We are running what feels like 4:30min/km, backpacks as light as possible. The sun is setting behind us, the coastline is lit up in gold. We are traversing coastal trails of rock, sand, and your typical Eastern Cape coastline vegetation. I’m trying some pole-vaulting high jumps, meet hop, skip and jump moves with my hiking poles, ushering myself to go faster on my blister ridden feet. I now have no more strapping on them, and it is just raw blisters covered in barrier balm in my last pair of dry Ciovita merino socks in my shoes.
Brundle has seen the red mist, he is linear focused, getting to the sand dunes before sunset is critical. Our appetite to catch Pine Gold the second South African team ahead of us has ignited newfound energy. Suz is on Brundle’s heals like a fox terrier not letting go. GI is galloping along with me making sure I stay in contact. Suddenly a moment of day ja vu. I get the distinctive acidic taste in my mouth; my mind wanders away; I’m standing with my hands on my knees and emptying my stomach in the less desired fashion. But wait that was the first leg, jip, it was also on the beach but that was, what, feels like weeks ago now. My mind registers again and I’m back running on a sandy jeep track.
We are moving more efficiently than on any other part of this race before. But this is the last leg of an odd 900km journey across the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. We are approaching the 150th hour of nonstop movement within this scene we call Adventure Racing.
Racing, it’s a term we use among ourselves within the Adventure Racing circles. It is quite a contradicting term to use in my opinion. Although there are moments of intensity during a big expedition race, racing in the terms of how I grew up, in other words “speed” is rather at the minimum when it comes to Adventure Racing.
But to be fair it is one of the ultimate endurance sports out there and generally the objective is not to go super-fast but rather super-far. Still, we talk about racing when we refer to the sport and what we do, I have however noticed when referring to this outside of the Adventure Racing circles people get a funny frown on their faces when I talk about that time, we raced for 158 hours.
Ok so the fundamentals, Adventure Racing is a team sport consisting of 4 members of which at least one member needs to be female, you can have more than one female but generally teams work with a setup of 3 males and 1 female. Men are supposedly there to help carry some of the extra weight, to lessen the load on the ladies and to help them through the course. This however has shown over the years to not exactly be the case as Women grow stronger as the race continues and become powerhouses.
The sport generally has 3 main disciplines namely, Trekking / Cycling and Paddling. Each of these disciplines can take many shapes and forms within that specific discipline. Paddling can be Sea Kayaking, white water rafting, flat water paddling or packrafting. Cycling can be on tar roads, gravel roads, MTB trails, and then the dreaded hike a bike. Trekking can be on hiking trails, open roads, bundu bashing, on mountain tops, tiger lines through thick vegetation, rock hoping in kloofs, caving and many more varied terrains.
Ropework, will almost always form part of a race where the most common activity will be abseiling, but this too can be any form of ropework from Via Ferrata to general climbing.
Finally, probably the most important part of Adventure Racing is Navigation. The routes are not marked, and the Race Director puts out Checkpoints along the landscape, you as the participating team need to find. This helps the participants moving along the intended areas the Race Director wants you to go. These checkpoints are indicated on a master map available at the Transition points where the navigator of the team needs to plot each CP onto their copy of the map. Then the navigator generally marks out a route he or she thinks is the best for the team to follow to get to each CP and ultimately to the next Transition point or the finish. No GPS, cellphone or any smart devices may be used to navigate the team along the course. Only compasses, paper maps, altitude meters and bike odometers are tools that may be used for navigation.
Then, did I mention that we “race” nonstop. It is for each team to decide when to rest, sleep or eat during the race. A team is expected to be completely self-sufficient. You can make use of shops or friendly landowners along the route for drinks, food, or shelter. At the race start you are handed two big 100-liter containers with a flow chart of where you will see this box during the race. Into this box you can pack resupply food and drink, gear that may be required along the route and fresh kit.
This brings me to the next point and a big factor of the Sport.
