Multisport with packraft

I’ve really enjoyed reading Luc Mehl and Roman’s accounts of their adventures involving hiking, rafting, biking, and whatever else. I’d absolutely love to be able to do similar sorts of things here in Australia, but we just don’t seem to have the terrain and certainly no organised events. I’m keen change the latter restriction by finding some of the former.

So a few months ago, I thought I would see how I would go using a packraft in a “normal” multisport race. I’d sort of mimic a backcountry trip by carrying the raft with me throughout the riding and running legs. The race was the Marysville to Melbourne, distances were 19km hilly run, 90km hilly ride, 14km flat run and 33km flat paddle. There was a cutoff time midway through the paddle, and it was set at 11.5 hours after the start, which was around the time that I thought I could get there.

The pack, with raft, vest, paddle, etc, and all bike gear, some water and gels weighed in at 8kgs.

The race itself went exactly as I thought it would. The running was no sweat with the pack and I was happy to stay at around 6min/km throughout both runs in varying terrain, but the ride with the pack on my back was pretty uncomfy. I had planned to ride my touring bike and strap it to a rack, but its a fair bit longer than the rack and it looked a bit iffy. I rode my road bike instead and I think overall it was a better option. I could probably spread the kit out among some panniers on a touring bike, and if it was a really long ride I probably would, but the time taken to do that in a shorter race outweighed the discomfort. I had a couple of vertebra that felt quite bruised for 3 or 4 days afterwards, but nothing too bad.

The paddle was really, really slow. Luckily I’d read here that (above 5kph or so) the speed of rafts is really determined by the hull, rather than the paddling force. So I just settled in and paddled, kept around 5kph (water flow was varying, but I’d say somewhere between 0 and 0.5kph, judging by movement when I stopped for snacks). I reached the 6pm cutoff checkpoint with an hour to spare. Portaged a small weir there, said hi to my family, and then paddled on another 4 or so hours to the end. It was about 4 times longer than any paddle I had done before, and pretty boring at that speed. My legs were starting to freeze with the water and night air, so I used the inflation bag as a bit of a skirt over them… worked a treat!

I ended up last by a long way, the second last person paddling past me at at least twice my speed at about 7pm.

Anyway, 14hrs15mins and it was done. 6hrs 40mins of paddling was kind of pushing my patience, though.

A pic of the kit is here
and some pics of me carrying/paddling it are here

I don’t really know what the point of this post is… maybe something along the lines of “it doesn’t matter what your surrounding landscape is, you can still have an adventure in it” but thats probably not true. I had a good day out.

Good post Johno. I think you may hold the Australian Packraft flatwater distance and endurance record :slight_smile:

Great thought provoking post mate!
I agree with Steve on the flatwater paddle too. I have done a slightly longer daily distance on the Colo but that has the odd rapid to speed things up. 33klm flat paddle is a tough day, especially in the time frame you did. Awesome. I actually had this slightly serious idea to enter the Hawkesbury Classic to see how many cutoffs I could make… Anyone keen?
As for more general multisport trips, there are thousands of options. I’m waiting for the Grose to come up, head down David Crevasse, paddle the Grose then cycle home. Mark has some great trips in the bag including the recent Tassie bash.
There are just so many home grown adventures waiting to tap into.

“I actually had this slightly serious idea to enter the Hawkesbury Classic to see how many cutoffs I could make… Anyone keen?”


Yeah, heaps of options for setting up nice multi-activity courses. I would love a simple event where people just went from point a to point b as fast as possible, and it would be great to have an interesting course where a packraft would be useful.

The hawkesbury classic looks interesting and I’ve heard lot of great stories come out of that event. I can’t see any cut-off times there, though i did see that they have a stand up paddleboard class… I’m not sure how fast those things are?

It would be great to paddle the Classic although it would definitely be a test of mental toughness in a packraft as opposed to any gauge of physical prowess. Some would say a pointless exercise, but seriously challenging none the less and probably why its mildly appealing. The tides and wind are the biggest concern, especially at the Brooklyn end.
The SUP guys would be quicker I reckon with large boards and bugger all drag.
A good paddle and the new style boat would be the go if an attempt is made. To make the distance would potentially be a world record flat paddle in the time frame.

Darren I would be happy to loan you my 2012 decked denali (and 230cm splat) if you want to have a crack at it, I could post it up?


Very Generous offer Steve, thanks. I’d probably save you the hassle and steal Craig’s boat as he lives close by, and anyway…I’d hate to get blood on your deck. I’ll do some more homework on the tides etc. Cheers mate.

Johno, were you thinking of a section of river that has some reasonable low grade rapids? I guess that would be ideal in a sense and I haven’t been involved in any adventure racing so I’m assuming you mean something very similar in style. Organising a low key “Gentleman’s agreement” style event would be great. Or having a course set and just attack it individually when time permits.

I have seen this style of course setup with some MTB guys. Pi11wizard…??? You guys have done this??

Just a note on the Hawkesbury classic…There are usually cutoff times…I think my brother attempted it years ago in an old whitewater kayak and made it about halfway…Soft…

To make the first cuttoff at Sackville, you’d want to be going hard.

Araluen to Kangaroo Valley, with suitable E and W constraints, plus three checkpoints, no traversing bitumen, no stashes.

Handshake on ‘rules’, photos at CP’s, winner gets a six pack of stout.

Yep, low key for sure, and with as few rules as possible. I really like the idea of people being able to perform their own take on a course whenever they want. The HuRT mountain bike event is a good example of expedition length “time trial” format that people have a go at throughout the year.

Jules, that looks like an interesting course. And thanks very much for throwing an idea out there. Even if it is just a few of us who have a go at it, I’d really enjoy the process :slight_smile:

I haven’t been giving it heaps of thought, but I was thinking something like Jindabyne to Tumut, as there looks like a few opportunities to get on the water and make progress through some rugged country. Nice towns to start and finish at, sort of midway between the two biggest cities in Aus, and around 130km in a straight line. A SPOT tracker with a lot of way-points would be a great way for people to see what others have done. I’m sure there are very fast and very slow ways to do it, but the real accolade (for me anyway) would be people like those on this board saying “thats a great route”. I am guessing, but I reckon people could do that course in an interesting way in under 48 hours.

So, we have two options so far, anybody else interested in throwing darts at a map of Aus and telling us where they land? Tas would be wonderful, but requires a lot of commitment to get down there, though I’m sure there are enough people down there to support their own course, and now that I think about it, they’ve probably been doing something similar for years.

So now there’s a series !

Both suggestions sound worthy of the six pack. I’m thinking that 130 clicks would turn into 180 clicks of pain.

Some good terrain and rivers between Araluen & KV… Tough country depending on route too.

What are peoples thoughts on MTB’s for part of any route?

If you start with something, it’s gotta be there at the end. Few rules allows for opportunties to innovate :slight_smile:

I like the inclusion of MTB/FB.

Getting Jules to show up will be the hardest part I reckon :slight_smile:

Eden to Mallacoota?


I dare say you’ll have the home ground advantage.

I’ve done a bit of work on something around this sort of thing. If you guys want to PM me your email addresses, I can send you through some initial thoughts! Low key, it ain’t, but I think definitely worthwhile.

PM sent.

Cheeky bastard !

Life is great but busy. No complaints.

Have flicked you a PM jonno.

Remember this old chestnut lads?

I’ll be entering the senior citizen class by the time I get around to it. :slight_smile: