Words by Nikki Smit. Picture Heidi Muller.

Since Thursday morning local sports fans have been glued to their computer screens, tracking the progress of two local teams taking part in the Adventure Racing World Champs on the volcanic Reunion Island.
Unfortunately, one of these – the much loved Sanlam Painted Wolf Team, comprising John and Mark Collins along with Andre Gie and Robyn Owen had to pull out about 30 hours into the gruelling race due to injury, but Team Merrell Adventure Addicts, including locals Graham Bird and Hanno Smit, along with Traci Campbell and Grant Ross, has been performing exceptionally well, working their way up the leader-board with solid determination. At time of going to press (7am Wednesday 14 November) they were moving along in the highly commendable 19th place, with an estimated 24 hours left of racing.
The non-stop event covers some 425km, with a total elevation gain of 17310m (depending on how good one’s navigation is!)
The route is unmarked and teams are required to find their way old-school style, with a topographical map and a compass. Not quite as easy as it sounds, especially when the intended route is through areas with little to no roads or paths!
The route breakdown would be enough to give anyone sleepless nights, whether you are participating or just ‘dot watching’, a name given to a group of avid followers who find themselves glued to the screen for the duration of the event following the teams trackers!
In a video taken early on Monday morning of Team Merrell trekking along a rare piece of flat terrain, Traci Campbell said that it was hard to do just about anything such as eating or drinking whilst on the route, because they were always either bushwacking, climbing or falling!
The race started in Hell-Bourg.
Leg 1: Trekking with rope work sections – 106km and a whopping, body-crunching 7620m of elevation gain! This trek takes them around the Piton des Neiges.
Leg 2: Pack-rafting with rope-work sections (a pack-raft is a fold-up inflatable canoe type of craft, weighing about 4kg, that teams have to carry with them on the pack-rafting legs and inflate or deflate, paddle or carry as the terrain or water level requires. They also have to carry paddles, wetsuits and climbing gear, making their backpacks heavy accessories!) – 45km with 710m elevation gain.
Leg 3: Mountain biking – 41km, 880m Elevation gain.
Leg 4: Trek and Mountain biking – 27km, 330m elevation gain. This leg is a mixture of biking and trekking.
Leg 5: Trekking – 32km, with yet another body-crunching 3150m elevation gain, skirting the Piton de la Fournaise.
Leg 6: Mountain biking with a trekking section and caving section – 51km, 760m elevation gain. This section has quite a serious hike a bike section where team’s bikes will be ‘disabled’ and have to be carried.
Leg 6: Trek with rope work sections – 3km 20m elevation gain
Leg 7: Kayak 37km. The only flat piece on the profile picture!!!
Leg 8: Mountain bike – 77km with 2830m elevation gain
Leg 9: Trek with Pack-raft – 5km
Finish: L Hermitage Les Bains
Strategy in this race is everything. Teams are required to log 12hrs of sleep for the duration of the event at Transitions and Check Points. This is recorded on a sleep card. There are also numerous ‘dark zones’, where it is deemed too dangerous to continue in the dark. Getting to a dark zone at the wrong time could cost hours and ultimately a podium position, or possibly even the missing of cut-off points along the route, resulting in teams being short-coursed.
59 Mixed gender teams, six from South Africa, lined up at the start last Thursday to begin the gruelling event.
There were those who had no choice but to pull out along the way due to injury and exhaustion, others got short-coursed after not reaching designated checkpoints within set times, but some pushed on – and will no doubt continue to do so until they cross the finish line.
First of the 10 teams who had finished at time of going to press was New Zealand’s Avaya, the reigning champions for the last four years. They won the race convincingly, finishing the 460km course in 117 hours and one minute.
Teams can be tracked at http://live.arworldseries.com/arwc18/
For race articles, pictures and videos: find Adventure Racing World Series on Facebook.

