Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 158 May 2023 | Page 43

The heavy rains left the beaches strewn with debris
Some participant came prepared for a lot of water …
With a full belly and wet body , I was feeling cold as I left the lunch stop . The Nqabara River was big , so we swam calmly and consistently , but we were swept a few hundred metres with the current before reaching the other side . I felt grateful that we all had a dry bag to use as a flotation device as it became apparent that more swimming would be required . ( Later that day , the last 14 members of the herd decided not to cross this river and instead navigated a five-hour , 70km taxi journey through the flooding Transkei in order to reach Kob Inn that night . That was an adventure in itself !)
Many of the herd were Transkei locals , and some were running the WCC for the eighth time . One thing was sure – no-one had ever seen this much water before . Blind rivers had become torrents gushing into the sea , unnamed streams were now fast-flowing bodies of water , hillsides had transformed into waterfalls , molehills erupted into fountains before our eyes , aloes stood proud in waterlogged puddles , trying to keep their heads above water , and the beaches were littered with debris as a result of the flooding rivers . The Transkei was leaking water , and the runners made human chains to cross the fast-flowing rivers , trying to gain stability from
each other .

Taking it All in Stride

At Nqabara Jason from Alderson ’ s Ambulance welcomed us at the world ’ s largest rondavel with top class snacks . The WCC is advertised as an unsupported event , but these snacks push the event over into luxurious territory . By this stage , everyone was thoroughly wet , and a bit shaken at the amount of water and the strength at which the rivers were pushing .
Eight kilometres before our destination , Kob Inn , we arrived at the Shixini River , the meeting place of three watercourses and by far the widest , most powerful river of the day . We took the advice of the group in front of us , which involved walking far upstream , crossing to an island and finally floating downriver about 400m into an eddy , where we had to engage maximum exertion to launch ourselves on to the far bank . Before leaving , we ensured that those behind us knew what route to follow . The life lesson we all learnt on this wild day was that you are not in control , the water is in control , and your best chance is to be as calm as possible and let the water take you to the other side .
… and plenty of water is exactly what they got !
The strong-flowing rivers meant crossings required a group effort