Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Otter Trail,Southern Storm and Fish River Canoe Marathon

The last week of September and the first week of October has seen the Team fully involved and out there.

I opened the week of activities with the running of the Hitec Otter Trail Run on the 25th. On the Friday before the run you do a 4.7km time trial from Natures Valley along the beach and over the hill to Salt river and then back along the coast. Home town advantage played into my hands and with out to much effort I got a good time despite feeling like I had a ton of bricks in my chest and my heart was racing way above the norm. At this stage I thought the Otter was going to be a hike for me as there was no way I would risk running with my heart racing like that. Home to bed and a huge dose of of Vitamin C and some pasta. My alarm goes at 4:30 and my resting heart rate is back down what a relief. After the normal Oats and coffee its into the car with the two chopper pilots who are staying with me. Both are nervous as hell with Allen having trained for the race in a security village in Nigeria on a 1,7km lap with three flights of stairs up and down in the middle of the lap. (both finished the race happy).

The race started at just after 6 am with the weather cloudy and cool which was how it stayed for the rest of the day. Once I had passed the first hut I got into my own zone and concentrated on walking hard up the hills and running when ever it was flat and downhill. My frozen water bottles and Camelback were giving me a nice cold mix of Gu Brew and iced water and three Gu s latter we reached the Gu Munchie point (after about 22km) where I refueled with Gu chomps and a banana. The second half of the race is a lot harder in that it becomes hotter and dryer and I started to catch up with some of the people who had shot past me earlier in the day. After Bloukrans River there are just two climbs and some flat sections before you get to Natures Valley where the floating bridge and the finish line awaits. With a last burst of energy I made it across the bridge to the finish and felt great . I had achieved what I had set out to do that is to finish the Otter Trail in under 8 hours ( my time 6 hrs 49min) and also I managed to raise R13 520-00 for Die Sterreweg Day Care Centre in Plettenberg Bay. Finishing this race is tough and everyone who finishes deserves a huge pat on the back.

The last challenge of the day

Two Days latter the Southern Storm kicked of with the Otter Run and was followed by 4 more days of running and cycling around The Crags and Plettenberg Bay. Jeff had entered at the last minute and Rhona was there to defend her Veteran ladies title. Rhona had a storming Otter and laid down the gauntlet to her competition by running the trail in 6hrs and 5 mins. This lead was followed up with four days of great runs and steady biking to easily win the title again and in fact saw her snapping at the heels of the top Ladies as well.

Rhona on Robberg on the final day

Jeff who is well know for not reading emails and getting race information arrived at the race not really sure what it was all about but after a great Otter Run his legs let him know he was in a multi day duathalon and was there to do well. There was a week of sms reporting on his progress and with me trying to give him splits and race info from the farm he was soon being ragged about his manager . It seemd to have worked because when the dust settled Jeff was the 4th male Veteran and he missed thrid by only 7 minutes which is not a lot after 6 days of racing. There will always be the what ifs when the margin is small but there is always next year.Jeff hits his stride up Whiskey Creek on day 4
I have kept some of the sms that were flying between Jeff and myself during the Storm and they actually make some sort of a race report.

Day 2 after the Otter "me sore , me raw, me broken, me love it"

Day 3 ( a bike out of Natures and a short hard run around Forest Hall) " Lekker bike ride from Natures around the mountains where i earned my first brownie points for pulling the girls around and finishing just behind the heavies.Our new home Forest Hall is full of people who look like they are walking on fire , cant understand why until I try to stand up . The Otter has made its mark"
Day 4 (kloofing and a ride) "cool day. started with a swim across the Keurbooms river and up past James's pump then an awesome run trough the bush to the transition.A nice bike back to Forest Hall. Rode alone but today my best friends were Gu , Blue Steel and my Helley Hansen cool top."

Day 5 (a long bike day with two short runs) " my best day yet. Great ride took strain on the runs"

Day 6 (short bike, half Robberg Run , Trail run through Plett) "Was just to short to make a difference to the overall standings .Good fun riding the "lettuce Loop' and then onto Robberg where we were done out of doing the full run but just as well because there was still a short run in town to follow. I was in my full Penny's kit looking like a school boy waiting for the bus, happy as can be proud and cheffed with myself for getting this far. The run through town had it all a waterfall,beach and HILLS but also spectators and a band.. We felt like world champs coming down the main road into town. The day finished with a great prize giving dinner. A great event."

Also out there behind the scenes were Jeannette and Chris keeping the whole event going they had this to say about the event.

Chris "Brutal six day challenge involving harsh trails runs and heart stopping mountain biking pushing every physical and mental boundary in the process" he just organised it so you can imagine how tough it was.

Jeanette as the sweeper who spent more time on the course than any athlete "To sweep was awesome , to have raced it must have been out of this world.Hard but not so hard you hated it every day but hard in a way that challenged each individual athlete in a most stunning and beautiful area."
To cap off the week Pennypinchers Plettenberg Bay owner Sean Gannon had an amazing trip to the Fish River Canoe Marathon with local partner John Elliot. The results show that they had an epic first taking a swim at Soutpans rapid and doing some damage to the new well branded Pennypinchers Adventure racing team boat. With determination and some inguinity they managed to nurse the boat to the overnight camp and do the necessary reapirs to make sure they would be on the start line the next morning. With the boat repaiured and the crew properly bruised the two finished the race in 672 position . There is big talk of a PpART K3 racing next year.