Grand Traverse Record Race

07 Sep 2014 15:16 #61733 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Ah pity! Next time Andrew...

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07 Sep 2014 19:29 #61736 by ghaznavid
Too bad Andrew, hopefully next time

It may be relevant here - myself and Hobbit spent the weekend at Didima. There were massive fires burning down the slopes of the escarpment, and lots of smoke blowing over from Lesotho, so presumably there were fires on top as well. The guys at the camp say it was arson rather than fire breaks (thought it was a bit late in the year for fire breaks). There was a fairly substantial amount of smoke coming from the Tseke valley this morning - its not impossible that this may have been part of the problem. But yes - it was also very hot at Didima this morning...

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

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07 Sep 2014 20:19 #61738 by LauraB
Replied by LauraB on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Does anybody have any further info? Is Andrew OK?

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08 Sep 2014 08:23 #61739 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Got word from Andrew and he is fine. I am sure he will give his own update on this thread when he is able to.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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08 Sep 2014 18:24 #61751 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Hi guys

Thanks for all the support and encouragement. You have no idea how much it helps.


So, what happened out there?
Considering the numbering of things that went right, I should maybe call it my best training run of the year.

Partly due to the weather, and partly due to better packing of warm clothes, I was actually warm out there at night. So warm in fact that I enjoyed the breeze as it cooled things down. The jersey was tucked away in my bag so I even had a spare layer with me.

Probably due to the warmth, but mostly due to the considerable hours I have spent this year in the dark, I actually enjoyed it out there and often stopped for a moment to just say “wow, this is beautiful”. Which it was! Initially I had an almost full moon, then when that set I saw some lovely stars.

Sadly, that stopped the moment it got light. I saw burnt grass, more burnt grass and some burning grass. At the summit of Cleft Peak, the air was so hazy I could barely make out Cathedral Peak! It is actually the first time in the Drakensberg that I have ever muttered “this is ugly”.

(By comparison, 2 weeks ago I had some of the best views I have ever had in the berg)

Knowing that I would find it hard work starting in the dark, I aimed for a conservative time of 10 hours for Cleft Peak. This stuck the magic balance of getting me far enough on day 1 to be able to aim for 48 hours, but would be slow enough to conserve energy for later. I missed that by target 30 seconds, so big deal.

The problem though was the amount of effort I had to put in to manage that. Within 30 minutes of starting out, it was obvious that my body wanted sleep. It took longer to run from chain ladder to Mont-aux-Sources than when I hiked it last year (with sleeping bag and stove) This was going to be tough. I never recovered from that need for sleep.

After Mont-aux-Sources, I sped up a bit along the good paths and for a while seemed to have overcome the need for sleep. But, every time the going got tough, I was just unable to power hike and had to run a lot more than I normally would have to maintain a decent speed. The Petzl R+ headlamp came into its own here and the steady, bright beam made life pleasant even once the moon set.

I had a little tumble on one of those millions of loose stones littering the northern end of the Mnweni highway. It is interesting that the only thought that went through my mind was to really, really hope I was still okay. I was but it did wake me up for the next few minutes.

I pack my bag in such a way that I only need to stop every 7-8 hours to get inside. I first stopped just behind the Nguza Pass. Here, I took off my night clothes, packed away the headlamp and swapped out the used energy bar wrappers for the real, yummy thing.

I also checked the YB tracker. It promptly revealed that the last 10 transmissions were from my training run a week ago. I am using functionality that YB themselves consider new, and it had taken a while and a few emails between us to get it to work. It appeared that the burst functionality was having problems seeing enough sky while I was in the valleys, so I reverted to the tried and tested default mode of sending a single burst every 20 minutes. Hence the sudden change in track format.

As the morning wore on, the need for sleep never left, and once I started hitting the hills of Mahout, Cleft Peak and above Rolands Cave it became apparent that my body and mind were not liking me. The lack of pleasant view (read, it was awful) made it worse. The only thing keeping me going at this stage was the thought of a lovely (but short) swim in the Yoddlers Cascades.

Near Rolands Cave though, it became obvious that I may as well snooze for a bit because I was not going to get to Yoddlers without one. Twenty minutes did nothing, so I sleep some more. After about 60 minutes I felt better, but had really wrecked the plan.

I had 2 choices:
* Continue when things are not going right, or
* Bail now and come back another day. Most importantly I can then do it on a day when the grass is green and the sounds of waterfalls fill the air. For the amount of effort going into this, I want an experience I can think back to in years to come as something I enjoyed!

A phone call to my Dad later and I set off down Organ Pipes pass for some well earned tea at the hotel. For the sake of silliness, I assume this is the first time anyone has done a “day” trip from Sentinel Car Park, over Cleft Peak, had a 60 minute nap and still made afternoon tea at the hotel :-)

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08 Sep 2014 18:28 #61752 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Oh, quick comment - for best results, the YB tracker needs to be at the top of the pack. Night time temperatures will be accurate (from Nguza afterwards - no temps sent during burst mode), but day time temps are I suppose a bit exaggerated. If it really was that warm, then kudus to the white first ascent gear I am wearing because it did not fell nearly that warm for me

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08 Sep 2014 18:45 #61753 by Smurfatefrog
Thanks for the feedback Andrew! I think everyone experiences those tired days every now and then, in all fitness levels. Pity yours had to be now, but I'm sure you'll be back soon enough to smash that 50 hour barrier!
So yeah, not a bad tired day trip ;)

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08 Sep 2014 18:55 - 08 Sep 2014 18:56 #61754 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Thanks for the write-up. Sounds like you've got some good confidence-boosters for the next trip!

I hope you don't mind, but I got some support drummed-up for you on Twitter. Ryan & Ryno re-tweeting my status updates to their thousands of followers probably helped too ;)
Last edit: 08 Sep 2014 18:56 by Stijn.

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08 Sep 2014 19:31 #61755 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
@ Stijn: Thanks, I have the contact numbers for Ryno and Cobus, but not for Ryan.

I will go on record to say that both Ryno and Cobus were very supportive as well. Deep down there has to be a competitiveness to rival none, but I love the way trail runners and mountaineers support each other!

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08 Sep 2014 19:34 - 08 Sep 2014 21:32 #61756 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Grand Traverse Record Race
Thanks for the details Andrew. I was wondering about that midnight start. There was a clear rationale for it that you set out earlier but how to ensure sleep prior to the midnight start is the tricky issue and even if one did sleep 8 hours in the run up to midnight, then the body clock would still be messed up rather like jet lag. I wonder what the two record setters did for sleep prior to departure. From what I could make out, they didn't sleep much.
Last edit: 08 Sep 2014 21:32 by tiska.

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