Wrangling the Wild

I had the amazing opportunity to take part in the first ever Torpedo Wild in Wilderness which was held 14-15 September.

What an Adventure!

Friday afternoon at 14:00 registration opened and the first teams started the 6km Prologue at 16:00. The prologue consisted of a mix of river crossings, short swims and some technical trail running. The trails and views up the river were breath-taking and made us very excited for the next day.

Torpedo Wild thought of it all – Friday night we enjoyed a delicious lamb spit and live music. The campsite looked a little like a battlefield with wetsuits hanging from trees everywhere and running shoes next to campfires in desperate attempts to get it dry before the next morning.

Early Saturday morning athletes started getting ready for a day of swambling, swimming and running – a bit nervous not knowing how swimming with a helmet and shoes and running in your wetsuit will work out!

Soon after 06:30 we were shuttled to the start line at the University of George campus. Huge was the relief to be welcomed by a coffee stand to get our morning fix before the hooter went at 07:30.

We started off with a 4km run, mostly downhill, before we entered the Kaaimans River for the first time. The river and surroundings were absolutely stunning. In the event briefing video Rich said, “For the triathletes taking part, be aware – the swamble is not your typical straightforward run”, and he could not have been more spot on! Not even the trail runners had an easy and fast pace. The swamble was a 6km river terrain to cross/cover by running/ walking/ swimming/ climbing and crawling over and between river rocks. My trail shoes did a good job keeping my footing steady… most of the time. There is no way you will ever experience the Kaaimans River in a better way than swambling it! The river, the forest and the high cliffs on both sides of the water were absolutely breath-taking.

The cold water took me by surprise and after 3 hours of swambling, I was cold to the bone. Because of the very technical terrain, you do not move very fast and being in the water most of the time, made my hands and feet extremely cold.

The first aid station came just in time! We were out of the water and a nice long beach run followed, which defrosted the hands and feet a bit. A definite highlight was running over the Wilderness Train Bridge – wow! Looking to your left you see the Kaaimans, looking to your right you see Wilderness beach and you rather didn’t look down!

The helmet drop-off was on the beach – now we were done with the technical part of the race – swims and long runs to follow. Luckily the weather played along and it wasn’t unbearable to run with your wetsuit on. Beach running tires you a lot, but seeking out the hard sand made it a bit easier. The Touws River was not as cold as the Kaaimans and the long swim that followed the beach run was a welcome change – a chance to stretch the muscles in the upper body.

With the swims, you could never see the exit point from where you enter the water. It was daunting to start each swim not knowing where exactly you were going and also not really knowing what distance you had to cover. But just as you start to think you may have missed a route marker, you see a yellow flag or a friendly face on the river bank ushering you along. The first long swim exit was rather interesting – as we swam up the river, there was a bridge and as we came closer, we saw a marshal standing on the platform under the bridge – the swim exit was climbing up the ladder from the water onto the bridge! With cold hands and feet and your sense of balance a bit off from the long swim, it was quite a challenge getting yourself safety to the top!

The runs were mostly on the Pied Kingfisher Trail. Here I had to unzip my wetsuit and run with it halfway down. I thought the wet shoes and socks would be a hassle, but it wasn’t a bother at all. Running with the pull-buoy around the leg was also less of a hassle than I expected. I was very grateful for the pull-buoy every time we started a swim.

Six hours of swambling, running and swimming from start to finish – it was a proper test of endurance! My neck, my shoulders, my arms, my quads, my calves and pretty much everything in-between was sore, but was it worth it…?

Oh Hell YES!!!

Save the date – 13 + 14 September 2019!!!

Elmaree Stapelberg