A wet morning greeted us while waking up in Auckland. We grabbed our few things and got on the road to Waitama Regional Park at 7am. The park is located about 45 minutes from South Auckland. The drive out was uneventful, but taking the curvy back roads just means slow drivers. We pulled into the park and there were a lot of cars already there. The Lactic Turkey RV was stationed by the registration tent and Shaun was running around with last minute prep. Some of the young kids were riding their bikes through the cars without their helmets while others were busy unloading gear. We parked our car and started to unload our gear. Mike and Paula arrived shortly after we did and pulled up right behind us. Beth and Paula went and got our registration stuff, which consisted mainly of advertisements and a chocolate bar apiece. The Ninja Tortoises would be #205 for this race. The day was broken down into the following segments:
She said a phrase starting with 'This is the cup game' while tapping the cup to her hand and table to a pattern. You had to be able to repeat it in order to get our score card.
Stage 1: Pedal
I believe this was by far the most challenging section for us. We quickly realized that the scale of the map was super small. We felt like we hardly went any where, but we blew past our predetermined course that we were aiming for. So we had to make some on the fly adjustments, which meant riding some of the track backwards and throwing our bikes over a few fences after riding through a paddock. Also I may have been a little short with Beth, but she was a champ with me yelling at her for check point descriptions while trying to hold a map, check point descriptions, attempting to shift, and riding a mtb. I believe it was her 4th time on a mtb. Also it was too big for her so it made getting back on it while on a hill impossible. When we do another, we'll invest in a map clip board that attaches to your bar in order to keep your hands free, but still be able to have the data at your finger tips.
On this stage we had a series of mandatory check points to keep the flow of riders in the same direction as there are actual mtb trails at the park with other users. These trails looked like fun and I wouldn't mind giving them a crack at some point in the future. However, there was one track I would be scared as hell to ride down. Super steep, very bumpy, switch back corners with no berms, and comprised mainly of clay. We spent about an hour getting the mandatory check points and a couple others before ditching the bikes. Beth also ended up taking a pedal to the shin during this stage. Giving her a bloody shin.
Stage 2: Plod
We dropped the bikes off at the cars, stopped for a bathroom break, and then got our new check point descriptions. We set out to a part of the course we hadn't been to yet, the beach. On our way down, we had a couple take a picture of us laying down in the shape of P6 to text to Shaun for some mystery points. This was comical as the woman didn't really understand English, but she managed to snap pictures with Paula's camera as Beth's camera app stopped working at that moment. So here you have 4 people laying down on the ground trying to contort their bodies into the shape of a P and a 6. The woman wanted to give us a good background, but just went with our craziness and snapped the photos. At the beach, we quickly performed the get the ball out of the pipe game. Then we proceeded up a big hill past a bunch of tourists that were probably jealous of us and wanted to play the game with us. The hills would give Beth's hamstring a fair amount of grief. She has been nursing an injury since our night time trail run in Wellington back in August. This section of the race probably wasn't her favourite, but we had some great views from the top of a couple different look outs. This stage had lots of up and down as we worked hard to get points and be back to the staging area for a quick Stage 3. Another mystery activity we did was riding the all-terrain Segways around a slalom course. Fast time got a 100pts but we got some for trying.
Stage 3: Plod
This involved us wondering a small section near the staging area looking for 20 small wooden spoons with a 2 character code written on them. All of them were found, but there were some tricky ones even though they were all located next to or on something. During this stage, we completed another mystery event: match the country outline to the country name. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then head back out to do the coastal challenge. We also dig a physical challenge of walking with a 50cent piece between your knees for a short distance, but we lost points as someone kept looking at their knees and losing the coin just at that moment.
Stage 4: Plod (along the coast)
The coastal challenge was an out and back as the original way down to the start was closed off to protect some farming. So we had to descend a long hill that was pock marked with hoof-made holes. I'm glad I didn't see anyone twist an ankle during this section, but it was more than probable given the terrain. We made our way to the water and had to traverse the coast while other teams were coming back. This was made more dangerous with the narrow slick rock we were traversing really only allowed 1 person at a time in some places. All the while you were looking for letters along the course. We managed to find 5/6 of the letters so we were unable to decipher the scrambled word.
Stage 5: Plod
We probably ate some more food at this point and hit the bathroom up again before setting out on the last plod of the day. Prior to leaving Paula grabbed us some points by completing the mystery activity of cup stacking. She got us over 30 points just for doing the activity in under 15 seconds. We then started off following the same course we took for Stage 1. Down the main road to the first check point then jumping some fences to pick up a couple more check points and a mystery activity before getting back on the road. For the mystery activity, we were able to solve 2/3 match stick logic puzzles and could have figured out the 3rd if she hadn't pointed us in the wrong direction for the last one. I could tell that soreness and pain were creeping in at this point and our pace slowed down quite a bit. We did manage to get better at judging the distances and looking at other key identifiers on the map later in the day. So we could get a pretty good approximate location by a glance. We started back to the staging with 45 minutes left thinking we would get the easy points from Stage 6, but with our slow pace we would have gotten back after the 6 hour cut-off and lost 30 points per minute. Instead we took a little round about way back and got 220 points, which appears to be 20 more points than people were getting for Stage 6.
Stage 6: Splash
So once again we didn't manage to get into the water. We bought these 4 inner tubes 2 years ago and they have been transported, blown up, and deflated multiple times, but never used for the purpose of a floatation device. Instead they manage to gather lint in our garage.
Looking at the results we tumbled from our inaugural Ninja outing of 1st to 7th (last), but we had fun with the event once again. We got lots of compliments on our costumes and managed to get our photos on the event FaceBook page right way. Beth and I tried to wait for the awards, but the event started late and awards were pushed back past 4. As we had over a 3 hour ride back and had to stop off for some food along the way we decided to leave early. So Mike and Paula were able to claim the one spot prize that the team won, a glow in the dark drink bottle.