Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Pennypinchers AR Team Spring Adventure Race

Full moon and some wind for the start


Buffalo Hills was the perfect place to host the start and finish of our Spring Adventure Race. With new owners Leon de Kock and Trevor Frost excited about putting Buffalo Hills on the map again we set about scouting the valley and surrounding areas for routes suitable for an adventure race. With the amazing hospitality and generosity show by other land owners in the Wittedift, Uplands and Bitou Valley we were able to create a route that would keep even the locals guessing as we withheld the start venue until the week before the start and then the entire route until just before the start.  " .

 Buffalo Hills has been recently revamped and cleaned up and is now operating as a self catering venue The houses are all re done and its fresh and new. The farm is a 130 hectare nature reserve with giraffe, wildebeest, impala, bontebok, zebra, bushbuck and eland on it. The vision is an adventure camp that schools or individuals can appreciate and be able to be out in the fresh air with safe supervision.”Says Kathy De Kock

 With the object of the race for teams to navigate themselves from check point check point using good old map and compass the 19 teams, many of them novices lined up in the dark under the Full Moon for a 7,5km first running leg around Buffalo Hills. Teams could collect these points in any order and the 53 competitors all seemed to have their own idea on the best way to do this and the valley was soon filled with pin pricks of light searching for the 7 check points. After 1hr 10min a group of the race favorites emerged to collect their bikes for the 33 km bike ride up to Uplands and beyond.
With teams taking their first look at the 1:50000 maps there was some confusion and frustration trying to find the steep road out of the valley.   Scott and Trane, Swellendam Girls, Sponsoryourself and Joker and Thief were all close together with the lead changing during the bike leg. The Oak Warriors from Oakhill School Knysna were not far behind this leading pack of adult pairs teams. It was the Thief and Joker who negotiated the 33km bike leg including a river crossing and found their way back to Buffalo Hills the quickest on this leg.

With all the adult pairs teams and the two Oakhill teams (the ARTS a novice team from Oakhill showing good team work and navigation to be the last team to be allowed on to the final hike leg) making it out onto the final leg before the cutoffs (to ensure all competitors would be back before sunset), it was the teams from George’s Glenwood House that floundered in the marshes behind the Wittedrift High school. These teams came in covered in mud, pushing bicycles with punctures but still in good spirits and were put on a much shorter final leg to finish the race.

After 7hrs08 it was Drew Scott and Kerry Ravenscroft who had opened up a small gap on Petrus Maree and Mene Olivier on the final 13 km hike leg to claim line honors. The Swellendam Girls of Fleur van Eeden and Elna  Fourie claimed the pairs trophy and third spot less than a minute back. The Oak Warriors were the first school team home and will be testing their mettle and using the experience gained here at the Adventure Racing nationals to be held in October in Gauteng
Here is a great insite from The Swellendam Girls - Elna Fourie and Fleur van Eeden (1st Pairs)

Elna and i were so excited to do our first longest adventure race.  Friday evening we were all packed and ready for the next days adventure.  And suddenly Gale Force winds hit Knysna and we both looked at each other with worry.  Weather doesn't usually put us off.  But something like this was a little in the "unknown". 

The next morning driving to Wittedrif, the weather was still bad gale force winds and soooooo chilly and rained on and off.  We were suddenly pretty worried what was lying ahead of us.  We knew we were going to be out there between 5 and 12 hours, which frightened us quite a bit. 

Driving to the start we had no idea where we were.  Signs along the way said "stay in your cars at all time"  When we arrived at the start, we unpacked and set up our transition zone in the dark cold air.  Then off to briefing and map hand outs.  We had 30 min to go through the maps.  This was our first real navigating time.  So we decided to concentrate on the aerial orienteering leg and worry about the rest later.  Elna was going to Navigate on the hikes and i was on the bike legs. 

