Friday, December 30, 2011

The year that was (2011) and the Year to be (2012)

Pennypinchers Adventure Racing Team 2011-2012

The year of 2011 and flashed past us and it is time to reflect on what the Team achieved and did not achieve in 2011 and what our aims and goals are for 2012
Click on this link to see some of the great pics and moments of 2011
Thanks to Glen Murray,Kelvin Trautman,Jacques Marais,Dael Bunge,Nicola Gilleomee and all the rest who have taken pics while we were out having fun
January 2011
10 Jan: The first Kurland Summer Trail Run: We had 130 runners with 3 different races. Pennypinchers branding at the start /finish .Nic Cuthbert  2nd.Cairnbrogie Dairy supplier ice cold milk at the finish. Donate R1000.00 to Kids of Kurland and R1000-00 to Mind the Gap Foundation.

15 January: Attakwas Extreme Mountain Bike Race 135km. Jeff and  Jeannette andt James take part despite 2 broken ribs. This is a good tough training ride to start the year and keep the Team honest over Christmas.

February 2011: Garth Pienke joins the Team for 2011 Expedition Africa. Jeanette and James attend Wheel Chair race in George with Sterreweg Kids. Garth finishes 3rd in the Proscreen Series of trail runs in East London

March 2011: Garmin War Trail: 265 km Staged Adventure Race in the Aliwal North / Lady Grey area. Jeff, James, Garth and Chris Crewdson take part.

Jeanette wins the ladies race, James 9th. Chris at 50 yrs old becomes the oldest finisher well up in the top half of the field. The Team is actively involved in helping the BOBS FOR GOOD FOUNDATION give away 100 pairs of school shoes to a school in the Sterkspruit area after the 2nd day of racing.

April 2011

Good Friday 2011: The Cairnbrogie Easter Trail Run. We use the full Pennypinchers branding Trailer to brand the Barn. Nic Cuthbert  5th .  There are 250 runners and 24 disabled kids from Die Sterreweg that take part. GU Brew out on the course. Nic Cuthbert 2nd Tortoise Tuff Goukamma Trail runs.

Donate R2500-00 to Die Sterreweg Charity for disabled Kids

May 2011

Expedition Africa. 500km expedition Adventure Race. Starting and finishing in Onrus near Hermanus. The Team finishes 7th out of the 27 teams that started. Only 11 teams completed the full race. Nic Cuthbert 3rd Junior at PetroSA Half Marathon

June 2011

Recover and plan the next 6 months while Nic comes 2nd Asics Extreme Mountain Run

July 2011

Jeff takes part in the Knysna Oyster Festival big 5 competition (taking part in 5 of the festival events in 8 days) places 12th out of 140 entries .Nic comes 11th in the Featherbed Trail Run and 2nd team in the Xterra. Garth finishes 4th in the Katberg Sky trail 38km run.

James rides in the first Plettenberg Bay Mountain Bike Race. 75km. Comes in 22nd. August 2011

Nic Cuthbert wins the 25km Outeniqua Traverse trail run (first junior and first overall

James and Jeanette run the Otter Trail Run as safety back up Mountain Search and Rescue.

September 2011

Trans  Baavians Mountian Bike Race . 235km non stop. Jeff rides with his son Brandon and finishes well. James, Jeanette and Garth ride the race with out any support from seconds along the way and finish 3rd in their category (mixed 3s).

We receive our new branded kit from Second Skins just in time for the Karoo to Coast. The design of the kit has really worked well in terms of our sponsors logos . The problem of often wearing race bibs or back packs has been well resolved with clear branding on the sleeves and on the front of our shorts as well as the sun visors. James, Jeff and Garth combined  the race with a training weekend including the Buffalo Bay Trail Run 12km (Nic 3rd, Jeff, Garth, James 5, 6, 7, respectively) and some paddling on the Goukamma River.

October 2011

Jeanette to Adventure Racing World Champs with Team Cyanosis. (a late replacement for Hanlie Booyens) they finish 8th out of 89 teams

Eden Duo. The junior Team of Nicholas Cuthbert and Brandon Willcox win the race. James and late replacement for Jeanette, Voitex Orzechoski finishes second. Garth and Jeff finish 8th after a tough day out.

November 2011

Salomon Sky Run. 105km off road high altitude non stop trail run. James and Garth finish 18th, 19th in a field of 150 starters (only 89 finished).

December 2011

Kurland Summer Trail. We attract 170 Runners. GU and Pennypinchers brand the finish area. Nic finishes third overall in a strong field.

Donate R2000-00 to mind the Gap Foundation (Crags based charity).

The Blog.

With the inclusion of Nicholas Cuthbert (he is 17 years old and knows the technical stuff) in to the Team we have been able to up grade our blog and are now also on Twitter .The blog hits have increased over the year with the first month of over 1000 hits being November 2011, October feel just short with 983 hits. Twitter allows us to do live posting to the web from our phones while we are at a race. As you can see with some of the stats below the blog is receiving attention from all over the world as well.

 The information below was printed on Sunday December 18 2011.

Pageviews today

Pageviews yesterday

Pageviews last month

Pageviews all time history

Traffic SourcesMore »


AudienceMore »

With the whole Team being together over the weekend of the Kurland Trail Run we were able to work out our main objectives for 2012 and work out the best possible way of achieving these goals .

