8 Legs (Run, MTB, Paddle, Run, Paddle, MTB, Zip Line, MTB, Paddle & Obstacle) Distances guessed at 22km MTB, 6km Run, 600M Zip line, 1km paddle.
Participants: Mike Underwood & Sue Belcher. Both hot in training for fetching and carrying!
Venue: Paddle Power near Pelindaba.
A check of the web site for Paddle Power carried a promise of hectic white water and steep drops over a weir! Discussions ensued as to whether we would need life jackets (with our swim at Yster Vark still fresh in our memories) but since Mike’s lifejacket stayed in William’s car all week, the issue was never resolved. Upon our arrival we were pleasantly surprised by millpond flat river water, a bank festooned with lashings of sponsor banners and tables dripping with race gear for sale. The air was chilly near the water, but with a promise of heat to come. Layering was the order of the day for Good Adventure Racers – such peeps well represented by Lisa, Carine, Alex Pope and their teams….all of whom were well represented on the winners podium, at race end.
All legs were pre-plotted on Google maps, which we collected after each completed leg. Stephan upped the anti, by supplying a race card with a barcode on the back, which was to be scanned into the computer after each completed leg. Each CP had an alphabetical letter to match to a letter on your race card.
Leg 1 could be done in any order – choice of North or South. We went North because it looked good, along with around 15 other teams and having decided to avoid congestion at all costs, conserved our energies by jogging gently and chatting, until we were happy that our CP was relatively free of the crowd. Picking up our punch for the rest of the race, a gentle jog back past Carine to greet the marshall who recognised the team and asked where were Nando and Adri? Mike warned me that it was a devious plot by our rivals to slow us down and to watch out for further delaying tactics!
The MTB transition was made even speedier, when Mike decided that his missing bike pump could become a fatal problem and we decided on a 5 minute detour to the carpark to get it – worse luck, it was not in the car either, so we made do with just an adaptor for my pump. Actually, this was a good decision in light of Mikes puncture later in the race!
Now the CP’s had to be done in numerical order and we quickly picked up CP 1 through 4, with only a 800m detour down the steepest hill, to check out the gorge & view, before turning back past other lost racers to CP 4. Hightail back over the river bridge, transition to paddling back over the river again, for the next run leg. Now I can only think we were tiring without traditional stops for breakfast, because we stormed right past CP 8 and bushwacked into 9, telling other racers who were amazed to see us pop out of the tall grass, that we were following our race plan to confuse and mislead other rival teams!
Transition to MTB, quick bite to eat, peanuts (you have made at least one convert William!) and a false start down towards the river, no…back past the carpark and finally out for our ‘long’ MTB leg. Relatively uneventful, with only one short detour. Chatting to other teams, a chicken run over the Muldersdrift tar road, with a blind rise and motorbikers doing 250km/h……into the lodge grounds and a search for the correct zip line tower. One of 9 fixed lines Stephan had told us. Ah, there it is all covered with USN banners and flags! Promised to be the slowest of the lines, we were still mightily impressed by the speed with which we winged over the valley. More impressive still, was the speed and skill with which the zip line crew, strapped us in and sent us off! Almost no time wasted hanging around this CP, no time to have breakfast, only welcome drinks supplied by USN.
Once again Mike and I added some extra mileage to our route, but were soon back on track, until mike says “Stop, I’ve got a flattie”. With only minor grumbling about Bruce having messed with the inner tubes (Sorry Bruce, we take it back) because it turned out that the tyre was slashed and even slime could not stop that hole! We wondered whether it was once again a fiendish plot by our rivals to slow us down? A quick change of inner tube and after much pumping, Mike unscrews the adaptor ……..and the inner valve……and we begin again! Fortified by a 5 minute rest and more peanuts, my brain synapses started firing again and I suggested that we convert my pump to presta – then for some more pumping!
Back on the road again, into transition, a short paddle down the river to hand in our race punches, back to the obstacle, up and over ……..and the first sprint of the day! Through the race finish…..stone last and just 2 minutes before prize giving! Whoop, whoop! We were perfectly happy!
True to form, Urban Kinetic outdid themselves with prizes for all the categories up to third place, and a table dripping with give-aways. Mike scored a puncture kit!! (wonder why?)…and I grabbed a Morningside Cycles service for my MTB. A beefy burger from the kitchen together with a boozy cooler, a relaxed chat next to the river with Mike and it was the end to another event thoroughly enjoyed by us both. Now highly trained and primed for any eventuality, we are raring to take on the supporters role, at Swazi Pro.