Adventure racing was at its best over the weekend at the third annual Eagle Bay Epic Adventure Race in south-west Western Australia with perfect racing conditions.
1,500 competitors were treated to endless blue skies with three off-road adventure races that traversed the best of the best courses in and around Eagle Bay, Dunsborough, Meelup Regional Park and Geographe Bay.
The courses included four disciplines of mountain biking, trail running, kayaking and ocean swimming through the spectacular natural wilderness of the region with competitors racing as individuals or in relay teams.
One of Australia’s best off-road athletes Ben Allen showed us just how good adventure racing is, taking out the premier Leeuwin Long Course on Sunday in a new course record and blistering time of 4:00:38. Matt Coutts was in second place (04:21:31) and Peter Jensen in third (04:40:43).
Event Director John Jacoby of Rapid Ascent was in awe of athlete performances.
“Tackling this formidable course through one of nature’s wonderlands it is a mighty accomplishment for any athlete to tick this one off and we congratulate all who succeeded,” said Jacoby.
The Leeuwin Long Course began with a ‘Le Mans’ start of a 200m run before competitors heading on to the 23km mountain bike, 2km ocean swim, 13.5km paddle, and 12.5km trail run.
Allen is a previous winner of the Augusta Adventure Race in 2019 which the Eagle Bay Epic is modelled on – and said he’ll always make time for training because he loves challenging his mental and physical strength on course.
“I love what I do and it’s hard to give-up what we love doing… so I find the time to train and make it work on such a brilliant course,” said Allen.
“I’m from the east coast and feel honored to come over west to ride the trails, swim in their ocean – I’m really appreciative,” added Allen. “Thank you for putting on a fantastic weekend – it really is such a special race and the paddle on the ZSS was just phenomenal!”
Phip Hughes, a previous winner at Eagle Bay was in a class of her own, setting an impressive time of 5:01:43 to win the women’s race ahead of Emily Hill and Rebecca Wood.
In the relay team of four category, team ‘Speed with Style’ powered through the epic course, crossing the line in a show of their speed in 03:58:17. Team members included Esteban Hernandez, John Williams, Daniel Peters and Roc Hughes who enjoy the challenge of adventure racing together.
The Naturaliste Short Course on Saturday proved its’ popularity once again with the ‘anyone can do it’ attitude buzzing throughout. On the start list was former Bachelor and Survivor Australia star Locky Gilbert.
The course includes a 13km mountain bike, 1.2km ocean swim, 5km paddle and 7.9km trail run and was won by Brant Edwards and Katherine Ross in the solo male and female categories, posting respectful times of 02:21:37 and 02:43:45.
The Kids Adventure challenge on Saturday afternoon saw 300 super-energised kids tackle the 3.5km running and obstacle course, complete with spiders webs, hay-bale jumping, hurdles, crawling and slippery dip obstacles along the way.
Saturday afternoon also featured WA’s ‘Wife’* Carrying Championships with the winning couple taking home their weight in beer thanks to the Eagle Bay Brewing Co.
Four couples had to piggy-back one another over the 400m course that included hay-bale weaving, hurdles and limbo bars, whilst the crowd cheered and clapped from the side lines.
Based at the Eagle Bay Brewing Co, competitors finished with a celebratory beverage and entertainment in a friendly, social atmosphere.
Organisers said it was an epic weekend that showcased not only the best of the best courses, but also people’s enthusiasm for adventure racing.
“All in all, it has been an epic weekend of action in the beautiful landscapes surrounding Dunsborough,” said Jacoby.
“It was fantastic to see everyone lavish in the picture-perfect afternoons and on the superior courses,” added Jacoby. “The level of passion, support and true-grit seemed to ignite the flame of adventure racing for all.”
Further event information can be found at www.eaglebayepic.com.au