We had a chat to the female team of Kath Deed and Alexandra Hall from Cairns who will be racing under the banner of the Astute Financial Racing Team, which is based in Cairns. Under the command of multiple race-finisher and last year’s Male Adventure Team winner Brendon Skerke with his team mate Bart Duraj, the Astute Financial Racing Team name has well established itself as a well-oiled Croc-racing machine over the last few years. Sarah White, Croc Elite Women’s Winner in 2015 will also be returning for this year’s edition (see her celebrating her win among the team in the photo above) and their team captain couldn’t be more excited to have three of his female team racers at the Crocodile Trophy start in 2018!
Says Brendon Skerke:
We are very excited.. Having 3 of our women racing is great for the team and I think for the Croc.
Sarah [White] will be very competitive in the Elites and for the overall honors and while Kath and Alex are still very new to MTB and are not as confident on some of the technical or steep descents, they are both great endurance athletes… they will do really well!
Both Kath and Alex are Croc first-timers and we were curious about their race preparations in the event lead-up…
CROC: Will this be the first time that you will be racing together as a team?
Kath: This will be the second time racing as a team. We are planning on racing a 4 day stage event locally as a team in early August during the Croc Trophy lead up.
Alex: Luckily we are well-matched in our skill, our fitness and our goals. Also, Kath tolerates me well! We’ll be spending a lot of time together the next three months, we’ll be a well-oiled machine come race day.
CROC: Could you tell us a little bit about you – what is your racing history, what brought you into mountain biking and how do you both know each other?
Kath: I have been cycling, mainly road for the past 8 years. I started cycling initially getting into triathlon but cycling on it’s own was soon a big love for me. I have been road and criterium racing for 3 years now with the Cairns Cycling Club. I have dabbled in mountain biking a bit over the years with my family but it is such a big sport in Cairns, several cycling friends have encouraged me to get into it and race mountain bike events locally too and the MTB skills are coming along nicely. I have raced some XCO events locally but I really like the longer endurance events. I have taken part in 50km events and also discovered I could handle an 8 hour event last year, really enjoying it. Alex and I met through cycling friends when she was training for her first ironman event I believe and have known each other 3 or 4 years??
Alex: I can’t remember when we met, but yes, definitely through cycling. I remember thinking geez that chick rides well, who is she?
I’ve been riding for almost ten years, but it’s really only ramped up in the last four. As Kath mentioned, I’ve done some Ironmans, but decided I really just like the bike bit… so I set my sights on some mountain biking to really challenge myself.
CROC: Where are you from – are you from the Cairns region?
Kath: I have lived in Cairns 16 years now, but my husband and I are both from South Australia.
Alex: Cairns! My husband and I moved here for work six years ago. A good part about all this riding is I’m seeing new parts of Far North Queensland. I love it.
CROC: How have you been preparing for the event – as part of the Astute Fin. Racing Team do you benefit from the racing experience at the Croc by Brendon and Bart. Which recommendations or what advice will you take on from them for the race?
Kath: Both Bren and Bart and one of our other team mates Sarah have been fantastic in encouraging us to consider racing this event. Bren has supported us by providing a training program to follow and being always available to give advice and answer questions. Both guys have also been with us on some training rides and given us information on what to expect from the course. Bart being a bike mechanic and bike fit specialist is also very handy, he can let us know what needs attention and gives great advice. I feel like being with the team is such an advantage as they will assist us and support us the whole way through.
Alex: We are both very lucky and really feel the love from the team. They are all so helpful and encouraging, and there’s no pressure for us to win. It’s about being out there, racing, smiling, being good sports- it’s truly a pleasure to be doing this with them.
CROC: What is your racing strategy – currently you’re the only registered female team but now doubt you’ll be keeping an eye on your fellow Adventure Teams?
Kath: Supporting each other during the event will be the key, as I am sure there will be some ups and downs. We will be taking it steady the first 3 big stages as we adjust to the long days, then hopefully remain strong to finish well!
Alex: I think for both of us the appeal is to complete the training and racing successfully. It’s a real intrinsic motivation of achieving something we both know is difficult.
CROC: Which three non-bike related items will you be taking with you to the race?
Kath: swag, pillow, thongs
Alex: coffee, a jar of Nutella, swag- I’m really looking forward to sleeping under the stars!
CROC: Will you be camping or have you arranged an accommodation package?
Kath: camping with the team
Alex: yep, the proper experience! Although, my parents in law live nearby… so we do have an option B…
CROC: What do you look forward to the most?
Kath: The environment we will ride through is going to be amazing. Also meeting other racers.
Alex: um. The beer at the finish line on Four Mile beach.
CROC: What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
Kath: The hill climbs day after day…
Alex: Yes, similarly, I think stage three will be a very big day for us, mentally and physically. We don’t often (never) ride >3000m in a single ride. But we’ve got this!
Thank you so much, Kath and Alex, for giving us a bit of a sneek peak behind the scenes of your event preparations for this year’s Croc – we can’t wait to see you both in action together out on course! xxx