The admin in this sport is relentless and the couple of days leading up to a race is frantic organized chaos of packing and re-packing and basically just endless faffing. After receiving the course layout from the Race Director with the indented legs and what box you see when, it becomes a strategic planning session of note. How much food, what gear is needed where, light batteries, spares for bicycles, warm meals, sleeping strategy, water carrying capacity, drink mixes, what clothing will you paddle in, what will you ride with, are we using bib shorts, normal riding shorts, how many layers, how many pairs of socks, where is your helmet compulsory to take along, when do you need your climbing gear, the list just goes on and on. The biggest concern with this specific race was, that we had a weight limit on every box we handed in. 25kg’s for your Bike box and each Transition box. It sounds like a lot. But when the scales are tipped to seeing Box B way more than Box A and your climbing gear, extra shoes and kit needs to go with Box B, your concerns of being able to pack enough food quickly becomes a reality. The box itself ways 5kgs, then after all the gear was added we only had about 3.8kg’s each for food. Flip, it sounds like a lot, but it was a big stress point.
At some point you just wish the race can start to stop all this faffing.
The countdown starts, the tribal drums are playing, the air is electrifying, everyone around you has the biggest grin on their faces. High-fives, hugs, and kisses are going around between competitors and loved ones. We are about to start the Adventure Racing World Championship Expedition Africa Race, the first time in history for the World Champs to be on African soil. It is the most stacked field of adventure racing teams, any event in the history of the sport has seen. Every aspiring team of the world is lined up. People have trained, spent money, overcame many obstacles, dedicated months if not years to be standing at this very spot at this exact time to soak this exact feeling up. It was GO time.
The leg breakdown of what all these wide grinned faces are about to attempt:
Leg 1 – 56km Trek
Leg 2 – 181km Cycle
Leg 3 – 80km Trek / Abseil
Leg 4 – 10km Trek
Leg 5 – 65km Paddle
Leg 6 – 3km Trek
Leg 7 – 224km Cycle
Leg 8 – 64km Trek
Leg 9 – 124km Cycle
Leg 10 – 32km Trek
Total – 839km This is the intended course measurement by the Race Director, but we as the competing teams navigating the course almost never gets it exactly as the RD plots it. Thus, resulting in us clocking 912km over the full length of the course collecting all the CP’s in 158 hours.
It is monumental, I looked at the leg breakdown the first time and my mind immediately went into hyperdrive, forcing myself to go into step-by-step mode. Suz comes over to me and says, have you seen the trekking legs, we are going to be on our feet so much! One leg at a time Zane, one leg at a time Zane…
Pain, determination, grit, vasbyt, the grind, the pain cave, guts and pushing your mind and body to the maximum.
What is that really?
As I type the words and search my mind for more synonyms, I almost lost contact with what each of those words means or feels like in reality. Each member of our Terra Mater team has a story, endured a reality obstacle course to be at the start line of this race. I guess that this is one of the elements that makes the bond of adventure racing teams and fellow competitors so strong.
When you walk into a room filled with adventure racers you are not judged, you are not looked down upon, you are not scanned for wat gear you own or are wearing. You just get the nod of acknowledgement, yes, we know bru, we know. It is powerful, it creates a safe place.
The pain and suffering, why do we do it. Why are we prepared to be out there grinding away the kilometers, enduring sleep deprivation, running out of water, rationing food supply, taking sleep 2 hours at a time on some obscure surface that generally results in hardness.
Back in the real world, post-race, I’m still in a daze of sleep deprivation. I walk into a coffee shop in my hometown. At a table sits a friend. He gets up immediately to greet me, first words out of his mouth. Wow, congrats man you guys did so well with the Adventure Race. I take some time to sit at his table to chat quickly as I can see his excitement to hear how it was is at an all-time high. I don’t exactly share the excitement as I’m still gathering my words, in my somewhat slow processing mind. He picks up that I’m not beaming out smiles and happiness and the conversation changes quickly to WHY?
Don’t you think you are getting too old to do this, it cannot be healthy for your system, remember you almost died in April, was this the best decision for you, what was the strain on your family?