JOB LOSSES AFTER FIRE TO HAVE HUGE IMPACT

(picture from www.geelhoutvlei.co.za)

While the flames have mostly subsided and mop up operations continue, the tragic reality of the fires in the Garden Route is hitting home. The community in Farleigh mourns alongside the family of the two adults and six children who died in the blaze. Everyone is battling to come to terms with the heartbreak of this loss.
Those whose homes were burned are faced with starting all over again, thankfully with the assistance of the charitable groups and businesses who are stepping up to help.
According to maps provided by SANParks the total burn scar in the Garden Route was 104 500 hectares, 75 400 of which was in the Wilderness and Knysna areas.
After the tragic loss of life, surely the biggest long-term impact of the fires that will be felt for many years to come is the loss of jobs for those living in the poorer communities.
The Monday 29 October total destruction by fire of Dave Metelerkamp’s Geelhoutvlei sawmill, farm and homestead is by far the biggest and most widely impacting example of this.
With over four hundred employees and thus thousands of dependants, 90% of whom come from very poor communities, recovery from this loss will be close to impossible.
Whilst the Metelerkamp family is grateful that their workforce managed to escape with no major physical harm, they are understandably devastated by the desperate outlook for the future of each and every employee.
In an attempt to provide assistance for them the Metelerkamps have set up the Geelhoutvlei Disaster Relief campaign with an office established at Suite 8, Plum Tree Trading Post (Corner of Duiwe Avenue and Main Street, Sedgefield).
They have also met with Gift of the Givers, and engaged with the Premier of the Western Cape.
Should anyone wish to assist financially they may use the following Gift of the Givers
bank account :
Standard Bank Pietermaritzburg Branch
Account Number: 052137228
Branch Code: 057525
Reference: Geelhoutvlei Timbers Disaster Relief
“More than anything else, our employees need employment. We have wonderful, disciplined and hardworking staff looking for placement. Please contact 063 251 5465 to discuss individual skill sets,” says Dave Metelerkamp.

WELCOME BACK, PARAGLIDERS

As many Sedgefielders will undoubtedly have noticed over last weekend – the paragliders are once again filling our skies with colour. This after Sedgeview, the launch-site also known as ‘Cloud 9’ was reopened to the gliders and indeed the public on Saturday 10 November.

But the opening does come with certain stipulations and an overall rider that all users understand that the site is privately owned, and thus to be treated with respect, obeying all the rules and regulations that have been put in place.

The site was closed on 1 September by the owner Michael Rohwer, who at the time said that certain stipulations had not been met with regards the efficient management of the site. Since then he has sat around the table with members of the paragliding fraternity to find a way forward.

According to Jorg Bueble, a paragliding school owner who represented the flyers in the discussions, the land-owner’s chief concerns were the general management of the site, the question of liability for both paragliders and spectators, insurance, safety on the site and fire risk.

In order to shoulder much of this responsibility, the Eden Flyers’ Club has been formed to lease the land and maintain the upkeep of the site. Bueble believes that with the co-operation of the public, things should now run smoothly.

“Sometimes, if things taken for granted are taken away, they return in the light of more appreciation. To be able to enjoy access to Sedgeview without limitations in the future, there has to be a few duties and responsibilities attached to any and all visitors to the site,” he said.

The fact that Sedgeview is not a fenced or gated property does, however, make it difficult for the club to enforce the rules set by the owners 24/7, as the public has free access. This is where the paragliding club is asking for members of the public to not only abide by the site rules themselves, but also to advise others who might inadvertently be breaking them.
“It cannot be stressed enough that it is every single person’s responsibility to tap the person next to him on the shoulder, and point out if rules are being breached,” he said. “While the paragliding pilots and their visitors will make sure that the requests will be followed while paragliding activity is taking place, on a day where there is no flying, this part needs to be taken over by the non-flying public visiting the premises. In other words, a joint effort of all Sedgeview visitors.”

He went on to say that the rules are mainly common sense and would be considered common courtesy in any public place.
“There is absolutely no smoking or open fire of any kind permitted on site,” he explained. This includes any form of braais – even gas skottels, and is especially important now with the recent devastating fires in our area.

Bueble also touched on the problem of litter, saying that though there are bins provided, visitors should remember that these receptacles are not large enough to hold masses of rubbish. So should anyone visit Sedgeview for a picnic, they should rather take their refuse home with them instead of cramming it into the bins.
“And please, if you find litter on the ground, help us by picking it up,” he suggested.