From an event point of view it was decided that we would all continue to compete in as many local races as we can in terms of trail running, mountain biking and canoeing as well as any multi sport events that may occur. (Most of these dates and calendars are not finalized for 2012 yet).

Chris Crewdson will be tackling the Garmin War Trail as the oldest competitor for the second year running. He has also indicated that he would like to be on the podium in the Masters category at the Salomon Sky Run at the end of the year.

Nic Cuthbert will focus on his trail running especially in the first part of the year (there is a whole list of these)  where after he will be committed to his Matric exams.
The main focus of the Team for the first 6 months of this year will be The Expedition Africa 500km Race to be held in May 2012.James,Jeff,Garth and Jeanette have decided to 100 % commit themselves to this race. The reasons are as follows

1)      The race is now sanctioned by the World Adventure Race Series and will attract quite a few overseas teams ,giving us the opportunity to compete against these teams.

2)      The race will be held in the Eastern Cape and is close to home as well as in Pennypinchers Country

3)      It is the biggest race in the country and all the top South African Teams will be there

4)      It is a true adventure race and that is what we do

5)      Being close to home we will be able to put together training sessions in the area and acclimatize to the harsh conditions of the Eastern Cape.

6)      We have got unfinished business form last years race and feel we now have the Team and the time together to really do well.

With this in mind we have plotted a route that will include the Attakwas Mountain Bike Race (135km tough) and the Garmin War Trail as well as 2 training camps as build up events for the main 500km mission in May.

The second six months of the year will include the Trans Baavians, The Eden Duo and the Salomon Sky Run as key events.

Event Organizing

This extra arrow to our quiver is turning out to be really successful. This last year we hosted 3 trail runs with a total of 570 runners taking part. The aim was to host a family fun filled day with a choice of routes for everyone to enjoy, young and old. We have been approached to include our two runs in a book of the best trail runs in the country and we will be hosting the journalists some time in the New Year to show off what we have done and see if the runs are selected.

This year we will once again organize three events (with some more if the ideas we have turn out). Over Easter we will host the Cairnbrogie Easter Trail Run and expect huge growth from this. At the end of the year we will once again hold the Kurland Summer Trail Run and in between we have some great ideas for either running, biking or adventure races. This third event needs to be selected carefully in terms of the very busy sporting calendar that is out there.

These events have three objectives

1)      To create an awareness and promote our sponsors using, branding ,media and a quality event

2)      To raise some funds for a local charity close to the event venue

3)      To promote the Pennypinchers Adventure Racing Team brand

4)      To introduce and show case the world of adventure type sports to the Garden Route which is already becoming known as the Adventure Sport Capital of South Africa.
The Team would like to take this oppurtuinity to wish you all a Fit and Healthy 2012 and thank you all for your wonderfull support through out 2011.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Kurland Summer Trail Run

The Kurland Summer Trail Run Organized by the Pennypinchers Adventure Racing Team 2011

Four days after the event and I can finally write my report on the Kurland Summer Trail Run. That is because this evening I finally got to run the whole route despite the cold and rainy weather. What an amazing run , I knew it was going to be good as we linked bits of jeep track with single track where we followed bush pig paths into the forests, joined old logging paths to new forestry roads and fire breaks. It was also tough the run started with a 4km uphill before turning into some single track through the forest and then it seemed to go up again for a bit through some fynbos and thick onder bos.At the end of a long downhill the fire break section took you upwards again and this time the reward was a great view across the Crags to Robberg. The downhill on the other side was no reward it was very steep. A short section along a district road at about the 10 km mark was a small relief from the knee jarring descent on the fire break. Off the road and after winding along next to the honey bush fields it was another treat of single track path through the forest. This section was a lot more technical than I thought it would be and you were constantly weaving in and out of the trees and monkey ropes. A quick section of farm road and then more paths to the finish but not without a splash through a muddy patch. 675 m of climbing and 16,75km of great trail running .The finish on the polo field was spectacular this evening even without all the banners and people as a rainbow filled the sky.

That is how I saw the 16km route, on the day there was however much more on offer. The Team had three objectives with the organizing of this event
First was to organize an event that would show case our sponsors and the Team.
Second to host an event that would involve the whole family and offer all participants a challenge at whatever level they choose.
Thirdly raise some money for a local charity close by to the venue, in this case The Mind the Gap Foundation.

The hard work started in November after the Sky Run with our weekends being spent cutting and scouting trails on the Kurland and Kleinberg properties in the Crags. Jeff is in his element doing this and once pointed in the right direction is unstoppable. Jeanette’s role here is the “bunny hugger” and she watches Jeff and his assistants like a hawk to make sure not even the smallest bush is hurt and at the same time wattle trees are demolished.

With the help of Google Earth all the dots were joined and with Chris being pulled back in to duty and Garth arriving from East London the Team started setting up the start finish area on Friday afternoon with a strong Easterly wind making sure that we would have to come back very early on Saturday morning to put up most of the branding. The full moon was high in the sky by the time we got back to the farm to eat and sort out the final bits and pieces. The moon was still up as we packed up and headed back to Kurland for the start of a fantastic day.

