Expedition Africa 120km Swellendam

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Team Songlines Take First at Expedition Africa Swellendam

Press Release / 11.05.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
Team Songlines on the finish line
Team Songlines on the finish line / © Expedition Africa

Team Songlines toed the start line at the second race of the ARWS - Africa Series in Swellendam keen to make up lost ground on the series leaderboard after finishing 6th at the first race in Bronkhorstspruit.

For this race the team included Robert Le Brun, Owen Gandar, Jess Pollock and Kelvin Trautman. The build up was a little rocky as team regular Lance Kime had to pull out last minute due to injury, but definitely not as rocky a build experienced by the race organisers, Heidi and Stephan of Kinetic Events Africa.

The Western Cape Province and in particular the Swellendam area was hit with a big, unseasonal cold front a few days before the race that caused extensive flooding with damage to roads, towns and the planned race course. Astonishingly the organisers, land owners and municipality officials managed to pull together an alternate race course in a matter of hours which was remarkable to see!

In revising the route the organisers had no choice but to abandon what would have been a beautiful paddle leg down the Breede River. With no paddling, Songlines, a team of predominately kayakers, knew it was going to be tough to keep up with the strong biking and running teams.

The race started with a flattish 40km bike, and predictably teams, Cyanosis and Pinegold pushed the pace from the gun. Songlines struggled to match their speed, especially on the rolling district roads that snaked their way through the muddy Swellendam farmlands, but did well to keep both Cyanosis and Pinegold within sight coming into the beautiful town of Swellendam - the third oldest town in the country - and up to T1 at the Marloth Nature Reserve park gate.

Everyone left T1 together and headed into the misty and waterfall studded hills of Marloth for a 17km trek. The course followed a beautiful contour trail that zigzagged in out and out of wooded gulleys and across swollen streams. Here, Songlines and Cyanosis managed to get a small gap on Pinegold. The lead was traded a few times but both teams finished the trek leg and started the next 34km bike together.

There were a few interesting route choices on this leg, where teams had to collect 6 check points mostly in the Bontebok National Park. The wildlife was abundant as was the maze of jeep tracks. Rob, more affectionately known as Brundle, Songlines’s chief map reader, made some great nav choices and in doing so the team managed to make a 6 minute gap on Cyanosis going into the penultimate leg, a 14km trek.

The team kept a consistent pace throughout this flat and unrelenting leg, thanks mostly to Jess, who was getting faster and faster the longer the race went on.  Heading back to the final transition at Die Stroom, a very picturesque picnic site sidled up to big brown Breede River, Cyanosis were in sight, which meant that there was no respite.

Thankfully the last leg was a short 7km bike back into Swellendam and the team collapsed onto the showground lawns that was the finish line relieved to hold off a charging Cyanosis.  The racing was tight throughout and in the 8+ hours the teams were on course there was never more than 15 minutes separating them.

The ever green Pinegold team came in third and in fifth were Balega who are one of a number of junior teams. It’s tremendous to see so many youngsters giving the sport and its stalwart teams a bash. A big high five to all the teams that took on the Swellendam AR and the consensus seemed to be that there was huge potential for more racing to be done in the area.

Team Songlines now looks ahead to the next race in Parys, and especially the prospect of a long kayak down the mighty Vaal river!

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