Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Centrogaine - 8 Nov 2011

Last night Susan Belcher I participated in the Centrogaine (Metrogaine in Centurion). It was well organised by Fernandos Santos. It was also a lot more fun than I expected. Sue and I ran approximately 12km in 90 mins and only the last 2km did I feel my tired legs.

Fantastic weather organized by Nando, made for a perfect evening in the suburbs!
Lickety Split finished 16 out of 40 teams and 5th in our Mixed Team category.

Reported by William - posted by Sue.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mystic Sable

Re: #ARWC2011

50km is further than I am fit enough for J


On Saturday morning we did a 24km run, overall it had about 500m altitude gain, mostly from running around the Fort Klapperkop monument. At about 18 km I really started feeling it, with light cramps in my calves. Basically I had to walk about 100m out of every 300m to keep going. My time for the 24km was 3:00:17. I also grew a blister where the strapping tape had rolled up (same spot as the blister I got doing the Wakkerstroom Mountain Challenge – I think it is specific to those shoes). At about 3km to go I got overtaken by two girls who were running very comfortably and then ended nearly 3 mins ahead of me. At the end of the race I had a great chat with Nando, Karin and Erik (who came to cycle at Groenkloof), I went and spent the day with a work colleague (an ex-runner) which was very peaceful.


The evening run was a very flat run, I started by matching my pace with the two girls who had come past me so easily on the first stage. At the waterstop they really wasted time and I carried on without them. In the end I finished nearly 2 minutes ahead of them. The route was very flat and I suppose I should have finished the 9km faster than 58mins.


On Sunday morning I woke up so stiff, my legs were killing me. Yolande and Kids came along to do the 6km fun run and Loreley tells me I looked really funny at the start of the last 16km stage. This stage was really technical in places, really rocky uphills but with very fast flowing single track sections. I really enjoyed the section along the top of the hill where there were small lose rocks but overall very flat and comfortable running. I kept up with the two girls again until about 6km where I went ahead. I ran out of energy a little later and while eating a packet of raisins they caught up again. However the last waterstop again let me get ahead and I finished about 2 minutes ahead of them. I did the 16km without cramps and I feel finished quite strongly. Overall time 2:11 which I thought quite slow but I don’t know if I could have done much faster.


So overall we did about 49km, and it took me 6 hours 11 minutes. There were only 32 entries for the long event of which 30 started and 27 finished. It was tough but really enjoyable, I think I need to find a few more of these running stage races to do next year.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adapt or Die - Racing in the UK

After having decided a while ago that I wanted to do an overseas race, I did a whole lot of internet searching and discovered the South West Coast 2 Coast race in the South west of England. The SWC2C is a cross over Ironman/Adventure race that includes both a 2 day staged option and a 1 day extreme non stop option. The race seemed perfect as I know quite a few people in England that could help me out, as well as being a solo race so I could organise everything on my own. By the time I entered the staged option was sold out and I entered the non stop option instead (my prefered style of racing).

I did a lot of running training leading up to the event as my cycling was doing well. I also knew that I would overall need to increase my normal racing speed by as much as 25% if I wanted to make the cut offs.

I left Johannesburg on the Thursday night, arriving in London on Friday morning, met a long term online friend Wayne who was helping me out with transport and logistics, we collected a hire bike on Friday afternoon, and went to bed early that evening. Saturday morning started with a 3 hour drive to the start for registration and collection of race numbers etc. A short briefing was held but from my point of view was not very good as it contained no information about race logistics, instead was just a run down of the route according to the race book we recieved. My assumption that things would work the same way as in South Africa came back to haunt me later as I did not get the kit I needed when I needed it. I used a small 15l Salomon rivo backpack I won on the last Full Moon race, but covered it with a South African flag.

Before the race started we had a 2.5km walk to the start - this was quite peaceful until the rain started - it was a short downpur but should really have prepared me for what was to come later. In the rain I put on First Ascent Apple Jacket - while not a waterproof top I have found previously that even when wet it keeps the wind out. The start of the race was the most Northerly point of the Country of Devon (Foreland point) where in the middle of nowhere there is a small lighthouse. Looking down at the lighhouse in a terribly overcast day, with strong winds I could see a "sundeck" with chairs etc - and I thought to myslef that there is no way anyone would ever wnat to sit out there.

Leg 1 - 11km run: By now the rain had cleared and the wind had dropped (being protected behind the hills from the southerly wind) and we started the race at about 7:20. Being proudly Lickety Split I let everyone rush off into the distance and run up the steep coastal hills while I strolled along and reached the top of the hills 50m behind everyone else. At the top the wind was howling again and I struggled to start running. Once over the ridge and dropping into the woods I got into my stride and really started enjoying the run. The path led through the trees, up and down a few hills and along the banks of the river. In many ways the wood reminded me of the forests found in Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga with gentle undergrowth under the towering trees. Bit by bit I was overtaking the back end of the field and by the time we got back to the tar roads leading into the village of Brendon I had overtaken 15 or so people. Overall I found the other racers very firiendly and accomodating and everyone let me through as soon as I caught up with them.