The Kurland Hotel staff were up early to and by 7:30 steaming cups of tea and coffee were on hand to greet the runners as they registered.

8:30 am and the first runners set off. The Kids Adventure Trail had Moms, Grans and toddlers heading under the start finish arch under the watchful eye of Garth and Jeannette. Their 1,5km route would take them into the forest, along a path through some ferns and then back across the fields crossing logs and fences along the way.

Next off was the 4km run. This route was designed specifically to take away the speedsters and young hooligans who had eaten all the kiddies Easter Eggs at our last race. The route here needed to be well marked and non technical but difficult enough to keep these speedsters busy for just under half an hour. The race started and it was clear that we had the right people in this race as everyone over the age of 10 was left at the start arch wondering what had bulleted past them. Our Adventure Racing team has very clear policy about not following people and also making sure we are always going in the right direction, this clearly was not the policy of young Deon Nagel who missed a turn on the route marked with a 2m square Pennypinchers banner and 2 arrows and then led the whole field on a unmarked round about route to the Pavilion (adding about 1,5km to the route).

The 6km route would have more climbing and a longer downhill through the forest and would be a good introduction to trail running for anyone wanting to venture off road for the first time. The route would finish along the same section as the 4 km route with nobody on the race missing the “Nagle “gate. With young Dylan Van Wyk blitzing this route in 28 min winning the race overall as well as being first junior home. Amy Williams from Knysna was second girl home.

The 16km route would follow the same first 2 km of the 6km and then the runners were split by a GU banner and sent further up the hill and into the new additions to our route. Melakhaya came through from Knysna with Jeff at 4:30 that morning helped us set up the start area and then promptly went out and demolished the field and completed the 16.5km in a very respectable 1hr08. Coming in, in second place was Knysna’s Mark Collins I a time of 1hr19 min with Pennypinchers Adventure Racing Team junior Nic Cuthbert in a very respectable third place. Watching the DVD footage of the race I was amazed at how close the ladies race was out in the field with a group of them all together for a lot of the time. All of them saying how much fun it was but actually there quite a race was going on. It was Chloe Carmes who broke away to take first place from local Shelly De Villiers who looked like she paced herself well and had a good last quarter of the race. Third place was Crags local Charlotte Rodgers and in forth Oakhill Adventure Racer Mikhayla Olivier.

By the time all the athletes had completed their races the day had warmed up and they were treated to an ice cold supply of GU Brew at the finish line. Once fully rehydrated with carbs and electrolytes replaced most runners headed towards the Pavilion Restaurant and tucked into the Burgers,wors rolls and chips that were on offer as well as that well deserved beer.

With unbelievable support from local businesses prize winners received some great prizes and after some lucky draws all the runners were heading out patting themselves on their backs for competing in the 2nd Kurland Summer Trail Run.

Album 1

Album 2

 Album 3

Album 4

Album 5

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ARWC Nettski's Report

Finally I got my act together to right a race report for the AR world Champs in Tasmania.

Firstly I just want to Thank all of you for the your support enthusiasm it was and still is amazing I still get asked about the race THANK YOU SO SO MUCH for showing such interested.

Its quite hard to right a race report for such a long race without writing a journal so I'm just going to take out one incident which will always stick in my mind, but before that I better write a bit about what Tasmania looks like. It is beautiful and wild the Forests are lush and green with ferns taller than Nicolas which says quite a lot and mosses covering every fallen tree so its rich in different greens but not thick as a jungle, more like our Garden Route forest with gum trees as thick as our yellow woods.

The coast is rough and wild like our own Robberg with very similar vegetation which scratches you to shredders ala fynbos!! The weather well that can get freezing which we experienced on the long hike wind, snow and rain all together but luckily for the rest of the race we had pretty good weather. Me! well considering my build up for this race 2 weeks of panic attack training and not such a good base due to wedding fever, one could say I was well rested and nicely fed (vino,vino and dinning out). I was thou pleasantly surprised that I survived, still could smile and could have carried on except for my swollen sore shines which where literally a pain.

At the end of the report which is beginning to look like a book I will write the distances we covered which Nicolas send to me since I had no idea and people kept on asking me. All I can say it looks damn long and impressive cant believe we did that. And since it looks so impressive I have to add that to the report also it makes me look very very hardcore.

Okay finally to the incident that will stick with me for ever:

It was on our last hike along the coast which we started just before night time, the sleep monster was attacking me big time and to me it felt like we where wondering around in circles around this headland. Every time Nic took a look at the map Netski dropped to the ground hoping for a quick zzzzzz time well it never lasted very long. We got to the check point which to me looked like a jetty at a lake since it was dark now. During this time the wind picked up considerably and it was pretty chilly needless to say it started to bucket down but lucky for us there was a public toilet right next to the jetty. Sadly to say this is where we settled for the chilly night and the worst was the wall didn't even reach all the way to the ground more like a prefab wall about a foot above the ground. Needless to say the rain was coming in so we ended up pushing our backpack against the wall and leaning against them to stop the rain and wind. John was hugging the toilet with his emergency blanket while I squashed between Nic and Nathan needless to say the sleep was not very good. Between the shivering and here and there a bit of shut eye, daylight came with the rain having stopped but the wind was still howling, it was freezing.

