By Lisa de Speville
Painted Wolf were the first South African team to complete Expedition Africa held on the South Coast when they finished fourth on Thursday.
American outfit Tecnu secured third position ahead of Painted Wolf (pictured above), which consists of three South Africans and a Chilean athlete, with South African teams Cyanosis and Olympus fifth and sixth and
Merrell Adventure Addicts seventh.
There are still 32 teams (ranked and unranked) out there who will look to complete the 500-kilometre journey before the cut-off on Saturday.
The leaders may be in but the race is not over as there are mini-position battles still happening.
The trek to T6
After leaving T5 this morning (Thursday) with photographer Bruce Viaene, we headed off for CP24 aiming to intercept teams passing through.
We hadn’t been waiting long (for a change!), watching women washing clothing in the river, when Antimatter reached us.
Ugene Nel spoke about the vegetation and vines that they bashed through. They even found themselves crawling to get through.
“How’re you doing?” I ask Ugene.
“Pretty exhausted. Last night, fighting with the vines of Mordor… they broke us down and then made us stronger.”
“Is the section after CP24 straight forward?” I ask.
“No. It isn’t. The section from when we saw you is fine for the first four or five kilometres. Then it becomes very sketchy after the village settlement. Very, very difficult. I changed the route that I originally planned because the road didn’t exist from the village to here and the grass was waist high. I took a bearing and we pretty much travelled in the direction of Mboyti to get here. It’s very challenging in the dark.”
They’re going to sleep now for four hours and then begin the final 230 kilometre cycle to the Port Edward.
The next team to arrive was Castle Lite. Laura de Haast is walking wounded. Watching her face as she jumped across the stream to land on incredibly painful feet… I winced with her. So sore!
I’ve just seen Liam at T6 – walking barefoot and almost like a normal person.
“Ah… walking much better!” I say.
He smiles and replies, “That was really sore and bad when we saw you”.
Adrian Saffy talks about local hospitality.
“Today I was feeling really bad – like I had a fever. I was sweating and shivering. I needed to stop so we found a hut and asked if we could stay there for a while. They put out mats for us to sleep on and when we woke up about an hour later they brought oranges for us to eat.”
Later in the day he ‘broke’ the fever and was back to feeling as well as one can five days into an expedition adventure race.
Speaking about this last part of the hike Adrian echoes Ugene’s comments.
“The navigation… If you’re on the wrong path or the wrong bearing… you’ll sleep out there tonight.”
Castle Lite made up three places on this leg. Like Antimatter they’ll sleep for a few hours and then tackle the final leg.
Adrian’s team mate Costa Dimopoulos was very sore and unstable when we saw him (feet, of course and knee too, I think). Thank goodness for his trekking poles or he would most certainly have fallen into the river – he was stumbling substantially more than a blind-drunk sailor.
PennypinchersAR were right there with Castle Lite. In the few hours after midnight (today) I saw Svelka Sharpe receiving foot care attention at T5. Although her feet are still painful, she’s walking reasonably well. They’ll all be looking forward to resting at T6 and getting on to their bikes and off their feet.
And then the bubbly Team Costa Rica, greeting us with “Pura Vida”. Translated this means ‘pure life’ but it is also a greeting and a wish – wishing the recipient all things good in their life.
As I type they’ve reached T6. Melida Barbee, like many racers, has a bad stomach. Diahorrea is doing its rounds. They’re going to sleep and recover for a few hours too. Their impression of the hike, “Hard. Really hard.”
There is not one team out there that doesn’t have members across the foot-agony spectrum. I can only describe the worst affected racers as being so bad that I get teary when I see them moving. That bad.
We’re hoping that more teams make it through to T6 tonight so that they can rest warm and in comfort. But there will certainly be many more who bed down in the bushes to sleep until sunrise.
The status quo
I can’t think of any races that have had all teams in play until Day 5. And although there has been some attrition today, teams are continuing with three people, determined to complete the course.
A number of racers are down with stomach issues – diahorrea with or without vomiting. The big risk here is dehydration – and absolutely no energy. Although it seems more foreigners are down with it, a few local racers are in a bad way.
Team Spirit have had tummy troubles since Day 2. They’re still in.
Cinnober called to be picked up this morning. Three of them are down with it. They’ve been transported to Port Edward. It turns out that in addition to a broken finger, Ida Svensson has a fractured sternum (chest bone).
It probably resulted from a fall in the canyon days ago. She was keen to continue so it is probably a good thing that her team did not. Magnus Albinsson seems to be in a condition similar to Cobus van Zyl where he is has no energy and cannot keep any food or liquid in.
Melida Barbee in Team Costa Rica also has it. They’re still in.
SandgropAR have a team member that is quite ill. The team was retrieved from T23 and they’ll start the cycle from T6. They’re unranked.
Darol Howes from Lesotho Sky Flaming Flamingos has been bitten by the tummy bug. He is dehydrated and as a diabetic, medics are attending to him to improve his hydration and keep an eye on his sugar levels. His team will continue.
Cobus van Zyl from Jabberwock is unable to keep anything down – from both ends. The team walked slowly, assisting Cobus to get to T6. They’re been resting and trying to get fluids and food into him. Nothing has stayed down. Medics are treating him for dehydration. He has now withdrawn and his team will continue with the cycle in the morning.
Steven Yates from Senseless was brought into T5 chilled to the bone after the paddle. He couldn’t paddle because of a shoulder injury. hypothermia proved to be less of an issue than his shoulder and medics proclaimed him unfit to continue. He seems to have torn a tendon. His teammates are continuing and he’s meeting them at transitions.
Mike de Haast in Team Bad Medicine has 27 stitches near his ankle.
I think it was on the first afternoon/night in the early stages of the first hike. He was walking barefoot at a beach-river crossing when a wave came in, pushed him and a rock in the water sliced an area of flesh near his ankle.
The team called for assistance and were directed to get through to a lighthouse. They got there the next day and were met by the race medics with suturing supplies. Mike’s teammate, Mark Human is an orthopaedic surgeon. Mark put in internal and external stitches and the team continues.
Keeping it in the family, Mike’s wife, Laura de Haast (Team Castle Lite) sliced her lip open when she face planted into the cliff at the abseil on Day 1. It has healed really well and she continues to race (currently sleeping at T6 and ready to cycle in the morning).
Tarryn Povey (Team Spirit) has strapping from mid-thigh to mid-calf. She’s a physiotherapist and her self diagnosis is a torn MCL, which has made her hiking and paddling incredibly difficult. She is currently half-way through the last hike.
There are two racers with a broken finger each. I’m not sure who they are. (I suspect there’s an additional broken finger – a guy who came into T6 tonight).
There’s a woman out there with a big bruise on her arm and a cracked helmet. A rock dislodged from the abseil cliff was came straight down. And that’s why we wear helmets!
Sportotal missed CP21. The marshal at T4 called Stephan last night and even though their track shows them going past the CP, race rules specify that teams must record the alphabet letter at each CP. Back on Day 1 a number of teams missed CPs (CP5 and CP7) and they had to go back for them. They are unranked.
So, as it stands, only one full team has withdrawn.
UPDATE FRIDAY MORNING
One member each in teams PennypinchersAR and RaceMiere are out and teams are continuing as three-person teams. Two members are out of Warriors.
Anger Management were extracted at CP19 and they will continue from T6 on the shortened cycle.
See the full leaderboard at http://www.kineticgear.org/leaderboard/
Follow the teams via live tracking at http://www.kineticgear.org/gps-tracking/
Photos by Bruce Viaene and Andreas Strand