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.
Reported by William - posted by Sue.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.