Merrell Transkei Tuff  

The abundant “Transkei”; a wild and mystic land drenched in history and promise proved to be the ideal playground for the Merrell Transkei Tuff presented by Out the Green Box over the past weekend. 

Teams of two and four travelled through to Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa on Friday, in anticipation of what the 150km adventure race had in store for them. Each team received their maps and race booklets at briefing on Friday evening, and quickly began plotting their route for the first half of the race which consisted of a 65km mountain biking leg, a 45m abseil, a 5km kloofing leg followed by a 21km mountain biking leg, returning the teams to Wavecrest’s ‘Race Village’.

Saturday’s race kicked off in true African style, where teams gathered on the Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa airfield in anticipation to find out how their ‘secret start’ would unfold. Race Director; Bruce Viaene split the teams into groups of 8, and announced that each group was going to play a 5 minute soccer match to kick off this Transkei race. 

Almost every athlete burst out laughing with enthusiasm, kicked off their cleats, and took to the field. Each winning team had the advantage of starting the 150km adventure race ahead of the losing teams, however they were awarded the task of handing out the winning soccer ball to one of the children in the community. Each losing team received a delayed start penalty based on the score difference (lost by 2 goals = 2 minute delay).

The race was officially on, as teams pushed themselves to gain a lead on the other teams starting at the same time as them. Cyanosis, Nevarest Jabberwock, Castle Lite and Sanlam Painted Wolf soon separated from the rest of the 25 teams taking part. Supporters all over South Africa quickly began dot-watching via Sportraxs’ live tracking system and social media updates.

All four leading teams played a version of ‘Cat & Mouse’ along the route, each selecting route choices that played a gamble in their placing. Nevarest Jabberwock reached the abseil site first, however were soon followed by Sanlam Painted Wolf and then Cyanosis. The internationally respected duo, Sanlam Painted Wolf, got through the 5km kloofing leg in a record time of 30 minutes, and regained their lead in the Merrell Transkei Tuff presented by Out the Green Box.

Once teams reached Race Village, they quickly changed into dry clothes, received their new maps, refuelled and quickly began plotting the remaining part of the adventure race. An 11km trekking leg through a stunning kloof, a 10km kayak along the Nxaxo river and an 18km coastal forest trek awaited each team before crossing the finish line. 

Teams were on the water, racing to reach each checkpoint before the tide washed out and then prepared for their longest trekking leg. Multiple teams completed their final 21km mountain biking leg after night fall, and made their way through to the finish under a bright moon.

The leaders of the race were exciting to watch as they reached transition, following their own synchronised system of packing, plotting and readying themselves for the leg to follow. However, what proved to be absolutely inspirational, were the teams at the back of the race pushing their bodies to new heights to achieve this new goal. 

Over 10 amateur  teams tackled this 150km route, as first time navigators and adventure racers. Many  teams dug deep and, however it was a duo who  provided the most inspiration. Team Runners Emporium (2), Cameron Venish and Wesley Field  tackled each obstacle they faced along route, reaching the paddle leg after the first 6 teams crossed the finish line. This enthusiastic rookie team requested to please continue their race, and crossed the finish line at 14h30 on Sunday afternoon, completing their 150km adventure race in 30 hours and 55 minutes.

Claiming their sponsored entry into 2018’s Transkei Tuff, thanks to S Haynes & Associates Inc; Sanlam Painted Wolf crossed the finish line in 14hours and 40minutes. Followed by Cyanosis, Nevarest Jabberwock, Castle Lite, and amateur duo’s; Quiver 2 and Outlanders.

Results:

Our ‘baby’ turned two this past weekend, and Bruce and I are overwhelmed with all the positive feedback we have received from the race. The Transkei Tuff is an extremely special element of Won Adventure, and we have decided to take baby steps, growing it a little more each year without losing the atmosphere the event provides. Our sponsors; Merrell, Out the Green Box, Star Motors King Williams Town, Squirtlube, Black Diamond, Racefood and S Haynes & Associates Inc provided us with the opportunity to give our athletes a special part of the Transkei, and we are extremely privileged to have partnered with each of them this year” shares co-organiser; Trystan Viaene.

Viaene further expresses, that “the most important element of this race, are the athletes. Each and every team believed in our concept, trusted our organising and breathed life into the Transkei Tuff. Each athlete on some level proved that they were tuff enough for this race, and that was absolutely humbling to witness, and we thank each athlete for that!” 

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