The boys decided to use their emergency blanket as a buffer between their cloths and skin, so there they where ripping the emergency blankets into strips and stuffing them into their pants. John looked the best since he was wearing compression socks and cycling tights. The silver emergency blanket was sticking out of the socks and out of his pants he either looked like a candy wrapped badly in foil or a robot I couldn't quite make up my mind. But the best was when the boys started to walk this funny zizzzhed zizzed noise was coming from the "aliens" even thou the situation was pretty grim I had to laugh and it still makes me laugh. But we made it to the end in a amazing 8th place with never having trained or raced together before, with 2 people who didn't have this race in their yearly goal John who got asked 6 weeks before and me 2 weeks considering how much all the other teams train for this I was very very chuffed.

For some on course pics go to

Here is the course info:

9am start

1) 17km sea kayak - 2.5 hours, including transition

2) 20km trek through the Dial Mountain Range - 4.5 hours

3) 20km mtb to Gunns Plains Cave - 1 hour

4) 1 hour of caving.

5) 50km mtb to Leven Canyon - 4.5 hours (arrived at 10pm)

6) 60km of mountain trekking and kloofing down past Reynolds Falls and

the Vale River - 20 hours

7) 12km rafting on Lake Mackintosh in inflatable - 3 hours

8) 20km kayaking on Lake Mackintosh and Lake Rose - 5.5 hours

- We slept 2 hours in transition in Tullah until dawn

9) 105km mtb past Montezuma Falls to Stahan (Mid camp) - 10 hours

- We slept 3 to 4 hours in transition in Stahan, 6 hour stop. Left mid

camp at 21h45

10) 65km beach and fynbos hike to Granville Harbour - 19 hours

11) 150km mtb past Waratah to the Arthur River - 23 hours

- We slept 2 hours in tent alongside the road before the ferry crossing

12) 75km kayak & 12km trekking down Arthur River to Kununnah Bridge -

took us from 18h30 till 17h30 the next day with 11 hour darkzone

- We slept 7 hours during dark zone next to Arthur River. Got 45 mins

down river before darkzone. Actual kayaking time was 10 hours.

13) 70km mtb to the Rocky Cape - 5 hours

14) 25km coasteering to Boat Harbour - 10 hours in total from midnight

to 10am.

- We slept 2.5 hours in toilet near Jetty on the Rocky Cape

15) 35km mtb to the finish in Burnie - 2 hours.

- Finished just before midday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kurland Summer Trail Run organised by the Pennypinchers AR Team

The routes are now finalized and I have to say they are all awesome from the Kiddies Adventure Trail up to the 16km Trail Run.

The 16km route is going to challenge the Garden Routes top trail runners while the more social runners will be treated to spectacular views over The Crags towards Robberg and single tracks through indigenous forests.

If you have kiddies and also want to run we have you will be able to do the 6km Trail Run after the Kids Adventure Trail (see starting times below)


1) Friday (9th Dec)12:00 NOON- online entries at close

2) Saturday (10th Dec) 7:00AM Registration Opens

3) Saturday (10th Dec) 8:15 AM Registration Closes

4) Saturday (10th Dec) 8:25 AM Race Briefing for 4Km Race

5) Saturday (10th Dec) 8:30 AM START 4km Race

6) Saturday (10th Dec) 8:32 AM START Kids Adventure Trail

7) Saturday (10th Dec) 8:35 AM Briefing 16Km Trail Run

8) Saturday (10th Dec) 8:35 AM Start 16km Trail Run

9) Saturday (10th Dec) 9.00 Am Briefing 6km Trail Run

10)Saturday (10th Dec) 9:05 Am Start 6km Trail Run
Contact James on 082 9257885 for more information

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Salomon Sky Run Story

The Lady Grey Country Club has two influxes of people during the year . One the Wartrail Multisporters in March and then the runners for Sky Run in November. We visit on both occasions but prefer the laid back and smaller filed of the Adventure Racing crowd in March.

Before we could even register we had to under a a quick medical check. Blood pressure,heart rate and wieght. Having spent the whole day in eating in the car and just arrived in to a hall full of people and the excitement of the race hardly made for great healthy results. In fact the fear of God was put in to Petrus with his blood pressure sky high ( by the time he reached Balloch the next day it was way down ).

As always a great pasta meal was provided and the race briefing revealed a huge part of the field were novices. (Adrian Saffy organiser and sweep was in for a long day). Our little group hit the sack and tried to sleep thrugh the noise of a local party and a new kid on the drag rtacing scene. 2:25 am came all to soon and the ritual forcing of a breakfast and some water began .

