Are You Tuff Enuff? The Merrell TT Looms
Your heart is beating a little faster than usual; holding a map in one hand and compass in the other, a nervous energy hangs in the salt air, as you glance at your competitors behind the start line of a 200km of Wild Coast adventure racing that is ahead of you. This is the Merrell Transkei Tuff, and, its go time!
On the 6th of April 2019, 30 teams from all the adventurous corners of South Africa will be lining up at the Secret Start line for the 4th chapter of this annual adventure race. Consisting of only 5 legs, this year’s race will include some of the past Merrell Transkei Tuff highlights.
Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa; 2019's Race Village since the birth of the event and has become synonyms with the Merrell Transkei Tuff. However, 2020 will see the ‘Tuff, as it’s affectionally known as, move to a new location which will be announced in due course. Wavecrest Beach Hotel & Spa is nestled on the banks of the Nxaxo River and is surrounded by lush coastal forests and 180 degree ocean views and has been a fantastic host to all who have participated in all the 'Tuff's' thus far.
The Merrell Transkei Tuff offers athletes a truly unique experience. The Wild Coast, bathed in mystery and history, has been the allure for adventures for hundreds of years. Teams will be canvassed by ancient cycads as they kloof through narrow and wet gorges. “Very little, if not no one, have set foot in parts of these canyons before.”, shares race director Bruce Viaene.
Double checking that you have your helmet on and then triple checking the harness you find yourself strapped into. You can’t see the bottom, yet, but the sounds of rushing water coming from the very waterfall you are abseiling heightens your senses. It's time to make your way down 30m of rock.
2019's chapter will include some of the prettiest canyons in the area which means that teams will need to preserve their feet in order to make it to the finish line. “This year’s canyons will characterise the race and have teams talking about this beauty for years to come” continues Viaene.
You’re lost. Or you think you are. “I’m sure this is the same damn cow we have walked by twenty times”, you quietly think to yourself. The team's plan was just to complete the course but you find yourself in a podium position. Someone in your team harshly whispers, “lights off!”. You obey and are silently surrounded by darkness, but not for long. The stars above light up the sky and you can faintly make out the surrounding headlands. Four lights dance lazily in the distance. Another Team and the reason why you find yourself in stealth mode as you quietly follow the invisible trail that your navigator has set.
With 30 teams expected at the start line, this will be the biggest field to race the ‘Tuff. "Our dream of growing the Transkei Tuff to 30 teams by 2019, has officially become a reality after our first Tuff only hosted 12 teams. We are so excited to meet new adventurers and welcome back members of our adventure family next weekend" shares co-race organiser Trystan Viaene.
A race born out of prepping teams for South Africa’s premier Expedition race, Expedition Africa, but at the same time introducing many newbies to the sport. “It's always a balance of creating a course that challenges the top teams but is doable for those starting out” shares Bruce Viaene. With the majority of the teams being newcomers this year, you can expect some interesting racing in the middle half as well as an exciting tussle for the podium as the more experienced teams hope to clinch the title.
You can follow the teams as they progress through the race via Sportraxs' live tracking, as well as photographs, videos and of course the live streaming straight from Won Adventure on Facebook as we bring you the action of the 2019 Merrell Transkei Tuff.