At 8am with course plotted we were off. First leg was a trek section with a few controls around the regional park then off across farmland, over a 300m hill, along a stream and into the first transition. Some early navigation issues saw us fighting through bush for a 20 minutes before eventually doing U-turn to fight back through the same bush and eventually find the control on a track. With just about the whole of the race now in front of us we knew we had a hard days work ahead to get a decent placing. But with Theta behind us, having raised over $14,000 for curekids we chanted our mantra "It's all about the kids" & set off to pass as many teams as we could. From the highest point in the park it was down to get our feet wet crossing at the first stream crossing before the big 300m climb and descent.
Meanwhile back at the first transition, the support crew were waiting in a paddock with a rapidly diminishing number of tents. We eventually turned up in 21st place an hour behind the leaders, Adrian said something about us being "somewhere around the middle of the race" - YEAH RIGHT! We knew there were 2 teams behind as as we'd overtaken them coming over the hill. Thanks to great work from our support crew we were through transition in a few minutes, well fed, watered and now on bikes.
Our speedy transition meant we were now up with the race and we immediately overtook a couple of teams as we biked uphill. A typical adventure race bike section saw large sections requiring bike pushing as we headed over the second 300m hill of the day. Great teamwork on this section as we shared around the tasks of bike pushing. Over the top of the hill and onto the downhill - which started as a freshly cut track through manuka and completely unrideable. Eventually were were out to forestry roads and some easy riding before a final nasty traverse through forestry got us into the 2nd transition. Great work on the bikes saw us gain around 5 places and after another super-speedy transition we were onto the final trek chasing hard at the teams in front. The final stage was a stream bash, then climb over the third 300m peak of the day, bush bash off the back, long descent to the beach and 10km of beach/rocks/wading to get home. The stream and hill was went fine but the descent off the back was through bush on an indistinct ridge. Unfortunately we ended up descending the wrong ridge, but then we bumped into a few other teams (including microsoft). By then we'd worked out exactly where we were & that we needed to climb for a while then traverse to right descent line - we didn't tell this to the other teams who didn't seem to know where they were & headed off in a variety of directions. We were right with our assessment & after the traverse hit the control spot on wondering how many places the mistake had cost us this time? Imagine our surprise to find we'd gained around 5 places to a top-10 spot! The long run downhill had us on the beach for the final coasteering section. We were in our element with the training we'd been doing and moved strongly on the rock scrambling to gain a few more places. Finally there was a slog along the boulder covered beaches following a team we couldn't catch and with another right behind us meaning we couldn't relax & had to keep running whenever there was some sand. This is where mantra#2 really took over "Keep calm & Theta on...". Back at Tapapakanga there was climb to the finish line, and all the teams in front of us had used the road we'd all run down at the start. Apparently the MC at the finish announced that we were gone the wrong way when we didn't take the road. I think the finish is best summed up by Jeff's status update sent as we crossed the line ... In the Theta spirit of innovation, as we all stood on our toes, eyes fixed to the west, our guys surprised us by entering the paddock from the the east, behind the PA announcer and crossed the finish line from the other direction for 7th place over all and the IT cup! What a recovery! What a story! A legend!
Winning back the IT cup was fantastic but the sweetest moment of the whole day though was when they announced that Theta was awarded the "Spirit of the Race" trophy for the people that most represent the values of cure kids and the ethos of the great adventure race. I will quote David's email here as he describes the reasons behind this award: This award is usually given to an individual who through their attitude and approach to the entire Cure Kids event (from fund raising all the way through to the race itself) embodies the beliefs and ethos of Cure Kids. In our case it was awarded to the Theta Team but in reality to Theta as a whole for the following reasons:
- Our fantastic fund raising efforts, the variety of ways we raise funds (such as the Auctions) and the way that the entire company gets involved and behind the fund raising.
- The Team Theta training - the effort put in, the fact that we do a full race simulation, and the quality of our blogs on our training efforts
- In the race our never give in attitude, and in particular in this race coming from 21st at the first transition to finishing 7th overall and winning the IT Cup (again)
Another piece of feedback was from other teams competing who described Team Theta as "legends" which is a pretty amazing legacy from only 3 years. All in all we should all be very proud of the company we work for, the culture it embraces (lead from the top) and each other for winning the Spirit of the Race award as in my opinion is more of an accomplishment and says more about us as an organisation than our final position in the race. So finally for 2014, I just want to say a big, big thankyou to everyone involved on the race day itself and everyone involved in our fundraising. Theta raised over $14,000 and the whole race raised over $300,000 for this fantastic cause. Roll on 2015! "Pain is temporary, a cure is forever"