Another request was that the site definitely not be used as a party venue or a place for excessive alcohol consumption.
“Simply put, please respect this site as private property and treat it this way at all times. Let’s keep this a beautiful place, a reflection of our beautiful town,” he asked. “Sedgeview is a site like no other. A privately owned property that is freely accessible. Something rarely found nowadays. Let’s meet on top, watch the paragliders take off and enjoy the view while the sun sets. We can work together to keep this a gem to visit, for us locals and our visitors.”

He said there will be a signboard erected at Sedgeview with the club’s cell number so that any problems may be reported directly to them.

You can find more info at www.sedgeview.co.za

LOCAL TEAMS IN 2018 AR WORLD CHAMPS

(Picture:- Two years ago the Sanlam Painted Wolves shocked the adventure racing world by coming 4th in the 2016 World Championships. Can they match or better that position this year?)

Two well known local adventure racing teams – Merrell Adventure Addicts and Sanlam Painted Wolf  – are ready in the starting blocks of the Adventure Racing World Championships (ARWC) on Reunion Island, and over the next week ‘dot watchers’ will be monitoring their progress online (click here for the page), no doubt with much excitement and more than a little nail-biting. The Merrell Team includes Graham Bird, Grant Ross, Tracey Campbell and Hanno Smit (who has only just finished fighting the fires that threatened his home and timber business in Elandskraal), whilst the famous Collins brothers Mark and John are running with the Painted Wolves, along with Andre Gie and Robin Owen. 

This exceptional event will welcome 65 international teams from 21 nations to a spectacular start line on the Indian Ocean Island (a French territory). Reunion has a tropical climate, dense forests and active volcanoes and teams will compete on a non-stop course between 5 and 8 days, over 450km with disciplines including trekking, MTB, kayaking, packraftng, caving and canyoning.

The very best adventure athletes in the world will be attending, including nine teams in the world top 15 ranking lead by the current title holders and world number one team, Avaya (New Zealand). The top French team are Naturex, 4th in the ARWS ranking, and other qualifiers who have won a World Series race this year are Bones (United-States), Tri Adventure Antelopes (Australia), Columbia (Spain), BlizzarTri-Adventured Movistar-Terra Aventura (Equator),

The AR World Championships is a race without comparison, an intense competition for experienced athletes and enthusiastic amateurs who are motivated to take on the challenge. Adventure races offer an immersion in nature that is unique and appeals to strong human values – versatility, autonomy, dynamism and generosity – all essential for a team to progress to the finish line together.

Patron To Start the Race in a Volcanic Crater

The start of this exceptional sporting event will be in the village of Hell-Bourg, in the Cirque de Salazie. This is one of the main volcanic craters on the island and Hell-Bourg is listed among the ‘most beautiful villages in France’ … the only one not on the mainland. It’s a spa town with lush vegetation and heritage architecture, surrounded by the steep rock walls of the crater.

The race will be started by its patron, Jackson Richardson. Born in Saint-Pierre on Reunion Island, Jackson is a former handball international who was voted the best player in the world in 2001 and was a flag carrier at the Olympic Games in Athens. He has generously decided to support and invest in the race and will be present all through the event.

You can see a video interview with him here. https://goo.gl/5UkVmE and find out more about the race at www.raidinfrance.com

 

About the Adventure Racing World Championship

The Adventure Racing World Championship (ARWC) has been held each since 2001. It gathers the best teams from the AR World Series, which unites multi-sport raids from around the world. The series currently includes; Raid Gallaecia in Spain, Expedition Africa in South Africa, Cameco Cowboy Tough in the USA, XPD Expedition in Australia, Raid in France in France (this year, ARWC organiser), Huairasinchi in Ecuador, ITERA in United-Kingdom, the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in Belize, Expedition Guarani in Paraguay and finally, the Nordic Islands race in Sweden. Each one of these rounds qualifies the winners to the grand final, the Adventure Racing World Championship (ARWC).

