Race Report: Jonathan Ham – WCAD 24hr [A1 Series]

Team members: Michael Joubert, Yolande Speedy, Alexander Ham, Jonathan Ham

Finishing position: 5th

Time: 21 hours, 11 minutes

What a race! As always with adventure racing I’m left feeling extremely grateful to be able to experience nature and it’s beauty in such an intimate way. To be able to do this as part of an awesome team just makes it so much more special.

I’d rather not go into the details of our race in this report as those can already be found on the Keyhealth Nevarest Team Facebook page. But what I will do is attempt to share some of the beauty of AR, the lessons I learnt from the race and some of the emotion that a race like this allows you to feel.

Lesson 1: If you aren’t going to train paddling- get a backrest for the Kayak! This was a mutual feeling amongst the team as most of us had last paddled during our previous races and, as such, had done no training in this discipline (for some, as long as 8 years ago!) It came as quite a surprise then, that we paddled really well on the unusually long 36km paddle and were only a few minutes behind Painted Wolf who are well renowned for their prowess on the water. Some may put this down to a certain difference between kayak brands, but since my arms are still sore 3 days after the race I feel some credit should still be retained by the actual humans on the boats!

Lesson 2: If there should be descriptions, there probably are and you’ve just folded them away without noticing.

Lesson 3: Michael and Yolande are absolute machines and training to keep up with the guys and girls at this level is serious business (at one point they were pushing me up the hill on my bicycle so fast that my brother couldn’t keep up – and Alex is no slouch on the bike!).

Lesson 4: A botterboom looks like a cactus crossed with a shrub which was then slightly inflated.

 

Lesson 5: sometimes you just need to be lucky- because there was no other way I would have found CP 16

 

Emotion: As a good friend of mine once stated back in my very early (I’m still in my early) AR days, “The race is like a rollercoaster of emotions, one second you’re on top and everything is perfect, the next you’re all the way at the bottom.” While this is true, I’ve found that even when I’m at the ‘bottom’ during an Adventure Race it’s usually still better than how I’d feel not riding the rollercoaster at all! This race was no different, there were moments of joy and excitement (the weirs and rapids in the paddle come to mind) and of disappointment and frustration (a certain CP 12) but still I’m glad to say we did it and rode the ride till the very end.

 

Beauty: There’s the obvious fact that we were racing in Robertson in the Western Cape, which is one of those locations that make you question why you would want to live anywhere else. This was compounded by the fact that this drought stricken area was only recently blessed with rain and everywhere you looked there was new life growing with the brightest green. As if it was trying to make up for the past difficult time. But there was also a certain beauty in the competition- which was as fierce as it gets with all the most experienced teams in SA racing. Then that of pushing your body to its limits and of the skill, determination and unrelenting positivity of others- both in our team and in others.

Finally I get to thank all those who made this race possible:

Alex, Yolande, Michael thanks for making it an awesome experience and for your great patience, understanding and advice.

Alec, Greg and the rest of the Keyhealth Nevarest Team who make these races happen.

Toyota SA for getting us down there and back safely and comfortably.

First Ascent, Vagabond kayaks and Inov8 for some real quality gear to keep us comfortable, warm and going fast.

Craig Giese for all these amazing photographs.

And all those who followed the tracker and supported us from home.

Until next time, cause I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Jonathan Ham.