which is 2m 51s ahead of Luke Haines and 6m 10s to Tasmanian Mark Hinder.
The scenic Hazards opened the event with a 16.6km run around to Hazards Beach, across to Wineglass Bay, over the lung busting saddle and through to the cycle transition at the village green in downtown Coles Bay. Kohlar started quickly, forcing himself onto the single track in the lead. Hobart rising star Alex Hunt shadowed Kolars every move with the two still together at the top of the saddle. A pack of chasers including Jono Hitchens, James Correy, Mark Padgett, Luke Haines and Mark Hinder were over 3 minutes in arrears.
The 60km Coles Bay Road road cycle greeted competitors with a strong headwind and showery conditions. Hunt rode strongly to move past Kohlar and hit the next transition with a 2 minute lead into the paddle. Haines, Hinder, Hitchens and Padgett also rode extremely well to finish with Kohlar. It was great to see all the main contenders waiting for their 5 minute time out to expire before hitting the water, whilst watching Hunt paddle into the distance.
A strong current greeted paddlers as the tide was dropping quickly. By the end of the first of 2 laps of the 14km course Hunt had been gobbled up and Padgett had lost some contact with the others. Jono Hitchens hit the beach first with 30 seconds over Haines, Kohlar and Hinder. At this stage everyone in the lead group had the chance to finish day one on top.
The fast and flowing 20km mountain bike course was to Kohlars liking, making the break and establishing the lead. All the tassie guys put in a great effort today with Hinder and Hitchens taking it up to the mainlanders right until the finish. Mark Padgett found the pace a little too hot towards the end, but will be back tommorow when anything can happen. Alex Hunt hung on well on the mountain bike and will be looking forward to hitting the pillow tonight.
Kohlar explained his day’s ups and downs. “Alex Hunt is a machine. The whole run I was trying to drop him. Got on the road bike and he was still with me. As soon as he can learn how to paddle he will be a big threat. I had a shocking paddle. I can normally put one or two minutes on most of the field in the paddle. I lost the little lead I had and was 40 seconds behind out of the boat. I got some weed on the rudder and decided on the last lap to follow Mat Dalziel on the inside of the oysters, taking a bit of a risk, which was probably about a minute slower. I had to go hard on the bike early. Normally I will try and keep my heart rate level, have a lot of food and drink, you’ve got to race tommorrow, but I had to put the head down”.
Looking ahead to tommorow Kohlar was optimistic. “It suits me a lot better, so I am quietly confident if no mishaps happen. Fingers crossed the wind picks up on the first paddle, because the rougher the water the better for me.”
It was great to see six women line up for the individual race. French adventure racer Myriam Guillot lead from the gun to finish 33m 14s ahead of veteran Ruth Hutchinson and 51m 40s in front of Meghan Johnston. Guillot had arrived in Tasmania yesterday and knew very little of the course. “I think I was first but was not totally sure as there were other girls, maybe in teams. I am not sure about tommorrow, but know it starts with a paddle and after that I can’t remember” said Guillot. No matter what the course throws at Guillot tommorow, I’m sure it’s just a opportunity to warm up for the World Adventure Racing Championships to be held at the end of the month over an 800km cousre around Tasmania. Guillot and her partner Jacky Boisset who wasn’t too far back in the mens race, compete professionally for the French Thule adventure racing team.
Full day on e results can be found at the Freycinet Challenge Website