For more information on the AR World Series:

Website https://arworldseries.com/

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/arworldseries/

Twitter https://twitter.com/ARWorldSeries

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/arworldseries

#arworldseries #arws #adventureracing #dotwatcher

Released 6 Aug 2018 by Rob Howard of Sleepmonsters, re-written from Raid in France

MUNICIPAL MANAGER SLAMS DETRACTORS

“An alleged statement on social media and/or actions of an individual cannot erode the selfless work and support of hundreds of volunteers from all sectors of society.”

Greater Knysna residents were still reeling from the 7 June 2017 fires when the next devastation swept through the region on 30 October. According to Garden Route District Municipality, Head of disaster management, Gerard Otto, this fire formed part of a fire that “is by far the country’s biggest fire in a populated area to have occurred”.  The fire burnt a width of 35kms and along 180kms.

Knysna Acting Municipal Manager, Johnny Douglas, expressed his extreme gratitude to all who raced to once again, give of themselves to assist those who suffered as a result of this inferno. “We are once again humbled by the selflessness of our residents and other stakeholders who didn’t hesitate for one moment in offering their much-needed assistance.

“Our thanks must go to so many organisations who stepped in to assist. There are far too many to name by name, but Rebuild Eden in Sedgefield, Gift of the Givers, and KAWS spring to mind. I must commend them and everyone else who has been such a tremendous help in assisting the traumatised victims, firefighting personnel, animals and, not forgetting our bees.”

The Gift of the Givers’ team taking care of threatened bees visited various sites in the Greater Knysna corridor on 30 October and relocated 27 beehives to the Gift of the Givers Bee Rehabilitation Centre in Knysna. They alone rescued around two million bees that were already under threat.

Douglas expressed his dismay at the political opportunism that has reared its ugly head during this crisis. “I am sickened by the accusations of racism by several members of the public, especially from people who do not even live within the borders of Greater Knysna and have no idea of what residents have been offering and doing to help those in need.

“An alleged statement on social media and/or actions of an individual cannot erode the selfless work and support of hundreds of volunteers from all sectors of society.

“I have only witnessed kindness and concern by all the volunteers, no matter their colour or creed, and for uninvolved people to stand on the perimeter, with their hands in their pockets doing absolutely nothing to help, but making racist allegations leaves me saddened and sick to the stomach,” said Douglas.

In closing he invites those detractors to roll up their sleeves, step up to the plate and offer help, instead of making false allegations. “I will leave you to contemplate the words of Mahatma Gandhi: ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’. So I challenge you to offer your assistance where most needed and experience the exhilaration of giving of yourself to help others.”

8 LIVES LOST IN FARLEIGH BLAZE

(Picture:- The storage shed of Ezigro Nursery in Karatara, just below Farleigh, succumbed to the intense flames as the blaze swept through the
rural area. Taken by Nursery Manager Don Smith.)

