Thigh high mud, blinding rain, gusting winds…it can only be Adventure Racing!
IMPI ASSAULT COURSE – October 2011
“Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”
write up by Sister Tiffany
On Sunday, October 23, seven Sisters and two Woodies dragged themselves from slumber at the crack of dawn and trekked up to the winelands of picturesque Paarl. There, amongst 400 other lunatics, they prepared themselves for a physical onslaught like no other… the New Balance Impi Challenge! A 12.5km obstacle race, this was one muddy morning, sure to push the South African Sisters to their limit!
XTERRA OFF-ROAD TRIATHLON – January 2011
In the heat of summer, Sister Kirsty and her not-so-little nephew Craig went to compete in the South African leg of the international Xterra World Series off road triathlon.
The route was a gruelling swim across a lake, cycle up a hill and off road run through the stunning Grabouw area. Of course they stunned the crowds… Craig by winning the lite event and Kirsty by doing a great race and looking hot in her pink hood kit. It’s in the blood!
WEAVERS DOWN HELLY HANSON ADVENTURE CHALLENGE – 19 October 2009
report by Sister Kirsty Williams
When I had called to book our team into the race, I asked the chap what exactly the day would entail.
“Hilly runs, short paddle and a very technical ride.” he offered
“Technical?” I asked suspiciously.
“Yes, you know… where you marry your experience with the technical ability of the bike” he returned a little slower.
I got it! I thought – the man means gears. I can do that. Flick up, flick down… no problem.
The Sisterhood entered 2 teams. One all sisters : Gaby Stevenson, Louisa Yates and Julia Kendrick and the other me and my honorary hood members for the day: Sister Nats’s hubby James and great friend Marcus. Lucky me I thought.. one dashing fellow to push and one to pull! and bonus… devoted wives to feed, water and support us all day!
Out to the country we whizzed with mandatory egg baguettes and super strong coffee. We arrived with minutes to spare to witness some very serious competitors reassembling their bikes and stretching.
The gun went and we were off. Unfortunately with nearly 1000 people taking off the first run was so congested that we exercised nothing but our patience. (mental note, next time front row!) Next was the first 15km ride… here the race opened up. Now I began to understand what technical meant. Steep slippery shale slopes, wiggly twiggy paths, rocky streams and 120 degree corners. What fun! …until Marcus’s seat broke. There he was, tilted back, practically sitting on the back wheel, looking more like a teenage hoodie than a competative biker. We couldn’t stop laughing!
A long run took us to the team challenge bit where we had to walk around an obstacle course with planks strapped to our feet. After this was the paddle and we were issued a blow up canoo without paddles. Who needs paddles when you have arms of steel? Here is where ‘Competative Kirsty’ really came out. As a paddler I wanted to do the Hood proud, so we aggressively overtook the other teams with icy splashes and a few pushes.
Now it was onto another 5km run, another 15 km ride, under the heavy rope nets, over the slippery slope and to our goodie bag victory. What fun!
This race is not one for the faint of heart and the day was not without its drama. One especially steep slope saw a girl fall and fracture her femur. The hood girls team were right behind her and a mass pile up was narrowly avoided thanks to their quick reactions. There were various other concussions, rips and bruises to keep the paramedics busy all day and the funky Landy ambulances engaging their 4×4.
Once again the girls (and honorary boys) finished in style and did the hood proud.. yet another reason to hit the pub afterwards to celebrate!
Spring Mudman – 7th March 2009
Race report by Laura Flegg;
On a bright Sunday morning, the 7.5km off road “Spring Mudman” race saw five brave Sisterhood girls battling the great outdoors to compete in the first endurance event of the year. With sheer skill and determination, two of the Sisterhood girls won their categories and came 2nd and 3rd in the girls division overall.
The day began in true Sisterhood style with four girls in the woods answering the call of nature just minutes before the start of the race whilst all other competitors were on the start line limbering up! Blessed with sunshine, the temptation to spend the morning ‘tanning up’ was strong, butwe resisted, focused our minds, kitted up and off we went..
