Canterbury multisporter Sam Manson has combined with a handful of his usual rivals to claim this year’s Wulong Mountain Quest title, a multiday race regarded by many endurance athletes as the stage Adventure Racing World Champs.
Manson teamed up with Kathmandu Coast to Coast champions Dougal Allan, Sam Clarke and Simone Maier to take on the team event and battled the searing Chinese heat and a tough course that bounced between 300 and 2,000meters of elevation to head off a stacked international field.
The opening prologue lasted just 15 minutes on day one, before the next three took over 5 hours each day to complete for the fastest teams. “The team that wins in not necessarily the one with the fastest athletes,” said Manson, “but the one who can manage each other and themselves the best. This can be nutrition, temperature control in the heat, teammate moral and efficiency in moving around the technical course,’’ he added.
The first long day was the hottest of them all and became a battle of survival as the Kiwi team descended a mountain trail of 1000meters over 5 kilometres whilst exposed in 40+ degrees heat. “Our team and every other team were shattered at the end of this stage and needed a lot of water and shade to recover.”
There were extreme cases of heatstroke with one other kiwi athlete in another team only leaving hospital over a week after that first day.
Manson’s crew earned a 10-minute lead and began the next day quite confident which included swimming, kayaking and a huge uphill ride all again in the heat. “We worked extremely well as a team looking after each other and making sure no one falls behind for any reason. That day we extend our lead by 20mins.
The crew extended their lead to over 20 minutes, a buffer they would eventually need all of. And on the final day, the clouds rolled in and some rain provided a little relief although the temperatures were still in the mid-30s.
This caused some of the team to pull out due to the heatstroke incidents and stomachs bugs.
The run – bike – run day which also suited the Chinese teams saw Manson and his team slip from out in front and by the time we finished the bike section there were a couple of local teams in front of them.
The eventually crossed the line un fifth, however, thankfully the advantage they’d built up earlier in the race ensured they kept their overall lead to be awarded the 2019 Wulong Mountain Quest Championship.
“It’s an incredible feeling to win such a race. You must avoid sickness, mechanical issues with gear, and there is definitely some luck involved. The event contains so many variables which makes the win so much more glorious,’’ said an extremely pleased Manson.