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Tuffing it out in The Transkei

Press Release / Photo : Dalton Burton / 11.04.2018

River crossing at the Merrell Transkei Tuff

Athletes from all over South Africa 'tuffed' it out at the Merrell Transkei Tuff presented by Out the Green Box this past weekend. Experienced adventure racers and new comers alike arrived at Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa on Friday evening, 6th April 2018 prepped and ready for the 150km adventure race along the Wild Coast.

Bicycles were assembled, transition boxes were packed and  both were check in before 22h00 on Friday evening. In true Transkei Tuff tradition, teams were treated to a secret challenge start on Saturday morning. At 06h45 the dynamic group of racers assembled on the beach in front of the hotel, and were given a box of matches and then instructed to build a fire underneath an already suspended line of twine. Once the twine was burnt, a tag was released which gave teams their bargaining chip to receive their first leg map from the respective race marshal.

Some teams managed to burn their line in no time and sprinted off towards the dune forest, whilst others struggled to get their fires burning; using up all their matches in the box. Team Sanlam Painted Wolf were the second last team to retrieve their map from the marshal, closely followed by team Ecobound at 07h00.

The dot-watching element of the race quickly drew focus as teams of two and four trekked through the dune forest, met their bicycles and peddled along the coast towards the Mazeppa Bay Hotel transition.  Sanlam Painted Wolf(2) raced incredibly, jumping ahead of all the other teams, and were leading the pack of adventure racers closely followed by Keyhealth Nevarest(4), Bruces Beauties(2) and Merrell Mentored(4).

The leading duo transitioned within a minute, and were onto their 15km trekking leg which returned them to the Mazeppa Bay Hotel transition, and onto their gruelling 80km cycle leg.

"The cycle was a killer, especially for the first 50km, however the last 30km of the cycle was more forgiving. The nav on the big bike leg had great route possibilities, there were a couple of sneaks that you could choose to take. It was awesome to have a technical navigation element in a race for a change.  The race definitely upped its game, and was the toughest one of all the three Transkei Tuff's this far, however the setting and terrain is always beautiful and welcoming" shares Adrian Saffy, navigator of team Castle Lite.

As the sun began to set, team Sanlam Painted Wolf closely followed by Merrell Mentored reached the abseil site and were able to abseil in the beautiful pink final light of the day. The remaining teams were treated to a stunning starry studded setting featuring unpolluted skies which showcased the glorious Milkyway as they ascended down the 30km abseil line. Teams were then back onto their bicycles for a 'free' 10km's , where they were welcomed into the Wavecrest Transition with a new set of maps.

Navigators plotted their final two legs of the 156km course, whilst team members refuelled and readied themselves for the 10km kayak leg followed by their final 16km trekking leg along the coast. The final trekking leg provided many navigational route options for the teams, however proved to be a challenging leg with the field majority struggling to locate CP 19. "We unfortunately wasted an hour looking for CP 19 and then took an extra 30 minutes trying to find our way back onto the path" shares John Collins of Sanlam Painted Wolf.

Within 16 hours and 33 minutes, Sanlam Painted Wolf's dynamic duo, John Collins and Darren Berry crossed the finish line of the 2018 Merrell Transkei Tuff presented by Out the Green Box, and were soon followed by team Merrell Mentored led by Graham Bird claiming first place in each of their categories.

Teams and duo's continued to cross the finish line throughout the early hours of the morning whilst rookie team, Not Sure Yet chose to reserve some energy by sleeping next to a Transkei hut before tackling their abseil at 02h00 on Sunday morning. Race organiser Bruce Viaene, made for a good alarm clock when he arrived to check up on the team, and they realised they had overslept by an hour and a half. Not Sure Yet were in high spirits throughout the 156km event. The team collected every checkpoint, completing the full course in 28 hours and 47 minutes. Keeping to their lively atmosphere and great camaraderie within the team, they synchronised their forward roll over the finish line in true jester style, and were awarded a 'tuffit tequila' for their efforts.

"From start to finish, the event delivered in so many ways and was just incredible. The hospitality from the organisers, marshals and the venue was out of this world. The memories you make with your team mates and the time you spend with like minded human beings is truly special and we cannot wait for the next one" shares Robert Le Brun, team captain of Note Sure Yet.

Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa sponsored a weekend away for the team that showcased the most 'gees' throughout the race and after a unanimous agreement from all the race marshals, team Not Sure Yet were awarded with this amazing prize. "Their energy at every transition was electric, the team constantly showcased laughter and pure enjoyment throughout out the 156km course, and have already asked when entries open for 2019" shared co-race organiser, Trystan Viaene.

The Merrell Transkei Tuff presented by Out the Green Box wrapped up on Sunday morning which prize giving taking place at 10h00. Team Merrell Mentored were awarded with the sponsored entry to 2019's Transkei Tuff event, thanks to S Haynes & Associated Inc.

"Our event 'baby' turned three this weekend, and it has grown incredibly since it's debut in 2016. The athletes, marshals and sponsors have helped make it what it is today and we are so excited for 2019's event already. Thank you Merrell, Out the Green Box, Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa, Black Diamond, Racefood, Ronnies Motors Mitsubishi, S Haynes & Associates Inc ,Squirt Cycling Products and Mazeppa Bay Hotel for their fantastic support" shares co-race organiser, Trystan Viaene.

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