After several years of being under the supervision of our fearless leader and witnessing theamount of hours he puts in to supporting all his athletes on race day, I was more than happy to jump at the opportunity alongside Lorraine (mum) to support Chris and the team taking on the Motu Challenge and Motu 160. It was a new experience for me, never having crewed for multisport before I was pretty excited. The weekend was off to a great start, the weather was amazing which made it a pleasant drive to Opotiki. When we arrived at the accommodation we took the opportunity to unpack and get settled in. At this stage Lorraine and I became very distressed as we soon uncovered that the television was out of commission, we were going to miss a 2 hour episode of Coronation Street (I know right, no Coro). After coming to terms with the situation, it was time to move on and focus on the reason we were there in the first place. The three of us spent time going through a gear check ensuring everything was in order ready for Lorraine and to execute transition with precision, we also spent an hour going through participant notes assessing the level of assistance we could provide as support crew. As we prepare to call it night we were convinced that we have everything covered, Chris enters the room with his paddle leaning it against the door “I will leave this here so I don’t forget it in the morning or I’ll be up a creek without a paddle” he says as we all chuckle away at the thought of it.
The morning arrives and we are all up bright and early, we pile in to the van leaving Chris to clear the room and lock up. At the start line we wish all the Perimeter crew the best for their race and send them on their way, then make our move to the first transition. Fairly relaxed with plenty of time up our sleeve we pull up and unload the kayak only to realise that Chris is up a creek without a paddle, yes that’s right no paddle. Our fairly relaxed state soon turns in to panic, I wasted no time in getting my 50km round trip underway to retrieve the paddle and continue our day. With the paddle incident behind us we arrive at Matawai with minutes to spare, the first of the crew to arrive was Bobby as strong as always and the remaining crew rolling in thick and fast shortly after. I was feeling quite proud that Lorraine and I made it to transition, at that moment out of corner of my eye I catch Trev running up and down transition looking for his bike. Even I forgot where I put it in my state of panic (sorry Trev). With the Motu 160 crew well on their way, we were waiting for the challenge competitors to finish their run leg and took the opportunity to taste the local coffee.
Bobby had a strong run and held his 3rd spot with a considerable lead over 4th. Chris arrived with a concerned look on his face bringing to my attention he forgot his paddle, I informed him it was under control and sent him on his way. We loaded the van and headed for the kayak transition to assist Bobby, along the way we got a good perception of how things were sitting and calculated the order of arrival at the river. We arrived at the kayak transition to get Bobby’s Boat ready, only to find his boat was occupied by every single ant in Waioeka gorge. After evacuating the occupants Bobby arrived at the kayak still comfortably in third. As we head up to the bike rack assuming we had several minutes before Chris turns up, he comes flying in to transition he had destroyed the bike leg and made up a lot of ground and still appeared rather comfortable. However at the exit of the kayak comfortable was not a word I would use for the pair of them, Bobby had slipped in to 4th with only seconds separating them and making the comment “that is the most pain I have ever experienced” it was race on. After having Lorraine go through the notes meticulously I was fully aware of the assistance I could provide, I had his bike off the rack ready to push him off with a 200m head start and putting him back in 3rd with a battle on his hands. Chris pulled in to transition with a look on his confirming that the kayak was in fact a painful experience, not to mention also adding a swim leg to the race. With only 15km remaining the tanks were empty and they were working hard to get home.
The whole weekend was extremely inspiring to be a part of, both Bobby and Chris described the race as being “tougher than ironman” yet willing to return next year. Without hesitation I confirmed my spot again as support crew, it was an awesome experience on the side line supporting the crew and witnessing how tough this whole multisport game really is. Great work team looking forward to next year, you never know one day I might be crazy enough to front up to the challenge myself.
P.S Cheers Robert Huggins for the beers and chips after the race they went down a treat.