Tugela A1 Adventure Race hosted by Cyanosis – A win for Team KeyHealth Nevarest

By Malcolm Dunkeld

This was the final race of the A1 series with Jabberwock and Nevarest competing for second place in the A1 series as Merrel already accumulated enough points to give them the win in the series with the grand prize of an entry to the GodZone Adventure Race in New Zealand.

For this race the team consisted of Emily, Jonathan, Malcolm and Myself (Michael). A big plus was that we had two proper navigators (Malcolm and Jonathan) in our team this time and they could take turns navigating through out the race.

Only arriving at 10 pm the Friday night Emily and I quickly had supper which Malcolm and Jonathan had saved for us. We then continued to unpack and went to bed as the team had to get up at 4am again to start at 5am.

The race started very casually as everyone knew it will be a long day out as this is a 30-hour race and predicted fasted time 22 hours. It started with a run/hike followed by a white-water rafting leg. The white-water rafting leg was a highlight of the race as we had two South African White-Water Rafting Championships at the venue to give us some perspective about the type of rapids the we had to run. We had a small gap on the first run leg, but Jabberwocky quickly closed that again on the paddle and we finished the paddle with Jabberwocky just ahead of us into transition. 

Luckily our transition was nice and fast, and we were out first on the next run leg which included an abseil. Since the rules state that the first team to arrive at the abseil goes first, we worked hard to open a gap on Jabberwocky to go down the abseil because that will give us easily another 30 minute lead. Seeing as we were the first team at the abseil, I noticed that the camera that the team was supposed to take our  photograph at the CP’s with went missing. The team needed to head back to find the camera. Luckily Jabberwocky picked it up and brought it down to the abseil with the condition that they go down first. That was no problem to us since I knew that it got lost at least 800m back. We took a rest, ate and drank waiting for Jabberwocky to finish the abseil then the work started again to chase down Jabberwocky. 

After this run leg, we had a 15 minute gap to close going into a paddle. The paddle went quickly and all the rapids kept it exciting. Next was a hiking leg again with some proper elevation gain and some bundu bashing. It was also the hottest time of the day reaching 38 degrees. When we came down the mountain, we decided to quickly jump into the river since everyone was straining to cope with the heat. Going to the last CP on the leg we saw Jabberwocky and we knew we were starting to close the gap going up Hippo Hill. We arrived a few minutes behind them in transition, but with a clean and efficient transition we where the first team out onto the bike leg.

The map stated that it would be a 22km ride, but estimated time was like 3 hours. We knew we would be doing a lot of hike a bike sections if the estimated time was this long. The first few points went rather smooth and fast with Jabberwocky on our tail and exchanging first place a few times. The “HIKE a BIKE” or “CARRY a BIKE” started. We decided to rather put on our running shoes as we knew how long this section was since we came down earlier down the same pass. Half way up Jabberwocky passed us again and made a small gap as we had to slow down a bit as Emily was showing symptoms of heat stroke. She really dug deep and we got to the top of the mountain with our bike on our backs. We slowly started to close the gap again on the descent until we passed them when Yolanda Speedy got a flat and they were forced to stop.

We quickly went through transition, keeping the pressure and trying to get as many points on the Rogaine (run/hike) leg while there was still light. We were also trying to make a gap on Jabberwocky (unaware of the fact they had a 30 minute time penalty due to Yolanda Speedy losing her helmet on the previous run leg). The first two points we managed to get quickly but the last 4 were taking rather long as there was no clear roads to most of the CP’s especially CP A “The old ruin”.

Going into the last 37km cycle we got the CP’s quick and easily but then during the last 10km it involved some “hike a bike’s” next to the river and then we found an old jeep track that wasn’t used for most probably the last 20 years as there was a lot of dongas to traverse over and low hanging branches to crawl underneath all with very sharp and hard thorns. Trying not to waste any time as we thought Jabberwocky was still not too far behind, we pushed on. 

Crossing the finish line in 23.5 hours, we didn’t know if Jabberwocky passed us when we took a higher road that involved a lot of “hike a biking” but luckily, we were first with Jabberwocky only coming in 3 hours later due to some difficulties finding the CP’s on the Rogaine leg.

This was a great team effort with Emily really leaving everything on the course after getting sick. Jonathan and Malcolm really did a great job on the navigation. Jabberwocky really kept us on our toes for the whole race until the end. 

To sum up the race in a few words would be hot, brutal and thorny. Thanks to Cyanosis for putting on a proper Adventure Race that we will remember.

We ended second in the A1 series winning the Loskop and Tugela A1 event and coming in 4th in the Gariep A1. The team really evolved to a proper racing team through the year. We will just need to work harder next year to take the series win.

Thanks to our sponsors for making it possible to compete in these events and “enjoying” the outdoor at a fast pace. #Keyhealth #FirstAscent #Toyota #High5 #RudyProjects

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