Leg 2 - 85km cycle: I transitioned quickly onto the bike and got out ahead of a lot of people that had finished the run ahead of me. Coming out of Brendon were a couple of mean hills and I decided to save my strength and pushed up the hills. At one point I was greeted in Afrikaans by a fellow racer so I was not the only South African in the race. Once over the hills I got going and was enjoying my ride, even the short rain shower I had shortly after that did little to dampen my spirits. Unfortunatly I started getting cramps in my lower calf after only about 5km of riding and these cramps stayed with me for most of the cycle, I am still not sure if the cramps were from the cold, or the 12 hours sitting still in the aeroplane the day before. The most amazing thing was how much spaces cars give cyclists on the roads, in many cases cars drove slowly behind me until we reached a section of double lane before overtaking me. I rode along at a good pace and though I was feeling a little cold (being soaked from the rain and the strong wind creating a large drop in temperature due to wind chill) I felt OK and carried on. Even the second shower did little to dampen the spirits though by now I was feeling really cold. By about 50kms into the cycle and the 6th or so rain shower the heavens opened and we had a lot of really hard rain.

By now the wind was really strong, I was soaked and I had not really adapted to the conditions. Being soaked at 8degrees, with a howling wind probably made the ambient temperature about 0Degrees - thats freezing in case you did not know. Only once I started realising that I could not concentrate properly did I stop and put warmer clothes on. (Difficulty to concentrate is a sign of Hypothermia - at the time I was struggling to remember the next instructions I needed to do "Red Hill Cross, Turn left following the sign that says Meldon 4km"). In the pouring rain I stripped down to my pants and pulled a fleece top on, then put my cycling top over the fleece before once again putting on my wind proof top. This made me feel a lot better and I continued at a very slow pace - the cold was just sapping all my energy, making cycling really hard. Slowly and regularly people were overtaking me. At one point 4 guys came past me and I decided to force myself to keep up with them. I rode the last 20-25km with them and they certainly helped me get to the transition, we were all quite tired so other than them asking me a few question about being South African we did not chat much. I made the cutoff with about 10minutes spare.

Leg 3 - 7km hike/run: At transition (no transition bag) I happily had a hot cross bun my friend Wayne supplied, and cake mix supplied by the organisers and left as quickly as possible onto the hike up High Willhays (highest point in South west england) - I walked up to the top trying to recover some heat and some energy. Instead of a trig beacon the highest point was marked by a large cairn of rocks, I added my rock to the cairns before turning and heading back down. The moors are public access land and I saw various flocks of sheep each makred with a different color spray paint accross their backs. On the way back to transition I trotted as much as possible. Crossing the moors was interesting with what looked like dry grass being 10cm of water when you step on it - fine while walking by definitly ankle turning stuff when running.

Leg 4 - 37km cycle: At transition again I got going as soon as I could and the first few kms were wonderful flat riding on a cycling specific tarred track and I pushed as hard as I felt I could to try recover some time. At one point we went over, then under a fantastic viaduct before returning to the country roads. My 4 friends from earlier soon caught up with me again and we rode along together most of the way. With about 15km to go I decided I needed to push again and started going faster. I still felt really cold and the exercise was not enough to warm me up. With about 6 kms to go I had 35minutes to make the next cut off and thought I was reasonably safe, but I came around a corner and was faced with a 2km long uphill - so I slogged up it (pushing most of the way) and reached the top with about 5 minutes to go - from the top I could see a wonderful downhill followed unfortunatly by another 2km uphill. I slogged up it knowing by now that I would not make the cut off but hoping I would be allowed to continue.

Once I reached the top I had about 1km to go to transition and I took it reasonably peacefully. By now I had realised I was far behind the cut off time and had reached the conclusion that I would be almost happy to be told I could not continue.... I passed Wayne just before the transition and he told me he had arranged an extra 15minutes for me - unfortunatly this was about 40minutes after cut off already. I continued to the transition where I was told I was too late to continue. I went into the hall and had some hot food and tea.

About 45minutes later I went out of the hall to collect my bike and started shaking - not shivering but physically shaking from the cold. I could almost not hold my bike due to the shaking. Even after a warm bath that evening and a long sleep in a warm bed, the next day a gentle breeze started me shivering all over again. I am not sure, but I cannot but believe I had reached the point of Hypothermia during the race.

