G4 Challenge - National Selection

Austrian National Selection 27th and 28th September.

G4 Challenge: It stands for Global 4 - a multi-disciplinary adventure race with participants from 18 different countries and four continents. For those who don't know it, maybe you've heard of the Camel Trophy, an adventure race that was last held in 1999 and where Land Rover played a role, too. These days Land Rover organizes the G4 Challenge. Participants have to go through national and international selections before participating in the final race.
I qualified for the Austrian National Selection for the 2009 G4 Challenge in Mongolia. 50 men and women competed to get into the international selection in February next year. 14 men made it to the next round - I placed 15th :-(
The two winners (one man and one woman) will compete in the challenge in June 2009.

Our day began with sign-up, breakfast and a brief introduction. We were divided into different teams and our morning was started with team work. The task was to get from one side of a gorge to the other. We were not allowed to touch the bottom of the gorge and had several ropes and tree trunks to work with. Dynamic movements like jumping and swinging were prohibited. We decided to build a bridge out of three trunks, tied them together, spanned it over the drop and balanced across. Additionally we had to bring one full spare canister from one side to the other and had to recover another from the bottom of the gorge - again without touching the ground. We made it in 34 minutes and held the record for most of the day until one group with three professional climbing instructors beat us.Their idea was the same, but their knot-tying skills were better :-)

For the second trial, we had to drive a Discovery III (LM3 in the USA) up a muddy slope. We were not allowed to use the winch - the purpose was test the team work once more and see what kind of solutions we came up with. The mud was not that deep and the slope was not really steep, but it was enough to get stuck big time.

The last part before lunch was driving a mild 4x4 course in a Discovery and a Defender to see the differences - like driving a nice car and a tractor. I kind of liked the tractor, except for the usual awkward seating position.
The course included an incline, a couple of side hills and driving over several tree trunks, a muddy hill and a steep decline. Not much of a challenge for the vehicles but exciting for some participants with less off-roading experience.

After a hearty meal it was time to do the hard work. We walked a few hundred yards up a steep, rough dirt road to the mountain bike start line. We each received a Land Rover mountain bike and a course description; then we had to estimate how long it would take us to ride the 4 miles (6km) in steep terrain. The maximum time allowed was 45 minutes but the closer to our estimated time we reached the finish, the better. I estimated 43 minutes and didn't want to go too crazy, as I knew we also had to do some climbing and orientation run afterwards.
First there was a steep muddy road downhill, then a broken bridge to cross, more mud and puddles, and then a very steep incline for about 2 miles climbing about 800 feet. Another guy in my team had a problem with his chain and we spent a bit of time fixing it. We all got to the finish line and I made it within a few minutes below my estimate.

Then we had to climb 75 feet straight up a rope, using the so-called Jumarn technique. "Jumarn" was something I had never heard of but had seen somewhere on TV or a video. Anyhow, we received instructions and had eight minutes to get to the top. I made it in just under eight and was pretty exhausted. I had a hard time finding the rhythm and was using too much of my arm muscles and not enough leg power.

Following this exercise, we had to repell down the same distance. That was way more relaxing, although getting over the rock ledge to the part where you hang freely in the air was a bit weird. I guess the second time would be easier. (I'm not the climbing type :-))

Finally, we were off to an orientation run. For this task, we received a satellite photo with 9 points marked on it, which we had to locate in a very rough terrain full of boulders (an old rockfall site). Additional bonus flags were occasionally listed. We had 40 minutes and well needed the time. I found most of the nine points and also some bonus flags which had to be discovered using the compass, but unfortunately I ended up with too many bonus points - I had something screwed up, so my score there was not too rosy...

Back at camp the winners of this first day were announced. They went on to a tent camp for dinner and more challenges the next day. We stayed back at the restaurant, received a great meal and at least could spend a relaxing night in a comfortable bed after a physically tiring day. I enjoyed facing these challenges with a great team where comradery was more important than moving up.

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