Group aces epic race

BRAVE COMPETITORS:Team Slummies, an East London-based team that participated in the Expedition Race. From left Hanno Smit, Michelle Powell, Michelle Schlebusch, and Fjord Jordaan. Picture:SUPPLIED

THE eighth expedition race, also known as the Adventure Race or Expedition Africa, took place in Namaqualand recently. Of the 52 teams that competed, only 32 were able to finish the 500km course.

A local East London team, “Team Slummies”, represented East London. They managed to come in at 21st place.

The race is a multi-disciplinary team sport involving navigation over an unmarked wilderness course with races extending anywhere from two hours up to two weeks in length. member of Team Slummies member, Michelle Schlebusch said the course included running, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, abseiling and orienteering.

“All of this happened non-stop with a few hours of sleep grabbed every night. We carried our own food and water and our only navigation tools were a map and a compass, no Global Position System (GPS) or cell phones allowed,” she said.

“Most teams did not sleep during the first 36 hours. Our team slept 14 hours in five and a half days of racing,” said Schlebusch.

The team started off at the Doringbaai along the cold SA West Coast with a 19km trek leg.

Their first transition point was the tiny village of Papendorp, where they changed into paddling gear for their 50km, non-stop paddle up the Olifants River.

“After nine hours and 30 minutes of paddling, we immediately set off on a 37km hike through the bone- dry Knersvlakte on to our next transition point in the middle of nowhere.

“At this point, we changed into cycling gear for the 200km cycle leg. We had not slept yet though our captain promised us a three hour sleep at Niewoudtsville Church 60km into the cycle.”

“I have to say, you appreciate the comforts of your life when you have slept on a hard floor, waking up frozen to the bone, had no ablutions, warm meals to look forward to, and blisters on your feet. “We had a sense of achievement in pushing ourselves harder than we ever thought possible, and in forming a close bond with other very special people you call your team,” concluded Schlebusch added.

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