I consider myself an experienced adventure racer. I have done almost 20 races of over 100km in length, including Expedition Africa of 500+kms. I have titled this report "Adapt of Die" as even with all the experience I have at racing under South African conditions I was not able to adapt to the new conditions I was racing in, and in the end this was the reason I did not finish the race. In South Africa I suffer heatstroke very easily and while racing I would rather be cold than warm to prevent it. Under the race conditions I experienced in England, I should have realised that there was no chance of getting heatstroke and switched immediatly to ensuring that I did not get too cold. At the start of Leg 2 I should have been wearing my fleece as a base layer. I had presumed I would get access to my transition bag at each transition and had left warm leggings in the bag - I should have been wearing at least my leg warmers if not my full fleece leggings on the cycle. At home I have a polar buff, this should have been on my head and not in my cupboard.

Humans are creatures of habbit. And the habbits I have learnt over the last 4 years of racing meant I did not finish the race. Adapt or Die!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wakkerstroom Mountain Challenge

On Saturday I did the Wakkerstroom Mountain Challenge, a 21.1km Halfmarathon starting in Wakkerstroom at the church and going out and back along the Utrecht road (The Alternate route back for those that did the Balele Tracks race). The route had 2 big hills in it, on the way out we went up a long climb out from town, I guess it is a climb of 300m over about 3kms, and later at the 8km mark a drop of about 200m over 2kms. It is an out and back race so each downhill had an equivilent uphill etc.

I ran up about 2 thirds of the hill on the way out before walking, and from about the 6.5km mark I really got going. I ran to the turn but the stop at the turn disrupted my running and I struggled to get going again. I walked up the hill and then finally got going again -and comfortably ran the last 6kms to the finish.

I finished in 27th place (of about 40 runners), in 2:09:49. I am happy with my time, and even better straight after the race I played soccer with my boys, and when we got back to the farm took my yougest son for a walk. Immediatly after the race it felt as if I was goign to cramp but by keeping walking around I was OK.

I still think I am going to struggle to make the cutoffs in England, but overall I do feel a lot better about it than I was feeling last week. My fitness is definitly a lot better than I thought it was.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Full Moon Machadodorp - August 2011

Team: Lickety Split
Members: William Cairns, Mike Underwood, Sue Belcher, Gail Arnell

After all the planning, map plotting, route choices, packing, getting bikes ready, finding the loo and general pre-race activities the race was about to start. Team Lickety Split faded into the background hiding behind all the teams that were planning to rush off onto the course. When the race started the team strolled off to their bikes, collected their helmets and backpacks before riding onto the route. By the time we hit the road there was not another team in sight - just the way we like it. Off we cruised down the road, passing first one person who in their rush had dropped their water bottle, by the time they caught up we had passed yet another person who had dropped another waterbottle. Everyone we passed came racing past us again as we gently cycled down the road. At the last turn before the transition we overtook another three teams who were trying to decide what route to take.

We came into transition last, but left ahead of three teams. All three quickly overtook us on the 3 km hike to the paddle transition. So once again we arrived at transition last.
Putting in the boats allowed us to overtake three teams once again, and on the paddle we overtook another three teams. The rocks in the river were irritating as each rapid we got stuck, Gail and I took turns getting out and pulling the boat over the rocks. In a way hitting the flat water of the dam was a pleasure - for the first 2 kms when sore shoulders that were not getting a break started being the problem instead.

Again in the transition we overtook another 3 teams, until Sue realised she left kit behind and had to return losing all three places again.
Off we went on the hike, choosing the easier but longer road route instead of the route along the dam shore in case the shore path ended at some point. Half way along the route we ran a few steps until we realised that Mike had decided running was not a great idea and let us disappear off into the distance. In transition we had some food and collected our night gear.

