Andy here from Team Accelerate after a few hours sleep and seeing Team Jabberwock in.
We had a great race starting with a quick run round town and battleing strong headwinds and big waves on the lagoon. We hugged the shores which unfortunately meant we overshot the river entrance and ran aground in the shallows. We pushed through the reeds, popping out just behind Pennypinchers to the comment ‘Livingstone I presume’ and a few leeches feeding on Caz. We ran all the way along the beach with the waves rolling in and sand as far as you could see. We ran the whole leg to get back in touch with the lead teams and opening a gap on the teams behind.
We caught Cyanosis on the way to transition and spent the first part of the night cycling with them. It was a surprise to see Merrell coming the other way along the track and we realised we were swapping the lead with Cyanosis. A mistaken choice of track by us on the Walker Peninsula gave them a gap and we settled in for a long night cruising along corrugated dirt tracks watching the stars come out. We were surprised by the long long nights – 12+ hours of darkness against the 6 we’d left in the UK.
A quick transition and a pathless ridge caused us a few problems. In the UK you can pick a spur walk up it and run along the ridge… here we battled for 4 hours through dense tangled scrub finally popping out onto trees and large boulders that were no easier to cross. My knee started playing up with the effort slowing us slightly.
With hindsight the next route choice to stay high and follow a fence was wrong and we struggled across a ravine losing hours to Merrell and Cyanosis. The scenery was stunning in the bright blue sky as we pushed onto the next transition passing a family of baboons as we crossed a saddle in the mountains.
It was a relief to get to the midway camp and replenish our supplies as we’d under estimated the time of the stage drastically so had been running low on water. 3 hours sleep revitalised us and the second bike was much smoother, so we rode fast for hours over the rolling roads.
A chance encounter with a pair of porcupines at 2am woke us up sharply as they raised their spines in front of Kim’s bike before running away. My knee was now very sore and starting moving was hard so I was relieved we found a relatively open terrain and paths on the second trek. The gorge section was over quickly without any significant knee issues and then we popped out for 10km along the road.
Dave and Kim put me on tow and dragged me through town much to the locals bemusement. A quick ice cream stop at a petrol station led to a sub 1 hour 10km, while drinking a 500ml bottle of fanta, eating a pack of crisps and eating an ice cream, all without feeling sick.
The kayak started calm and we gave Cyanosis a scare as they thought for a second we had caught them up however we were on the out leg, not return. The wind picked up for a while and we worked hard to keep the sit on tops on track picking off the 2 checkpoints before heading back for the final bike.
Trying to move my knee enough to cycle was a bit of an issue so a bit of an aggressive start was needed to get it turning, unfortunately I forgot to warn the team so they were a little scared apparently! I managed to smile and say hello to Team Jabberwock as we passing them on the approach road to the reservoir though. Once moving we push hard through the night on good dirt tracks and tarmac to the orienteering section, arriving just as Cyanosis left. Dave had lost a shoe somewhere on the bike so they kindly lent us a pair.
Knowing we were not going to catch them and Jabberwock wouldn’t catch us we slowed right down and wandered around the vineyard sleepily until a film crew popped up and Dave became a media king giving a interview on the hoof. My knee was now solid so we had to take the long routes round as I could no longer bushwack. The last 8km of bike I did one legged, drafting and being pushed by my team mates.
We were met at the finish by Heidi with champagne, Cyanosis with cheeseburgers and pizza emerged from somewhere which really hit the stop. So we’ve had a great race in some superb scenery with slick organisation and 3rd place to boot.
Now off to the beach to sunbathe and read a book.
Image by Chris Hitchcock