Reporting on an Expedition race, lasting a handful of days becomes parabolically more comprehensive to a point where technical details blur into emotional and psychological ebbs and flows.
The journey, recalculated, translates to an experience of a month or more.
So, how would I give feedback of a race of this nature and of which I have completed numerous of and which all seem to wash the same emotion over me.
My race analysis and methodology will be different from previous ones. I will do an analysis of our racing intensity with the differing obstacles and how it influenced our team morale and our competitive edge throughout the race.
For the first time we ended up at pre-race registration checks and briefing without team captain, Tweetie Bird. This was new, but fanned fresh air over me and gave me a different kind of responsibility. Having said that, I think that the late arrival of Tweet also put the team, especially Tweet himself, on the back foot as pre-race rest and relaxation is almost as important as actual training and conditioning.
This factor would play itself true for the initial 2 odd days as sleep deprivation hit Tweet like a javelin between the eyes and thereby disturbing our rhythm. We had other problems as well, which might not have cost us massive time delays, but kept us from staying in contact with the race leaders. This included incompletely fitted kayaks and the subsequent need to repair these during the dark zone, which wasted valuable sleeping time. Then, having to deal with the disappearance of our repaired boats minutes before the completion of the dark zone.
Our psyche was negative following these events and we desperately fought to recover and mend this over a long and testing sea paddle, where we were tortured by very harsh, sun-scorching conditions. We were pulling the reins in on the leaders, when navigational difficulties on the following hike saw us lose hours and thereby dousing our morale again.
The last significant glitch on our part came towards the end of the more testing paddle leg, where we succumbed to hypothermia and had to rectify this situation with lighting a fire and a substantial rest just before the mandatory 6-hours rest at midway camp.
This indeed was where we shook the monkey off our shoulder and filled our sails with positivism.
A long bike leg had us overcoming a significant nav error resulting in hardly a time loss, but in fact, resurrected our will and motivation. This flowed successfully into the final and testing hike leg and we managed our goal of completing it in daylight in a show of total self focus, uninfluenced by competitors and the very harsh outback conditions.
I raced for the first time with new team mates Robyn and Grant, and they showed great maturity and adapted superbly.
In the end we were an hour and a half behind the race winners. This is a blink of an eyelid in Adventure Racing!
The team is hugely supported and driven to OUT.PERFORM by Merrell. They ride Giant bicycles and use Black Diamond head torches and trekking poles and are proud to also be using South African products in the land down under; PVM, Squirt Lube, ButtaNutt, Llama Bars, Extreme Lights and Island Tribe all contribute to their incredible and inspirational successes.
See the Addicts XPD race video: