NUTRITECH athlete Tracey Almirall and her team members; Craig Powell, Garth Peinke and Adrian Saffy have endured 900 kilometres within 3 races to increase awareness of the silent struggle that affect children and adults with rare diseases.
These three races include:
• The Transkei Tuff- February 26th-28th – 150km
• Led Lenser Wartrail- March 19th-21st – 250km
• Expedition Africa- May 13th-22nd – 500km
The main purpose in completing these extreme distances and multi-disciplinary adventure races is to raise awareness for the Rare Diseases Organization of South Africa. Their challenge to the public is to donate R1 for each kilometer that they have completed which will go towards the finding of suitable cures and treatment for those suffering and fighting to live a normal life in happiness and in health.
To donate, follow the link: https://www.givengain.com/activist/91370/projects/12098/
Tracey shares about her experience at the Expedition Africa:
“Adventure racing is a multi-discipline endurance sport where competitors compete in teams, navigating from control point to control point in a number of disciplines.
Disciplines include: mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, rope work and orienteering. Teams are expected to navigate using a map and landmarks. Teams must be able to operate in harsh remote environments in all weather conditions.
Teams travel through day and night, they can decide if, when and where to rest. Teams are required to complete the entire Expedition distance together (always within hearing and visual distance of each other), helping and assisting each other.”
The Race May 5th 2016
This year’s Expedition Africa Race was held in the Garden Route, the expedition will cover approx. 520 km. Route consisted of 16 legs with 13 transitions. 3 Cut-offs on route were enforced for slower teams to be re-routed.
Mountain biking 53% – 273 km – 5 legs
Trekking 31% – 161 km – 4 legs
Kayaking 17% – 86 km – 7 legs
Race Day 1
“The race started off fast with a paddle through the Knysna heads, the pace was hot at first and I started to doubt if I could keep this going for 6 days. We got drilled in the surf coming in at Buffelsbay which drains a lot of energy so early in the race. After that we started settling in and found our rhythm as a team. The day ended with a massive 58km hike through the Outeniqua Mountains which took us over 18hours. With a very short 40min nap in the forest, also a first for me but sleeping under the stars is quite an experience on its own.
My biggest fear was how I would cope with very little sleep over 6 days, I had never done a race which required me to stay awake for so long.
The adrenaline from the event was still pumping through me so the first night was pretty easy to stay awake. Once the sun comes up it like your body gets rejuvenated and you are ready to tackle the day that lies ahead. “
Race Day 2
“We got to ride the beautiful routes of the Harkerville Forest with breathtaking single track. Then into another night hike, this one was particularly hard for me as I started to feel the struggle of keeping my eyes open. We got to explore beautiful caves along the coast and spectacular views that even in your semi-zombie state you can still appreciate. Once again when the sun starts to rise your spirits start to lift and energy renewed.”
Race Day 3
“The day continued with a hike to Roberg exploring the beautiful Roberg hike, seeing sharks and seals in the blistering heat. Finally it was a trek up the beach to our next transition to paddle up the river to the next leg. This paddle was the toughest as it was a night which made it very cold, and we
had to portage of rocks and weirs. Finally we made it to the bridge where we dropped off the boats and started the next hike. The start of this hike was gruelling we had to hack our way through a kilometre of fynbos where I got absolutely tangled, had a moment and my team pulled me back together. Once we hit the top it was so amazing, this warm northerly wind with a full moon, breathtaking. We found shelter in the forest and had a 1hr30 nap before we pushed through to the next transition.”
Race Day 4
“This day continued with a trek through the forest to the next leg which I was not to excited about, my fear for heights was starting to get the better of me and we were drawing closer to the biggest abseil I have ever seen. This race keeps showing me that it’s not about fitness but about mental strength to push through your fears and just keep moving. The kloofing section after the abseil was only 8km but took us about 6 hours of slipping on rocks, swimming through icy water to hit the beach and fight the sleep monsters and end off with a swim at 2am, across the Kaaimans River to the next check point. At this point even the race leaders were taking too long and the route had to be adjusted slightly to ensure we all finished in time. There was no time for rest and it was straight into our boats or we would risk the chance of being short coursed.”
Race Day 5
“The start of our 116km cycle route this was the last of the really long legs in the race, the weather had been so stunning the whole week but it was particularly chilly with some rain this day. I aim was to find a spot to get some shut eye then push through to the next leg. As darkness fell we all started to get very tired and falling asleep on your bike was inevitable, I have never experienced tiredness like that and the only thing you can do is to keep talking to each other to stay awake. After a very long day we made it to the next transition and the final night of this adventure.”
Race Day 6
This was literally just putting one foot in front of the other and shuffling to the end. My knee and feet were giving me a lot of trouble, feet had basically been wet since day one so I had developed some blisters, I also banged my knee on a rock during the kloofing leg so I really had to dig deep to get to the end.
Finally we spotted the flags at Pinelodge and just like that our adventure came to an end.
Tracey’s Final Words
“Adventure racing takes you to a place that no one can or ever will understand unless you have physically done one yourself. You switch off from the outside world and have quite a bit of alone time out there to reflect on yourself. You form friendships with likeminded people and bonds that will never break. Every time I hit a low I reminded myself that this race is not for me, I am doing this for a far bigger cause to create awareness for Rare Disease and help change a life, it was worth every minute. This is not a race it’s a test to see how far you can mentally push yourself, how deep you can dig to get through and how hard you can push to make it to the end.”