Race Report: KeyHealth Nevarest Origin – Expedition Africa Full Moon 120km Kouga

Team members

The second race in the Kinetic Full Moon Series saw the Teams arrive in the picturesque holiday haven of St. Francis Bay, on the beautiful Eastern Cape Coast. Set amongst rivers, farmlands and private nature reserves, it was the ideal location for a race of this length.

The Origin Team was eager to race in this format with some new combinations and roles for this race they were keen to see how they would perform.

 

Team preparation before the race.

The finalization of team members was confirmed in the last week and due to injuries and unavailability in the “A Team” the Origin team saw some new combinations as an opportunity to put together a competitive team.

Greg was back after a long injury and was looking forward to race and take on the navigation role.

“I’m very pleased to be back racing and keen to see how things go. I’m also ready to head up the navigation and use what I’ve learnt for this race ” said Greg.

This meant that the experienced team member and captain Alec was able to focus on race strategy and look after the team during the race as the navigation responsibility shifted to Greg.

Alec “It’s going to be great racing with my son Greg again. We haven’t raced together for a while in AR format and this is a good opportunity to test ourselves.”

Calen returns in the role as workhorse for the team and has been performing consistently well the last couple of races.

Rounding off the new combination was Nicolene, who has also just recovered from an ankle injury.

“This is the first time that I’m racing since the Nevarest Race in Pilgrims Rest and I’m looking forward to getting out on the course” shared Nicolene.

With just under a week to get organized it was all systems go as the team prepared ahead of the race.

Packing and getting the gear sorted was a case of checking compulsory gear lists, getting some food and then packing into gearboxes – a familiar set of tasks for the team even with limited time.

With final checks done it was early to bed for an early 3am departure.

 

The Journey to Cape St Francis Resort

It was very long trip but it was rewarded with some scenic passes and back roads driving through the Eastern Cape. Overall the trip was good with a couple of team members each taking turns to drive to break up the many hours in the vehicle.

Most of the time was spent chatting and finding out how the week went, while a fair amount of time was also used to discuss race strategy and planning transition tactics.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the journey was the discovery of a small roadside farm stall which made the most amazing Kudu and Springbok pies.

“The pies were just incredible and perfect before a big race.” Said a hungry Calen.

Fortunately for the team, the Toyota Fortuner vehicle ensured they travelled in great comfort and ensured that they arrived safely at Cape St Francis Resort.

 

Registration

The team was excited and optimistic and were looking forward to the challenge. All went well at registration team completed the necessary compulsory gear check and team documents in good time.

With at least two hours after registration to get ready, the team was able to ensure all final checks were completed thoroughly before race start.

“We are excited to be racing together,” said Alec. “and we are feeling confident for this race. All gear is sorted and loaded and we’re good to go”

Most of the gear had already been pre-packed, which assisted greatly with the planning. It was only the final packing and handing in of gearboxes that was required. Teams also had to transport their bikes to T1 at Dune Ridge Guest Farm, which was very easy with the team trailer kitted with bike racks.

 

 

Leg 1 – Trek (15km)

The trek section started off quite quickly and the team moved well together over the rocky shoreline sections. The youngsters set off at a fast pace and were quick over the technical sections. Alec, who usually takes about an hour to warm up properly, was managing well with the faster start.

Greg was spot on with the navigation on this leg and managed to collect all CP’s without any delays. He even managed to get CP5 first time which many teams had missed initially and had to double back and collect it. They managed to catch quite a few teams on this leg.

Nicolene for some reason was feeling a bit nauseous, but also managed to settle and get into a good rhythm and worked hard on the dune section.

It was extremely windy in the dunes with sand blasting against their legs which made the running even tougher. The team agreed this section was really beautiful despite the difficult weather conditions on the day.

Greg “The dunes were tough but spectacular. It was a real privilege running in these dunes through a private nature reserve.”

 

 

Leg 2 – CYCLE (36km)

The team managed a quick transition at T1 and also has a chance to refill bottles and grab a snack before leaving transition on the bikes. After a quick mapping of the route from the master maps teams were on their bikes for a quick cycle to T2.

