African Adventure - Swaziland

Jun 13 2019

Well well going to Swaziland sounded great! Receiving a call 7 days before the race "Hein would you like to join us on an African adventure" answer of course " No problem ! ". It's only 12km run, 70km MTB, 13km kayak and another 12km run!! Oh yes @ 4500m elevation.

Sent this to my coach, Claire Horner, and as always the reply was short and to the point " this weekend???? And have you kayaked before??" Short and sweet I answer back, " yes it's this weekend and No I've never kayaked before" but here we go!!

So on the start line at 10:00 Saturday morning go go go, hoping the 2 transition boxes were packed correctly. With no water points on route, planning was crucial. We had four transitions but were given only 2 boxes. No route reccies, only a map to plan all 4 stages and this you received two hours in advance.

First 12km run was more a walk and crawl and took about 3hours 35min with an elevation of 1875m into T1. Here no one was in a hurry (not like IM) everyone was sitting, eating, chatting and I was wondering "is this a race or what?". Next up.... 70km mountain biking, elevation 2800m. At 30km we were so lost, we had no idea where we were? We decided on going straight to the dam to start the kayak leg. Missed 3 points and only biked 48km at 4hours 9min with an average of 9km/h (not my idea of biking).

T2 took more than an hour to get ready, for this stage its dark and cold, now I needed to do this kayak thing at night!! Thinking if I can swim 3,8km I can kayak 13km easy. (Did I get a wake-up call that night!!!!!) 2hours 43min later we were at the end.

Starting the last leg at 3am the next morning was not my idea of enjoying Swazi. All that was left was a 12km run/hike/crawl to finish the last stage. We could be done by 6am,....Ha!....famous last words!!! at 5am that morning we had no idea where we were!! We were 2 teams that decided to stick together (a 4man team and our 2man team). Catching a quick snooze was now the best solution, hoping this would give new perspective. . Getting up half an hour later at 5:30am and seeing the most beautiful sunrise we all said a prayer and felt so fortunate to be able to do such an event. Seven other teams ended up with us, totally lost, so we decided to go all the way back and start from the beginning.

Crossing the finish line at 10:35am that Sunday morning was a blessing!! I was a bit in disbelief.....with no one shouting 'you are an IronMan", no girls dancing, no BEER, only a couple shouting "team coming in!!!" So it was hugs all around and eventually someone gave us a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

We did it!! 24 HOURS 35 MINUTES later. Not really my cup of tea, but maybe someday I'll do it again.

Like they say horses for courses!!!

by Hein Welthagen


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