An official report from Garden Route District’s Joint Operations Centre has released the tragic news that eight people died in Farleigh on Monday 29 October. This as a result of the runaway blaze that swept through the rural area. Six of the deceased were children, and all eight are reported to have been from the same extended family.
The next of kin have been informed, and the victims’ names released by the South African Police Service (SAPS), who have also confirmed that a docket had been opened to investigate the matter.
Their names are Elsabe Windvogel (42), Ethan Windvogel (2), Eljade Windvogel (12), Andrea Bewee (21), Nalaya Oelf (5), Niah Oelf (3), Aliyah Oelf (13 months) and Nalani Oelf (11 months).
It is believed that the victims were all in the same house at the time of the tragedy.
Information received thus far is that the fire also destroyed 13 houses in Farleigh and Bosdorp, the Geelhoutvlei Timbers sawmill, the main water pipeline and two storage sheds in the Ezigro Forestry Nursery, and various plantations.
The blaze had been burning for some days on the inaccessible slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains above Karatara, where it had been closely monitored by SANParks and Sedgefield Fire Department, with the assistance of aerial resources. Whilst extinguishing it was not possible, fire-breaks had been cut and back-burns initiated in an effort to prevent any further spread.
By mid-afternoon on Monday, just when everyone was breathing a cautious sigh of relief that fires burning in Herold, George, seemed to at last be under control, the winds in Karatara suddenly picked up speed. Despite the combined efforts of firefighters and the SANParks crew, the flames could not be contained and evacuation was the only choice.
Dense smoke added chaos to the already difficult task, and whilst most of the residents of Karatara’s Bosdorp were moved to the Community Hall, it wasn’t possible to enforce a full evacuation of Farleigh before the flames engulfed some of the homes. This is when the tragic deaths occurred.
The fire spread into the Kraaibosch farming community, then slowed, and it was hoped that rain would end its run, but at 4 am on Tuesday morning extremely windy conditions prevailed and the blaze continued on into the daylight of Tuesday. Fortunately, this time the wind direction worked in favour of the more populated areas, and kept the fires on the northern side of the Keurhoek and Bibby’s Hoek communities near Rheenendal. Both areas were evacuated as a precautionary measure, and though residents looked uneasily at the billowing smoke on the horizon, at time of going to press it seemed that neither of the communities had suffered any damage.
Meanwhile, the challenge to assist those who have lost their homes and the evacuees, 840 according to Knysna Municipality, has been met by local volunteers with their usual determination.
It was a serious case of déjà vu in the Sedgefield Community Hall, with the Rebuild Eden team out in force to coordinate assistance and the local residents pouring in to do whatever they could to help.
The Municipality also opened the community halls in Brenton, Karatara, and Hornlee, and Totties Restaurant and Ebb n Flow Camp agreed to help with accommodating displaced people.
Knysna Executive Mayor Mark Willemse was heartbroken at the news of the Farleigh deaths.
“A mere 16 months ago, Greater Knysna was rocked by the horrific 7 June fires, and we all hoped and prayed that we would never again have to witness such devastation,” he said, “Today, we are once again forced to face more tragic deaths caused by the scourge of veld fires. My sincere condolences and sympathies go out to their relatives, colleagues and loved ones during this very tragic time.”
The EDGE Team would also like to offer our heartfelt sympathy to the Oelf, Windvogel and Bewee families. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
On behalf of the Garden Route community, we wholeheartedly salute the valiant and tireless efforts of all those working on the ‘war-front’ – be they firefighters, SANParks crew or volunteers.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

ADVENTURE TOURISM INDABA & EXPO IN WILDERNESS

Words by Tisha Steyn

George, Garden Route – The first ever Garden Route Adventure Tourism Indaba and Expo is taking place at Wilderness Hotel and on the Map of Africa on 26 and 27 October 2018.

“The aim of the Indaba and Expo is to establish the Garden Route as the most popular adventure tourism destination in the world,” said Alewjn Dippenaar of Thousand Sensations, which is presenting the two-day event in cooperation with Interface Goji PR & Events and Duke Air.

According to Dippenaar, there are more than 100 discernable adventure activities on offer between Riversdale, Tsitsikamma, and Prince Albert. “Adventure tourism is based on activities on land and on water, in the air and with animals. Some tourists prefer activities, such as skydiving or rock climbing which provide an adrenaline rush, while others prefer to participate in less dramatic activities, such as hiking and bird watching.”

“The Garden Route offers an amazing variety of activities with loads of opportunities for both groups to experience the breathtaking natural beauty of the area.”

Indaba

Friday 26 October 09:00 – 13:00 at Wilderness Hotel

Indoors exhibition at the hotel from 14:00 – 20:00

 

Topics to be discussed at the Indaba, with the theme The Future of Adventure Tourism in the Garden Route, include closer cooperation between landowners and adventure tourism entrepreneurs; the socio-economic contribution of adventure tourism to the Garden Route; the value of modern technology and social media in adventure tourism; national and international tourism tendencies and markets; and challenges regarding safety in adventure tourism.

Interactive Outdoors Exhibition and Activities

Saturday 27 October 08-18:00: Woodifields on the Map of Africa in Wilderness

An array of adventure tourism exhibitions and activities in which the public can participate are on offer. Food and drink stalls and live music shows all day long. There are camping sites available on the Map of Africa.

