Where Legends Are Made!

by Kim Beckinsale - Team MD Wild Women

Where Legends Are Made!

The Mountain Designs Wild Women team lined up for the inaugural Legend Expedition Adventure Race in Jindabyne in February 2023. The 500km Wild&Co ARWS Regional Qualifier event was staged in the Snowy Mountains over six days and involved navigating with map and compass through 14 stages of the course on foot, kayak and mountain bike. Only teams who completed the full course and found all the check points can truly claim 'Legend' status. Hear from Kim Beckinsale on how legends were made.

Legend Expedition Race 2023

The Mountain Designs Wild Women were represented by Kim Beckinsale, Alina McMaster, Del Lloyd and Nicola Jelinek. On paper this was a super experienced team: just google these names and you will see what their background in the sport and its disciplines looks like!

The course planner was revealed 10 days prior to the start, so that teams could organise and pack food and equipment into bike boxes, four gear tubs and a paddle bag. Bike boxes were allowed to weigh 30kg per box and tubs just 25kg and the paddle bag 20kg. You would think that being smaller and lighter would be an advantage here, but it was not, as at our first weigh in, all boxes were a few kilograms over. So as a team we spent quite a while shuffling, sorting and discarding items we may not need. Skimping on food and gear can be a disaster in these conditions if the weather turns poorly.

In addition to gear checks there are also competency checks which include navigation, first aid, use of tracking device, swimming and kayaking capsize and re-entry. This is to ensure that individuals are capable of surviving up to six days in remote areas with just their mandatory gear and their team mates.

So, what did the Legend Expedition Race look like on paper?

  • Leg 1: Trek - Jindabyne - 5km, Elevation Gain/Loss 0m
  • Leg 2: Climb & Abseil - Jindabyne Rock - 500m, Elevation Gain/Loss 100m
  • Leg 3: Gorge Trek & Swim - Snowy River - 15km, Elevation Gain 200m/Loss 340m
  • Leg 4: Mountain Bike - Cootralantra - 51km, Elevation Gain 950m/Loss 570m
  • Leg 5: Kayak - Lake Eucumbene - 40km, Elevation Gain/Loss 0m
  • Leg 6: Trek - Monaro High Plains - 45kms, Elevation Gain 1,100m/Loss 1,285m
  • Leg 7: Cave Rogaine - Yarrangobilly Caves - 8km, Elevation Gain 50m/Loss 50m
  • Leg 8: Mountain Bike - Spicers Creek & Cumberland Trails - 85km, Elevation Gain 1,650m/Loss 100m
  • Leg 9: Kayak (towing MTBs on Kayak) - Talbingo Reservoir & Talbingo River - 20km, Elevation Gain/Loss 100m
  • Leg 10: Mountain Bike - to Maragle - 11km, Elevation Gain 680m/Loss 50m
  • Leg 11: Trek Rogaine - Maragle - 7km, Elevation 50m/Loss 50m
  • Leg 12: Mountain Bike - Happy Jacks to Guthega - 143km, Elevation Gain 4,250m/Loss 3,800m
  • Leg 13: Trek - Main Range Trek Kosciuszko - 28km, Elevation Gain 1,073m/Loss 1,328m
  • Leg 14: Mountain Bike - Thredbo Valley Trail to Finish in Jindabyne - 47km, Elevation Gain 740m/Loss 1,085m

Total Distance - over 500km

Total Time - teams had 6 days to complete the course as a team of 4

Total Elevation Gain - Approximately 10,000m

Total Elevation Loss - Approximately 8,500m

Total Check Points - 35

Kayaking in Leg 5.

Kayaking in Leg 5. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

Mountain Designs Wild Women Team Shot.

A team shot while trekking Leg 6. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

Challenges the Mountain Designs Wild Women faced throughout the event:

