Conquering Ombrophobia

Words: Ico Schutte | Photos: Ico Schutte & Lezandre Joubert

Adventure Racing

A cold and rainy morning welcomed us, the 45 teams, to the beautiful Cascade Manor Estate for the start of WCAD 4, a 100ish km adventure race, held on Saturday, 27 July 2013.

Adventure racing is described as a multi-discipline endurance sport, where teams navigate from control point to control point using maps and landmarks in harsh remote environments and all weather conditions. This is a very accurate description of what we had to endure on this particular morning.


At 7 a.m. we dropped of our paddling gear, collected the maps, and started planning our route for the 8 a.m. start. Teams are expected to plan routes within a limited time and no information regarding the route is available prior to starting the event. I glanced over to my teammate, Caitlin de Wet, a retired pro mountain biker and first timer to adventure racing, and said, "This looks fairly simple. We should be back before dark!" I just got a nervous smile in return.


As the heavens opened up with buckets full of rain, I donned a final layer of Inov-8 waterproof apparel and off we went. Leg one was a 20 km hike that included abseiling to get the blood pumping. Checkpoints (CP) 1 and 2 were smooth sailing and all looked good for a sunset finish. However, from there, navigation became exceptionally tough and a true test of skill. Endless tracks and roads that did not appear on our map made for a real confusing situation, and CP 3 eluded us for a long time. The up side to all of this is that whenever there was a break in the clouds, we had a splendid view from the Klein Boschkop Mountains.



We were not alone because all around us, teams were scratching their heads and looking dumbfounded by all the roads surrounding us. As maps are, in most cases, very old, there are always tracks on the map that no longer exist, as well as tracks on the ground that don't appear on the map. This is where the best navigators shine and make huge time on even the fittest teams. Choosing a more straight and adventurous route between the CPs resulted in a really fun but challenging hike. We soon found ourselves at the second last CP, at the top of the abseil, and something I always look forward to! Unfortunately, with safety top of mind, WCAD's Race Director, Grant Ross, decided to cancel the abseil due to the flooding river. A short hike around followed and we were at the bottom of the once small mountain stream that had transformed into a massive and pristine waterfall. The lure of adventure racing is finding these magical places in nature.


The hike leg tested mind and body, just as Grant Ross had planned. The WCAD Series is set out as an introduction for first timers and to lift the skill of seasoned racers all at the same time.



Coming into the transition, we were greeted with smiles from the organisers, then had a quick Enduren bar and were out on the mountain bikes for the second leg, a ±70 km ride split up with a short paddle leg. Caitlin seemed much happier once on the mountain bike and I thought from here it could only be easy to the finish. Little did I know.



Once again navigation was made more difficult with all the roads that did not appear on the map. The CPs took us up some very steep climbs, but the effort was well worth it as we were rewarded with stunning views every time. Choosing the incorrect route up to CP 14, at the top of Du Toitskloof Pass (820 m above sea level) made for a very tiring and slippery hike-a-bike section. Unfortunately, Caitlin injured her leg and we had to turn back and pick a different route to the top - once again proving that navigation is key in these races. An internal bet with Team Due South (Lezandre Joubert and Ian Wolmarans) added to the pressure and I knew the cost of these mistakes. Taking another risk and missing CP 16, we were out of the race and with an injury, we decided to head back to the start. A very brave Caitlin was forced to lift her leg with her hands at every step.


Wet, cold, disappointed, and knowing that we would have to cook dinner for Team Due South, we crossed the finish line. Disappointment soon grew to excitement as I realised that they had not finished the course. But Ian had taken them on a different route, where he asked for Lezandre’s hand in marriage! All thoughts of cooking were forgotten and we ended the day with a big celebration for our close friends. We wish you all the best days ahead!



It had been an exceptional race by the WCAD team, and is a must on any multisport athlete's bucket list.


Category Winner Results


Short Course Female winners:
Feisty Fillies - Sarah Garland & Kathryn Lamb


Short Course Male Winners:
Hillbillies - Gus Hojem & Jon Sherry


Short Course Mixed Winners:
Team Odyssey - Freddie Enslin & Medelief Roux


Long Course Male Winners:
Team Light Foot - Jacques de Villiers & Adriaan Jansen van Vuuren


Long Course Mixed Winners:
Team Olympus - Tim Deane & Kelley Hess


Full results can be viewed on the WCAD Series website.



WCAD Series consists of a 50 km and 100 km variety throughout the year and also a 250 km for the brave. So Do It Now! Well, actually on 13 October 2013. For more information, visit