Archive for September 2009

The Final Before the Finale… Jeep Msinsi #4

 

Eric Zondi blasted off on the run at the start of the final Jeep Msinsi Albert Falls race, no doubt putting some hurt into the rest of the top male competitors as they kicked into top gear in order to stay as close as they could to this ‘Change a life’ warrior.

Well, it seemed to be a great day for my team of new multisport athletes, as we watched Eric maintain a second place behind Andrew Birkitt for much of the bike route. It was incredible to see the improvement of my guys as they negotiated the thorn trees and fast-flowing single track in true mountain biker style.   

Having tagged each other on the run, Zonele, Nhlanhla and Kwanda all had a steady ride. Kwanda, racing as consistenly as he does, powered his way up a few positions and led his team-mates into the bike/paddle transition. Each of these three had to deal with some minor bike mechanical issues en-route but kept up the fight till the very end.

 For the first time during this Jeep Msinsi series, the dam was like glass. There was little chance of my conditioned paddling boys making any significant moves up the field as the top contenders and only seasoned paddlers, were relieved by the breathless and ripple-free conditions.

Eric, although having run like a gazelle and biked to the best of his ability (at this stage), had to surrender two more positions to experienced mountainbikers, Jeep athletes Trevor and Justin. Even so, Erics 4th place was a great indication of his awesome multisport potential. 

Kwanda cruised in in 6th, Zonele 8th and Lucas into 9th.

Now is time to pick up the distance in preparation for the Triple Challenge on Sunday 15th November, which will be another exciting quest for me at ‘extracting’ the raw multisport talent of my ‘Change a life’ team.   

After loading the bikes and boats and feasting on my ‘secret’ racing and recovery food, banana peanutbutter samies and USN Muscle Fuel ‘milkshakes’, my guys chaperoned 40 or so U/8 kids, mainly orphans, from the Valley of a Thousand Hills, who had been brought by ManLine to take part in the days racing activities.

For most, their first racing experience… a 2km dash along the edge of Albert Falls Dam. As usual with little and highly excited kids, there was no such pace as slow as they all sprinted for as long as their tiny legs could hold out and from there on my boys encouraged them till each ‘broke the finish line tape’. 

 

 

MYSTERY TRAIN TOUR

11AM. PARK STATION, PRETORIA: 1 Luxury Rovos Rail Steam Train. 72 Road Bikes and 72 Corporates, (as I thought, ‘like lambs to the slaughter’). This was as real as a scene from a movie, and as such movies go, the start of the Mystery Train Tour.

Computershare’s annual fundraiser for their ‘Change a life’ Trust was about to unfold more magically than the last, but as usual with the most incredible red carpet treatment imaginable. This however all comes at a ‘small’ price… 4 days of bum-chaffe, sweat  and gears – which certainly earns the honest man his meals and unwinding-time.

Mysteries remain mysteries, as I am still uncertain of where we cycled on the final day. None of the previous days were a clue to the next day as the train can travel up to 700km at night. Having found ourselves entering the Oranje Volkstaat (with their Koeksister Monument) on the very first day, cycling the full circumference of Gariep Dam on day two and waking up on day three within the boarders of Lesotho (not forgetting having to ascend 2300m of ‘God-help-us Pass’, under our own steam), there wasn’t any connected pattern of travel apart from the railway line.

If it hadn’t been for my boys then I wouldn’t have realized the enormity of the back-up squad which kept the tour rolling smoothly. A while ago, Computershare asked if three of my strong warriors would be happy to assist during the event, moving, carrying, unloading, packing… and of course they would be able to eat and (gym) and rest well in the most luxurious accommodation far beyond their wildest  dreams. The process of having, Lucas, Kwanda and Bhetwel issued with passports before the event was well worth the long queues and frustratingly busy government departments, as they were exposed to ‘a world’ very few people experience.   

HOME TURF…Jeep Msinsi Nagle Dam

During my interview with Max at the race, i said i was a little sad that a race takes place at MY best kept secret training location, Nagle Dam, home to my ‘Change a Life’ team of warriors.

But it is a magic place that outdoor junkies must experience.

There were a number of bonuses for this Jeep Msinsi’s venue: Firstly, it was a real treat for my boys to get to lie in on the morning before the race and walk to the start line from their homes. Secondly, the logistics for me were a huge pleasure and i felt more relaxed than past race days. Thirdly, Shayne Vervoort from our sponsors, HI-TEC, was able to witness our Change a Life ‘operation’ and get to see exactly where his shoes are put to the test.

My boys took up their place right on the start-line and bolted at the sound of the Vuvuzela. Eric took the run lead straight away and built on it throughout the tough 5km’s of up-and-down. A number of my boys followed in hot pursuit of their team member and took off on the bike hoping that they would be able to keep ahead of far more experienced and strong multisporters such as, JP van der Linde, Trevor Hellens and Andrew Birkett. It wasn’t far out of trainsition that Eric started battling with his bike gears which plagued him for the rest of the 20km cycle leg, throwing him out of contention for a top ten finish. Lucas, with his give-all racing attitude rode steady till the transition and paddled home to 7th position and as my top ‘Change a Life’ finisher. Zonele 8th, Kwanda 9th and Nhlanhla 13th, all finished within 4min of Lucas’s finishing time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas, taking it easy from a slight niggle, raced as a two person team with a young guy i spotted running in the valley a week or so ago and finished 2nd in their category. Thomas’s mom and sister were so excited to be able to see exactly what Thomas gets up to on the weekends and why he spends his time training at the dam.

Many of the boys that live close to Nagle and paddle train at the dam were inspired by their mates taking part in a ‘foreign’ multisport event and are all super keen to give ‘such a hard sport’ a go.