Leg 5, a 30km cycle, included a steep climb, over 400m climb in under 3kms. We rode out of transition in daylight and reached the climb just after night had fallen. In the end the climb felt a lot longer than it really was - most of it was done by the guys in the team pushing their bikes while the girls rode rings around us. Those 3kms took us nearly 2 hours to cover (Ok not so long but it felt like it). After the climb is was easy going to the next transition crossing paths with the race ambulance collecting a team who were struggling.
In transition we heard many stories about how difficult it was to find the check points. One key item I heard was that the fence did not exist, so when we started off I did some careful checks of the bearings along the trees that used to be along the fence. This allowed us to walk directly to the 'difficult' OP overtaking about 8 teams in the process as they had all followed the road instead of a bearing and were searching on top of the wrong koppie. From the first point it was a straight walk along the roads to the next 3 OPs. At one stage 3 other teams were all hiking along with us but some quick decision making without stopping at the non-existant airfield got us away from them and we finished the Leg more than 20 minutes ahead of them.
Transitioning back to the bikes we were discussing the option of stopping to sleep, Mike especially was suffering badly but the decision was made to push on and try and finish or at least get to the last transition before daylight came. Off we went, I was expecting some ups and downs on the first section of road but it felt as though it was just more and more uphill. We nearly missed the turnoff toward the steep downhill due to miss measuring the distance but fortunately we saw the gate. On the downhill we struggled mostly due to being tired. At times the downhill was slower than the earlier heavy climb we had done, Gail's poor lighting system on the bike was especially troublesome as she could not really see what was ahead of her. I occasionally let the rest of the team get ahead and rushed down sections of the trail, I did this a few times until I had fallen twice, then decided to take it more peacefully. Once we reached the farm road at the bottom we went a little faster but still struggled to maintain a decent pace. At one point Mike and I saw some eyes looking us out of the bushes near the road, based on the size of the animal I would guess it was a leopard. A kilometer of so later we finally gave in and pulled onto the side of the road to get an hour sleep. Due to the cold we had not rested enough and continued to the next checkpoint quite tired. Bad navigation saw us overshoot the entrance to the last transition and we had to backtrack.
A superb breakfast of sardines and bread was had before we headed off onto the last leg of the race. It was daylight already giving us great views of the MOUNTAIN we were about to hike up. Daylight clearly gave Gail a bunch of energy (maybe because she could actually see stuff again) and she lead us up the path. Reaching the saddle at the top was a wonderful feeling until we realised there was still another 50m of climb ahead of us. On top of the mountain we were deep in the mist and I made the decision to follow the hiking trail rather than trying to find the short cut over the top that Stephan had told me about, the decision was made based on the fact that by following the path I could not get lost, where taking an unmarked route ran the risk of getting lost in thick mist and wasting a lot of time. I also misjudged distance badly and thought we had passed the checkpoint when we still had about 500m to go to the checkpoint. I blame a lot of the problem the fact that the hiking map was not clear enough. As the "newbie" in the team, we volunteered Gail to do the abseil. She abseiled through a waterfall and seemed to slip quite a bit. From the abseil it was a pleasant hike to the end which we took at a faster pace to stay ahead of the mixed team just behind us. (In the end they were not official).

We finished in 21 hours, an hour slower than expected, but the downhill cycle took us more than 2 hours longer than expected. We were the last team to finish with all members and all checkpoints - placing us in 10th spot overall.

Well done to the Kinetic team (again) for a well organised event and a wonderfully challenging route. Overall the Route was a lot tougher than we had been expecting.

Well done to my team members for putting up with me the whole way. Especially well done to Gail for fitting in well, Mike for the vasbyt in continuing to the end of the race, thanks Sue for being yourself, sorry if I did not hear half of what you were telling me at 1am in the morning.

Thanks to First Ascent for our Kit.
Ably written by: 'Captain my Captain' William.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Full Moon - 13/14 Aug 2011

Written by Karin Joubert. Team: 4 Peaks 2 Knobs

Firstly - Awesome race! We finished and got all the points! What a wonderful adventure.

However, Bella was not feeling well from the start - was trying her best, but after the paddle on the cycle to the big hill, it was all down hill for her, and for us a 'moerse' up hill. (She was on antibiotics until Tuesday, and still recovering from a flu).

Eish! The paddles didn't even do the trick for us on that river! However on the dam it was much better. As we were the last team (ok, one pair behind us) on the paddle, it was a bit later in the day and the last part was into a strong wind! Wet wet wet!

We still saw Lickety Split when they left for the 2nd cycle at transition.

Our cycle was not good - took us hours. Mainly walking up that hill, pushing Bella's bike as well and carrying her backpack. Erik losing his bike light when the mount broke 5km's into the cycle, didn't help either.

We were really happy to get to the farmhouse. At least we saw a lot of teams there that already finished the trekking.

We asked the medic to help Bella and waited to see if she can continue. After an hour she decided, it won't be possible to carry on as she didn't eat or drink anything for 3 hours on the cycle leg, and not feeling well.

The 3 of us set off on the trekking leg. Some teams said, go for OP4 first, other for OP3. We decided, 4 it will be!

Sherbet! Shaks! Shhhiiiiit! We struggled to get the koppie! Hooked up with another team, that was already trekking for 3 hours with no OP's in the bag. Finally we managed OP4 and the rest was easy. However that leg was just over the 3 hours. (I think - will check spreadsheet).

The time was ticking and we left the transition as heavy mist was descending. 4km's to the turn off where the mother of all rocky technical descents began! The thick mist made it really difficult.

Jaco took a tumble, injuring his leg and Mr Photographer himself missed an action photo as he did a somersault over his handle bar! Testing his new Catlike helmet, which was up to the task.

At the crack of dawn, I had a puncture (not me, my back wheel - lol), and we were attacked by a crazed cow while we were repairing it. Ok-ok! Back to our cycle. Taking it easy through the sandy sections, we found our groove in the last 12km's to T5.

We nearly didn't do the last hike, but sandwiches, hot chocolate and 'a motivational talk' from Stephan, saw us on our way!

The climb to the top of the mountain was tough, really tough, but we raced down with an hour to spare before cut-off.

We all had a great adventure and Erik cannot decide between racing or sticking with photography!

This was my side of the story and I do believe the others had a similar experience! :-)

Whoop-whoop for Adventure racing!

That's all folks!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Senseless Winter AR

On Sunday I teamed up with Beyers Rossouw to do the Senseless Winter AR sprint race as team Master and Student.


The race consisted of 4 legs and an obstacle course. There were 2 hiking and 1 cycling leg with the third leg (leg 2) being a choice between hiking or cycling – each team could choose for themselves.


First leg was a quick run to the other side of the kopjie behind the start to fetch the map for leg and a short 4km run to fetch 2 CPs. Most teams chose to go over a saddle in the kopjie but we stuck to the easy running route around the kopjie and by the time we reached the map were amongst the front teams. My running fitness let me down as I could not maintain the pace and it felt as though half the field passed us between CP1 and CP2.


At transition we quickly decided to cycle as I had struggled so much with the run, so we quickly transitioned to the bikes, but in the rush I could not make sense of the map – it just felt wrong. I called a navigation stop, calmed down and orientated the map properly. I probably added 3 minutes to the transition but this was worth the effort when we cycled out of transition and saw 4 teams rushing off in the wrong direction. We quickly cycled through the first two CPs and then started the long grinding cycle up to the radio mast. I was hoping that from the mast we could find a way down the other side even if it was only a cattle track – no such luck and we had to choose between turning around and cycling the 10km back, or Hike a bike down the hill. What is an Adventure Race withing a hike-a-bike so off we went. A drop of about 250m over just over a km. I estimate we made up about 10minutes following this route.


We were told the race route had changed and we no longer had the choice between cycling and hiking, and had to hike because we had just done the cycle option (I hate it when rules change during a race) – so off we went – Beyers running far stronger than me  - until we reached the horses – a quick 200m on the horses did nothing to relieve the effort pains in my chest before we were off on foot again. On this third leg there were 6 optional points – we were planning to get 4 of them, but found that the one OP was harder than expected to find and after 5 minutes of looking I made the decision to drop it – however we did get the other 3 points we had planned on.


Leg 4 was again on the bikes – looking at the route I estimated a 14km cycle to collect all the optional, and with about 90mins left before race cut off we had enough time to collect them all. It was a relatively easy cycle – especially comparing it to the earlier cycle and we collected the points quickly and efficiently finishing about 20 minutes before cut-off.


Thanks to Beyers for putting up with my slow speed -

Thanks to Senseless for organising the race – it was tough but do able


Well done to Cyanosis for their win


One suggestion to the race organisers – we would have completed more optional points on the final hike if we had known how long the last leg was. In the race instructions I would suggest giving the compulsory distance (minimum distance to collect all compulsory points) as well as the optional distance (minimum distance to collect all optional points) to allow teams to plan their routes better. For example the race instructions could have included the following: “Leg 1: Hike 4km, Leg 2: Hike 6km or cycle 20km, Leg 3 Cycle Compulsory 6km, optional 13km, Leg 4: Hike Compulsory 6km, optional 12km” and let the team mange their expectations themselves.


Monday, July 25, 2011

702 Walk the Talk - 24 July

30km's walked in a shade under 5 hours. A beautiful winter's day, with excellent organization and the good company of Karin and Eric who joined our group at around the 15km mark. That's the herd of 5km walkers behind us! One more good reason to be doing the longer walk!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kinetic Sprint - 2011\06\27

On Sunday the 26th June, Team Lickety Split consisting of William Cairns, Mike Underwood and Gail Arnell took on the 20km Kinetic Sprint held at Glenburn Lodge near Muldersdrif.


The race consisted of a short orienteering leg, a cycle, a short trek and finished with a paddle and obstacle course.


Careful planning while standing on the start about which points to do in which order proved fruitless as the plan fell apart before the first checkpoint when the team got caught up in traffic and fell far behind where they wanted to be. Fast running between the next points recovered some of the lost ground but in a sprint event of this type the first leg, and first check point always prove critical. The orienteering leg wandered around the lodge grounds before finishing back at the start/finish area.


The cycle started by wandering through the veld around the lodge grounds before heading on a single track path around the local mountain side. From my point of view a large amount of the single track was not ride-able and we pushed/ran along the route below the looming cliffs above us. Once we reached the other side of the mountains we had a wonderful technical downhill before hitting the fence roads and district roads. A few stupid navigation errors such as missing a point on the fence and miss timing a turnoff lost us some ground.


From the start/finish area we went off onto the trek leg, by this time our legs were feeling the race and our pace slowed to a fast walk with regular short jogs where possible, after fetching the first few points we returned toward the start area along the same unrideable single track path. Being on foot was a lot easier than the earlier cycling.


The finish of the race on the short paddle was quickly handled and we stood in the queue for the obstacles, a good indication that we were further back than we wanted to be.


