Friday, November 13, 2009

Where is the Pennypinchers AR Team???????

This weeks competion sees us absieling a lot closer to home. This landmark can be found between Plettenberg Bay and Natures Valley on the coast. Locals will tell you that you will have good luck if you can throw one of the many round stones found next to the beach through the hole in the top of this landmark.Good luck if you have thrown a stone through this hole because you will know where it is.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Business as usual

The aches and pains of the last weeks race soon wear off and by the time the weekend comes along one is looking for something new to do. Saturday morning saw Chris bring Jess and Laura ( two of the MARS gang and his wife Gisele through to Plettenberg Bay for a bit of abseiling and then off to a talk by a French couple who walked through Africa. Laura did her first abseil and the rest enjoyed hanging in mid air over looking the Indian Ocean.

On Saturday afternoon I collected Sean Gannon Pennypinchers Plett owner and paddler and headed through to Swartvlei for a paddle orienteering race. We had not paddled together before but got into a good rhythm after a while and collected 7 of the 10 checkpoints on offer. This put us right up their in the men's doubles section. The race was won by Macain Adventure Addicts Graham Bird with Steph.

Sean was given a small glimpse into what it is like to chase around collecting checkpoints, taking short cuts and coming up with strategies to make the best use of the time available. Thanks for a great paddle Sean.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

From the other side of the fence

As a huge Pennypincher's supporter I am very impressed by their achievements at the Merrell Eden Duo.

Jeff Wilcocks took care of the Oakhill School kids and at one stage was carrying one of them on his back up some monster climbs... but from what I understand this is what Jeff does best in the team as he is the main workhorse and so it was nothing new for him to be carrying a heavy load.

James took along Rhona to show her what AR is all about and fought off some fierce competition in the mixed category to claim honours, the choice to collect an additional CP paid off and the time bonus meant they beat Team SAQ from Cape Town. He must be the ladies man in the team as last year he raced with Jo McKenzie and won the mixed category... so ladies if you want to have a good day - call the Lettuceman!

But perhaps the stand-out Pennypinchers act of the day was Chris Crewdson taking along 3 youngsters for day. When compared to the other Open Teams (The Collins, McCains type racers), these youngsters can stand tall and be proud of their achievement. Looking at their racing time and applying the 90 minute penalty system in the open category, they would have ranked about 12th out of 22 open teams. Chris merely mentored them along the route and they had to navigate for themselves.

Christine and Amanda two regular Pennypinchers ladies (racing in the MED as Magnetic South PP), also did well and finished the tough course, but they had stiff competition from the experienced McCains Chicks and the new kids on the block Team Elephant Park Blossom.

So all in all to the Pennypinchers well done, you guys have done great work in bringing new blood to the sport.

From my side I would like to see a 45 - 60 km Pennypinchers AR sprint in the near future to let all your rookies put all their hard earned experience to good use!

Pennypinchers AR Team Mixed winners of the Merrel Eden Duo

After the Robberg Express in early October I still did not have a partner for the Merrel Eden Duo a must do adventure Race held annually I the George,Wilderness area. It is a pairs race and I have done it for the last couple of years and always enjoyed the concept of doing a race with a semi known route especially with local knowledge it is a great race to introduce new people in to the sport. It was exactly a year ago when I saw the the name Rhona Zonnestien featured in the same article on the Robberg Express as me in the GO MULTI magazine .She listed some great half marathons as her favourite runs. How did she end up being lured into the thick of off road multi sport in one year????. My favourite runs are the Otter,the run from Natures Valley to Keurboomstrand and the Perdekop Trail in the Knysna forest. There was a transformation and this year Rhona competed in the Southern Storm Duathlon and cleaned up the Vetran Ladies section and in fact was the third placed lady overall. I took the plunge and asked her to join me for the Merrel Eden Duo, there was not a lot of hesitation and she was in. We did a couple of paddles together and with absolutely no fuss we arrived at the start line on the Wilderness Beach for the start.Her story that follows is slightly different from mine . I had one of those days where adventure racing plays its hand and tests you to the limit. A "bug" earlier in the week and flattened my reserves and I was struck with serious cramps after about 5 hours and never recovered from them. It was a long day at the office with no time to smell the roses and even get to know my partner. There was a constant search for the energy for the next step,next peddle stroke or next paddle stroke.On top of that we ended up racing Team SAQ neck and neck for the last 5.5 hours. We snuck in and won the Mixed Pairs by 15 minutes with all the credit going to Rhona ( in her first adventure race) and to our seconding crew of Dael,Erez and Teva.Thanks to you all.