After a few words of wisdom and caution from the organiser,Adrian Saffy, the race was on. Unlike the casual jog of the Wartrail out of Lady Grey, the front Sky runners (racing snakes) took off like they were doing the 100m sprint!!!
After 40 min the headlights were already off and one knew at this stage it was going to be a hot day with the sweat dripping from ones body. After 1hr 40min myself (Garth), Lettuce, Jeff and Petrus had reached the Tower CP1. At this stage the field was staggered and groups already formed.
From the Tower, past CP2(Olympus) and on to CP3(Snowden) was all about getting into a steady rhythm and doing a little base work to open a gap and push.
With water been Scarce and a steady berg wind the natural river spring just after Snowden was a stop for all. Fuel up,and splash those faces before moving on again for the climb up to Avoca. All the way one needs to remember to turn those heads and take in those spectacular views we so often forget about when racing.
Once at Avoca (CP4) and a 5min stop to refuel again properly and appreciate the country side again we were off. Off to Skiddaw via the Dragons Back. By this stage the North wind was howling so crossing the Dragons Back was hair raising for some allowing us(Garth, Lettuce, Jeff and Petrus) to pass a large group taking a more conservative route and not going straight over the Dragons Back. (How could one not go over the Dragons Back. One of the main highlights of the race!!!).
Shortly after passing through Skiddaw(CP5) we lost Jeff to not feeling so well and decided to push on and wait at Balloch. All that was left before reaching Balloch was that horrid knee crunching, ankle twisting downhill that went on for ever before reaching the path in the valley below and meandering all the way in to the picturesque Ballock(CP6). Here we were met by our organised family and friends being our seconds.(What would we do without them) We were immediately given a kit check and herded in like cattle to the medics for a clearance to keep going. There after downing a red bull from the sponsors and plonking our backsides on chairs for a well deserved breather.

Lettuce was given strict instructions to drink rehydrate by the medics to carry on(He does sweat like a muel!!) and Jeff who came in 30min after us was failed and forced to rest until further inspections by the medics. After 8hrs sleep and 5 medical inspections, unfortunately Jeff was not permitted to carry on.


At about 4;50pm we decided it was time to get going as Balloch Wall ( a sheer 400m climb up and over a 3 meter wide saddle and down the other side) lay ahead of us and doing this section in the dark would not be pleasant. Balloch wall – Straight up and Straight down. Little off sides I thought, but a lot more humorous once down the otherside having passed a few competitors and a couple Emus ( yip thats what I said) From here on to Edgehill it was pretty straight forward following the gravel road.

From Edgehill to Bridal Way Path was where all the fun and games started again. Bridal Way Path was nothing compared to the approach to Bridal Way Path. This seemed to be forgotten about and I don’t know why. Good for us though because after grouping with a couple people at Edgehill, we seemed to make good work at dropping them on this climb. Then after coming out the top of the pass some bright spark said it was only 7km to the turn around. Not knowing this section of the route I soon realised that after 2hrs and not yet at the turn around the bright spark wasn’t to bright with there distances after all.

The Turn Around (CP8) was a life saver. We arrived at 00h00. Up until 23h00 there were berg winds blowing and heat was a issue. From 23h00 onwards the weather made a turn from Hot to Freezing. At the turn around the tea, coffee, rusks, sandwiches, soup, red bulls, blankets and willing people just wanting to help and make us comfortable was most welcomed. Leaving that warm loving environment was a tough one which had to be done quickly to avoid losing to much body heat and getting to comfy. At this point we seemed to bunny hop a few more contestants sleeping and recovering. The course had taken it’s toll on them.....!!

Here is what Sky Run novice Petrus Maree had to say about the last strech home" The night got freezing cold and when we reached the Turn at around 12 for a tea stop I had to put on all 4 layers and 2 buffs. Our pace from there was "hiking on steroids" and trying to keep the pace constant and focus on the GPS and path in front of you, ankles were fragile and I was tired. We could see Checkpoint 9 on top of the mountain, it was hard few km's to get there with lots of crazy climbing but that was the last checkpoint so I was super excited"

The final CP(Halstone) was the last climb of the day with shear 100m drop offs literally a meter from us. Climbing was one thing but descending it was another. We opted for the faster less safe shear downhill route. By this stage it was time to get this thing finished with as soon as possible.

Petrus again "The view of the Salomon blow up arch was PRICELESS! 25h19 mins I am stoked! Lettuce, Garth, Jeffrey, you guys rock, thanks for the experience and guiding, learning from the best! Will I do it again next year...hell yes!

We strolled into the finish just after 05h00 Sun morning to a surprising 18th, 19th and 20th .


What an event!! Well done Pennypinchers!!

Thanks Adrian and Mike of Pure Adventures,

Big thanks to Matty,Tammy,Lynne and David for seconding,

the Bloem 4x4 club for being up on the mountain for us

and Jeffery for driving us back...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eden Duo 2011 - A race report

Leg 1- Paddle from Ebb and Flow to Wilderness Beach on the Touws River

The long wait between packing,briefing and the start was finally over and after a quick prayer by Jan Hennop (race director) we ran down to our K2 and hit the water for the first paddle. Voit and I were second behind the Merrel Relay Team and more than comfortable as we hit the beach and headed into the Kaaimans Kloof. Brandon and Nick didn't start well, with an embarassing capsize as they entered the river, they entered T1 with Jeff and Garth.

Leg 2 - Kloof from Wilderness to Saasveld

Garth enjoyed this leg the most and said if it was just for this leg alone it would have been worth the 600km from East London. Jeff and Garth came into the kloof not far behind the lead pack which consisited of Voit and Lettuce and the juniors and two Merrel relay teams. We swapped positions up the kloof until the juniors put the hammer down leaving a trail of blood on the rocks for the rest of us to follow where Brandon had fallen. Jeff also missed his footing in the kloof leaving him short of puff when they hit the bike.