Team Lickety Split finished 6th in the Mixed teams (3 people per team) category, a reasonably good finish considering my state of fitness.


Well done to Karin and her team for winning the Ladies Team Category.




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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Expedition Africa 9 -13 May 2011

Just how does one eat an elephant? Well one bite at a time, of course!
So that's what we set out to do....right from that first 'preparation' race in February. We tested necessary gear, sleeping times, ingredients for meals and transition strategies. Unfortunately, we were to discover that what works for a 'short' 250km race, does not fit an expedition race! Mainly it was about handling 4 hours of exercise, versus a leg of 16 to 20 hours. You are not just 4 times more tired, but something like 10 times more! Luckily, we also discovered that as the days passed, we became stronger to meet the challenge! Willia
m put some thoughts together about the journey we took.

Getting There

Once we got to the airport in Cape Town it was cool being able to collect a bakkie from Sue’s sister to use for the week. Man did we pack that bakkie to the limit, Sue and Nando sat with a pile of luggage between them on the back seat and I had a backpack stuck between my legs.

We had two tents per team, being almost the first ones there was fun and we sorted ourselves out, visited the shops etc before most of the teams arrived. We had a good meal in Hermanus on Saturday. Making large cardboard boxes waterproof is a bigger job than you would think and we spent a good few hours with packing tape
and black bags getting them waterproofed.

Race Start – Leg 1 – Hike/Orienteering – 14km
Due to high winds early in the morning the sea kayak was cancelled and we started in more traditional fashion with a quick hike/run through Hermanus, the highlight being the trip up Hoyskop a small koppie in the middle of town, and then the trip up the kloof behind Hermanus and back over the mountain with the wind howling around us.

Leg 2 – Lagoon/River Paddle – 20km
Most of leg 2 was a peaceful paddle up the lagoon with some wind in the later part of the lagoon making it a wet experience as the waves broke over the boat. Sue and Nando must have been soaked sitting in front of the boats. We struggled to find the river that fed into the lagoon that was our way up to Stanford a few kms upstream. In the end it was a case of everyone go in different direction until we found it, I fell waist deep suddenly and nearly had my foot trapped underwater – but at least we found it.

Leg 3 – Hike – 36km
From Stanford we retraced the length of the river and lagoon to end back on the beach again before hiking along the beach all the way to Gansbaai. Gansbaai has changed a lot since the maps were drawn up and we overshot the checkpoint by a good 2kms or so. We retraced our route got the point and finished the leg. At the transition we stopped for about 2 hours of sleep. (End of Day 1)

Leg 4 – Cycle - 140km
This leg felt like it went on forever. We cycled inland toward the town of Elim, just before getting to Elim we changed direction and headed back to the coast via the Agulhas National Park. We visited the Lighthouse, and saw a dead whale in the little bay as well as a dead seal later along the beach. Once finished with the beach we headed back to Elim where we stopped for a few drinks. Just outside Elim I buckled my back wheel and while we tried to get some sort of rear brakes working in the end I continued for the rest of the race with no back brakes. At transition we again slept a few hours. (End of Day 2)

Leg 5 – Hike – 47km
The hike started with a direct assault or about 5km through the fynbos up the side of the mountain. The alternate route was about 13km along roads. The fynbos was thicker than expected and it seems the alternate route was faster. Once over the mountain we had a similar choice of 8km through the fynbos vs 13km through town.

The option of stopping for breakfast in town won and we headed into Napier for a really good breakfast. Coming out of Napier is where Con’s feet started being a problem. The hike continued going over another 2 mountains and then finally going around a mountain late the afternoon. By this time Con could hardly walk and I think Nando’s back problem was really starting to hurt. Once darkness fell Con and I entered Zombie state and Nando and Sue kept us going. Con’s feet got progressively worse and in the end we called Heidi to organise him to be picked up, while the rest of us continued.

In transition Con had his feet seen to by the Medic – he got the full treatment including ‘staal drupples’ injected into the blisters to dry them out. At the time we did not realise that the major problem he had, was bruising rather than the blisters. (End of Day 3)

Leg 6 – Cycle 105km
After a good sleep, we chose to have a longer sleep to give Con the best chance of recovering we headed off again, unfortunately Nando’s back had not improved sufficiently and after a few kms he decided it would not be possible to continue and he returned to Transition. The rest of us continued meeting Erik on the way and stopping late in the afternoon in Greyton for a late lunch.

