The trip to Namaqualand couldn’t come soon enough. After receiving such an unexpected blow, of finding out that my working contract would be terminated in a months’ time, only ten days prior to the Namaqua Quest. My husband and I just needed to get away. We needed this time to try to get clarity, as to “where to from here”???
In our 19 years of marriage, we would be embarking on our first camping trip together. I knew that this was going to add a whole new dimension, to this already challenging four day stage race that lay ahead. With the Landy packed and ready to go, we were set to leave George during the early hours of the morning, the day before the race. By 2am we were on the road, with 850km of open road lying ahead.
This is when those famous last words ring true – “it never rains but it pours”. Upon exiting George and heading towards Mosselbay, both Markus and I realised that there was something wrong with the car. Not being able to pinpoint it, we finally thought it best to turn round, and head back home. To cut a long story short, after breaking down close to the George airport at 3:30, being stranded at a desolate airport for three hours and finally getting the Landy towed to the mechanic. He had to replace the faulty petrol pump (R8 500 later)!
We were set for our second attempt by midday. Due to the fact that our vehicle is not made for speed, and after being held up by countless “stop-and-go’s”. We finally drove into the Namastat camp site at 11pm - the night before I was due to start a 4 day stage race.
With all the excitement of finally being able to view the legendary fields of flowers and soaking up the highly anticipated semi-desert sun. The inaugural Namaqua Quest was baptised with the most severe weather conditions that Springbok had experienced in the past 15 years. Most of us, got to run in the snow for the first time! We didn’t however experience the magical snowflakes gentle falling from the sky. Instead, tiny bullets of skin piercing ice awaited us, whilst summiting the famous Lewersberg moon-like mountain on the third stage of the race. This race is sure to be etched into each participants mind for many years to come, considering we had to brave minus five degree temperatures, while approaching the highest point of the day.
As far as I’m concerned, the beauty of stage racing is the opportunity to be able to meet so many like-minded trail runners from across the nation. Without fail, I would spend the better part of the early hours of each morning in the ladies cloakrooms. From stretching to prepping for the day that lay ahead. What a great time to chat to the other ladies, also there to tackle the 120 km epic route. It was there, where I got to meet the three courageous ladies that would be undertaking their furthest distance yet. Day two consisted of 45 kilometres, over some seriously tough conditions, also having to contend with the cold and wet, slippery conditions
Regarding the mix of the terrain en route: runners were thrown with a bit of everything. From some exceptional technical sections and boulder hopping, to open stretches of jeep-tracks, and even helping some “vertigo-sufferers”, the opportunity to extend their boundaries, by having to overcome their fears .
All in all, it was an experience to be remembered and cherished for years to come. Even the fact that we had to sleep in a tent, in the rain and snow…
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