It is pretty epic to podium alongside some of the biggest names in adventure sport, let alone when you are 17, but that is exactly what Oliver Thompson and Cameron Jones managed to achieve at Red Bull Defiance in Wanaka over the weekend.
Brutal heat and strong wind made for a challenging weekend of racing for all competitors, but in the true spirit of Red Bull Defiance, athletes dug deep to battle through the grueling 150+km course that consisted of various mountain biking, mountain running, kayaking, abseiling and shooting stages over a two-day event.
Oliver Thompson and Cameron Jones - Team Barracuda Kayaks
Thompson and Jones teamed up to race for Barracuda Kayaks. Both talented and successful athletes in their own rights, as a team the boys were powerful contenders from the beginning, complimenting each others strengths, and are particularly well matched for the running and kayaking stages.
Highlights of the race included "The kayak on Day 1; surfing the waves into the finish in Wanaka", the shooting and abseiling, and in particular, "one of the best parts of the race was the ice buckets at the bottom the hill on the last run"
Jones and Thompson carrying their AR Duo to the start of the first Kayak, Day 1 Red Bull defiance 2018
There were plenty of challenges to endure, but Thompson and Jones found that "pushing through the pain on the hill climbing of day two" really tested their limits, and cited the Skyline Run as the hardest part of the race.
Both athletes are deservedly proud of their performance, Jones was particularly pleased because his focus this season has been very much on his Mountain Biking, "we did everything right with pacing and nutrition. I didn't have any expectation for our placing but was certainly stoked with 3rd". Thompson added "we thought out the race and transitions really thoroughly to save as much time as possible for little effort, such as sliding down Mt Roy, and having the skirts of the kayak at the start".
Cameron Jones leading the charge - exploding off the start line, Day 1 Red Bull Defiance 2018
Fueling and cooling were important factors on race day, Jones' favorite food was the "fruitcake at the top of Criffel (Cheers Aunty Annabel - AKA pink morph suit lady)", while Thompson stuck to his tried and tested Gu and Tailwind nutrition. Both athletes enjoyed "an ice cold can of Red Bull here or there in the aid stations" and kept up their carb intake to fuel their performance " we figured out we had a half kilo of sugar on Day 2".
Red Bull Defiance was the first race that Jones and Thompson have teamed up for, and the dynamic duo are keen to race side by side again in the future, "10/10 would race with Oliver again...I learned that Oliver would be a bad opponent in a gun fight (he hit the clay first pop)". "Definitely I'd race with Cam again, hes a machine on the bike and we're pretty well matched on the run - its cool to race with someone as passionate about multisport, and we're the same age, so we have a bit in common".
Team Barracuda Kayaks finished 3rd in the Elite Men's Category, and were the 5th team to cross the line. Now that the race is over, the boys are looking ahead to the rest of their season, that includes the Mountain Bike World Champs for Jones, and Kathmandu Coast to Coast and Godzone for Thompson. In the mean time the boys are recovering with bacon and egg pie and burritos "get as much protein down as possible, then sit down and rest up the legs - time will heal so don't start training again too soon".
Barracuda Kayaks is exceptionally proud of the boys and their stellar performance and result. The passion, determination, wisdom and talent of Oliver Thompson and Cameron Jones will take these rising stars of multisport a long way, we cant wait to see what the future has in store for them, they are definitely athletes to watch!
Standing on the Elite Men's podium after 2 days of intense racing at Red Bull Defiance in Wanaka, Team Barracuda Kayaks 3rd place