Venue:  Outdoors exhibition and adventure activities at Woodifields Conservancy (entrance opposite entrance to Nelson Mandela University Saasveld campus)

Entrance Fees

Friday: Indaba at Wilderness Hotel R250 per person, includes lunch;

Indoor exhibition: Entrance free

Saturday: Outdoors exhibition and adventure activities at Woodfields:

Adults R80, children R20 (over 12), children younger than 12 enters free

 

Contact Alewijn Dippenaar at 082 457 5675   or dyndev@mweb.co.za and  Mimi Finestone at 084 583 3144 or mimi@gojipr.net for more information.

RETTO RECORDS OBLITERATED AT THE 2018 OTTER AFRICAN TRAIL RACE 


STORM’S RIVER MOUTH REST CAMP, SOUTH AFRICA — This weekend, the 10th running of the Otter African Trail Run hosted the Grand Finale of the inaugural Golden Trail Series on Saturday 20 October, which brought together the world’s top 10 men and women marathon distance trail runners to compete not only for the prestigious Otter title, but the Golden Series trophies too. With so many elite athletes taking to the course, it wasn’t a matter of if, but rather how many would run under the existing record time. It was a day of new course records, surprise withdrawals, incredible performances and all-around fantastic entertainment.

In the Men’s race, Polish runner Bartlomiej Przedwojewski took the lead from the start. The Bloukrans River crossing did little to slow him down, and by the halfway point he had gained a four-minute lead. “The whole time I was running I thought the group behind me were going to catch me. I thought they were thirty seconds from me for the whole race, so I just tried to run as fast as I could.” He maintained his lead all the way to the finish line at Storm’s River Rest Camp, obliterating the existing record by fourteen minutes and setting a new RETTO record of 3:40:48,32. “I can’t believe that I ran in the new record time, I just can’t believe it,” he said.

Behind him, the field raced for the remaining two spots on the podium. Trail running superstar, and favourite to win not only the Otter Trail but the Golden Trail Series too, Kilian Jornet, was forced to withdraw within the first 10km due to a hip injury he has been battling for several weeks, leaving the race wide open. Marc Lauenstein, the RETTO and OTTER record holder, had a rough start to the race, but after a mid-way pep talk moved up the field to finish in second place, ten minutes behind Przedwojewski. The Swiss trail runner was ecstatic to be back in South Africa and has confirmed he’d like to come back and race again. He finished in a time of 3:50:22,12. Third place went to Spain’s Oriol Cardona, who ran consistently over the 42km route. He finished in a time of 3:51:59,4.

First South African’s over the route certainly gave the crowd a show in what can be considered one of the better sprint finishes at the end of a marathon! It was Robbie Rorich who sped over the finish line split seconds ahead of Rory Scheffer to finish 8th and 9th respectively, Rorich setting fastest South African time on the RETTO route. Last year’s winner, Christiaan Greyling finished 10th.

The Women’s race was equally exciting, Italy’s Silvia Rampazzo and South Africa’s Toni McCann playing tag for the front spot during the first half. The undulating stairs got the better of Rampazzo just after halfway, giving McCann an opportunity to make a move. She held onto the lead until the 30km mark, where the UK’s Holly Page caught and passed her. Page, who went into today’s race as a tourist to, in her own words, ‘soak in the beauty of the trails,’ started conservatively but slowly worked her way up the field. “My watch seemed to have malfunctioned, so I thought I had 3km to go, but I had 10km to go, so I ran past all the water points thinking I was nearly there wondering where all the rocks were that everyone kept talking about, but they never came. I gave it my all in the last section,” said Page. Her efforts got her across the finish line first setting a new woman’s RETTO record, in a time of 4:37:48,87. “To break Robyn (Owen)’s record was a surprise. She is super strong, so the whole time I actually kept thinking she was going to come along and overtake me. She is great so to beat that record is really cool.”

Despite New Zealander Ruth Croft’s best efforts to chase Page down, she finished second just 34 seconds behind her in a time of 4:38:22,57. The real surprise of the day was McCann, who hung onto a podium position and finished third to the absolute delight of the local crowd. She crossed the finish line in tears, absolutely overwhelmed at her performance. “I never in my wildest dreams expected a result like today. My intention has always been to go out and have fun, including today. It was so surreal out there, to have come third. I was so emotional. It definitely makes me want to race Golden Series next year. If I can wrangle some funds together I definitely want to figure out how to go and race overseas next year,” she said. Meg McKenzie, who has raced the Golden Trail Series this year, finished sixth.

