In the dark, early hours of the morning, Teams Peak Adventure and Mountain Designs emerged from the rainforest ten minutes apart into the Transition Area (TA). The teams had spent the night on an arduous trek in cold conditions, that took them around Mount Spec and Paluma Range, to collect various Controls Points (CP) located on sun dials in the forest.
Peak Adventures, had chosen a quicker route up the mountain, however a short cut, bypassing the lookout, saw Mountain Designs make up valuable time.
Both teams nursed a sick team member throughout the trek during the night.
Bicvouac Inov-8 arrived at 7am, pleasantly surprised to find themselves in third place, despite two headlights losing battery power during the trek.
Thirty minutes later, saw Team Merrell Adventure Addicts and Raidlight arrive to check in.
Quickly assembling their bikes, Peak Adventure left quickly for the 50km mountain bike. The bike leg, saw the teams ride through rainforest and a steady descent to Birthday Creek Falls. Onwards through some smooth and fast single track around Paluma Dam, to later emerge only a few kilometres on dry and dusty fire roads in the outback, and along to Hidden Valley.
Raidlight commented «One minute we were in rainforest, the next minute we were in the desert».
Mountain Designs slowed, to see Peak Adventure extend their lead by two hours on arrival at Hidden Valley at midday.
The next leg was a 28km trek along the remote Running River area. «This leg contains challenging navigation and steep areas, down a large gorge. The teams will scramble down rocks and through rocky river beds and pools.» says Linda Davis, Course Setter.
Peak Adventure in their hasty transition, leaving Hidden Valley, failed to take their helmets with them. Helmets are compulsory for this leg for all competitors. This means the team will incur a costly time penalty at the discretion of the race director. The team were not aware of this until they reached CP 25, mid way.
Race Director, Craig Bycroft, says «Route choices on this leg, has been critical. Different route choices has led to a shakeup in the lead pack»
Gaining ground on the leaders, Raidlight and Bivouac Inov-8, have navigated alternative routes compared to Peak Adventure and Mountain Designs. As another cold night approaches the top teams will move further down the gorge, whilst the mid field are yet to complete the Mount Spec trek.