Leg 3 - MTB from MNNU Saarsveld to Herold Wines
Coming out of the Kloof in first place, Brandon and I, made a hasty transition, which was hampered by forgetting the clip card as we were about to check out. Recovering from this embarrassment ungracefully, we sped out of the transition, at the same time as the first of the relay teams were arriving. For Brandon, having injured his knee upon the kloof leg, this was an opportunity to recover.
Wending our way through a small sampling of the single tracks around Saarsveld, we clipped CP1 and then emerged onto forestry roads, which led us to a hiking trail, which was in my opinion unrideable. As if just to disprove this point, Brandon cruised over most of the obstacles. At this point, the first relay team caught us, and as ours was not their race, we didn't try to stay with them. The route took us past an extra-ordinarily large amount of cyclists and a number of dog walkers. The dogs stared at us as we went past with beady eyes and were remarkably well behaved.
The hiking trail emerged onto the now defunct railway and the promise of terrain far more traversable. Picking up speed here, we were able to reach the devilish Montague Pass in good time. The pass's steep gradient presented Brandon and I with a challenge. I, mostly due to a lack of cycling experience and Brandon due to the racing bike he was using, which only had two blades on the front gearing system and thus presented no granny gears, meaning that he ground it out, till the top of the pass. The view, has to be mentioned, if only because it is compulsory on such a devastating climb; the view, was splendid and made more splendid by the fact that down below, many would have to ascend this @#%&!@#$ of a hill. In transition, we grabbed all the necessities, I took reams of cramp block and we went to confront the mystical ou tannie, the gate-keeper to The Outeniqua Mountains. Barely passing muster, with our minimalistic kit, we set out for the hike. Voit and I hit this leg feeling good and I thought that I would catch up on the bit of energy I had used in the last bit of running from the kloof to Saasveld. Instead my legs deserted me and must have spent the rest of the day in a cold pool in the kloof because from then on I struggled on the bike and on foot. Jeff picked up two punctures on the ride and was starting to have a testing day.

Ed: The boys headed on untouched ,mixing it up with the relay teams.

Leg 4 Hike Nick Fence Hopping on the way down to Saasveld photo J Marais

Leg 4 Herold to Saasveld hike/run 25km

This is the one leg that has been the same in all of the Eden Duo Races and it is really the start of the race proper. This is where fatigue kicks in and one starts feeling the pace from earlier in the day.The route follows an awesome path in a series of switch backs in a kloof deep in the shadows of Cradock Peak. on climbs nearly 300 vertical meters in a space of a kilometer to get out of the kloof to a sadle that gives one a spectacular view of George.The water at the bottom of the kloof is cold and the only guaranteed water untill you reach Saasveld. This leg went slowly for me as a battled the "cramp monster" but there was no letting up of Voits inthusiasim and before long we hit the transition for what should be an easy bike leg. Garth and Jeff hit the hike in good spirits but Jeff toiled a bit and Garth soon had his back pack and used his experience to get them through what was a tough leg.

Leg 5 Greonewiede to Hoogekraal Bike 35km

It was nearly "tea time " in the civilised world but not at the Eden Duo- a quick change of shoes and we were on our bikes. The juniors now had a big lead and were doing us proud. Voit and I were hanging onto second place . We both were really ready to get to the end of this leg to get in a canoe and give the legs a break. The ride was fine but we did get passed by two "cycling strong" teams. One got lost and the other we passed again with 2 minutes in our canoe (justice?).

 Jeff 's woes continued as he decide to try and ride his 29er over two Boerbulls. He felt he had a good chance at 40km and hour but the dogs won and Jeff hit the tarmac hard.

Leg 6 Hoogekraal to Gerrikes Paddle 15km

A great leg for all the Pennys Teams despite the incoming tide. Voit and I arrived at the Sedgefield Caravan park all to soon and had to have a quick transition to make the most of the last hour and half of day light. Erez and Incha our trusty seconds were there as always along with a host of other locals including my partner from last year Rhona and her husband Jan, Mike from Knysna Pennys, Hien and Susie who seem to be everywhere. Thank you all for the support and words of encouragement. It defiantly got me on my feet and out of the transition .

Leg 6 - Beach Run (An ordeal)
Ed: Nic's account below shows what an ordeal a 21 km run on the beach at high tide can be. Jeff and Garth got there a bit latter but still had to slog it out. Voit and I pulled back nearly an hour on the juniors on this leg but it was too little too late.

