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November 10, 2011
RUNNING 20km over two mountains
along mostly dirt track with some
loose downhill surfaces might not be
everyone's idea of a walk in the park.
But it's all relative -- just ask CPL
Jessica Robson, pictured left.
On October 21 she was the leading
female in the Defence mountain run-
ning championship which traversed
the summits of Mt Majura and Mt
Ainslie in Canberra.
When this newspaper went to
press, she was about to set off for a
700km adventure race in Tasmania.
Hmmmm, let's weigh this up.
20km or 700km? Hard to decide.
CPL Robson, based at Russell
Offices in Canberra, is part of a team
of four who will trek, mountainbike
and kayak in a leg of the XPD adven-
ture racing world championship from
These adventurers race day and
night over a 700km course pushing
themselves to the limits of endurance.
The much shorter, dare I say it, less
strenuous Defence mountain running
championships started and finished at
Mt Majura Vineyard, which, to many of
us, sounds much more civilised.
"I didn't specifically train for the
[mountain running] event this year as
my focus over the last few months has
been on XPD," CPL Robson said.
"Therefore I spent a lot more time
on the bike and water than I have run-
ning in previous years."
The only other time she contested
the title was 2009 when it was won
conclusively by Commonwealth
Games marathon runner FLGOFF
"I think most of the guys would
have trouble keeping her pace. I was
just lucky this year."
CPL Robson had a dual role
because aside from competing, she
also organised the championship.
Nine runners finished the race.
It was won by WO2 Neil
McCalllum and CPL Robson was fifth
overall and the leading female.
GPCAPT Hayden Marshall was
sixth, just less than a minute behind.
From 20km to 700km
IT WAS more than just a personal tri-
umph for CPL Kirsten Nicolle when
she finished the 111km Hawkesbury
Canoe Classic on October 23.
After pulling out of the race after
eight hours with a stomach bug last
year, CPL Nicolle, of 37SQN, fin-
ished the race this year at Brooklyn
at 6.58am alongside a fellow female
competitor who was a bit soggy after
tumbling out of her K1 boat 10km
from the finish.
CPL Nicolle and the crew of a
six-person outrigger nearby helped
the woman back into her boat and
CPL Nicolle accompanied her to the
Because she spent about 20 min-
utes assisting the other paddler, her
time was adjusted to about 14 hours
30 minutes, giving her second place
in the Ladies Open Medium Rec 1
Even more importantly, in
the process she raised a little over
$1500 for the Arrow Bone Marrow
Transplant Foundation, which con-
ducts research and development into
bone marrow diseases.
Two different perspectives from Air Force competitors in the
fundraising 111km Hawkesbury Canoe classic
paddler to the
finish line after
Just follow trail
of green lights
FLTLT Skye Smith
PADDLING down the river on a moonless night is
something that will live in the memory of WGCDR
Max Merritt who participated in the 35th 111km
Hawkesbury Canoe Classic.
Starting the race at 4.45pm on October 22,
WGCDR Merritt, from Headquarters Air Combat
Group at RAAF Base Williamtown, completed the
race in 15 hours and 12 minutes.
The Hawkesbury Canoe Classic is run each year
from the Windsor Bridge down the Hawkesbury to
the Brooklyn Bridge.
This year there were about 530 paddlers in 360
canoes and kayaks that were decked out with glow
sticks which threw out green light and helped every-
one navigate when the light vanished.
"Between the 30km to 40km mark was a real strug-
gle, but then things seemed to settle down, I got into a
rhythm and continued on," WGCDR Merritt said.
He said getting out of the kayak after such a long
time of paddling an average of 7.5km/h was an effort.
"But the elation of finishing was fantastic. I still had
plenty of energy left and with the outgoing tide I was
going faster at the finish than I had for the entire race."
The legs were very unstable back on dry land though.
"The night was much darker than I thought it
would be, virtually no moon until 3.30 in the morn-
ing and when I did see it for a couple of minutes it
disappeared into the fog never to be seen again. The
effect of the incoming tide at Windsor was much
stronger than I hoped for too."
WGCDR Merritt took to the race for the first
time this year although he has been competing in the
City to Surf fun run for a number of years.
It took him more than 10 months to gradually
build up his training from one hour a weekend to
eight hours a weekend.
WGCDR Merritt raised $592 for the Arrow Bone
Marrow Transplant Foundation.
The event raised about $180,000.
Stopping to help
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