Race Report: Michael Joubert – Castle Lite A1 Adventure Race 30h at Gariep Dam

The second race in the A1 series was hosted by the Castle Lite guys Adrian Saffy and co. The race had a predicted finish time of just sub 30 hours for the leading teams. With 180km of mountain biking, 48km running/trekking and 18km of paddling, broken into 8 legs in the Gariep area.

We pulled in Iain Peterkin for this race and he made his debut on the AR scene on one proper AR race. The rest of the team consisted of Emily Clark, Jonathan Ham and myself, Michael Joubert.

As usual, we only arrived late the day before at the race venue as we could not get away any earlier. Got two to three hours of sleep in and then lined up at the starting line the next morning for our +- 30-hour race.

We started with a run/trekking leg of 11km where we didn’t want to pass any teams and just wanted to stay in the pack. We quickly got all the checkpoints and headed back to the transition to get on to the biking leg.

The longest bike leg was about 75km and we headed out in 3rd place. After Jabberwocky and Cyanosis missed/ struggled to find one checkpoint we had a reasonable lead on them with Team Merrell just behind us. We did most of the leg in Gariep Dam Nature Reserve and saw by far the most game I have ever seen in a race.

We stayed in lead for the entire biking leg until we got to the first checkpoint on the next paddle leg on Gariep Dam. Cyanosis overtook us there as they and Jabberwocky misinterpreted the instructions as two team members must paddle and two must run too the first checkpoint. After that Jabberwocky also caught up with us and we got out of the water in 3rd place losing valuable time on the water as we saw our paddling definitely need some work.

The next leg was a quick 8km run/trekking leg. Overtaking Jabberwocky for a while before we made a mistake of taking a local person’s word to take a footpath down the mountain rather than running down the tar road and getting stuck on a cliff. Getting back onto the road took a bit of effort and we were in 4th place with Jabberwocky and Merrell 30 min ahead of us.

The next leg we had a 52km cycle leg mostly through Oviston Nature Reserve. We only did 50 minutes of this leg in daylight. We still managed to keep a proper pace as it was still not too cold.

Then we had an 11km trek to two checkpoints that were located at the top of two mountains with “steek gras” that was tortures to your feet. It was the best feeling to get our shoes and socks off and get a fresh pair for the next leg.

The following leg we were back on the bikes with 52km laying ahead. This leg took us through the night with two special tasks. One being abseiling, unfortunately, we could not do that as the organisers said it was too wet and dangerous at the time we arrived. The second task was to drink a traditional shot called a “skaap ogie” at the local pub in Norvalspont, but we, unfortunately, arrived too late/early at 3:30am and the pub was closed. We at least went back after the race to get our well-deserved shot. That night our team went to a rather dark place mentally while still trying to catch up to the other teams and battling the freezing temperatures of -8ᵒC that I recorded. We definitely pulled together as a team and got to the final transition where we just sat around the fire for a while to heat up and got some food and fluid in our bodies after the tough night as the bottles and hydration packs were frozen.

 

Going out on the last leg just before sunrise we were still a bit cold but as soon as the sun hit our faces it felt like there was a new energy in the team again and our moods lifted. This leg consisted of 18km running/trekking. We didn’t go too fast as everyone was rather sore and tired, but we kept pushing, wanting to finish in under 30 hours.

In the end we came in at 31 hours in 4th place, competing against the best AR teams in South Africa. We were very glad to have crossed the finish line and Adrian Saffy welcomed us with a well-deserved Castle Lite.

Thanks to our sponsors Keyhealth, First Ascent, Toyota and ASG for making it possible to experience such beautiful places in South Africa and to break down boundaries as to what is possible.