Flip man, why so many hard questions, my bandwidth can’t cope. I answer somewhat in a despondent manner, smile, pull my shoulders up and say something along the lines of “I don’t really know.”
I have explored this line of questioning ever since that recent day and here are some of my thoughts.
You will never feel more alive in your life than in this moment of time. Jip that sounds like a tag line every drug dealer should print onto a label sheet on his desktop printer to put onto his bankie of goods he passes around at some dodgy street corner. Maybe endurance sports can be addictive and form a new “kick” but that is not what I’m trying to get at here.
We have lost our connection with Mother Earth, yes, our Team name translates to Mother Earth. When was the last time you got your hands dirty with soil, got some dirt under your fingernails and felt the power of being dirty. Flip, we have lost that sense of belonging of organic matter. Without a doubt my best perspective of what I am and who I truly am, comes alive in this silly endeavor we embark on in the name of “racing.”
We drive clean and neat motorcars, we sit on soft chairs, work on computers, sleep in comfy beds, wear nice clothes and basically touch and feel nonorganic objects the whole day. In a society where we are supposedly better connected than ever before, we can not be more disconnected from what we are.
3 minutes, Andrew voices. It can’t be, I think to myself. 4 minutes he shouts. Oh, come on surely, we are on 5 minutes. 5 minutes he says breathing out strongly. I walk immediately and say, “thank fuck”. He says, ok we run again. No way bru that was not a minute of walking. This is how we navigate 25 odd kilometers of beach forward momentum. 5 Minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. We have Jabberwock with us, they are strong athletes, and they look mean and lean, they are going to kill us on the paddling leg Andrew says out load to our team. This is the first leg of the race and I’m feeling the pinch hard, so much so that I continue to empty my stomach in the less desired fashion a couple of times along this beach stretch. Finally, we reach the Sunday’s River mouth. I’m not sure how I should feel about the swim across the river, I’m just hoping it will rejuvenate rather than break down.
We reach the Transition point TA1 of the race, not feeling exactly Olympic. Ok let’s focus, we need to get onto the bikes as quickly as possible. Brundle sorts the maps, the rest of us sort out gear, fill everyone’s bottles and stuff our faces. Brundle comes over and realizes he does not have his very much, treasured Ciovita Bib shorts with the very handy side pockets. Did you guys not take it out of my bike box earlier? Shit, no bru we didn’t. All that planning, faffing, figuring out what to pack where, weighing every item, catches up with us on the very first Transition.
Brundle is probably one of the most underrated sportsmen in our sphere of athletes, in my opinion. He shrugs his shoulders and says, its ok, let’s go. Weaponry!
Team is geared up, bike lights are on, Brundle in his Totalsports pantalones, here we go into the first night of racing. We are moving good, spirits are high, but it does not take long for the inevitable to happen. Sleep monsters. It is a term commonly used in Adventure Racing when you start to get sleep tired. You start to hallucinate and see weird things, aka, Sleep Monsters.
We get to the Zuurberg Inn on top of the pass, where a CP is. Some good-looking benches on the front stoep. Andrew calls it, 15minute power nap. Suzanne looks at us confused. 15 minutes, what is that even, are you serious, this can’t be true? Andrew derives a brilliant plan; we are setting the alarm, but we are sleeping upright for incase we sleep through the alarm. Everyone sits, no fuss, we don’t even take our backpacks off. SLEEP.
Ok everyone except Suzanne, she was not having this 15minute thing…
Fast forward to the next day, the mist bank has disappeared, we are deep into the bike leg and deep into mid-day. The sun is coming at us guns blazing, full tilt, no space for weakness. But my first hit of weakness comes straight at me. The heat is unbearable, the humidity is crushing my lungs, I’m starting to get delirious, my tung is swelling up inside my mouth, my focus blurred with black dots and stars everywhere. I look at the team and say, “I’m fucked.” In this sport there is only one rule: Forward Movement. If you must sleep, eat, sit on your ass for some time to recover to move forward again, you do so, but the goal remains forward movement.