In addition to the honor of being crowned Otter Trail champion, at stake at the Otter was the season-long title for the Golden Trail Series. The top-10 athletes who qualified for a weeklong trip to South Africa were determined by their results in the first five races of the season, with each needing to start at least three Golden Trail Series races in order to be eligible for the final. The men’s and women’s GTS champions were determined by each athlete’s top three performances in the first five races of the series, plus his/her result at the Otter Trail.

Ruth Croft and Norway’s Stian Angermund-Vik became the first-ever season-long Golden Trail Series champions and were crowned at the final awards ceremony. For Angermund-Vik, the Series win was a bit hollow with Jornet pulling out due to injury. Still, his consistent season against such top-tier talent earned him the overall prize. “I have not raced against this much talent all season ever before where you know every race is going to be tough,“ said Angermund-Vik. “We all know Kilian is the best runner, so winning because he is hurt is not the same. But it’s fun to see different people have their day, and today it was Przedwojewski. He just smashed us and I’m really happy for him. I loved the course and the way it changes up and down. It was one big smile from the beginning to the end.”

Ruth Croft was, like Angermund-Vik, a model of consistency throughout the Golden Trail Series. She won at the Marathon du Mont Blanc and was in the hunt just about everywhere else. At the Otter Trail she had another strong finish, besting everyone but Page. To win the Golden Trail Series season-long title was, she said, an accomplishment she is quite proud of.

The Golden Trail Series featured five most iconic “short-distance” trail races on the planet— Zegama Mountain Marathon in Spain’s Basque Country, the Marathon du Mont Blanc in Chamonix, Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland, Pikes Peak in Colorado and the Ring of Steall in the Scottish Highlands. The Grand Final will be held in a different country each year.

This year’s running of the Otter African Trail surpassed all expectations. Race Director, Mark Collins, was in his element to be able to share the Tsitsikamma National Park with the international athletes and RETTO runners. “This was in every way, without even hyping the event up, a world championship event with the best runners in the world. I had a big sense that you were witnessing history and witnessing the best of the best in action. Just seeing the guys on the course was phenomenal. Nothing quite prepares you for seeing the top 10 men and women in the world coming into Bloukrans like a pack of wolves.”

“As always, an event of this nature would be impossible without the support of our incredible sponsors, some of which have been with us for the entire 10 years,” Collins went on to say. “I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Salomon South Africa for their continuous support, as well as LiveU, and of course SANParks and the Garden Route National Park who without, this event would not exist.”

