Monday, 30 August 2010

Selecting Team AR for Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge

Last week I finally chose the three people, from our squad of five, for Team for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (ADAC) in December.

This is the third year that has received an entry (incl flights) for this superb six-day adventure race. It really is a race of sun, sea and sand - lots and lots of sand.

In previous years (2008 and 2009) I have chosen the team outright from the written applications. But this year, because I received such early notification of our entry, I selected a squad of people - four women and two men - in early June. We 'lost' Ilze Jansen van Rensburg early on when an emergency eye operation took her out of racing and training for weeks.

It was definitely much harder this time to settle on a combination. It is really difficult to choose only three from five super people - all of whom are prime candidates. And, just looking at the three girls, two of them were in the winning pair and team at Swazi Xtreme!

After weeks of deliberation I settled on Adri van der Westhuzyen, Lizelle Smit and Steven Erasmus. Lizelle van der Merwe and Keane Ludick are our reserves and they will remain involved with paddle training and other team activities. It is very reassuring to know that we've got them with us in case something happens to one of us in the lead up to the events.

We've got company
For the first time, Team will have Souff Afrikan company in Abu Dhabi - that is, aside from our trusty South African supporters (Mark Joyce and his friends who always come out to find us on the course and to cheer for us).

Team Cyanosis (Nicholas Mulder, Clinton Mackintosh and Ryno Griesel - female still to be confirmed) and Hard Day's Night (Alex Pope, Jane Swarbreck, Tim Deane and Alan Neate) will also take on the sea and desert. Wooohooo! What a p.a.r.t.y!

Difficulty of ADAC
As I hadn't done a non-stop multiday adventure race for ages, I haven't had a direct comparison between ADAC and something like Swazi Xtreme. I can now say that despite the sleeping and unbelievable catering, ADAC is physically more demanding than a classic 350km non-stop race. At ADAC each day's stages are longer, faster and tougher.

I hadn't really thought about it too much until I asked Alex Pope, who raced with me at ADAC, how his blood sugar was at Swazi (Alex is diabetic). He said that it was actually quite high, which was in contrast to ADAC where it was often on the lower end of the scale, because of the high output. A nice physiological indicator of the pace at ADAC.

For now, our training focus is on paddling and foot - running. The race is being held in 'reverse' where, except for the prologue, we do the disciplines backwards. So, where the canyoneering was on the last day, it will now be on the first, followed by MTB, then desert trekking and then paddle. MTB is the one that is the least of my worries... it is on foot and in the boats where the crunch really comes.

In the previous years I've found gaps in our preparation in these areas. I hope to plug them for a better result. If we can maintain a midfield placing on the paddle and get three of the four optional CPs on the trekking stage, I'll be over the moon!

So, for now it is onward, with our sights firmly set on the race in early December.

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