We eventually roll into Somerset East after a power nap under the Boomslang Fig Tree at a farm School where the teachers kindly gave us some of the hostel’s pasta and palony. The schoolboys proceeded to evaluate the bicycles with great enthusiasm.
I look over to Andrew our skipper and say, bru I think I’m done you guys should carry on without me. He calmly says; “You cannot make that decision before we have not done everything in our power for you to recover.”
Cold shower, sleep on the concrete with only my bib on for an hour. Stuff my face with a locally bought burger, down two bottles of Rehydrate. Get dressed sort out my gear, climb into my bivvy bag and we all try to sleep in daylight hours for 2 hours. The general rule is to not sleep in the day, with navigation being such a big part of the sport, you want to use daylight as much as possible to nav. Every hour lost in daylight generally comes back to haunt you at night.
I lay in the bivvy bag, now shivering again. A sunburned human wrapped up in a tin foil bag on a thin piece of foam on a concrete pavilion step, shivering.
“Why are you here, you had Malaria a couple of months ago, and you felt exactly like this in hospital for almost two weeks with several medical people looking over you. You were tipping the scales into the negative for survival” I close my eyes and think just recover because these guys (my teammates) are not leaving me behind.
We set off late afternoon on the monster 80km trek, Leg 3 of the Race, backpacks loaded heavily with harnesses and helmets for the abseil and food and drink for the 80km mission. We hit the abseil at night, the storm has started to brew but has not unleashed fully yet, Brundle executed some very tricking night nav in the rain and mist with minimal to no referencing of landmarks.
Suz, was concerned about the abseil, we have practiced a bit, she is optimistically confident. We get down, what is a dark, wet abseil with very little visibility. Andrew asks Suzanne, so how was it? “Ah a bit of an anticlimax” she answers.
It is almost impossible to explain how well Suzanne adapted in this race, she quietly kept her stresses to herself and just kept moving with the team as a unit. She has never done this sort of distances, pushed her body this far before and not once did she breakdown. We learned quickly that she needed a few boxes ticked for a good sleep, adapted to that and we were good to go again.
The trig beacon, the storm, the cold and wet. The highest point in the race, the trig beacon checkpoint. We have all our layers on, the wind is pumping a gale force, the rain is coming at us horizontally, we are walking angled against the wind to stay upright, our eyes are pierced, to at least see the rocks and not to stumble. In Brundle’s hands is the map and he indicates we need to stay on the ridgeline for a while, his energy drops quickly the cold is too much, his hands are freezing. He hands over the map to Andrew, asking he just needs to recover from the cold. Now one thing to understand from GI our skipper is, that if he is toasty, he is happy, he does not do well with the cold. The lure to get down the ridgeline earlier is too big and Andrew and Brundle looking over his shoulder are convinced we need to go down this ravine in front of us. We later learn that it was a monster detour, but we moved better and warmer down in the valley.
We basically spent two full nights out on this leg, with a 2hour sleep on a rocky patch under some thicket. Rolling into transition completely broken, my feet are covered in blisters, my socks welded onto my feet, so hard and crusty that I struggle to get them off, almost reaching for my knife to cut them from my feet. We demolish food and go to sleep in the chapel of the game farm.
The paddle leg, where things started to turn for us, we were moving while sitting and exerting minimal effort on a nice flowing river, the rapids sparking enough adrenaline to keep us awake, eating and drinking to recover. Ok the first rapid we strike, Andrew and Brundle fall out and Brundle loses his paddle, panic, react quickly, they find the other half of the paddle that got wedged in between the rocks and the split shaft came apart.
We are delighted, with the fact that we will easily make the dark zone of the paddle leg. Due to the high levels of the river and the rapids, the race has a dark zone set on the river. You would need to stop yourself at 7pm and get off the river for the night and would only be able to continue paddling from 5am the next morning, a major time-wasting exercise of spending a cold and wet night next to the river we wanted to avoid.