This was in our minds the last barrier to succeeding. To us this was the deal breaker. We'd heard the same thing over the course of the race from our wonderful seconds; that the rest of the field reckoned that due to the blistering (literally for me) pace we'd set at the beginning of the race and our (as youths) developing endurance, we'd burn out in the later half of the race. Our doubters were more than half right...
Injuries sustained at the start of the race, had plagued Brandon and had worn him down, and it was with a supremely brave face that he began the stage. In a change from previous years, we were able to cross a significant stretch of the onerous beach before dark, which was fortunate, as the tide over the rocky sections of the beach was not working with us.Until about halfway, we were able to sustain an acceptable pace but coinciding with night, we slowed down to a shuffle. The malicious streetlamps in Wilderness, our destination, then turned on, as if to mark the occasion. To anyone not acquainted with these lights, know that the reason they are so curséd (with an extra éd) is because they are psychologically damaging. These lamps torment you with their nearness and then laugh when you realise that there is still many clicks to go till the end of the line. What made the run this year especially tense, was the lack of any lights behind us. We couldn't see any approaching teams, and so couldn't moderate our pace. Three-quarters of the way through, we lost much of our hope of a victory, after all we couldn't have had that much of a buffer from the last transition could we?
Shuffling onward, there was still no teams emerging from the dark behind us and so we allowed hope to rise again. Passing groups fishing, playing and walking was quite refreshing, as it indicated that we were nearing the end of our race. We got a massive wake-up call when lights suddenly came bobbing up behind us. Brandon steeled himself for one last effort and we rushed towards the Wilderness bridge and the start of the paddle, with another team hot on our heels. Hopping into our boats, we believed that it would require a supreme effort in the paddle to claim an overall win. It turned out to be the third relay team (but we surprisingly topped them on the paddle anyway), claiming first place

It was a great weekend for the Team to go and fill the top two places in an event that saw athletes come in from all round the country.

Our new kit worked really well in its first real endurance test. Voit and I wore our Second Skins running shorts and the short sleeve shirts from start to finish. The others chopped and changed a bit but what was great is that the branding stands out really well .

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eden Duo 2011

With Jeannette heading for Tasmania on Thursday the rest of the Team will be heading through to Wilderness for the Eden Duo on Friday. Jeannette will be taking part in the Adventure Racing World Championships after a late injury to Hanilie Booyens of Team Cynosis.We will be following her with live tracking and I will be "tweeting" this site so keep it on you desk top next week.

We have got three teams taking part this weekend at the 150km Eden Duo. Nic Cuthbert and Brandon Willcocks will be entered in the senior mens divsion along with Garth and Jeff and Me and my new partner Voitec Orchecovski ( no speel check on that word). Voit is a seasoned paddler and has done the Duo twice before so is an able replacement for Jeannette .

Over the weekend Jeff Voit and I went through to George to check out the first two legs of the race . The Kloofing section up the Kaaimans River was really worthwhile as was riding the single track through Saasveld. That was untill I went head over heels on my bike doing a lot of damage to my ego and some to my body. The bike was fine by the way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Netski steals the limelight.

While our Juniors Nic and his Team from Oakhill were doing us proud in in the final raft building section of the AR Nationals at Baynesfield in Natal Jeannette was tying the another type knot and marrying Colin Wylie on a small holding just outside Plett.With the wedding held amoung the fynbos and the dress code casual it was a great day for the small group of friends and family that were there. The priest Pieter from Knysna who also happened to be a runner and cyclist got right into the spirit of the couple getting married and in his sermon proceded to compare marrage to the Comrades Marathon , with all the ups and downs that one can go through. It was not long before he started talking about the hard times that will confront you along the way and this is where you will need help and one of the best sources of help on the "big hills" is a GU ( this is with out any idea about our relationship with the products) . He proceeded to discuss the differnt flavours and making sure that you used the right ones at the right time etc. As everyone said afterwards "only at Netskis wedding"

Pieter fills us all in on the benefits of Espresso Love flavoured GU

As if this was not enough less than a week after she tied the knot she hit the jack pot. Nic Mulder from Team Cynosis one of South Africas top AR teams asked her to join his team to go to Tasmania to the AR World Championships . This late call was necesitated by a very unfortunate injury to Hanile Booyens who was due to go with Cynosis to the AR Worlds.

Adventure racing being a team sport as well as a very physical one often ends up offering people unexpected these type of oppurtuinities. With less than 2 weeks before Cynosis leaves for Tasmania I dont think they could have found a better replacement. Netski has raced over seas before and kicks into another gear the longer these races go on. We wish Netski,John Collins,Nic Mulder and Nathan Thompson all the best. Team Merrel Adventure Addicts will also be flying the SA flag high in Tasmania and are hoping for a really good finish.We will be posting news from Tasmania on our blog as the 700km race progresses.

As they say one door opens ,another closes and then another will open. This great oppurtuinity has left me (Lettuce) with out a partner for the Eden Duo, also in 2 weeks time. With time an issue as well as the poularity of the race a decsion need to be made quickly. Voitec Orzechovski lives in Plett and comes from a paddling back ground and has done two Duos so he has been roped in to do the race with me. We are definatley looking forward to the extra 5 km paddling leg that Jan Heenop has added to the race. Watch this space as we head out for our first training session together this evening.

Monday, October 10, 2011

South African Schools AR Championship

This year Oakhill School packed off 4 teams to Baynesfield, KZN to tackle the 2011 South African School's AR Championships, hosted by Kloof High School. Our u/19 A team, consisted of Brandon Willcocks, Nicola Giliomee, Harry Maarsingh and myself (Nick Cuthbert).
Leaving on Tuesday evening, we set off on a testing 21 hour bus trip, which would see us arrive at race HQ at sundown the following day. Due to proper planning and the luxury of time, we had an entire night and day to shake off the travelling dust. This additional time would prove to play an important role in the race for we did a quick recce on our bikes on Thursday morning.