Leg 7 – Trek 23 km – replaced with Cycle 30km
Once we reached the next transition we knew that there was no chance of Con doing the Trek, as a team we decided to therefore ride around the Hike leg and continue on to the next transition. It was an easy Cycle being all on Tar roads, but the long uphill really got us down only to be replaced with the joy of the long downhill to Theewaterskloof dam. At transition we took it leisurely, having decided to skip the paddle and complete as much of the last day as possible. (End of day 4)

Leg 8 – Cycle 70km
This cycle made it over 200kms of cycling in a row. It started off just as dawn arrived and had us cycling in the mist over the bridge across the dam, before once again turning off onto dirt roads back towards Hermanus. Just before we reached the next transition we met up with the camera crew and while they were filming us Cyanosis arrived (by car) and handed out ice cold cokes as an encouragement to everyone.

Leg 9 – Orienteering – 4km
Sue and I did the short orienteering leg (pushing our distance on foot to over 100km on the Official race distances). Con lay on the grass and had a good sleep.

Leg 10 – Cycle – 8km
Off we went on the last cycle, a lot of it being on tar roads through Hermanus and Onrusrivier back to the start/finish area.

Post Race
We were about the 7th team to finish after 103 hours of racing. Officially we finished 19th due to losing a team member and the fact that we missed 2 legs of the race. We got some great trophies that I am going to treasure. The trip back was peaceful and unexciting. It was a wonderful experience that I look forward to repeating next year.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Racing thoughts

Team Lickety Split is on short finals for Expedition Africa, so I spent a couple of minutes today reading race reports from races similar to EA. Getting my mind around the race, so to speak.

Tatum Prins hit the nail on the head with this insight from AR World Champs - October 2010.

"This sport is so incredible. It has this way of humbling you. You end up having this love hate relationship with it. One minute you are crying and ready to call it quits and the next you are laughing hysterically and loving every second. All this changes in a matter of seconds. Quite simply, it’s a beautiful kind of crazy! Your highs and lows are amazing, so much so you can’t understand them. In fact I can’t even try. All I know is that AR sucks you in and keeps you there. It bares your soul. At times it rips it apart and just lays it open for all to see. It teaches you the importance of living life. It puts life into perspective. It teaches you to never give up, to keep looking forward. It pushes your limits. Emotional, physically and spiritually. It shows you the importance of having 3 friends as team mates because without them in AR you are nothing. They are your world for those 5 days. It’s you, them and the elements. Life becomes simple again."

It's going to be uber cool to be taking part in the same race with all the 'heavyweights' next week! Mighty Mouse.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kinetic Sprint - Amazingwe Lodge

17 April 2011

Mike & William - 3rd in Men's Pairs

Con & Sue - 4th in Mixed pairs

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

YstervARK LEGEND - 8/9 April 2011

Captain my Captain William, This is my Swansong Con, Flying Portuguese Nando and Mighty Mouse Sue.

The final race in the series - rumoured to be LEGEND - we had to be there! As usual it was not plain sailing before the race. William managed to pancake his front wheel rim while riding to work on Monday - this is a model for which you can no longer get spares, AND you don’t want to buy a new bike the week before a race! Then we discovered that one of the canoes we had counted on using, due to a mix up in communication, was not available to us any longer.......!

This had William running around organizing bike parts and canoes frantically in the evening, so that we could test them at Emmarentia on Thursday.
The Gods were on our side, as the canoe he bought - a Foxbat - turned out to be perfect for our needs, if you discount the fact that more than half of the team do not want to spend more time swimming it to the nearest bank, rather than paddling it! She’s a Foxy Lady....fast and unpredictable!

The trip out to Aasvoelkrans Resort went like clockwork, William, Con and I in William’s car with bikes and boats on top - we were there by 7......with no sign of race organizers anywhere. We thought we had more than enough time to prepare and maybe even fit in a little sleep? However, putting bikes together, doing kit check, stuffing down food, shuttling boats to the dam at Olifantsnek and testing out our shelter for the anticipated kit check on route, took us right up to race start. Clinton had managed to raise 11 teams from a total of only 2 on the Monday, so we had the usual quantity of racers. A quick check of hands, revealed that around half of them were virgin racers, looking a little chilly and apprehensive in the dark.

The first task was a quick orienteering run around the resort, using verbal clues to collect our passport - surprising how difficult it was in the dark and unfamiliar territory. The teams now split up a little, we hefted our backpacks, mounted our bikes and set off into the dark. (45km MTB)

Knowing we were in the Magalies area and the roads were all likely to go UP, did not actually help at all! Race Director Nico had found the longest district road in South Africa that goes UP AND UP AND.......The trouble with cycling in the dark is that you cannot see how far you still need to climb, but after an hour of climbing, you would just really like to KNOW? Anyway, the turn onto the farmer’s mealie fields was a welcome sight, the grassy jeep track.....a change of scenery, the view downhill heavenly!
Into transition some time after midnight and happy Hallo’s shared with Uncharted. They were just exiting the caves and Lizelle was pumped up by everything she had seen and done. She assured us that it was “GONNA BE AWESOME”!
The first of the surprises Clinton had promised us.......this is the Weltevreden Caves - our entry an abseil (30m) down a pit entrance, where miners used to mine lime in the early 1900’s. (3.5km orienteering) We were given a map and instructions to stay away from the fungus on the floors - rumoured to cause illness if inhaled. It being around 2am in the morning, our trip around the caves was somewhat otherworldly! I almost felt as if I had fallen into a Star Trek movie, trekking the 3.5km around underground looking for checkpoints. The ground underfoot was loose and slippery, but we spent time sneaking quick peeks around at the stalagtites and formations, while checking below for fungus, ducking flying bats and negotiating slippery rocks! So odd to be wandering around alone and far away from the ‘real world’ then bump into familiar faces of other racers, around the next corner!

