WCAD Series 4: Palmiet AR

The 4th Leg of the 2012 Leg of the 2012 WCAD Series took place in and around the Palmiet River region, Kleinmond, on the 28 July 2012. 32 teams entered the 60km ‘Short Course’ and 21 teams signed up for the 100km ‘Full course’. The weather conditions were perfect for racing and the heavy rains in lead up to the event meant that river levels were ideal for white water rafting.

People could collect maps and race information from 6pm on the Friday evening. Most of the the ‘long course’ competitors showed their obvious superfluous experience and took advantage of collecting maps as soon as possible to give themselves more time to plan their route. Novice racers generally enter the short course option and many were left in a frantic flurry trying to prepare their route, gear and race strategies minutes before the race start

Leg 1: Micro-nav
The race started with a ‘micro-nav’ leg on foot. Competitors had to use a ‘Google Earth’ 1:10 000 image to reach 7 checkpoints in any order around the Palmiet Lagoon/beach area. There were many different ways to go about doing this and most teams approached this leg with differing strategies. CP4 proved contentious as competitors were required to brave an 8am swim across the river mouth in order to avoid a long run around the lagoon. The ‘micro-nav’ was anywhere from 4.5 -8km in length depending on route choice and then led directly into the trekking leg.

Leg 2: Trek
The field was hugely spread after the ‘micro-nav’. Short course competitors then had to climb about 250m of vertical ascent up the mountain side to fetch what turned out to be a rather illusive CP9 before making their way down concrete tracks through the Mountain Rose Wild Flower Farm to the raft put-in. Long course competitors had to fetch an extra check point in the Harold Porter botanical gardens in Betty’s Bay. This checkpoint presented a rather decisive route option. Competitors could either take the longer, flatter route around the mountain along 4km of tar before venturing upwards and over the mountain making a “big loop” out of the trekking leg, or they could take a more direct option via CP 9 up and over the mountain to CP8 and back along the magical Oudebosch hiking trail to the raft put-in. Careful analysis of the contour lines would have would have been the main reason for half the field’s choice to take the wiser longer option. The long way round probably ended up being 20-30mins quicker as there was far less climbing involved. Both options were a scenic treat and took competitors through stunning mountains on their 18-25km trekking leg.

Leg 3: White-water rafting
This was a first for a WCAD Series race and a definite highlight for many. Competitors were treated to 3km of awesome white water including some sizable rapids that may have even exceeded a few expectations before slogging out the final kilometer on glassy flat water to the take-out point. This leg was made possible by Gravity Tours and their numerous river guides stationed at all the “Big” rapids who ensured everyone got through safely, whether in a raft swimming involuntarily beside it.

Leg 4: MTB
Another WCAD first was the inclusion of a MTB Rally stage. This stage made the ride through Kleinmond town a little more interesting. Racers needed to follow instructions and distance markers on their “rally sheets” in order to navigate their way to 3 CP’s in town. Most teams passed with flying colors but there were some who made a real meal of this leg, not realizing that once you are lost, the only thing you can do is back-track to your last known point and try-again. To avoid theft, CP’s were placed out of the public eye so randomly scouring the town of Kleinmond in search of an A4 white correx CP board was a bit of a long shot to say the least… although I found some people who had adopted this strategy anyhow.

The MTB Rally stage had set everyone off in an anti-clockwise direction so this is the way everyone continued on the remainder of the MTB Leg. After a brief 400m hiker-bike across the beach, teams raced eastwards from Kleinmond town before heading up the Highlands Road towards Grabouw Valley. Short course competitors had a relatively straight-forward route up, albeit it with a good 500m of vertical ascent, whilst long course competitors had more roué choices to make. Again there was a more direct route along a steep, bumpy 4x4 track up the front of Mount Horeb, or long course competitors could add a good 10km of extra mileage to their ride in return for a much smoother more gradual climb up Highlands rd and then backtrack to CP17 from the top-side. This time it was the more direct, steeper route that turned out quickest, although not without a truly lung-busting climb on already tired legs. The MTB “loop” was completed by a breathtaking decent down the Palmiet valley through Cape Nature’s Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Some racers chose to back-track from the final CP all the way round the way they had come as they could be certain of good roads and although this could have been marginally quicker if teams maintained high average speeds and slip-streamed efficiently, the ride down the valley is truly majestic and probably worth every jolt on the extremely eroded and bumpy track, even in the fading light.

The Finish
Teams arrived at the finish line high on adrenaline and having had a healthy dose of fresh air. Some teams seemed in better condition than others but most agreed they had had a great day out and vowed to be back for another WCAD Adventure!

The Long course honors went to Graham Bird and Yolande deVilliers of the ‘Merrell Adventure Addicts’ who devoured the course (and all the male teams) in 7h16m, almost an hour faster then the predicted winning time. Hermanus based team; ‘Spiere en Pattat’, consisting of Johannes Albertyn and Matthew Brown gave “Merrell” a good run for their money but relinquished the lead on the MTB leg to come in 2nd overall and win the ‘Male Team’ category in a time of 7h30m.

The short course race was won in 6h46m by Richard and Annelize Thomas of ‘The A-team’. This husband and wife combo have now won two races in a row and have cemented their place as firm favorites to take the Series Title. Jeandre and Neil Swanepoel were the first male pair home. Their team: ‘Rugged Rangers’ blitzed round the course in 6 hours flat to edge out 2nd and 3rd place who were less than 10min back.

Back-markers of both short and long courses spent close to 12 hours on the course. There was a 10% DNF rate in the short course and 25% of long-course teams failed to collect all the checkpoints.

Full results are available on the WCAD website: www.wcad.co.za

Thanks to our Series Sponsors: Capestorm, Glider Eyewear, Karrimor, Castle Lite, 100Plus and Civvio for their continued support of the sport we all love and particularly the WCAd Series.

Special thanks to Gravity Adventures, Cape Nature and the Kleinmond Municipality for their assitence in making the WCAD Series 4: Palmiet AR happen!

Watch the race video at: http://advlog.wordpress.com/

View and download all official race photographs from the WCAD Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WCADventure