  1. Trying to get our maps marked up before the start and not miss the bus transport to the start.
  2. Del overcoming her fear of heights and choosing to be one of the two to complete the climb and abseil on Leg 2.
  3. Jumping into the Snowy River and choosing to swim sections on Leg 3 instead of trying to hobble over rocks.
  4. Night navigation on the kayak when you can only see about two metres in front of you because of thick fog.
  5. Packing and unpacking our bikes into boxes without losing something important and getting our bikes going for the final ride.
  6. Managing to get through all of the MTB sections without any race destroying mechanicals.
  7. Staying alert in the caves on Leg 7 when we had had no sleep for the past two nights.
  8. Working out the best way to strap two bikes to a kayak and then tow the kayak for the next 22km when time was running out fast to get onto the water before the DARKZONE cut-off!
  9. Problem-solving when Alina could not find any of the batteries for her lights (end Leg 7) that she thought she had packed. We then had to ration and share what we had to get through the next four stages until she remembered they were in Nicola's box.
  10. Navigating on the bike using 1:50000m maps, when Kim lost her night specs we only had one set of glasses between the three of us…thus, we had to bounce back from a little navigational hiccup as a result of this (see point 10 in highlights).
  11. Keeping going after dark on the 150km bike ride after riding since 6am and realising that there was not going to be anything open in Eucumbene or Nimmo…we were dreaming of a bacon and egg roll!
  12. Sleeping in a bivvy, bivvy bag and bothy bag and then somehow managing to get all of the mandatory gear packed back into bags.
  13. Realising we had climbed the wrong peak on the Main Range Trek - Leg 13 and having to descend and climb a bit more!
  14. Riding the TVT MTB trails sleep deprived and tired - Nicola without rear brakes without any serious crashes, we were falling like dominos at times.
  15. Getting to the Finish Line, without being short-coursed. As a team you must travel together from start to finish, carrying all of your mandatory gear, food and any extras, your equipment must not fail, and you must also find all of the CPs to be in a position to be ranked and not receive any penalties. This is what Adventure Racing is all about and the MD Wild Women achieved this at the Legend Expedition Race.
Main Range Trails.

Main Range trails. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

Highlights for the Mountain Designs Wild Women during the event:

  1. Trekking down the Snowy River and not freezing to death when we had to jump in the water and swim.
  2. Finding checkpoint 7 on the Leg 5 Kayak after spending two hours searching rocky points in the pitch black.
  3. Getting to the end of the Leg 5 Kayak in the daylight and not needing hot shower to warm up.
  4. Stopping for lunch at an alpine hut on the Monaro High Plains Trek and then finding the final checkpoint after a little navigational glitch occurred when tracks on the ground were not as they appeared on the map.
  5. Swim in the thermal pools on the Cave Rogaine and then sleeping in our bike boxes for an hour.
  6. Spectacular views and great descents on the MTB in the morning after riding all through night.
  7. Making it to Talbingo before the DARKZONE cut-off and then enjoying the paddle towing our bikes on kayaks - it was nowhere near as hard as we thought it was going to be.
  8. Nailing all the CPs on the Maragle Rogaine even though it did take us six hours and then sleeping in our bivvies for three hours (total sleep - four hours in three days).
  9. Sleeping in the CSIRO Hut for three hours after riding and pushing our bikes up hills for more than 15 hours (total sleep seven hours in four days).
  10. Working out that were in the wrong creek after searching for CP 25 for a few hours and then getting to the TA at Guthega by midday! Singing 'Wild Women Do' when we arrived at the TA thanks to Lauren, one of the volunteers.
  11. The Main Range Trek was stunning - we were feeling on top of the world here - especially when we found all three CPs and saw snow on the mountains. Eating Jan's fruitcake which may have had a bit of rum in it.
  12. Running (yes running) down from the top of Mt Kosciuszko range to Thredbo Village - yes we could still run but were thankful to have our trekking poles.
  13. 'Sending it' down the Thredbo Valley Road - the hot mix was a great reward for our tired legs and Alina was on fire!
  14. Finding the last 2 CPs on the bike meaning we had now found 100% of the CPs and just had to get to the finish to become legends. Nicola managing to ride this section of the TVT without rear brakes - they simply fell off her bike!
  15. That finish line feeling just after 3.30am on Friday 3rd March - completing the inaugural Legend Expedition Adventure Race in 2nd place overall and 1st Female Team in just under four days and 18 hours.
MTBing into Talbingo.

MTBing into Talbingo. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

The Finish Line Feeling.

The finish line feeling. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

The Mountain Designs Wild Women are true legends of the sport of adventure racing and want to continue to inspire other women to get out into the wild and go on an adventure no matter how big or small. So if you want to give this sport a go why not check out some of the Wild & Co events that Mountain Designs sponsors such as Mountain Designs GeoQuest, Mountain Designs Hells Bells and the Wild Women Adventure Race.

Before you do embark on your next adventure remember that Mountain Designs can provide you with some of the most reliable gear and equipment to ensure that you not only survive but enjoy being out there in the mountains!

The Successful Wild Women Adventure Race Team.

The successful Wild Women Adventure Race team. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

Alina On The Mic.

Alina on the mic. (Image courtesy of Murilo Mattos)

Photo Credits

All images supplied by Wild Women and Murilo Mattos.




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