A Rookies perspective of top end Adventure Racing

This year’s Double Moon AR saw a last minute entry by Team Red Ants, which has its traditional home in Magoebaskloof, which was the race venue. After being turned down by numerous other potential teammates, Brian Gardner, Ryno Griesel and Nicky Booyens finally settled for a local AR virgin, me.

The 200km race kicked off from Magoebaskloof Hotel at 07:00 on Friday morning with a short foot dash before transitioning to the bikes and heading for Ebenezer Dam for a 19km paddle. After the paddle, it was back onto the bikes for a fast ride down to Magoebaskloof Canopy Tours and ride on the zip lines before a long hike over Iron Crown mountain.

It was on this ‘hike’ (read run) that my first expected wall showed up. My leg started to cramp severely which lead to me falling slightly behind and starting to already feel like a liability, battling numerous mental and physical demons. Luckily Ryno was on hand to give me a short tow up the hill, allowing me to recover somewhat. This was a turning point in my race. I realised that no matter what happens to me, my teammates would literally drag me over the line if necessary. This was a massive mental boost and as such I could literally feel myself getting stronger as the hours ticked over.

The long hike was followed by a very long ride from Haenertsburg over the north end of the Wolkberg to Dap Naude Dam and down to the start of the Magoebaskloof Hiking Trail at De Hoek Hut, which we reached just before nightfall. Red Ants covered the 3-day trail in just 7 ½ hours with Brian setting a gruelling pace up front to try and keep clear of the competition which we knew was coming up fast behind us on this leg.

At 01:30 am we got on the bikes again with renewed energy knowing that we had just a few hours of riding ahead. Unfortunately, I knew where we had to ride and was dreading the final 6km climb from Georges Valley up to the Hotel for the finish. Once again, however, my teammates taught me what it meant to dig deep, and after battling on the bike for most of the race Nicky finally found her legs and lead us to the top.

Team Red Ants crossed the finish line in 22 hours and 59 minutes to take the win.

I was highly impressed with the efficiency with which Red Ants approached every task with no detail being too small, and it is obvious why these three ‘vets’ have had so much success over the years. I am extremely proud to have raced with such pros and can only hope I crack another invite in the future.

Steve Willson