Epic battles of top athletes in tough, wet conditions at the East Gippsland Challenge

After a hot week and fires threatening the race, East Gippsland switched on a ten degree day with pouring rain, which however, magically stopped by the time of the presentations. The overall majority of registered participants did not pull out of the challenge, gathering under the arch and tents, trying to stop shivering. 

In the male category the pressure was on, with Nathan Stewart coming to the race from Newcastle. The female category promised to be extremely competitive, with a rare occasion where both of the amazing Dornom sisters making it to the event. Local triathlete Alex Keith, Shelley Bambrook - bronze finisher of the Grampians Challenge 2019 and Lisa Dominguez - winner of the Grampians Challenge 2018, all hungry for the podium.

It was a rolling bunch start on the bikes from the town centre. A group of six - Josh Roy, Rod Smith, Nathan Stewart, Ron Thomas, Angus Rodwell and young Felix Davis - took off on the uphill, gaining a gap lead from the rest of the field. After the 6 km road section, racers jumped on technical motorbike tracks and later on to the dedicated mountain bike trails of Colquhoun MTB Park.  Nathan put the hummer down on the trails and gained a minute lead from Angus Rodwell and Felix Davis.

adventurecup elizabeth dornom

In the women’s field, both Liz and Bern Dornom, Lisa Dominguez and Shelly Bambrook, strategically rode together from the start, with Alex dropping back slightly, conserving her energy for the rest of the course. Liz Dornom moved to the front and had gained a minute advantage by the transition area, over Bern who had gained another minute over Shelley and Alex, who rode exceptionally strong and came in just 30 seconds behind Shelley at the finish.

adventurecup lisa dominguez

The second leg was a 16 km trail running section. It presented a full variety of terrain, including a few technical, twisty single tracks through the bush; steep and muddy ascents and descents, the smooth Discovery trail and a road for the finish. 

adventurecup nathan stewart

Nathan had built his dominance over the run, with a 4-minute advantage over Ron Thomas who came in second to the paddle TA. The race was totally on for third place, with Josh Roy, Angus Rodwell, and Rod Smith, all coming into the transition area within the space of a minute. 

adventurecup ron thomas

Liz gained a further minute over Bern during the run, while Alex had the fastest split and came second into the TA, just 30 seconds behind Liz. The race was seriously on! 

adventurecup shelley bambrook

The paddle leg was set in the Gippsland Lakes. A challenging passage near the entrance to the ocean provided an additional test for all athletes, however, it also provided an opportunity to see a pack of dolphins playing around and cheering on all racers and teams passing by.

adventurecup teagan boote

While it seemed like nothing could stop notable paddler Nathan from winning the race, it was once again proved that it is not over until the finish line. Putting all energy in earlier during the mountain bike and run legs, he lost focus, did not concentrate on the course and made a mistake that nearly cost him the race. He lost his way on the paddle and went off-course. 

adventurecup tim boote

Luckily, he managed to spot his chasers, Josh and Angus and pushed hard and smashed it to the finish line at the end.  Angus and Josh out-paddled Ron and showed the best paddle times, coming to the finish in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, with just a second in between them - what a race! Ian Franzke finished a close fourth. 

adventurecup male podium

Liz and Bern proved their best Multisport racers in the country status and paddled first and second to the finish respectively, while Shelley put in all that she had left in the tanks and showed the best female paddle time, caught up Alex and jumped on the podium.

adventurecup female podium 

In the AR Duo category, local team East Gippsland Adventure Co, made up of adventure racing couple Tim and Teagan Boote, dominated all the way through. 

adventurecup tim boote presentation

In the relay category team, Tandoori Chickens, dad and son Davis, came in first, with Felix achieving the second riding time. 

adventurecup felix davis

The Adventure Cup ranking will be updated shortly, but it is clear Nathan will be first, with his 2nd place in the Upper Murray Challenge, and Josh and Ian second and third respectively. 

In the women’s field, it will be Elizabeth, who will make the first position, with her outstanding racing this Saturday.

adventurecup bern dornom