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TRAIL RUNNING

Vasbyt really isn’t for sissies.

A 60 hour adventure race that consists of:

Leg 1 - Trek - 36km - 2200m ascent

Leg 2 - Mountain bike - 25km - 300m ascent

Leg 3 - Paddle - 47km

Leg 4 - Mountain bike - 92km - 2600m ascent

Leg 5 - Trek - 42km - 2200m ascent

Leg 6 - Mountain bike - 31km - 450m ascent


For me this was a race with many firsts:

  • Through the night

  • Sleeping (and also not sleeping) on the side of a trail

  • Riding just short of 24 hours in one go

  • Carrying a very heavy backpack through the course of the race

  • Packing and unpacking a bike from its box not once but six times.

  • It is also a race that I would put first for a racing experience! I flipping LOVED Vasbyt!


As a team, we had a spectacular race and accomplished all our goals. We didn't plan an 'official finish' as not many teams have completed Vasbyt. I can confirm that this remains the statistics! In many ways, it allowed us to focus on the details within the race rather than the end goal: to finish. Our goals were to learn more about our teammates, do all 3 disciplines (trek, ride, paddle), have a good and fun race, do as close to 60 hours of physical training, better our mapping skills, and give us more race experience as a whole. We achieved it all, with tired eyes and smiles on our faces, mission accomplished!


The question I am asked most about adventure racing is WHY. Why would I want to put my body and mind through so much pain? Why would I want to do something so extreme? So here it is. Here is my ‘why.’


Leg 1 - Trek - 36km - 2200m ascent

This was my most challenging leg within Vasbyt with technical terrain and a very heavy backpack. We made a strategic call not to do CP1 (Check Point 1) after making a slight navigational error and realising the time it would still take us to get to the CP. The consequence is a short course paddle. So we progressed to CP2. As we contoured around the mountains, over cliffs and down into a valley I watched one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever witnessed! The night’s sky radiated from the full moon, and as the moon slowly dimmed, the sun painted the sky with shades of happiness: red, then orange, and then yellow shades pushed through the horizon. The birds began to chirp as I sucked on Future Life through a zip lock bag for one of the best brekkie spots to date. The aches and pains my feet had endured for the past 10 hours seemed to disappear in these moments. We continued to follow our navigator Rob who took us past waterfalls and bundu bashing through thickly overgrown plants to get to a couple of caves and then finally reaching CP2 and 3. I was a little tired, mentally and physically. The trek seemed long and the sun began blazing down.


Leg 2 - Mountain bike - 25km - 300m ascent

A very quick ride on the gravel made for a mental break and some time to prepare for my bike box packing, paddle, and grade 3 rapids I hoped to float over. Our team was electric. We were all super excited to get on to the water.


Leg 3 - Paddle - 47km

Having never done white water paddling I had no expectations other than to be brave, hold on for dear life, and aim to not fall out of the kayak. My hands had held onto the trekking poles for 16 hours and then onto the bike for a further 1 hour and now on the paddle for 5 hours. They were sore and tired. The little aches started to creep in but I was more grateful for the time off my legs to recover my feet. I was slowly adding to my list of things to work on and strengthen. Although the list was long, the list didn’t really scare me. We arrived on the water in the blazing heat, tasting the sun on our skin and all of a sudden falling out of the kayak seemed somewhat appealing. This was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I told my 13-time Duzi partner, Rob, that all I was missing was a GnT. I am not sure if he appreciated my jokes, but I found myself quite amusing at the time. It may have been my lack of sleep or my exhilaration of paddling on the water I had many times looked at, thought about, but had never been gifted the opportunity to experience. Life seemed perfect… even when we eventually fell in the water!


Leg 4 - Mountain bike - 92km - 2600m ascent

Our first, our second, and our last sleep were to be experienced in this leg but I am still claiming I sat in my chamois for 24 hours! The first third of the ride proved to be fast and easy-going… although our teammate Terence was suffering from sleep monsters. Alex tried to scare them away by singing school war cries and naming countries and capital cities. The second third was followed by mist and a sunrise doing its best to greet us. This made the navigation tricky. The sun eventually greeted us just in time for a hike-a-bike that seemed to never end, and they never end. My ankles were still a little eina from our first trek and so going straight up the mountain meant my teammates were more often than not helping me push, pull or carry my bike. This was not doing wonders for my badassness. When we eventually got to the top we saw the most magical waterfalls on one side of the mountain. It was the big feeling of being small. I hadn’t really stopped to take in much of this view up until we reached the top. But when I finally did - it was magic. Going down greeted us with boulders, very technical terrain, and my only tears of the race. I stopped, completely overwhelmed that somehow I had done the first part of this descent… so brilliantly. I wasn't sure where it came from but maybe being tired stopped me from overthinking. Inevitability, my nervousness then kicked in. I needed multiple stops to remind myself that this descent was crazy, but so am I. Talk about breaking physical and mental barriers! The last third of the bike went through more forests, along rivers, through rivers and bushes, over fences, back up mountains, more hike-a-bike, twists, turns, and a bike derailleur coming off Terence’s bike. Eventually, we arrived at transition. In my mind, this made for a pretty warm welcome. Oh, I forgot to mention - we had to carry 36 hours of gear and food. This whole time we had our trekking gear in our bags. Hectic? Ya, I thought so too!


Leg 5 - Trek - 42km - 2200m ascent


We chose to change this route and go out for an hour, cat-nap for 10 minutes and come back to transition. The purpose of this was to experience the transition and continue to work as a team. Alex slept like a baby for 10 minutes while the rest of us made sure he slept. It was my third night in a row and I was wired. The nighttime seemed to make me come alive, all senses alert, and something peaceful filled the air.


Leg 6 - Mountain bike - 31km -450m ascent


Our last leg started without Terence (due to his bike issue) and sent us home early as our second teammate Rob had another technical issue. As I lay on the ground waiting for our race organiser, Tweet, to collect us, these busy three days of memories were running through my head in slow motion. In adventures like these, we are reminded that it is a rare occasion to both be processing what just happened and to still be living the adventure. These adventures allow me to create a life that sets my soul on fire. I feel my soul’s expansion by making this process sacred. When I journey I practice asking for my walls to be dropped and my heart to be uncovered. I name my desires and give thanks to all that I have been given. It is an opportunity to really receive what we are receiving. When grace grows, miracles will grow, we are surrounded by gifts. It is clear that nothing is for certain - except that life’s been given to us. In most ways, the concept of time is lived quite differently. The point of power is always in the present moment. All we have is all we need. Breathe lifts us into our freedom. In the mountains, on an adventure, I feel most alive, I resonate and move as one with my teammates. The noise of the world becomes quiet. All that matters is this very moment of living, being, and moving forward. This is my ‘why.’


All Images ©Vuurtoring