Race Report: Jonathan Ham – Fullmoon

Wow… that was awesome! I’d forgotten what fun there is to be had during a proper adventure race, from being thrust down the rapids right after the start to watching the moon rise during the 56km cycling leg- this was definitely one for the books.

Our team, Nevarest Ruthless, started under no ideal conditions, I mean we barely started on-time due to a miscalculation about the exact start time and having to drop off the bikes at Transition 1. Meanwhile, Alec was going into the race with a pretty serious calf injury but with the hope that it would hold up after a week’s rest. Nevertheless, we lined up alongside our fellow competitors at the start of this 130km Adventure Race.

We started with a 11km kayak leg down some pretty exciting and tricky rapids on the Vaal river. Calen and I had a few mishaps early on with a couple capsizes and crashes but by the time we got to the final rapid of the leg we had settled in and gotten the hang of things and really enjoyed the thrill of the ride.

Then it was on to an 8km trail run/hike. It was really hot and the run ended up taking longer than expected since Alec’s calf was obviously not in a good way. As a result, we arrived back at T1 with all our water packs empty and Calen suffering a bit from dehydration/heat exhaustion. The hope was that our luck would turn on the cycle and that, perhaps, Alec’s calf would have loosened up. Unfortunately, it didn’t start that way with an early puncture on Ruth’s bike. The rest of the cycle went by without mishap with us slowing the pace slightly to allow Calen and Alec some time to recover.

Once we reached T2 it was clear Alec’s leg wouldn’t hold up for the rest of the race and, to our dismay, it appeared Ruth had picked up a knee injury during the Kayak leg as well. Ruth started on the 20km run with us but she was obviously in lots of pain and when we passed back close to T2 she conceded that her race was also over. Calen and I decided that, since we were the only two that hadn’t completed a Full Moon yet, we would carry on, albeit unofficially.

The 20km run was a beaut! The day was starting to cool and Calen was feeling strong again. We headed off into the mountains with the sun setting behind us with the goal of getting as much of it done as possible during the daylight. The last 8km of the run was done in the dark and this being my first time navigating at night had me choosing the slightly more conservative but less risky routes. Finally, we arrived back at transition hoping to have a bit of a rest but found Alec and Ruth excitedly telling us that we were lying 4th and had passed about 7 teams on the run.

The cycle was glorious, after running/hiking for over 3 hours being able to freewheel down the hills felt like we were flying on clouds. We managed to catch the two teams ahead of us and were lying 2nd when we returned to T3 to do our final Kayak leg. At this point, we heard that the first team- Keyhealth Nevarest had already finished and were most probably already comfortably in bed! This gave Calen and I some motivation to finish ASAP. As well as some of the locals along the river offering us some Boerewors and a beer at 12:30 in the night along with the comment of, “yoh maar julle boytjies roei vining!”

We obviously weren’t fast enough though because we left transition onto the final bike leg with the team in third’s bike lights right behind us. Fortunately, Calen and I felt strong on the cycle and we managed to get away and it seemed that we would have a comfortable ride into the finish. But it was not to be… I made a Nav error about 1km to the finish and the other team slipped by, finishing about a minute ahead of us! This was frustrating but we were so glad to have finally finished that it was soon forgotten while we sat around with the other team drinking coffee, eating hot dogs and telling war stories.

Adventure Racing is definitely a special sport: the feeling of freedom in the African bush while finding your own way through valleys and over mountains isn’t something you find in many other sports.

So, it’s only fair to thank the race organizers Heidi and Stefan and @kineticeventsafrica for this amazing event. Another big thanks to the team -Nevarest Ruthless- Alec, Ruth, Calen you guys were amazing in your perseverance and support. Then finally to the sponsors that make it all possible Keyhealth, Toyota, and Inov-8 thanks for the continued backing.