Here is Rhona's story

We are fortunate to have some of the most scenic parts in our own "Eden"-backyard. The Merrell Eden Duo for me was a first in adventure racing and soon serious doubts about my own capabilities crossed the mind. Each of the 7 legs of the race offered its unique challenges and spectacular ranges of natural beauty. This softened the inevitable effects of exhaustion. Just past 5am the first plunges into cold Kaaimans river water; cycling up Montaque Pass in granny gear at 8am; doing a 24km run/hike until 4pm to Groeneweide; cycling again to Hoogekraal; at 6pm paddle through very shallow water in the end; running on a moon lit beach at low tide to Wilderness; and then finally finish the paddle on foggy water at Ebb and Flow - 10.30pm! An unforgettable experience!!!

Along the route we collected 5 difficult check points (30minute bonuses) which awarded us with a 1st position in the Mixed category. Within 24hrs contestants were taken along some of the most awesome routes in the Garden Route. The atmosphere with each individual back-up team, interaction between different racing teams, juniors, opens, veterans and mixed teams, makes this an unique event which is superbly run by 24-7. We are thankful to have a sponsorship from Pennypinchers Plett. For any adventure sport enthusiast this is a must on your calender. Without Merrell footwear, the official sponsor, this grueling, absolutely awesome event could not take place.
Rhona Zonnestein

Report from the PpART/Elephant Park relay Team

What a feeling to share the many experiences I have been fortunate to live through with the Pennypinchers Adventure Racing Team - this time it would be with 3 young up and coming junior talents who hail from MARS (Montessorri Adventure Racing School) to take on the 2009 Merrell Eden Duo during the weekend of the 30 & 31 October.
Gabriel Van Wyk (15) was the team MTB rider, Nina Orzechowski (15) our paddler and Knysna Canoe Club Development Athlete - Stephen Harker (17) learning how to pace himself on the long hikes and trail runs.
We all completed the first stage together - kloofing the Kaaimans and progressed quickly through the first TA1 and make up good time with excellent riding and confident navigating by Gabriel. Our mission was to collect as many of the CPs we could and any mistakes would mean valuable time lost.
Arriving at the second transition TA2 our turnaround time was good and Stephen was able to work with a topographical map for the first time in his entire life. It did not take long however to pick up the basics and our hike was turned into an interesting map reading lesson. He also unselfishly took on the back pack of a fellow junior racer from another team who was battling with the conditions and this illustrated the great potential this young athlete has in the sport.
A wrong route choice near the end did loose us all the time we had saved on opting to pick up CP 4 from the weir and 20 mins later we had CP 5 in the bag by opting to use the flatter alternate route on top of Saasveld.
Another quick transition at TA3 and Gabriel was back in business navigating us to CP 7 and 8. A nav error however looking for CP 7 cost us both time and altitude and it was difficult not to say something and rather ride on down with my young partner back into a valley we had just used precious time to ascend ......however it was the only way Gabriel would work out his error and the continuing lesson he was experiencing in a live event will have stood him in good stead for the future.
The sun set as we picked up CP 7 and 8 was going to be messy in the dark so opted for the longer distance wise but simpler navigation route option to collect CP 8. This was the last we could collect as unfortunately we had missed the paddle cutoff.
The long beach hike with Stephen was a tough challenge having only had the benefit of a lowish tide close to Swartvlei. After this it was a slog through the loose sand above the high tide mark and some adrenalin filled moments as we dodged the waves up against the odd cliffs on some of the tighter sections nearing Wilderness.
The last paddle was in some beautifully crafted mist and the team completed thier mission at 02h50 in the morning having worked as an amazing unit throughout the event.
Thank you to our superb seconds - Ronelle & Jeannine who like my young racers had never done this before and came out as a truly professional outfit with all guns blazing.
It has and always will be an honour to have shared this particular experience together.
Congrats to you and keep up the wonderful attitudes.