Transition 6, the turning point in our race. We are wet and cold from the paddle; it is dark now and the transition is crowded with many teams all over the place. There is not much in terms of sleeping space and no warm food. We strategize and realize Suzanne really needs a good sleep now, we eat some of the food we have in our box, build our bikes, faff for a bit in our boxes and gear. Suzanne goes on a hunt for anything soft or that resembles some warmth to build her little nested cocoon in the corner of a half-built garage unit. I make a calculation error on setting the sleep alarm and we wake up an hour later than planned. Brundle is properly pissed off at this, the rest of us keep quiet and start to move. We ride out of that transition rejuvenated and feeling strong, the sun rises, and the power is instilled back into our bones, it feels like the first morning rays cut through the weakness, the blurred vision, the fogged mind, and hits straight onto the bones of the body, injecting them with pure clean sun energy. It is a magical experience, it is like watching the best musical performance you have ever witness but you are part of the orchestra, the birds’ tweet, the due drops on the beautiful green Karoo veld creates the glitter as the sun lights them up. The formations of the koppies start to form in the distance layer upon layer, your wheels churning up the gravel in a mesmerizing white noise effect. Trust me this 15 minutes of glory brings so much joy, you cannot help it, but the final cord that gets played in this symphony is a single tear running down your cheek of pure appreciation for life.
It is still a 224km cycle leg and we move through the lows and highs of riding that far, sourcing water from animal drinking troughs, swimming in now beaming karoo rivers and basically taking over an entire farm stall in Jansenville, sitting on the floor inside the shop and devouring pies, ginger bear, and rooster koek.
Boom, my face recognizes the feeling of this abrasive texture rubbing on it, for a moment it almost feels smoothing, I close my eyes and my body rolls with the rhythm of the earth like a piece of rag in the wind. But there is more force involved, the pain hits as I come to an abrupt halt. I try to figure out what the damage is, Brundle stands over me, he shouts at Andrew and Suzanne but they don’t hear him. I can’t see myself, but I can see the mirror in Brundle’s eyes he holds up, I feel the blood dripping in all directions, my race bib’s white pieces are starting to turn into red. After a few minutes Andrew and Suzanne arrives back at the crash site. Once again, I can see the mirror in Andrew’s eyes. I don’t feel too bad, why are all their faces so concerned. We ride for 2 minutes, and I start to shiver uncontrollably, stop, I’m going into shock, I put on my jacket, and we continue to Transition.
It feels like a button has been pressed, how much more of this can I really endure, I have been in the negative since the start. I visualize my kids faces and my mind plays a slide show of their little characters and me interacting with them, but I’m viewing the slide show in the third person, I’m not there. I long for my wife, Carmen. I went into this race with so much uncertainty about our relationship, we have been fighting for a very long time and our last discussions was related to how our separation will play out. The button has pressed more than just the immediate pain I was feeling in the moment, but it touched onto the long dragged-out sorrow. In the moment of sitting on a chair while the medic is cleaning my face wounds, clarity strikes. I love my wife, I love my family, I need to stop being an ass hole and express gratitude, it does not matter who is right or who is wrong, what matters is the outcome, how we go to sleep at night, what the spirit of our household is. My mind fades away from the pain of the scrubbing of my wounds and I’m dancing with Kara, my daughter in our lounge area, the boys smiling at us and Carmen giggling at us.
Right let’s finish this damn thing. team, I have a family waiting for me!
Andrew double checks with me, are you sure you want to continue.
The flatlands, the 64km trek into the Baviaanskloof over the flattest piece of land between two mountain ranges. Propper heat strikes, the water from the animal water troughs is so brak it tastes like sea water. Andrew entertains us by telling us singular stories with many deviations into subcategory stories resulting into a miniseries of Netflix binge worthy Storytime, our favourite time in the race. Storytime keeps our spirits high, and we keep on moving. We walk across the flatland desert like plain for the full day. We reached the top of the Baviaanskloof Mountain Range, we can clearly see where we have came from, the flatland between this mountain range and the one we came from lays in front of us, exclaiming the vastness of this piece of earth we have spent the whole day to traverse. On the other side the majestic Baviaanskloof.
