Change a Life Eric Zondi charging off the start...
The ‘Change a Life' team for once, avoided the routine mad rush of arriving late, and were able to strategically place canoes & bikes in the respective pounds and quietly go about their business getting ready for the start, discussing strategy...
READY, GO! Eric bolted off the line like there was no tomorrow. The run is where the CAL athletes excel, the tougher the route the better. Watching from afar, startled game ran in all directions as competitors carved their way through the bushveld.
Eric showing them a ‘clean pair of heels'
CAL junior paddling star, Mthobisi Cele (U16 yrs) started cautiously, this being his first Multi Sport race, pacing off his cousin Mmeli Cele.
Youngster Mthobisi Cele chasing his cousin Mmeli up front
Pumping the hills and using downhill gravity to his advantage with long strides – Eric charged into the bike transition comfortably in the lead.
Eric – first out on the bike
CAL Paddling Coach, Lucas Mthalane, surprised many by coming off the Run top five and set off on the Bike after a super quick transition.
Before the race, there was a lot of teasing, involving who would get beaten by Jeannie Dreyer (Jeannie's first Multi Sport race since giving birth to our daughter Ruby, 13 weeks ago), everyone firmly stating ‘Beaten by a girl, Never‘. For the record, it didn't happen on the Run, but Jeannie claimed a few CAL scalps on the bike.
Jeannie with her illegal advantage – new GT zaskar 29′er
Lucas told me afterwards that he lost about 8 min on the Bike, when his path was obstructed with an annoyed Rhino, grunting and groaning up ahead, "this is where Jeannie and some other riders caught me, then we made our way around in the bush”, he said. CAL John Ntuli was having a stormer of a race, a fast run and a steady bike saw him lying in a podium position midway.
John Ntuli – while the going was still good
That is until he went over the handle bars, having the wipe-out of the day. Feeling stunned, he took his time to stand up. Assisted by a fellow rider, he got back on his bike, tried to carry on but "everything was just too sore”, resignedly, he cycled slowly straight to the finish.
Dejected John Ntuli, hurting - not like him to have to support himself
Paddling conditions were near perfect – sunny with only a ripple on the water, compared to the big waves caused by the wind a few hours earlier.
Eric – a lonesome paddle
Although Eric paddled off with a comfortable lead, the alliance of Kwanda & Bungi (partnered me in our 2008 Dusi win) putting in together, could be a cause of concern, as with Cycling, the draft effect (called riding the wave or slip) has massive advantages. Luckily for Eric, Kwanda fell off Bungi's wave midway, leaving him to grind on by himself. The easy jog with his canoe to the finish, turned into a more urgent activity for Eric, as Bungi amazingly caught up to a stone's throw at the end of the canoe.
Mart giving Eric encouragement & a premature congrats
Being such good mates, whatever the result, they each would have been happy for the other.
Nhlanhla struggled with stomach cramps from the beginning
Nhlanhla never found a rhythm, plagued by stomach cramps already on the run. He suffered quietly, but nevertheless, soldiered on to complete the course.
Mmeli, Bungi, Eric, Mart, Mthobisi, John, with Lucas & Callum in front. Kwanda & Nhlanhla recovering under the trees.
For the record, the two youngsters, Mthobisi & Mmeli were passed by Jeannie on the bike. Think they would preferred to have ridden home than endure the ragging in the CAL bus driving home….
RESULTS: 1-Eric Zondi 2-Michael Mbanjwa 3-Kwanda Mhlophe 6-Lucas Mthalane 7-Nhlanhla Cele 11-Mthobisi Cele 12-Mmeli Cele 1st Woman – Jeannie Dreyer
Thanks to USN & HiTec and the Change a Life Trust for their continued belief and support of the Martin Dreyer ‘Change a Life' Academy