The race was all off road and hills. There are hills and there are Mudman HILLS. So, although 7.5km doesn’t sound very far (and should be a walk in the park for us feisty, fit girls!), this was a tough old run!
The five Sisters – Fleggster, Davies, Yates, Fifi and Jones – started well with Flegg up at the front and Davies close behind for most of the race.
The ridiculously steep hills were tough, and tested both the mind and quadriceps of all the competitors….and there was no easing off on the downhills because they were just as steep! With seemingly endless hills lurking around every corner, the lack of distance markers made it even tougher…even one kind marshal who informed us that there was ‘only a mile to go’ was hard to trust for fear you’d need to save enough energy to climb one final surprise mountain!
But with the end in sight the Sisterhood girls did themselves proud and finished in the following positions:
Laura Flegg – 43:41 1st in category; 22nd overall
Emily Davies – 45:49 2nd in category; 26th overall
Louisa Yates – 51:40 1st in category; 42nd overall
Fiona Burke – 52:33 6th in category; 44th overall
Kezia Jones – 56:40 7th in category; 46th overall
Bring on the next one!
Dirty Double – March 2008
Amy Sharpe recounts the day’s activities: It was ‘lightly’ raining when we left London but had upgraded to ‘chucking it down’ by the time we arrived at Itchen Park…a large boggy field and woods located somewhere near Southampton! Glorious muddy wetlands, sticky boggy paths and of course – the obligatory ‘Gorilla Pit’ (where 2 hairy men dressed in ape suits tried to run you out of town) were all waiting for us at the ‘Dirty Dozen Adventure Race’.
The race consisted of a 10k mountain bike ride, followed by a 5k run lap, followed by a 2.5k finishing lap. Pure joy and lung busting goodness. The keenest team comprised of veterans Amy and Emma and newbie Laura, and the other Sisterhood teams included Nats, Nats & Bella and Louisa, Claire and Gaby. We all set off at a cracking pace..about 3 miles an hour! Through the muddiest paths that man has ever seen – so bad that even when you got stuck – it made no difference to your speed! First run lap done we jumped onto our bikes…and peddled furiously…then jumped off and pushed the bikes through the 5 inches of mud that was the course! On we pushed/peddled – up, round, down and through the mud…onto the second run lap…just as muddy but this time twice as slippy! Carefully avoiding the overzealous boys and their appetite for falling over on their backsides in the mud – we trotted gracefully round…well when I say gracefully – I mean – well not at all gracefully…but we made it half way round and then came across the final run lap – THROUGH the water meadow..yup – effectively a river with some grass floating on the top…nice. And cold…icy, icy cold! We saw the other girls as we finished our run lap – all looking remarkably in good spirits – so that was nice to see! And then came the gorilla pit…well effectively two blokes in ape suits…give them a banana and they are putty in your hands…point at Emma as you are running through and shout ‘She LOVES gorillas’ and they chase her..easy. Then came the final obstacle- the Wall of Doom – a 10 ft high wall with no footholds…look at the pics – it takes team work to get over it – that and someone from another team to stand on to lever you over!
And that was that…a respectable 4th for the first team and a respectable ‘finisher’ for the others! A good days’ work. Well done The Sisterhood. The winter training cherry had been broken!
VoTwo Adventure Race – March 2007
Amanda Cherry reports on her first (and probably last!) adventure race…
According to our website, the Sisterhood are “an intrepid, fearless band of she-warriors with powers reaching far beyond those of mere mortals” or something to that effect. Well I can assure you that most certainly was not how some of us felt one wild and windy Sunday morning in March this year.
Having spent the whole of the previous day paddling in freezing Poole Harbour with wind sending us in the opposite direction to where we were aiming, we were already feeling a bit cream crackered. Getting up at dawn (yes, it was 8am) the following day to do an “adventure” race with a tiny breakfast of cereal, fruit, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast and eggs for sustenance was not necessarily a prospect that filled us with joy. Why, oh why had we agreed to do it?
