Wild conditions and a brutally hard course just add to the pull factor of the Magnetic Island Adventurethon.
AS THE SHAVED-LEGS BRIGADE prepare to take on the Melbourne Ironman this weekend, another gruelling contest will take place at the opposite end of the country – a race that grabs the concept of a multi-sport endurance event, takes it out into the wilds and roughs it right up.
The Magnetic Island Adventurethon is actually a series of adventure races of varying difficulty – a festival of pain if you like – that will take place 23–24 March on the eye-candy tropical island just off the coast of Townsville in Far North Queensland.
Involving 26km of open-water paddling, around 30km of mountain biking and upwards of 20km of mixed-terrain trail running, the pinnacle race – the infamous Ultra – has earned a reputation as Queensland's toughest one-day off-road endurance challenge. And that's before you take into account the feisty weather that this region is currently experiencing.
Ex-cyclone Tim – livid at being relegated from full tropical cyclone status, and probably aggravated by being given a lame name in the first place – has been getting increasingly violent over the last few days, puffing and blowing high winds and kicking up all sorts of swell.
"It's certainly going to make it interesting," says race director Joel Savage. "We're definitely not going to see the calm conditions we had last year. This will be a paddlers' race I think."
Sell-out adventure event
Despite all this, the magnetic pull of the island and the growing reputation of the Adventurethon has led to the event selling out, and some 300 competitors are currently wending their way to Maggie for this weekend's festival of adventure. And, according to race organisers, they could have easily kept taking entries.
"I increased it to 300 this year because of demand," says Savage. "I stayed strict on the ceiling to preserve the quality of the experience and because of the logistics I've got in place, but judging by the amount of people still chasing entries, we could have easily filled 350 or 400 spots."
Among those who will be racing are Melbourne's multi-sport maestro Jarad Kohlar (winner of last year's race, when he blitzed the course and set a new record) and Gold Coast–based Surf Life Saving legend (turned stuntman/adventure racer/cross-fit trainer) Guy Andrews.
Those of you who have missed out on the chance to have a crack at this weekend's event will be pleased to hear that another race is taking place in July. No one with shaved legs need apply…
WHEN The next Adventurethon weekend of adventure will take place 23–24 March 2013
WHAT Five events run over two days:
Ultra Adventurethon – a hard-core event for elites and idiots who think they're elite, featuring 22km trail running, 26km paddling and 29km of MTB. Early (pre 31 December) / late payment (up until a week before race) $90 / $149
Dirty Endurance Duathlon – Same as the ultra, minus the paddle leg. Early / late payment $80 / $120
Enduro Adventurethon – a shorter multi-sport course over the same terrain, significantly reducing the paddle (to 14km) and the run leg, and slightly decreasing the bike leg. Early / late payment $80 / $120
Taste of Adventure – a sprint course or intro event, achievable in a couple of hours. Early / late payment $59 / $89
Junior Adventurethon – aimed at up-and-coming adventure athletes from 9 to 17 years of age. Early / late payment $29 / $59
WHERE All the races take place entirely on Magnetic Island, a short boat journey from Townsville in Far North Queensland. Passenger ferries and car barges run regularly to and from the mainland. The ferry costs $16 each way for adults, while a family of four can travel return for $74 (see www.sealinkqld.com.au). It costs $89 each way to take a vehicle (see www.fantaseacruisingmagnetic.com.au). Qantas, Jestar and Virgin all fly into Townsville from major airports.
STAY A wide range of accommodation is available on the island. Check out www.magnetic-island.com.au for more information.