Race Report: Nevarest Juniors – Kinetic Full Moon Adventure Race Swaziland

The full moon 120km Adventure Races have become a highlight of my racing calendar and the event in Swaziland was no exception. In fact, I found myself more excited for this race in the weeks leading up to it than I had been for any race in a while. Firstly, it was in Swaziland, a country I had never been to and one which I hope to return to for more racing or training very soon. Then there’s the promise of a tough but beautiful race that Heidi and Stephan always seem to balance out perfectly. With the chance to explore places you’d probably never see again with nothing but your teammates at your side and the map in your hands!

For this report, we have decided to split the legs up between the four of us. We could say it’s for some fancy reason of providing a balanced and fair report that represents everyone’s experiences and sentiments equally… In reality, we’re all just students trying to get through varsity and this way we get to lighten the load a bit.

We started on Saturday morning at 11:00 after a good breakfast and the usual hustle of final equipment checks and map plotting. I was especially concerned about the navigation as we had been warned about Swaziland being tricky due to outdated maps and the tendency of forestry roads to pop-up and disappear all over the place. Nevertheless, we set off and were running along the mountains in no time. Unfortunately, I got slightly caught up in the excitement of the start of the race that I didn’t look at my map often enough and so one or two small nav errors crept in and lost us a few positions. Ruth’s foot also wasn’t in the best shape as she had irritated a nerve during the week before the race and it was causing her considerable pain. Despite these drawbacks, we got to transition in a decent position and were out again in a flash having already loaded one of our crates before the start.

Then it was onto the bike for a 38km slog to the dam with around 700m climbing. I had finally settled into the navigation and we passed smoothly from CP to CP without incident. I don’t remember much else about the leg other than passing close to a waterfall and Antonius, Calen and I taking turns to help Ruth as she was still struggling with her foot. We also had a few locals on bicycles join us for part of the ride and it’s always impressive to see them clattering along next to you on a bike with no suspension and a smile on their faces as they chat along happily offering advice and encouragement whilst you’re gasping for breath.

After completing our first cycle leg, we arrived at the dam for our Canoe leg. This was an 11km canoe that involved all teams to circumnavigate the entire dam.

We set off; Ruth and I(Calen) in one fluid( kayak) and Jonathan and Antoni in another. Jonathan and Antonie were much stronger in the paddle together, so they took the lead on us and collected most of the checkpoints. This proved beneficial for us because we could be within sight and hearing distance but not have to paddle into the actual CP which in turn helped us rest up and replenish a little. I personally struggled with the first few kilometres of the paddle but after about half way I could feel that I was settling into a nice rhythm.

Thanks to Jonathan and his excellent navigation we found all the CP’s in the best time possible and we were able to make the transition at about the same time as Nevarest Origin. The most challenging moments of the canoe had to be finding the correct strokes and staying in rhythm with your partner as well as steering. The biggest element of teamwork in the whole race is the canoe because it requires the greatest amount of coordination.

After completing the canoe leg we had a quick transition, trying to grab as much food as possible. Knowing that we would need the energy to help us complete this half marathon running leg.

Before going into this leg I was half dreading it. Usually, the running legs are my strong point, but my foot was really sore and I was having to take numerous pain pills just so that I could keep going. However, the pain was definitely worth it. From running along the dam to climbing mountains next to waterfalls. There are few better things that you can do with your weekend. It was quite a diverse route as well from single tracks up to the highest point on a mountain. To dirt roads along the farmlands of Swaziland. It was truly spectacular. We managed to finish this leg at 9:30 pm which gave us plenty of time for the gruelling leg that lay ahead of us. – Ruth Avierinos

Started after having some solid food and a Super M (which really lifted our spirits). Knowing that we had a proper 1080m of climbing over 38 km it soon became clear that this was no longer a physical race but rather a test to see how strong we were mentally.

My legs felt surprisingly good for the first 21km and I had no problem helping Ruth out with some towing to get our average speed up, but soon I realized that I’ve pushed too hard and we still had a lot of climbing left. So Jonathan hooked up to Ruth for the last (never ending) stretch of leg 5. The race organisers definitely surprised us with one of the longest climbs I’ve ever had to climb. In conclusion, I think the team gave their absolute best and our determination not to fail each other, no matter what, was the key to a very successful adventure race. As one of the younger teams around I think we have a lot to look forward too and I believe we’ve got what it takes to get to the top 2 and short conclusion  -Antonie Joubert