Greener and wetter than I have seen it in years. I have spent lots of time in this area, it hits home quickly. I think of our nephew, Alexander who is fighting a much bigger fight in his life than what this race can ever be. He has been diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 11, how can that even be? I find strength in thinking about him and his journey that lays ahead of him.
Doringkloof campsite, the locals recongnise that I speak Afrikaans, I think it was the first time they heard Afrikaans from the mouths of a participant. They smile and welcome us warmly. We see Pinegold for the first time again, last crossing paths with them on the first bike leg, which feels like weeks ago now. I can see the excitement in Brundle’s face. It’s race time! Andrew our ever-wise skipper looks at us and say, we do not deserve to race them now, we need to stick to our game plan, if the time comes, it will come. We nod in agreement and appreciation. We get on with sourcing food, building our bikes, and finding a sleep spot.
Eloff Hoffman, what a man. I’m not exactly high up in Eloff’s book of people to be friendly with, due to some unfortunate business decisions. But true to the kindhearted man he is, he for some reason is in the campsite when we arrive and offers us two of his mattrasses, a sleeping bag or two and Diesel. This was the biggest gift in our race, Suzanne found her little dark spot shown by the farm owner where she could build her cocoon again and us four boys spooned next to Eloff’s campfire on his mattrasses. Yes four, Diesel is Eloff’s dog, and he loves a good spoon sleep, followed by a good old full tongue French kiss.
The last bike leg of the race! 124km, we can feel the lure of the finish line, only two more legs to go. We ride out of the Baviaanskloof over the Kouga Mountain range, one of the most beautiful bike rides I have done in a long time. Monster climbs, but magnificent mountain backdrops, water beaming out of the mountains everywhere after recent record rains in the area. Dams that have been empty for nearly 9 years are filled up to the rim and you can almost feel and see the natural world standing up in joy, singing from the top of their lungs and dancing to the beat of flowing water.
We ride well, Brundle is razor sharp on the Nav and we are moving well. The last big climb from Churchill dam, I’m off the pace of the team and arrive at the top delayed (this was the case on all the climbs, to set the record straight) Brundle says, guess who I met at the top of the hill here? Pinegold! We have made up at least 6 hours on them in this ride. We do not see them again until the last transition of the race.
Hanno Smit, a big influence in my Adventure racing life, he and his wife Nikki Smit are the reason I’m able to tell this story and the reason I got into Adventure Racing. He and Don Simms one of the other members of Pinegold are some of the most experienced Adventure Racers in our country if not the World. In fact, they both received a Hall of Fame award at the Awards Ceremony post-race. I distinctively remember a canyon shared with Don on the Namaqua Expedition race, where he told me, you will have a great future in Adventure Racing… To be with them in the final transition of the race, was a huge honor!
Both teams transition as quickly as possible, stuff their faces with vetkoek bought from the local tannie and arm our backpacks with cokes. Pinegold leaves the transition before us, and we need to play catch up. This brings us back to the opening paragraph of this story.
We eventually catch Pinegold, both teams take time off from the pace and we enjoy small talk, jokes, and banter for a good twenty minutes or so. We have known each other for a long time and the chats were good and almost celebratory!
Eventually there is a split in route choice, and we start to move faster again. Brundle confirms again that we need to reach the Dunes before darkness falls. We have been warned that the top teams have been playing ring a rosies in the dunes and we want to avoid that as far as possible. What happens next is where my admiration for Robert Le Brun’s nav skill got confirmed, he asked me once about trekking across the dune’s vs following the paths and his focus switched on the task at hand and he did not let go. It was draining to keep up with his speed and focus on the task. He nailed those dunes and the tricky nav almost to perfection.
Andrew starts to slumber with me in the back, making funny moaning noises, Brundle gets frustrated with us two slow pokes, the finish line is insight, what the hell is wrong with you, let’s go.
