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 .

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