Friday, November 5, 2010

Merrell Eden Duo 2010

With the Hitec Otter and Southern Storm under the belt we had a super strong and psyched up Team ready to take on the Merrell Eden Duo. Things sometimes happen that are completely out of your control and in the in the lead up to this race two of our stalwart team members lost their Mothers in two separate but totally unexpected incidents. Our condolences go out to Jeannette and Chris and we know that the time we all spend together over the next few months on “our Playground” will help to lessen the load of your loses. This left Rhona and I as the only full Pennypinchers pair for the Duo but with some juggling and emailing Jeff hooked up with fellow Southern Storm competitor from George Tony Conlon. Tony had a great Otter run and is an experienced Tri Athlete and Iron Man finisher. This would be his first venture in to the abyss of Adventure Racing.

The Eden Duo is a great race for anyone who wants to start adventure racing and with various distances and even a relay format there is definitely something for everyone. Jeff and Tony would be entered into the Vets section of the Classic section and Rhona and I would try and defend our Mixed Pairs title. The mixed category turned out to be where the racing was going to be with John Collins and Hanile Booyens racing together and the Merrell Adventure Addicts Don Simms and Tatum Prins. We would have our work cut out if we wanted to be any where near the podium , there were also another 27 Teams racing in the Classic race over 150 km.

The race starts with a short run across the Wilderness beach to the old Choo choo Train tunnel. As usual there was a lot of banter and we settled in the front bunch. Just before the path up to the railway line the pace picked up and the bunch split, I asked Rhona to hang in and hook in to the smaller faster pack. This was a good decision as there was a narrow section where we had to slide down 10 meters of ropes on the other side of the tunnel and a bottle neck was sure to form after we went thru. The upstream kloofing was beautiful and after just under 2 hours we popped out of the river onto the Saasveld campus for the first transition onto our bikes.Here we saw team mates Jeff and Tony changing and getting ready for a leg that they would enjoy both being good riders.

Feeling good coming into TA 1

The thirty odd kms of single track and then the climb up Montague Pass seemed to go well and we both arrived at Herold Wines feeling great. After a quick transition and a kit check we set of just behind Tatum and Donavon. (I am not sure who was more surprised them or us). The 25 km hike/run over the mountains back to Saasveld is spectacular. The mist came in and we went into a quiet zone and rAn down the mountain back to the Kaaimans River and up to Groenewiede.
Our seconding crew of Dael, Erez and Teva were waiting with bikes and cold juice for the 35km bike leg to Hoogekraal weir for the paddle across Swartvlei. The ride was tough for me after the pounding and fast run over the mountains and I was only to happy to be in the boat for the hour paddle across Swartvlei.I spared a tought all be it just a small ONE Jeff and Tony neither of them great paddlers at this stage.

Sedgefield Caravan park in sight (maybe some work on our timing required)

This was really were the make and break point of the race came we were faced with a 21km run along the beach from Sedgefield to Wilderness. Rhona's husband Jan and his partner top Knysna cyclist Paul Miklewood had caught up with us in the transition and were desperate to hang on to our shirt tails for the beach run. Rhona would have none of it and slowly increased the pace as we rounded Gerrikes Point. At this stage we had moved into third place in the mixed but also in the whole race as well. Our goal was now to hold onto the third place overall and make sure no men’s teams over took us on this second to last leg. The tide was pushing in but for the most part we had hard sand and were able to run the whole way except we I pleaded for a walk to try and eat some food.
The mist along the coast was great because it hid the long flat stretches of beach that often make a beach run physiologically difficult and before long we arrived at the Touws river Mouth where we had started the race about 13 hours earlier. We had beaten the threatening tide and now my thoughts did go out to the teams who still had to do the hike with the pushing tide. It did push them closer to the dead whale that we did not even see on the beach and they had a fun scramble over some rocks with the help of a ropes crew.
It was still light when we jumped into our canoe for the last short paddle up to the finish. At this stage the adrenaline was pumping and the goose bumps were up. I knew that no one could catch us now unless one of us fell of the perch (and even then!!!).
13 hours and 42 minutes of hard racing saw us finish third over all in an amazing race. Rhona was as tough as nails, super organized and a great racing partner. Our seconds Dael, Erez and Teva were fantastic. This is the first race I have done where I had ice cold juice on every leg and sat under the opposition’s gazebo as if it was our own due to the negotiating power of Erez. Thanks Guys.
From our sponsor’s side huge thanks as always to Pennypinchers in Plett Sean I think we did you proud this weekend. On the nutrition side I had very little “normal food” to eat as we seemed to be racing out of my comfort zone all the time. I ate tons of Gus and drank the GU Brew the whole race although I did go to water and GU for the last leg. The Helle Hansen tops were all used with the new “HH Warm” with the merino wool was perfect for the kloofing leg and the HH cool short sleeve worked for the rest of the day. The Blue Steel anti chaffe was great and allowed me to do the whole race in running shorts instead of changing into cycling shorts for the ride legs. My BIGGEST mistake on this race was I forgot my Rocket Compression sock and tights. I now fully realize the benefits of these. My calves took huge strain during the run legs where e I know if I had had my SOX I would have been a lot better of. The stiffness I had on Sunday morning was with out a doubt made a lot worse by me not having my tights to sleep in after the race. BIG LESSON LEARNT!!!!!!!!!.

In the final mix of results it was John and Hanile first, then Tats and Donovan in second and Rhona and I third. Jeff and Tony gutted it out over the final few kms and finished 14th overall. Special mention needs to be made of the up and coming boys from Oak Hill High School in Knysna where Jeff and I have been putting in some hours with the kids. Brandon Wilcox and Harry Marshing aged 16 and 17 finished in 9th place overall. Well done boys.

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