Forster Adventure Race

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The Anaconda Adventure Race was hosted for four years by the Great Lakes, during which time adrenalin junkies and racers came from right across the country to participate in the challenging event … Building on this success, the event has since been streamlined to take on the very best aspects of the Anaconda Adventure Race and has now been revamped as the Forster Adventure Race.

On May 12, entrants participating in the Forster Adventure Race will enjoy new tracks and trails, plus an upgraded and improved short adventure course.The popular Junior Spirit is also back on 12 May, providing local kids aged between 6 to 13 with a fantastic new course and some exciting surprises. Karen Farrell caught up with husband and wife duo and ardent adrenalin junkies, Wayne and Vanda Gooley, to find out all about the Forster Adventure Race.

WG: You are President of the GLITA. What is the GLITA, and tell us about responsibilities as President of the organisation?

The Great Lakes International Triathlon Association (GLITA) was formed over 25 years ago to run Ironman when it first began in our region in the mid 1980s. In those days, we had a large committee that worked tirelessly to stage an event that was of great benefit to our community. Over the past few years, our role has been to use our expertise in supporting other events which have come to town, including adventure racing and triathlon.

My role as GLITA President is no different to any of the committee members, who are all hands on when it comes to staging an event. We have 15 members who contribute varying expertise and knowledge to each event we support.

WG: The course is widespread; where are the best vantage points to see all the action?

The Forster Adventure Race is an exciting one-day event showcasing the natural beauty of our region. The course is designed to have minimal impact on local business, with no road closures. A great vantage point to watch proceedings is on Elizabeth Beach where the swim leg will start and finish, before competitors head off on the run leg.

Forster Main Beach will be another great spot to see the adventure race finish and be on hand to watch the younger competitors in the Junior Spirit

Competitors will cross main roads on three occasions, where GLITA will provide accredited traffic marshals to control vehicle flow. These are at the southern end of Boomerang Beach, the northern end of Blueys Beach and at the end of the run leg at Bungwahl. This should ensure minimal disruption to people travelling on our roads.

WG: How many entrants are you anticipating will enter the race, and in what capacity can people enter?

We are anticipating upwards of 200 entries across all categories. So if you’re not up to do doing all four legs on your own, grab another two or three  friends and enter as a team and enjoy the fun of such an event.

VG: If there is a sporting event involving running, swimming, riding a bike or just generally breaking a sweat, you tend to be there … when did your love of sport begin – and what do you love so much about it?

I started running at university to lose a few kilos, after a rapid weight gain during my first year. I discovered that I certainly wasn’t a sprinter, but had endurance. I quickly got the running bug and felt the benefits of endorphins and fitness. That’s over 30 years ago and I’ve never stopped running, apart from occasional injury.

Meeting Wayne and having a common love for running enhanced my passion for the sport. We have travelled a lot and together, we felt that running was a wonderful vehicle to embrace and explore any place in the early morning hours. We’re lucky enough to have seen the sun rise over many beautiful sights.

I found running difficult in the later stages of pregnancy with my first child, when a dear friend gave me swimming lessons. Learning to swim at age 32 was a challenge. Now I love ocean swimming with The Turtles local swimming group, under the fine guidance of Russell Jackson.

A few years ago I was an inspired volunteer at The Ironman Triathlon. Wayne and I decided to give triathlons a go, borrowed bicycles, and we were quickly hooked. When The Anaconda came to Forster I didn’t want to miss out and was ready for a new challenge, so purchased an old mountain bike and entered a team.

I love that sport brings people together from all walks of life and all ages – sport breaks down many barriers.

VG: Do you find living in such a pristine area as the Great Lakes makes it easier to find the motivation to exercise?

Absolutely yes! When I emigrated from London to Forster, I knew I’d found paradise. I truly believe that anyone training in any sport in The Great Lakes is blessed to be surrounded by the most magnificent environment. Over the years, I have trained for a variety of events, and the Great Lakes offers every terrain for every event and discipline.

The Great Lakes is one big adventure playground, whether you’re exploring water activities or are on foot or wheels. It would be hard not to be motivated to exercise through our National Parks and State Forests and through our beautiful coastline and beaches.

VG: What sort of preparations and training have you been doing towards racing in the Forster Adventure Race? 

I’m training for a couple of events at the moment so I’m cross training, which I love – mixing running with swimming and riding. In the Forster Adventure Race I am doing the

18 km run leg. I run 4 to 5 times a week and have been increasing my distances over the past weeks. I’ve also been including hill runs, with laps of Bennett’s Head and the Forster water tower, combined with some beach runs and stairs climbs. I’m now running with the gear I will wear and carry on the day.

I will familiarize myself with the running course before race day. The week prior to the event, I will start to taper and treat myself to a massage.

Through all my training I drink lots of water, eat a mainly vegetarian diet, but enjoy bubbles and a few naughty treats. I fall into bed early, 8.30 – 9pm and rise before the sun. It’s all about balance!

VG: Are you participating as part of a team or solo?

I am participating as part of team called ‘Kings and Old Things’ – I’m one of the old things! We (Leanne and Paul King, Greg Bow and me) made up a team in last year’s Adventure Race and had so much fun together, we decided to enter the same team for this year’s Adventure Race.

The support, friendship and fun is priceless. The team’s run across the finish line is nothing less than euphoric.

WG: Events such as these can be a significant boost to local economy by bringing visitors to the region – what are your thoughts on this?

Whenever we have events in our region, we see an influx of visitors enjoying our cafés, restaurants and shops. Generally, we are a very welcoming community, and when visitors arrive there’s a great energy that ripples through our community.

Our local economy must benefit from this influx and we should support each event for this reason – even if we are not personally involved.

Thanks Wayne and Vanda.

This story was published in issue 63 of Manning Great Lakes Focus

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