Team AR at Kinetic Adventure #3

On Saturday night I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding! Why am I doing this race?”. A cold front came through on Thursday night and it has been icy cold since. Saturday night was no exception and I dreaded having to wake up before six to get on the road to take part in this year’s third Kinetic Adventure Sprint. It was only 3.5C when I left home and by the time I got to the race venue, almost an hour later it was 7C. By the time the race started at eight I was wearing cycle shorts and a long-sleeved thermal – perfect winter, highveld racing conditions.

I’ve got an all-girls, three-person team, Team AR, for this series of events; they’re around 25-30km in distance and are helluva good fun.This year I decided to mix things up by having at least one new girl in the team for each race. It gives women the opportunity to race in an all-girls environment, which is very different from racing with boys. We race hard, have fun, make a lot of noise and are very encouraging and supportive of each other. I’ve mostly had more experienced racers with me and they’ve really enjoyed the all-girls team as we whoop it up along roads and trails.

For this race I was joined by Nadine and Louise. Nadine and I raced together in a team last year – in winter too – for Hardy’s Ystervark (around 100km, I think) event. Louise was a brand new inclusion with only a few sprint races behind her. She kindly volunteered to race with us when our other lady needed to sit out to rest and rehab an injury.

This post is very much about Louise because she really did brilliantly today. Here’s a lass who usually races further back in the field. She took a bold leap when she sent a lovely email to say, “I’ll race with you”, in response to my request on the AR forum. I mean, if you were a guy racing at the back of the pack and Cyanosis put out a request looking for a teammate, I can bet you wouldn’t put up your hand.

Why do I think this? Doubt is a big one. If you had to race with a team who is usually at the front you’d be asking yourself, “Am I fast enough?”, “Will I be able to keep up?” and “Are they going to get really frustrated with me if I hold them back?”. It is helluva scary. Louise put up her hand to race with a women’s team that has  been at the top of the series for two years.

Louise did express her misgivings on email but I reassured her that she would be fine and that we’d just take it as it comes. That’s one of the things with Team AR: sure, the team generally does well but position is secondary to having a good race. I classify a good race as one that flows smoothly with good navigation, steady and consistent running and biking legs and efficient transitions.

And so it was that Nadine, Louise and I met up at Glenburn Lodge for the Kinetic Adventure Race.

We had a really good first leg – a stage of running around the main Glenburn Lodge area, collecting checkpoints on the way. We were running with another all-girls team (Lizelle, Sarah and Shawnie) for part of if and we exited the transition on our bikes neck-and-neck with them. We overtook them at CP7.

Nadine is certainly a stronger and faster biker than me. She did a 70km race yesterday and placed in the Top 10 ladies. And I am in turn a stronger biker than Louise. Nadine and I worked really well to push Louise where the road surface allowed and for me it was really a pleasure to be able to assist her – I’m usually the recipient of a helping hand. There were some sections where we had an ant-trail of people pushing bikes, like on the walking trail, so we all walked along unpressured. We did really nicely on this leg, flowing smoothly from one CP to the next.

Off the bikes and on to foot for a nice run/walk leg on a walking trail – really nice section. Louise was feeling the race by this stage – she’d been working really hard from the start. On a few of the sections she grabbed on to my pack –  a little tug on the uphills really makes a big difference.

Coming into the finish we blitzed the short little paddle and were up and over the inflatable obstacles like seasoned pros. We crossed the line in second place.

There are a few very important points I’d like to make from today:

  1. Louise threw caution to the wind to race with us and she came out with flying colours. She came second today in what was certainly a faster time than she would have had. Aside from a bit of pushing and encouragement here and there, she did it. All her 😉 She now knows what she can do.
  2. Nadine and I were more than happy to offer a hand. In a post-race chat Lizelle commented that Stephan always say that if you’ve got enough energy and strength to race ahead, then you should be putting that energy back into helping a slower teammate.
  3. There will always be someone in a team who is slower than another in one or more disciplines. Always.
  4. Louise accepted our help. This is BIG one. I had a chat with a younger guy from another team because he wasn’t helping their girl. He’s stronger and faster; she’s slower. While he’s still learning how to offer and give help, she refuses his assistance. People, it’s not about you. It’s about your team. When someone stronger offers help, accept it gladly. Aside from increasing the overall speed of the team, it is divine. I love a nice tow. Towing saves the legs of the slower person so that they can keep going for longer at a faster speed than what they would be able to achieve on their own. The offer of help is not offensive; it doesn’t mean that you are a weak slow-poke, it means that someone else is stronger and faster and able to share this with you to ease your load a bit. Just say yes and enjoy the ride.
  5. Related to the above point, especially in sprint races, guys are faster than girls. If you’re a guy and your girl is faster than you, pull up your socks. If you’re a girl and you’re faster than your guys, upgrade and go to a more competitive team.

Heidi, Stephan and their team presented another well-organised and planned event today. These races are super fun and the atmosphere is social with racers coming back race after race to enjoy a Sunday morning of fresh air, camaraderie and multi-displine racing.

Nadine and Louise – I thoroughly enjoyed racing with you today. Thank you for being my teammies. We had a really good race.

Author: Lisa de Speville | Team AR | Kinetic Adventure Race #3, Glenburn Lodge