Of course, the usual suspects were filled with energy and enthusiasm for the task ahead – Emma and Bean apparently already knew how to ride a bicycle, an unfair advantage in my book – and whilst they, along with Alicia, Debra and Sharpey were making sure A-L knew exactly which gears to use and when, were confidently warming up and were doing, I dunno, star jumps and somersaults or something, Nats, Georgie and I were huddling in our cars out of the rain while the boys did something to our bikes (I think they were rather kindly trying to make the brakes work!).
Eventually, our protestations being completely ignored, we shuffled down to the start line and waited for the fun to start. Jeez… some people are competitive. Destination Mars (Emma, Bean, Alicia) and Destination Venus (Amy, Debra, Anna Louise) actually started running when the whistle went, whilst Destination Mars Bars (the clue is in the name) consisting of Georgie (not an avid runner), tiny weeny Nats (not an avid cyclist) and me (not an avid anything, really) set off at something vaguely resembling a trot. We weren’t the last to get to the top of the first extremely steep hill, but even we were mildly embarrassed when a very fat bloke legged it past us puffing on his inhaler and suddenly we were alone in the woods.
“I need a wee”. Wee stop. “My knee hurts”. Walk for a bit. “Shall we run again?”. Jog gently for a bit. “My back hurts”. Walk for a bit more. And so it went on, with a “morning – lovely day for it” every time we strolled passed the chap with his dog who had presumably been posted in the woods to make sure nobody was cheating. As we came down a hill at the end of the first lap of the ‘run’, the sun ducked behind a large black cloud which promptly chucked its entire contents of what can only be described as snaileet over us. As we stopped running (there were people watching so we made a bit of an effort) and ground to a halt, we found ourselves looking at a net pinned to the ground and gently, simultaneously, raised our eyebrows. We’re supposed to climb under this? Through the mud? And get our brand new sporty outfits wet and dirty?? Apparently so. Bravely, we crawled on hands and knees through the net, we crossed a wooden log over a small ravine, we scrambled down into a pit and then rather too late realised we had to get out of it again (supposed to take that one at a run, I guess), we crawled through a narrow wooden thing and went over and under a few branches in the woods. And then went straight on to lap 2 which continued in much the same vein.
The ‘transition stage’ for most people was where they grabbed their bikes and helmets and got the hell out of there as fast as they could. What they clearly failed to realise was that it was the perfect opportunity to have a little natter with your supporters, get a glass of water and, if you asked politely, a nice cup of tea to warm you up before you set off on your jolly bicycle jaunt.
Helmets on, bikes ready, and we were off again along a very pleasant flat country lane. And then you had to turn right and go up a hill. A big hill.
Followed by lots of uppy-downy bits with ruts and stuff. Turned out it was quite good fun, but lots of people kept trying to get past us (“lapping” is a rather unseemly technical term, don’t you think?) which was mildly annoying so we upped the pace a bit. Lap two was more eventful – DM I came racing up behind us just as we were starting it so we hung out with them for a bit. A while after they moved on, DV caught up with us but they didn’t seem to want to stop for a chat so we let them carry on too. And then it dawned on us that if we were going to do the whole adventure race, we’d be there till mid afternoon, so we stopped for a little conflab. It was decided that Georgie would do our two cycling laps for us, while Nats and I would go and do the last running lap so we whizzed down the hill and set off in different directions.
Reaching the assault course for the third time, we tackled it like pros (a lot of people were watching) – under, across, down, up, under, through, over and under again, until we faced the final challenge… a 1.3 mile high wall over which we were supposed to scramble like muddy walruses. Nats and I however, being the elegant gazelles that we are, positively bounded over it and on to the finish line, displaying such gymnastic grace that the crowds of admiring supporters beside us were simply lost for words.
Sincere congratulations to Emma, Alicia and Bean who beat the fastest mixed-team and came an incredible second out of the all girl teams proving that at least some of the Sisterhood are super-human, and a huge well done to Ames, Debra and especially AL who did extraordinarily well (contrary to her own expectations).
Sadly, Destination Mars Bars weren’t granted a place in the top three, but bizarrely we did manage to end it with a smile on our faces. And we weren’t expecting that!