Somehow I convinced Camilla that doing the team 25k Kinetic Adventure Race would be a great way for us to celebrate Valentines this year! Luckily for me she's pretty dam good!
As we had only had our first introduction to orienteering and adventure racing earlier in the week we didn't really expect a good result when we arrived at the Sunday morning race at Avianto in the Cradle of Mankind just North of Jo'burg. The other 140 teams looked like they had done this before and we were clearly the newbies as we asked "so, how does this work?".
At race briefing we were handed our first of four maps which kicked off the 5km trek where we had to race through the hillsides to find a series of control points which could then be marked off on our passport (score card). We took off at a great pace and promptly missed the 4th control point which destroyed any confidence as we had to backtrack about 800m to find the missed point. The terrain was rough and there were a lot of ankle teasers out there, one of which sent me tumbling but luckily before I went airborn I was able to direct myself to some mildly comfortable grass patches so nothing was hurt except my ego.
At the end of the trek course we entered transition to collect our maps and were pleasantly surprised to hear that we were the 6th mixed pair. Not bad all things considered. Being in 6th position sparked a thought in both Cam and my minds at the same time; we're pretty good on bike so lets give it horns and see what happens! Shortly after starting the 18km MTB leg of the adventure race we passed three of the five mixed teams ahead of us which gave our confidence levels a definite boost. As Cam had finished in the top 10 of all our recent MTB races we decided that the bike is where we could make or break this race and so we put down the hammer and took off.
While we knew we could ride hard, speed is only one factor in adventure racing as the most important aspect is being able to navigate your way around the mapped route to find all the markers. This is when we discovered that riding off road and reading a map don't go together all that well. We also noticed that the teams around us had really nifty map holders on their handlebars which allowed them to glance down at the map while on the go. So with all things considered we decided to keep up with the leading group and pick up the markers as we went. But as I wasn't checking the map I didn't take note that we had gone past one of the control points without even knowing it was there! This would prove detrimental to our result as we didn't know that missing one control point means you come last... Darn.
As we didn't know this however we kept on going and finished the bike route feeling that we were still in a good position which was confirmed when they annouched us as the leadning mixed pair and 9th overall. Nice! Off we went again out of transition to find a few more control points on foot before taking to the water in the kayaks and then onto the obstable course where we were passed by a father and daughter couple who were just super speedy over the obstacle course. With our spirits still high we completed the obstacles and proudly crossed the line in 2nd position for mixed teams and 10th overall - something we are very proud of. Our jubilation was short lived however as they explained to us that missing that control point meant that we were disqualified from the finish rankings. What a let down! I mean really! Come on!
Anyway, we'll take this as a massive learning curve and look forward to the next Adventure Race which we hope to dominate! It makes sense considering all the Iron Man training we've been doing and all the MTB races which Cam's been doing so well in. Needless to say we've already marked off the rest of the Kinetic AR Series events in our sporting calander and we're planning to come back next time ready for action!
Thanks for reading!