Merrell Transkei Tuff

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Adventure and Beauty at the Merrell Transkei Tuff

Press Release / 10.08.2022See All Event Posts Follow Event
Racing the Merrell Transkei Tuff
Racing the Merrell Transkei Tuff / © Craig Giese

The 2022 edition of the Merrell Transkei Tuff took place recently, with athletes from all over South Africa descending upon the Wild Coast town of Coffee Bay for the 3rd round of the ARWS Africa Regional Series.

Throughout the Friday, teams arrived at Race Village at Ocean View Hotel, and the place became a buzzing hive of nervous, giddy and excited emotions.

Race day arrived with an early wake up call, as teams prepared for the 04h00 start. In true Merrell Transkei Tuff style, the Secret Start instructions were announced on the beach; Teams had to use their supplied candle, light it at the bonfire and carefully walk balk to their tikki torch to light it. Once lit, the teams were free to start their first leg.

Within 12 minutes all 16 teams were running along the beach towards Hole in the Wall Hotel (TA 1), 9km’s away from the start. Team Merrell Songlines [Kelvin Trautman, Jess Pollock, Lance Kime, John Collins] were the first team toTA 1, closely followed by Team Chaffing the Dream (Tracey Campbell, Shale Biggs, Andrew Houston, Damon Stamp).

Teams were then faced with a gruelling 55km Mountain Biking leg which finished at Anchorage Hotel (TA 2), but not without its fair share of lost and disorientated teams. The single track, carved out by the Nguni Cattle over hundreds of years, featured incredible views of the Mthatha & Mdumbi River. This was a highlight for many teams who enjoyed the wild and rural views.

Team Chafing the Dream arrived at TA2 ahead of Merrell Songlines. At this point all teams were issued a new set of maps to plot the remaining legs as well as refuel before hitting one of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa. Scattered with beach-going cattle,teams made their way to TA 3 (Boat House) at the mouth of the mighty Mthatha River.

Merrell Songlines, 2021 Champions, found themselves 15 minutes behind in second place due to a course infringement that caused a Stop/Go penalty. However, by the time the top two teams finished their paddle 10km later, there was a mere 3 minute difference. Merrell Songlines, with their hours of preparation, were the first to leave TA 4 and begin the final Trek leg to the finish line.

Both these teams arrived at the abseil site together. After 95km of racing, it was down to the wire with only a short 5km to Ocean View Hotel.

Each Team had an abseil line, and made their way down the cliff and into the cave at Mapuzi, collecting CPs 12 and 13.

Team Merrell Songlines navigated their way expertly along the cliffs of Coffee Bay, and across the finish line at Ocean View Hotel, finishing in 10 hours and 10 minutes, with Team Chafing the Dream claiming second place, and the entry into the Adventure Racing World Series – Africa Championship, in 10 hours and 32 minutes.

An unexpected ocean swell started to pulse through and wash into the cave at the bottom of the abseil site. Team Addicted2Adventure [Franco Oliver, Thinus Matthysen, Dewald Van Wyk and Heidi Katze] successfully abseiled and managed to climb out after collecting CP 13, before the abseil was unfortunately cancelled due to unsafe water levels. Crossing the finish line in 13 hours 31 minutes, Team Addicted2Adventure celebrated third place, with an ice-cold Devil’s Peak Hero beer.

As day light dissipated, the spring high tide made it extremely difficult to navigate. Team Mountain Mammoth AR [Helen Kernohan, Michelle Scowby, DamienGuilietti, Russell Wilson] waded through the incoming tidal gully and reached the finish line, just ahead of Team Fast Festive Furious Fun [Don Sims, Garth Peinke, Michelle Schlebusch, Jo-Mari le Grange].

Throughout the night, each team made their way to the finish line, with the final team, Last Bell, [Wayne Krenski Adrian Fogg, Tracey Gaze, Ingrid Krummeck] crossing the finish line at 02h 28 on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, the buzz in race village peaked as teams began sharing their war stories before prize giving, at breakfast. The consensus was that the Adventure Racing bug had officially bitten rookie teams, with infectious laughter and banter over the challenging CP 11 location. [A checkpoint that proved difficult to navigate to at the spring high tide, looking for the correct tributary].

The race organisers from Aloe Adventures; Bruce and Trystan Viaene were incredibly pleased to hear the positive remarks about the race. A memorable experience featuring ‘postcard’ views. “Our love for this part of the world and the sport of adventure racing runs deep, and the Merrell Transkei Tuff has created the perfect platform to share the true beauty of this region, the way it is meant to be enjoyed – adventurously,” said Trystan Viaene.

Thank you to our sponsors who helped make this event possible – Merrell, Devils Peak Beer Company, Squirt Cycling Product, Racefood, Twizza, Black Diamond, Star Motors – King Williams Town, Ocean View Hotel, Anchorage Hotel and Hole in the Wall Hotel.

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