Nando bravely volunteered to crawl into all the small muddy spaces to find hidden checkpoints and Con did a fantastic job of keeping us on route. One vertical boulder strewn shaft was a little beyond our sensible capabilities and we elected to go back by the safe route. With flagging headlamps, we completed that leg and sat down to change batteries and transition back onto bikes. Tshwane had organized hot and cold drinks at this point, and it was very welcome. Thanks, Guys! It was not only AWSOME, but also LEGEND!

Now for the long leg through the dawn to the dam (50km). Knowing that we had climbed so much, we anticipated a long run downhill, back in the direction we had already come. The downhill took a while to arrive, but finally we were tearing into the dawn back to the dam. Several teams were in the area when we arrived, and upon seeing a chilly looking group entering the water for a swim, we told ourselves that they had obviously forgotten their canoes and elected to swim instead - little did we know this was the next surprise engineered by Clinton!

A quick anti-cockwise trip around the dam (7km), into slightly choppy waters, gained us checkpoints at the Willow tree and a trip up the bank for the Cave checkpoint. Back to the log strewn exit from the dam, where Con very nearly dragged me off my feet in his eagerness to get onto the next leg. Here was Eric to preserve the moment with his camera. William whipped out his penknife to remove the headlamp from his bike helmet and being somewhat sleep deprived, left it in the grass, hereby losing us 10 hard earned minutes from our finishing time! Not that it mattered.............

Now we discovered that we had to chose between a hike around the dam, or a swim directly across - of course this being adventure racing, it was the swim (200m), which turned out to be the best option, as the hike lost a couple of teams their final places in the race. Stripping down to as little as possible, exchange some insults with Eric and we set out kitted in life jackets, which then needed dragging behind us for the rest of the race (20km), but as I said before, this is adventure racing! We had exchanged race position with team Stealth several times during the race and were running a ding dong battle with them right up to the dam wall where we left them having a bite to eat and looking a little tired - maybe they were just tired of our incessant banter? The hike to the dam wall was interesting, mainly for the quantities of fauna and flora, specifically the Nephila Clavipes - better known as Golden Orb-web Spiders. Boy! There were plenty of them! Large and carnivorous looking.....though we told ourselves they were not poisonous....we have the odd arachnophobe in the team, so William took up a large stick and beat the trail for the rest of us!

The route away from the dam wall checkpoint, lead straight up the cliff face, past the first peak, then onto the second and at last we could see the first beacon shining high in the distance. That done, we could see the next 2 checkpoint beacons somewhere further into the clouds before us, but this is what we have been training for.....the shrubbery even looked like fynbos, so on we went. William was particularly thrilled to be following a trail only a metre wide, with steep dropoffs on both sides - we felt a lot like we were doing Salomon Skyrun just there. Somewhere on the top of that peak, we met Nico running alone and in the middle of nowhere. He explained that he was just out checking on things and that we were close to the next checkpoint, where we would start descending. Whoop! Whoop!

At that checkpoint, came the expected gear check. We hunkered down and squashed ourselves under the flysheet - unexpectedly discovering the largest ‘penknife’ we have ever seen, lost in the grass. You could skin an elephant with that thing! That completed, we elected to miss the boulder route off the mountain and try the chain ladder - because it sounded like more fun! It must have been quite a climb up, as we discovered Eric (again) and Karin flaked out in the grass at the top. A quick stop to satisfy the photographer and then a shaky descent down the slippery ladder......will it ever end? Legs wobbly and untrustworthy by this stage.

At last on solid, if not horizontal ground, we spent what seemed like hours trailing Con, who could smell the finish, down the foothills and back to the Aasvoelkrans Resort.
We told ourselves if just one person clapped, we would run through the finish - well exactly one person clapped, so we raised a jog and completed our race happy......and well before prize giving! We finished in 5th place in a time of 16h05 with a warm welcome from Clint and a bottle of Coke for our troubles.

Congratulations to Hawkstone on a highly deserved win and to all the other teams who took part - you're all winners!

Thanks go to Tshwane Adventure Racing Club for organizing yet another excellent race! We even managed to each win a Buff! (by default) Thanks guys.......it was LEGEND! We’ll be back!

Mighty Mouse