The route choices were difficult with a choice of two slightly different options. One route option was slightly longer than the other, but in both choices the condition of the cycle paths were not certain. It was a slow start for most teams and then ended up with a couple of hike a bike sections for first 15km through the loose, soft sand.

Based on the information available on the maps and the length of the road the team decided turn left on the main road on the seemingly shorter option but found this section to be very difficult cycling in the very sandy sections – again a bike carry was required.

The team later learned that the other longer route choice, which also had some sandy section, turn out to be slightly quicker and more rideable. The team did lose some time and positions but managed to make up a great deal of time on the better gravel road sections through the scenic Kouga wind farm section.

Unfortunately they ended up with a bike mechanical 2km from transition which meant that they lost valuable time but still remained positive going into T2 ahead of the paddle.

Another challenge on this MTB section is that Greg forgot to change into his cycling shorts and ended up doing the 36km with running shorts only.

“I was so busy with the map and wanting to leave T1 quickly that I forgot to put on my cycling shorts and ended up learning a valuable lesson – and a sore butt!” said Greg jokingly.

 

Leg 3 – KAYAK (10km)

The team was looking forward to the paddle as they are all fairly competent paddlers. It was also an opportunity to admire and take in the amazing surroundings of the river frontage and magnificent farmlands along the Kromrivier.

The first half of the paddle was along a narrow section of the river which meandered through open plains and thicker bush sections and eventually opened up to a wide section closer to the mouth.

“This section was really spectacular and although we were a bit cold, paddling whilst the sun was setting was something very special” said Nicolene.

The team arrived at transition with everyone was feeling strong and looking forward to the next trek section after being on the water for a couple of hours.

Whilst in transition one team member was required to complete a short stand up paddle (SUP) section. “This was good fun and great component to include in an adventure race” commented Alec.

After some warm food and dry clothes change the team headed out into the night on the trek towards the river mouth.

 

 

Leg 4 – TREK (15km)

This particular section was a highlight for many teams and certainly was for Nevarest Origin. This section was completed whilst the full moon was rising over the ocean which made for a very pleasant experience.

“The moonlight trek along the beach was fantastic and we were able to run without headlights for a long time. The lights in the nearby villages also added to a great view” mentioned Calen.

The wind also dropped entirely and the conditions were near perfect which was a welcome break after a blustery couple of hours on the course.

Greg’s knee gave him a bit of hassle along the beach but he managed to push through. “My knee was starting to feel tight and painful for part of the trek but I managed to keep going and was looking forward to getting back on the bike” said Greg in transition.

The smell of great food from the Walskipper Restaurant welcomed the teams to T3 – unfortunately there was no time to order the delicious seafood platter from the excellent menu.

 

Leg 5 – CYCLE (45km)

The team was keen to get back on the bike and had a very good transition once again. The route choice was fairly straightforward back to the finish and they were able to move at a fast pace.

“The team is strong on the bike and we were able to pull ahead of other teams that left the transition at the same time as us. Nicolene, in particular, was very strong and she did very well on this leg.”

 

The team arrived at the finish line to cheers from the crowds after a solid 12 hours and 40 minutes of racing.

 

 

Closing thoughts

Overall Nevarest Origin was very pleased with their performance and finished strongly in 5th position in the mixed category earning valuable series points.

Alec  “The race was very well designed and run by Kinetic Events and the organisation was excellent. The team really enjoyed racing together on the course.”

Greg “The team did very well and it was great to race with my dad – we navigated and cycled very well and despite one or two challenges we were able to still finish the race well”

Nicolene “It was awesome being back in the team and having an opportunity to race. It was a good test for my ankle and I’m glad that I was able to push and get through without any major discomfort. It was a great race”

Calen “The views and the route options were great and we had a chance to see some pretty amazing scenery. I really enjoyed the paddle and the trek under the full moon. Thank you Kinetic Events for a super event”

 

 

The team is currently 3rd overall in the Kinetic Full Moon series and look forward to a good race in the final part of the series in the Drakensberg

 

Craig Giese is an Adventure Photographer and Media Content Developer from the Eastern Cape, South Africa