Merrell Eden Duo

reports311009_2Race Director | The story of the Merrell Eden Duo is one that illustrates the restless heart of the adventurer… always wandering deeper into new territory, beyond the known, testing skill and leaving comfort zones. We think, live and perform outside. The athletic prowess, basic survival instincts and a passion for the outdoors all get mixed up in the melting pot that is called the Merrell Eden Duo. The event message is clear; “let’s get outside!”

But there is more to this! In our fast paced lives and cramped cities we have very little LEBENSRAUM…that is, mankind needs to savour a few quiet moments to think and reframe your life. This is best achieved on a lonely peak with the wind playing a melancholy tune or in a kloof with a cold dark stream bubbling and dancing over glistening white rocks. There was ample opportunity for this in the MERRELL EDEN Duo 2009, and the crashing waves on the last beach hike almost symbolise the cleansing of the grit and grime that gets stuck in the deepest parts of our being.

The results of the 24 hours non-stop adventure race tells the story of the human need to compete, and on the other side we also see teams out there who don’t care about the “race” but want to enjoy themselves away from the structures and the complexities of life in the company of old friends who think the same way. But the good question is;

What happened and will it change history?

Well, for starters, we lit the candles on the Wilderness Beach and athletes ran via the old Choo-Choo tunnel to go up the Kaaimans Gorge. Athletes plunged into cool pools of water and you could see the steam still rising from the water’s surface as they swam upstream. This was followed by scrambling up the gorge to the NMMU Saasveld Campus only to be met with a warm sun and friendly seconds who handed out a quick breakfast and saddled up the bikes before the cyclists sped off onto the single track through the plantations that surround the almost dry Garden Route Dam. After the thrill of bunny hopping over roots and dodging overhanging branches athletes soon hit the wall! A wall called Montagu Pass. With names like Moertjie se Klip and Regop Trek to name a few, athletes knew they were in for a steep climb! They were soon leaving a trail of sweat behind, before they hit the top at TOPPING…and what an ever so descriptive name it was!

The SHIRAZ at Herold Wines looked very attractive but would have played havoc with the glycaemic index so our athletes left the wine tasting to the seconds. With the sun now blazing on the northern slopes of the mountain, athletes departed onto a scorching mountain hike of 25 k’s – if their navigation skills were ok… Teams crossed the source of the Kaaimens River, ran along the ridge east of Cradock peak and dropped down into the fern forest along the southern slopes of Kranskop. After Tierkop it was all downhill and back into Kaaimans Kloof, not more than 5k’s upstream from where they ate breakfast many hours earlier. The sun had done its damage, and with the energy low and the emotions high…people were wondering “Why are we here, and who’s idea was this?” Many teams had to dig deep to get to the next TA, and for a few it was just too much and they had to call it a day.

Hours passed by and before you know it the sun starting to loose its grip on the day as teams race towards Swartvlei, this time not to beat another team, but to make the cut-off for the long paddle across the lake. Those that get to the paddle before sunset are rewarded by a cool sea-breeze as the sky once again becomes a canvas coloured painted with shades of red, orange and pink. With their legs getting a well deserved rest, their arms now have to power them across the lake but it’s getting dark mom and it’s time to go home!!! Fortunately AR is also a “Day Night Game” and with a full moon providing a spotlight there was a long hike along the beach back to Wilderness. The cherry on the cake was the last paddle along the Touws River with wisps of mist coming up off the river and the welcome greeting and smiling faces at the finish line!

This was the story of the MERRELL EDEN Duo 2009…ok so it doesn’t change history on the news channel, but everyone who raced changes in some small way during the course of the event. What were your stories like this year? Plan ahead for 2010 and leave the soccer fanatics and crowded stadiums, but make sure you spend time in the wild! Bike, run, paddle, climb, surf and explore….experience life!

Greetings from Stilbaai
Jan Heenop

Merrell Eden Duo, 31 October 2009