MYSTERIOUS MASS-FISH DIE OFF IN GROENVLEI

There was much concern last week when a massive amount of dead and dying fish began appearing in the shallow waters of Groenvlei (Lake Pleasant), just on the outskirts of Sedgefield. Groenvlei is a conservation-worthy lake because it represents a naturally rare ecosystem and has genetically distinct populations of two indigenous fish species (Estuarine round herring, Cape silverside) that are only found in this lake.
These indigenous fish species co-exist with several alien fish species that have established invasive populations in Groenvlei. Largemouth bass, Bluegill sunfish, Mozambique tilapia and Mosquitofish were legally stocked into Groenvlei by the old Inland fisheries section of the Cape Department of Nature Conservation many decades ago for angling purposes and to control mosquitos.
However, this unusual balance between indigenous and alien fish species was disturbed when carp were illegally stocked into Groenvlei in the 1990s. Whilst carp are a popular angling species, they are renowned worldwide for causing water quality problems through their destructive feeding habits. They have the ability to make clear water bodies such as Groenvlei more turbid with reduced aquatic plant beds, thereby changing the biodiversity and functioning of the aquatic food web.
Indications are that the growing numbers of carp may have been a participating factor in the fish die-off that occurred at Groenvlei last week. Fish started dying on Saturday 6 October in small numbers followed by a bigger fish die-off between 8 to 10 October, when substantial numbers of Largemouth bass, Bluegill sunfish and indigenous fishes died. CapeNature fish scientist Dean Impson and Dr Kevin Christison, a specialist fish disease scientist of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, visited Groenvlei to assess the extent of the fish die-off and attempt to understand why this incident is taking place.
During this visit, dead and decaying bass and bluegill were seen floating next to reed beds on the edge of Groenvlei, especially on its western shoreline. There were no newly found dead bass or bluegill, indicating that the major fish die-off had passed. Carp and tilapia seemed to be unaffected by the fish die-off. These are very hardy fishes, able to survive poor water quality conditions.
At this stage, there is not an obvious reason for the fish die-off. According to Dean Impson, fish die-offs are a worldwide phenomenon and are the result of natural and/or man-made factors. Mortality from natural causes is generally far more common and can be caused by many factors including oxygen depletion, toxic gases and substances, toxic algal blooms, turnover of the water column, sudden or excessive temperature changes, salinity changes, lightning, diseases and parasites. Bacterial kills are seldom sudden and there is usually a gradual build-up of fish losses. However, man-made factors can also cause fish die-offs, for example, the discharging of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals into water bodies that may act directly on the fish, or indirectly by, for example, resulting in a sudden decrease in available dissolved oxygen.
Water quality measurements by the Garden Route District Municipality and SANParks at the time of the fish die-off indicated poor water quality (e.g. low dissolved oxygen levels, 3.9 mg/L) and elevated water alkalinity (pH 9.2) in some of the shallow bays on the western shoreline. The combination of elevated pH and low dissolved oxygen is a known fish stressor. There was also a strong smell of what may have been hydrogen sulphide, a known fish toxicant, which is produced by decaying animal and plant material.
The increasing numbers of carp in Groenvlei are a major cause of concern for CapeNature. CapeNature approved an ongoing control programme of the carp using nets as well as bow-hunters operating under permit from CapeNature that will hopefully substantially reduce their numbers in the long term.
To better understand the impact of carp in the vlei, a post-doctoral study will start in 2019, under the leadership of Dr Olaf Weyl of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.
Members of the public are advised not to eat fish from Groenvlei, especially dead fish, until the fish die-off stops and conditions return to normal.

GO FLY A KITE

The 4th edition of the Eden Kite Festival takes place over the weekend of 20/21 October. It has expanded to a two-day event. Day 1 will take place on Saturday 20th October next to the Sasol Highway Garage on the N2. Day 2 is in Sedgefield on Sunday 21st October, at the Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market.

The addition of George to the festival was the brainchild of Donald Goldfain of the George Rotary Club, and Rotary has undertaken to organise the extra day. The event also has the full support of George Tourism.

This year sees some favourites return such as the Kite Team Challenge, an aerial battle between teams of 3 using traditional Japanese-style fighting kites. Teams are given training and tips from pro kiters and are given kites to fly. For the past 3 years it’s been the highlight of the festival, with teams of friends and from companies really getting into the heat of the battle!

Challenge your competitors or friends right now while there are still places left! At a cost of R350 per team, you will keep a learner in school for a month and have 2 hours of amazing fun. You can also switch team members between heats so get a group together of 3, 4, 5 or even 10 and get down to the festival!
Any team entering at George on 20th October gets an automatic entry to the competition at the Sedgefield part of the festival on 21st October.

There is also a competition for kites made from upcycled materials. Great prizes are in store for the best creations. They will be judged by international kite-flyers on creativity of design, workmanship, and flying ability. For materials think bin bags or shopping bags, newspapers, dowel sticks, bamboo… your imagination is the limit – but everything must be upcycled, not bought for your kite. For plans go to www.kiteplans.org.

With over 20 stalls in George and 60 in Sedge, plus jumping castles, live music, raffles, competitions and shows, there will be plenty to do and see on these family fun-filled days!

On Saturday evening, 20 October at 6:30 pm, there is “Come Fly With Me” – a performance by international virtuoso Cat Simoni. It will take place in the Octopus Garden Under the Sea at Scarab Village, N2 Sedgefield. Tickets at Sedgefield Info or at the gate. Cost R100.

The Eden Kite Festival is being sponsored by Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty of Sedgefield for the 2nd time. The organisers are very grateful for the support, which enables proceeds to go to Masithandane and not to cover the event costs of this big event.