Andrew is not feeling well, not eating or drinking, I’m just in a big sleep deprived state and Suzanne just wants to finish now, she turns her focus on the team, tells me to put a jacket on, stuffs some tablets into Andrews mouth and gives him some words of motivation and Brundle gets regular food put down his throat, still not sure if that was voluntary from his side but she kept us going.
The lighthouse is now in full scale in front of us, loved ones are cheering on along the sides, the final little beach stretch to the resort.
We are so out of it, the finish line is a bittersweet, we don’t fully comprehend that we are finish and that the celebration can now start. We just want to sit.
This story is my story of the Adventure Race I did with 3 other humans and Bas (the story of Bas will be elaborated on in a future piece) along the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa over 900km in 158 hours. We finished 13th overall among the best team in the World and the second South African Team.
Where the Why gets answered in so many ways, where clarity gets found about what and who you are, where you can disconnect from all the irrelevant things in life and connect to linear focused survival instincts to give you the power to step into the normal world again, a better human, a better version of yourself, ready to love uncontrollably, ready to laugh out as loud as you can, ready to cry when it is due, but most importantly ready to live this life to its full potential.
Inserts from the Team
Robert Le Brun
I am still shellshocked as to how memorable and special this race was, so I’ll try summarise it in words.
I started leading up to the race hoping that it would come quickly, as the wait was getting too much, but at the same time I wanted it all to drag on forever as this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity – World Champs on home soil!
When we received the leg breakdown, It took me by surprise but I just smiled with excitement as I loved the look of the course with it’s enormously long legs!
The race itself started hard and fast, in typical AR style!
So much so, that by night one we were on the back foot with sleep monsters and than a little later that day Zane was taking significant strain in the heat.
We rolled into Somerset East needing to reassess, we rested, reloaded and headed into the mountains later that evening.
The long trek, leg 3 was long and brutal but we got through it steadily, in one piece and in good spirits.
From there our race just got better and better, where we slept solidly in the evenings and moved well during the days!
The team grew stronger and stronger by the day and luckily we had few hassles. As a result we proceeded to reel in more and more teams as the course drew longer…
Finishing 2nd SA team and 13th overall was an absolute dream come true. It was hard earned and hard fought!
For me, this race was massive for me, it has been a massive focus of my year, more so than I have ever focused on one thing. And I am absolutely honoured in how it transpired and am immensely grateful that I got to spend this adventure with my best mates and the best team!
What more can I say – it was a brutal course (the way I like it), showing off so much of our beautiful country, we finished strong with a full team over the entire course – a real dream come true!
The results we achieved were well beyond any of our pre-race expectations, however when we look back at the journey it was largely drama free, but I guess that’s the essence of adventure racing.
The goal was to move consistently and efficiently, always act in a way that would provide the best chance of future success, and to have fun.
With the groundwork done, it was great to feel the energy in the tank to move through the field from 35th position and chase down the few teams ahead of us on the last day and finish strong running most of the last 30km trekking leg to ultimately finish 13th overall.
Adventure racing is nothing more than paying the route director to place a series of challenges in front of you whilst taking you to some incredible remote places. It fills me with the greatest joy to know we overcame these challenges united as team, with efficiency and positivity, whilst banking some memories with the best people that will last a lifetime.
I could not be happier that I said yes to this race. Beforehand I was full of doubts, but the team backed me and there is no group of guys I would rather do it with. I would say having fun as a team was one of the reasons we did so well. This race taught me that you can always go much further than you think, to approach challenges calmly and rationally, & that there are so many beautiful parts of SA still to explore! Thank you Team Terra Mater for including me in this adventure of a lifetime.
Adventure Racing is so much more than a sport for me. It is a place of education and the only space I can truly figure out who I am. Moving across landscapes with our team Terra Mater has been a privilege. For us to have been able to do that efficiently and managed a Top 13 spot and 2nd SAFA team is a bitter sweet. To many more adventures…