Team Geronimo rumble with the Red Ants

Team Geronimo for the Red Ants Rumble was made up of Alex, Craig, Anthony, and me, Sarah. Craig, Anthony and I had done a number of sprint races, but this was our first long one.

Leg 1: 5km Run
The race started at 4am with a mad rush around Stanford Lake College. We had a smooth start hitting the first few checkpoints well, but the next 2 checkpoints had been swapped around so we did a bit of extra distance. We also did a tour of the school buildings looking for the swimming pool.

Leg 2: 10km Paddle and portaging
With our 2 paddling pro’s, Anthony and Craig, we had a good paddle leg making up a few positions. Our competitive side started to come out as we put in an interval to pass Xhale. It was a beautiful time of day to be on the water with the sun rising over Ebenezer Dam.

Leg 3: 7km Hike / Run
Alex was a bit baffled when he was handed the map for this hike. There was no start marked so our position on the map was unclear. He even asked me what I thought! We tried to match up the contours on the topographical map with the hiking map and headed off with Xhale and Piers. We soon worked out that we’d made a 180° error.

Once we got back on track we enjoyed the undulating trails. It was fun locating the “sally’s slope” and “tryst” signs and taking team photo’s at them. The last uphill of the hike to the Cemetery gate, through some long grass was tough going and the bungee got some use.

Leg 4: 49km MTB
This bike leg was tough! The hill up to the mine made Breedts Nek look flat! It was also hot and we were dripping. We all made good use of our small cogs and I made sure that Alex and the tow rope didn’t feel left out. We packed in some cramp stop and all made sure we ate and drank properly, mindful that we still had a long way to go.

It was nice to have lots of other teams around. We passed Lickety Split, caught Olympus, got away from Piers and Shelly and stuck with Stijn and Seth for a bit.

CP5 – an impressive cave – was a welcome break in the cycle leg. Ryan’s New Balance advertising techniques also put a smile on our faces.

We had 2 mechanicals in this valley with Craig’s saddle falling off. They guys got it back on in good time. And then up a big hill Craig’s chain broke. I was rather relieved to get a short break but Anthony and I hadn’t even put our bikes down before it was fixed and we were on our way again. The fastest chain repair I’ve ever witnessed!

We worked hard on this leg. We all did well to manage ourselves and keep the pace consistent.

Leg 5: 15km Hike / kloofing
We were relieved to be off our bikes and moved consistently on the 15km hike / kloofing. We’d seen Lickey Split and Xhale come into transition as we were leaving so we wanted to try and hold the gap. The kloofing was brilliant and the guys enjoyed cooling off in the water. Once again it was nice to have the company of Olympus as well as Charnas for some of the leg. The question at CP7 also kept us entertained for a while: “What is Garfields Surname?”

We managed to keep track of the path zig-zagging across the river and then began the climb out of the valley back up to transition. It was tough going! We were sweating buckets and I was very grateful for the bungee which dragged my butt up the hill.

We maintained our position passing team Alligators and being passed by Stijn and Seth.

Leg 6: 31km MTB
We set off on the final bike leg hoping to get the technical sections over before it got dark. I was very slow down the long, rocky hill – my hands were sore so I had to keep stopping to give them a break. Not fun! I made a promise to get myself a full suspension bike with disc brakes asap! The guys were all very patient as Xhale, the Alligators and Piers and Shelly whizzed passed us.

We moved steadily along the bottom and were very happy to hit the tar road just as it got dark. Our excitement faded a bit as we headed uphill again for what felt like hours! It was a big relief to finally see Nicky and Gert at the final transition.

Leg 7: 10km Paddle and portage
Another great night paddle! Craig and Anthony were once again strong on the water and the guys did a great job to find the way across the dam. We struggled a bit through the reeds just before the bridge under the road, but after hearing stories from other teams we actually had it easy. Turns out we passed Piers and Shelly while they were stuck in some thorns near the bridge.

We crossed the line in 17 hours and 44 minutes.

We ended up losing 58min to Xhale. We were 6th overall in and 2nd mixed team. Xhale unfortunately got a 1hour penalty for missing mandatory kit, so we got the prize for 1st mixed team by 2 minutes.

Thanks to Alex for helping me through my first long race! Thanks to Craig and Anthony for joining us. It was great to race with such a strong, patient and enthusiastic team.

Thanks to Brian and the Red Ants Team for a fantastic race and thanks to all the marshals and helpers. The little trophies were great. The course was tough, but beautiful and I’m happy we took part in the 2012 Rumble.

Author: Sarah Pope | Team Geronimo | Red Ants Rumble, Magoebaskloof, 28 January 2012