Ready to strike

AN ALL-female team - a 15-year-old schoolgirl, a mother of two, a professional mountain biker-veterinarian and an ironwoman model - has laid down the gauntlet by claiming it will win the inaugural Noosa Anaconda Adventure Race this weekend.

"It's about time Noosa scored an adventure race of its own," Noosa veterinarian Naomi Hansen (pictured) , the team captain, said. "We've got some great sporting events here, but adventure racing is unique with its focus on going bush. It's a bit wilder - and more fun - than your usual endurance sport outing."

Hansen's team mates will be Peggy Harris (swimmer), Nicci Chapman (paddler) and Leslie Saunders-Webb (runner).

They will divide race duties between ocean swimming, trail running, kayaking and mountain biking over the 62km course.

The Noosa race is the first of three across Australia.

The junior of the team, 15-year-old Matthew Flinders student Peggy Harris, has a background in surf life saving. A strong ocean swimmer, she was third in the Australian U15 Ironwoman and won the U15 Coolangatta Gold and U20 Byron Bay swim in 2011.

Nicci Chapman, a recent arrival on the Sunshine Coast, trains with the Noosa Heads surf club under the guidance of legendary ironman Darren Mercer. Nicci, 23, has been involved in surf life saving since she was four and she has represented branch, state and country.

Leslie Saunders-Webb, 41, a teacher and mother of two from Pomona, has competed for five years in the gruelling King of the Mountain trail race, each time registering a respectable second place in the open women's category.

"With the Noosa Anaconda run course in Leslie's back yard, we expect nothing less than her fastest women's time on race day," Hansen said.

For her part, Hansen is confident that her regular mountain bike training on trails that will make up part of the Anaconda course will stand her in good stead come race day. So too will the extra miles in her legs: at the time of Anaconda Noosa she will be only two weeks back from racing the 110km Dolomiti Superbike and 600km Trans Alp events in Europe for her team.

"The Trans Alps is a long stage race so it should be perfect preparation," she said.

"I am pretty excited that the Anaconda Adventure Race event has moved from the Gold Coast to Noosa and determined to do our very best to keep it here, hopefully by inspiring other women to get amongst it."

The decision to move the Queensland chapter of the Anaconda Adventure Race National Series north from its traditional home on the Gold Coast was not made lightly, event organisers said.

"For the past six years, the Gold Coast has proven a fantastic location for the Anaconda," race director John Jacoby said.

"But we felt it was time for a change of scene - new locations, terrains and challenges all being the spice of life when talking about adventure racing.

"Noosa was the logical choice, given what's on offer there in terms of the stunning coastline and hinterland, which we'll explore fully with the new course.

"And we're hopeful that the Noosa community will be as welcoming as the Gold Coast was."

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