Thursday, November 5, 2009

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

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