Several Quest Africa Kaba students featured quite well in local races through the year. Their first event took place on May the 7th – the Woody Cape Mountain Bike Challenge. The race was initially supposed to be 63 km in length and was to incorporate a section of the Kaba Valley – turf our boys were by this stage very familiar with. Alas, after very heavy rains in the days leading up to the race the route had to be shortened to 45 km which in the end was quite a tall order in itself. The course designer was somewhat merciless, taking us along very overgrown paths through indigenous forest, sliding through cowpat-clad farm tracks, while all the while the rain continued to fall and our bikes became heavier and heavier as we moved mud across the race course. Crazy Kenyan, Craig Allen faired well, coming in in fourth place overall in a time of 03 hrs and 24 mins – a clear indication of how boggy it was out there! Mandilakhe Fanga, Mzi Kepe, and Kyle Johnson also competed and faired well, although this particular event was enough to put Kyle off mountain biking for life! A 10 km run was also organized on the day, and the Greek, Warren Heard and Zimbabwean, Chase Wilson decided to pit themselves against a small field. The Greek did well to finish second in a time of 55mins 10secs.
A week later (15th of May) the Bathurst Bundu Bash mountain bike race offered the next challenge and Mandilakhe Fanga, Craig Allen, Kevin Horwitz, Mzi Kepe, and Farren Palmer got involved. After running into a bit of admin on the journey through to Bathurst (the joys of transporting bikes), we began the race somewhat on the back foot, arriving a good 20mins late for the start. This didn’t faze the lads and Farren darted off first, tackling the 40 km route and was going swimmingly until a couple of punctures set him back. The remainder of the group in their naivety (hehe) decided to have a go at the 60 km route which is not a doddle by any stretch of the imagination. The route takes one to the bottom of not one but three river valleys and up the other side, the last of which entails a 250 m climb spread over about 7km’s from the confluence of the Kowie and Lushington Rivers to the finish at the famous Pig and Whistle Pub in Bathurst. Despite the late start each Quest lad finished strong, giving the locals a good run for their money.
Only two weeks later the lads were faced with their next contest – this being the Kenton Extreme Weekend (28th and 29th of May 2011). A multitude of events are on offer – everything from an off-road triathlon, a 5-a-side touch rugby tournament, a mountain bike race, and a beach run. The Quest chaps went to town, and got heavily involved in what was a superb weekend. Craig Allen, Kevin Horwitz and Farren Palmer competed in the off-road triathlon which involved a 750m river swim, about a 30km mountain bike course which was particularly testing, followed by a 5 km run, about two thirds of which was on the beach. The race drew some very strong competitors, seeing Quest’s quickest on the day, Craig Allen, finish in the middle of the field in a time of 2hrs and 11 mins. Mandilakhe Fanga, Warren Heard, and Kyle Johnson chose to stick to their strengths and formed a team for the race and did well to finish second overall.
The following day Mzi Kepe, Kyle Johnson, and Warren Heard took part in the 10km beach run which saw Mzi finish in the top 10 in a time of 51mins. Craig Allen, Mandilakhe Fanga, Kevin Horwitz and Chase Wilson competed in their toughest race yet; a 53km mountain bike voyage that traversed everything from beach sand, to mudflats, to rocky trail and waterlogged pastures. Craig Allen once again featured well finishing in the top third of a very strong field, in a time of 3hrs 57mins.
All this hard work culminated in Mandi’s, Kevin’s and Craig’s involvement in what was individually their toughest physical challenge to date. The Transbaviaans Mountain Bike Race – arguably the toughest single stage mountain bike race in the world, covering a distance of 235 km in the space of 24hrs and incorporating some very rough terrain and a few very large hills. The epic voyage took the team 21.5 hrs to complete. Fifty of the four hundred teams that entered did not complete the event.
Quest Africa Kaba Campus facilitators, Dylan and Misty Weyer were also fortunate enough to be involved in a few fantastic races during the course of the year. Aside from the aforementioned races, these involved the Ironman 70.3 event held in East London in January which involves a 1.8 km ocean swim, 90 km tarmac cycle, and a 21.1 km road run. In July, they headed down to Heidelberg and the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve to tackle a 50 km trail run, which took the format of a two-day stage race (Day1: 30km; Day2: 20km). A week later Misty competed in the 15km Katberg Skyrun where she was placed fourth overall. In the beginning of October the two of them travelled down to the Garden Route to run the highly acclaimed Otter Trail - a 42 km trail that is normally hiked over five days. Misty again did exceptionally well, being the third lady home in the ramble event. At the end of the month they were in the Wilderness area, taking part in their first Adventure Race; 150 km’s over 24hrs which involves 70 km’s of mountain biking, 50 km’s of trail running, 20 km’s of paddling and 10 km’s of kloofing. The two stumbled in after 22hrs with their marriage just about intact.
What an amazing year it has been – chock-a-block with adventure. The good news for 2012 is that Expedition Africa – the countries flagship adventure race, will be coming to our neck of the woods in the Eastern Cape. 500km of wild adventure await!