Thursday - 6 p.m, the race briefing started, in which race rules were explained to us and our support teams. The race would follow a point to point approach, with routes being proscribed several times through the course. This was a change to the last two SA champs, where the races more closely ascribed to the rogaine format. This allowed teams to determine where they were in the field, which likely increased the average speed and could possibly be a huge motivator to competitors. After rules were explained, support crews were sent to hang up in their storage lockers and racers were left alone with maps and equipment. In race instructions, there were only a few point with which one could choose your own route and this had pivitol results upon the race outcome. Finishing preparations, our team climbed into bed, ready for an early start.

4 a.m start Oakhill U19
Friday 4 a.m. The race started, with teams heading out into the dark upon bicycles. The first few kilometres are chaotic, with a fairly technical downhill and a river to cross, leading to backlog and a bit of bad-temperedness from the field. Congestion eased however when the route took us upon the broad provincial roads and we quickly claimed the lead, being caught by one of the Helpmekaar teams when there was some uncertainty regarding the turn-off onto the farm roads. We took off once more after getting onto a marked track, passing the single check point, PB1(Post Box) in the leg with Helpmekaar, with whom we came into transition first, finishing the approximately 25km leg one in perhaps a too blistering hour and a half.

Leg two was a trail run and in this leg, we had freedom of movement. Here Helpmekaar's route diverged from ours. We went off-road through a few rivers and streams, while the majority of the field continued along road, increasing their net distance. Both routes seemingly took equal amounts of time as we met with our new rivals at the catty shooting range, just moments behind them. We cleared this obstacle, thanks to some brilliant shooting by Mr. Maarsingh, once again seconds behind Helpmekaar. Passing CP 2, after some navigational confusion, our legs took us to a dam whereupon arrival, we built a raft with sticks and tractor inner tubes, and paddled out with Kloof and Helpmekaar on our tails, to collect a message from two points on the lake. Our design, which was simplistic to say the least, created some awkward sitting positions, which would have had even some of the bunnies back at the mansion raising their eyebrows. While the raft was sufficient to stay with Kloof, Helpmekaar's better design gave them a slight advantage. Nevertheless as inefficient as the craft was, it was heartbreaking to have to disassemble it, having suffered so much trauma upon its deck but it needed to be done, as we needed to carry on. Again taking a less conservative route through the fields, we managed to overtake both Kloof and Helpmekaar at CP3, a gear check. Here it was fortunate that Brandon had additional water, as due to an error, my bottles had not been filled. From here, our recce payed off, as with Helpmekaar following, we headed towards the township of Hopewell, instead of the unnecessarily longer trip along the dirt roads back. We managed to lose Helpmekaar in the twisty streets between the informal settlements and despite the onset of cramps from the pace we were setting, returned from Leg 2, some minutes ahead the rest of the field.

Return from the mountain
Leg 3, was the third and final leg; a MTB ride and despite a radically slowed paced from fatigue and cramping, we held off the other teams past the cliff like gradients which led to CP4. From here, due to the multitudes of obscure turn-offs and roads which did not appear on the map, we were lead upon a marked route, which to our frustration, did not have markings at a crucial turning point, thus wasting precious minutes and breaking the lead we held from Helpmekaar. With their help, we picked up the marking again and claimed the lead back, which was extended when the other school had technical difficulties with one of their dérailleur. We continued on the marked route until we had visited the two remaining post boxes and returned to the provincial road. From here, we travelled to a Heritage Site, where two of the team had to abseil down a short drop, while the other had to walk around. Harry and Brandon abseiled, whilst Nicola and I walked. Completing the task as the two other teams arrived, the Helpmekaar team had now some allies. We knew that we needed to hurry.
Lack of hydration however was becoming a problem, as was concentration. We arrived at CP6, the final checkpoint on route, without incident, save for a small detour to a lake.

The obstacle course
This was our race's break point. We made a risky decision, to cycle around the mountain back, instead of travelling back the way we came or climbing over the mountain. We were turned back by the marshalls a few kilometres in from our route choice and were compelled to climb the mountain, where two other teams (both Helpmekaar) were already much of the way up. It became necessary to carry our bikes along this path and everyone took strain, due to the heat and increasing gradient. We managed to claw back some time in reaching the top, where we could travel through rideable cane fields.

It wasn't enough unfortunately and we reached the race HQ in third place, completing an obstacle course, a quiz, a climbing wall and ladder building, in addition to the aforementioned legs, in a total time of 11h 32min, +-10 minutes behind the winning team.
Of the 11 or so teams who entered the u/19 division, only 4 teams completed the course in its entirety before the twelve hour cut-off.
The race was tough, hard and slightly disappointing but from it came several important lessons, as well a sense of achievement. Of the terrain, I can say that it had a magnificence in many ways.


  • Hydration has priority over transition speed

  • There are times to take risks and times to be conservative, it is important to identify which

  • Never lose a sense of where you are, even if following marked routes

  • Direction is important, we should practise and utilise compass skills more.