The first 12 hours in an adventure race is for me the worst, it is going a bit too fast and all the teams including us are a bit stressed. It is so much nicer the longer the race is going on. For me the challenge is the mental to make the team work together and be able to take good decisions even if you are physically tired and are very sleep deprivated. During a race that is 5 days we sleep about 8 hours all together if everything goes well.

By Mats Andersson:

In the beginning of August my team, Bjurfors Adventure Racing went to East London in South Africa to race in an Adventure Racing World Series race calledThe Bull of Africa. Two days before the start we got the maps and the course. The whole race is like a long orienteering race with checkpoints that we need to pass.In the middle of the night the 9th of August we left the coast to go inland for a few hours to the start line. It was a very cold morning, clear blue sky and around -2 degrees Celsius.The first part of the course was very fast, starting with a short run of 10 km, followed by a 20 km mountain bike down to the Katriver Dam where we had a 20km paddle. After the paddle we jumped on to our bikes again and went of into the mountains. After another 20 km we reached the checkpoint which I was verymuch looking forward to. The first long trekking, which was 70 km and in the mountains.


Photo © Anja Aucamp

We had been pushing on good during the first hours and went of into the mountains just 30 minutes after the leaders Buff from Spain. The nights in SouthAfrica are very long and we had darkness during 12 hours. It was very nice to have the new “Ultra” for the orienteering. When we trek we use one “Ultra” andthe other 3 team members use a “Tikka XP”. At the first checkpoint on the trekking we had caught up with Buff that was leading, we continued together andpushed eachother to keep up a good speed. It went very well and after about 7 hours we reached a checkpoint that was manned. We thought we were leading butwe were 6th and 7th and about 3,5 hours after leading USN from South Africa.We now realised they had taken a very good route choice compared to us. We tried to keep up the speed even if we were a bit disappointed.

We had now raced for 24 hours and had not slept anything, but the sun was out and we had reached the end of the trekking and was about to start amountainbike leg so we were full of energy. The biking was about 50 km to another dam were we had a paddling section. We reached the dam in theafternoon and was able to finish the paddling just before it was dark. We then decided to take our first sleep after 36 hours of racing. We slept very good for 2,5 hours. After the sleep we started a new biking in the night and all 4 of us put on our “Ultra” lamps and went away full of energy after the sleep.At this stage of the race you do not count hours anymore it is either day or night. The focus is to help each other to keep up the speed and concentrate on the next checkpoint. Which wasn’t easy all time as the trails on the maps sometimes existed and sometimes not. We had to navigate more on general direction and guess which trail would be the good one. We didn’t do many mistakes and reach the coast as the 4th team about 5,5 hours after USN that was leading and only 2 hours after 3rd and 1 hour after 4th team.


Photo © Anja Aucamp

We set of following the coast line , it was a 35 km long beach walk. It was an extremely beautiful walk along the coast which is called the “Wild Coast”. After just some km we passed the 4th team Cyanosis from South Africa and we were now on a 3rd place. Our maps only took us to the end of the beach trek and from there we got the end of the course. Which we had a guess that it would be about another 24 hours.


Photo © Anja Aucamp

When we reached the end of the trekking and got the last checkpoints for the course we had been racing for 3 ½ days and slept for about 5 hours. We decided to try and go on until the finish line without sleeping. We wanted to try and catch the two teams ahead of us. We went on and I started to feel very sleepy and had a hard time staying awake on the bike. Luckily we came to a rope section were only two persons had to rapell down into a canyon to get a checkpoint. It made me wake up a little bit as I had to swim in freezing cold water to punch the card at the checkpoint and then jumar back up out of the canyon. This made me wake up a little.Even if we pushed hard until the finish we never got to catch the other teams but one team had missed a checkpoint and we finished second after 4 ½ days ofracing.


Photo © Anja Aucamp

It was a great race with tricky navigation, well organised and great nature. Now we are very excited to go to the World Championship in Brazil in thebeginning of November and try to win.

Mats Andersson