Allen’s Sweet Adventure, pays dividends

Jacqui Allen arrived in New Zealand last week looking forward to an exciting new challenge.

Illawarra Mercury, Cameron Mee. 24th January 2018.
The 34-year-old had never contested an adventure race and she had never met her partner Sia Svendsen before arriving at the event.

The duo won the race.

“That was a totally different event for me,” Allen said. “I had a lot of firsts during the race. My teammate Sia, I had only just met her, I hadn’t met her before the race, more than just via email to say ‘do you want to be my partner in this crazy race’?”

“So we’d just met, it was the first time I had kayaked, each day was 20 kilometres kayaking, so that was new. The first day had a 60 metre abseil, I had never done abseiling before. The second day had clay pigeon shooting, never done that before either. So, yeah it was a crazy day of racing.

“I had a great partner who was very, very experienced and paced the novice through. All I needed to do was bring the legs and the arms on the day and do my very best to stay together and work as a team.”

The Red Bull Defiance adventure race saw teams of two traverse Wanaka on foot, mountain bikes and in kayaks in a true test of physical and mental endurance. Allen and Svendsen completed the race in 16 hours, 36 minutes and 10 seconds.

“It was pretty incredible, when we crossed the finish line after day two, we didn’t actually know that we’d won. We were a little bit behind on day one, because we’d had some mechanical issues on the bike. I think we were fifth overall out of the female teams, so we were kind of hoping that if we had a big day on day two we might catch up a little bit.

“We caught up and crossed the finish line as the first female team on day two. It was only when all the media came to us afterwards and started asking us questions they told us that we’d won the whole race. It was a pretty incredible and emotional feeling.”

Along with her husband Ben, Allen is a professional off-road triathlete, travelling the world competing on the XTERRA World Tour.

“It’s pretty challenging, they’re usually about three hours long and every event is different. You might get technical courses or you might get super hilly courses, or some might be slightly longer. It’s the same on the run, you might be running through rivers, creeks, up and down mountains, sometimes you need ropes to get down ravines, it’s super challenging.”

Despite the challenging nature of the events, Jacqui said it’s a lifestlye the couple have embraced.

“The people that we’ve met are all great. They’re all pretty cool people, and beautiful people who love the outdoors. We also love the places we get to go to. Off-road triathlon is off the beaten track, so we don’t tend to race in cities, we race in locations that we would never normally go to, it’s always a real adventure.”

Allen’s focus will now turn to the Australian Championships at Lake Crackenback in late February, before the couple heads back overseas for the Asian and European triathlon seasons.