Just after 6am we were all off.  People running all over the place.  We stuck to our plan and went our route.  Running through amazing bush and fields, we suddenly saw Wildebees running all over the place ( i was asking Elna who is the farm girl constantly) "That is not Buffalo right!!!!!!!"  Ive heard they can be very dangerous......  :-) We cruised through this first leg, was unbelievable.  Running in the dark, full moon above us.  Came across a school team that said they ran straight into a herd of Giraffes.  Our eyes were wide open after that for the entire race, hoping to run into them as well.  We came into transition zone 3rd, at 7:21.  4 min behind leaders.  We flew out transition only 4 min later.  We saw the 2 front teams go down the road, where Elna and i chose different route and hiked with our bikes over a hill and ended up in the lead now.  The start of the bike leg was hard.  Battled getting into "bike mode" and having a map board mounted on the front of your bike.....  A little different for the first time :-)  So the 2 teams behind us caught up just before we got to CP 1.  They made the gap bigger by the time we got to CP 2.  Then we really battled getting that CP 2 check point and wasted a bit of time there and 4 other teams joined us.  We were all together till CP 4.  Then all of us caught up to the two front teams.  Coming off the mountain we knew we should speed up and try get to the river crossing first.  So we did...Elna took the lead and i just hung on.  As we got to the river crossing we realised there was another team ahead, which got to the river crossing first.  But now were were next.  What an epic getting across.  Firstly i stepped straight into the river and just disappeared immediately.  Now everyone knew wading was not maybe an option.  Now on the boats we are, trying to pull yourself and balance the bike on the boat.  Finally we were at the other side  and off to CP 7 and back to transition.  We got to transition zone at 10:10 and left there at 10:16.  The team ahead of us got to transition at 10:02 and left same time as us. 

This was a beautiful hike.  We hiked up this gorgeous valley in thick forest.  We over took the team in front, but then they over took us again.  When we got out of this valley we ended up at the top on amazing farm lands.  We got CP 10 and then decided we might be able to go through the valleys.  BUT when we got to the edge we knew no ways will we manage that, so we back tracked and spotted the first team.  It seemed like they were also debating where to go.  We headed for the main farm road and just follow that to the next CP 11.  It suddenly started raining so hard and that is when Elna slipped on her jacket hoody and out the corner of my eye i saw a massive cow right next to her.  And in a daze i remembered James talking about the Jersey bulls we must be aware of.  I figured that was it!!!!!!  I said, "mmmmmm Elna is that a Jersey bull?"  She looked so calmly to her side and suddenly pushed me a side and gave a jump and we both ran.  We didn't say much, then suddenly she took her jacket hoody off and said, "maybe not best to wear this right now as it affects my sight"  I laughed so much. 

The hike from there was so beautiful.  We got CP 12.  Fence across river.  NOW this was the most difficult.  We spent about 20min looking for this fence.  While we were up and down the river, teams Scot and Trane and Sponsoryourself over took us.  We headed to the finish only 1min behind leaders.  It was such an amazing experience and cannot wait for the next. 

Thanks so much Pennypinchers!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is Jason Campbles account of The Oak Warriors race (forst U16 Team)

Race started at 6am in the dark with strong winds and some rain pouring down at the Buffalo Hills game reserve, starting with a 7km run involving some tough orienteering through mountains and valleys and full on bush. Then into transition where we set off on a 32km Cycle involving map reading and some big hills on tired legs, having to carry and push bikes up the hills and climb over fences. In the last 10km there was a river crossing where we had to get 2 bikes and 2 people on one canoe and get across the river with some strong winds coming down the river pushing us into the reeds on the side.

After that we had to climb over a fence and up a hill onto the road back to transition. Where we were leading the race in the schools and teams of 4 division, we then set off on the final leg involving a 18km hike through a valley, up a very steep bush hill with no pathway to the farmlands, then a long circle round the farms where we then started the decent back into a valley down to the river, we then had to cross the river and zig-zag our way across the river back to the camp-site, where we crossed the line in 1st place in the schools and 4 person team division and 6th overall (pair teams were all adults ahead of us and was some tough competition). We were one of the two, four man teams to complete the full course, finished in a time of 9 hours. Winning pairs adult mixed team took 7 hours.

Had lots of fun, awesome race, was enjoyed by all.
The ARTS still full of beans after 11hrs 55min out on the route,well done
Check the link below for pictures