Saturday, December 02, 2006

Day 2 - 45km Endurance Race

So day 2 of competition dawned at Hairy Lemon and it meant packing up everything in time to head back up to NRE at 10am ready for the toughest event of the competition – the endurance race from NRE all the way down to the Hairy Lemon which is a stretch of 45km involving serious white water and long flat stretches as well. We all had to race in pairs for safety the girls were being set off at 2.15pm and the boys half an hour later. A total of 10 teams entered the race, 3 girl’s teams, 1 mixed team and 6 boy’s teams. My partner was Rae and we had the plan that we’d just take things easy and see how we went. Becky and Chloe were favourites to win the women’s event – Becky is a sponsored paddler that I met in Norway a few years ago and Chloe is the video boater for the Adrift rafting company here. Andrea and Irene partnered up to be the third women’s pair and we all set off together past the huge crowd that had gathered to watch the start at Bujagali falls. The first half an hour or so incorporates the bulk of the rapids of the day one sections and is pretty fast, I lead the rapids as Rae hasn’t run that section of river since last year and we were pretty much paddling with Irene and Andrea while Chloe and Becky we not too far ahead. After Silverback rapid you hit a long section of flat water at the end of which is Overtime - a rocky rapid that a lot of people chose to portage. By the time we got there we were well and truly ready to stretch our legs so portaging was actually a welcome relief. After overtime the flat continues, and it begins to seem like the water is flowing back upstream, towards the end of this flat section I could see some of the men’s teams behind us in the distance. Bobugo Falls ends that flat section but straight away you’re back in a lake and it’s flat until Itanda. As we were nearing Itanda the boys were closer behind us and Rae and I forgot our own race and turned around to see which boys were leading. To our surprise they weren’t local Ugandan but Will and Sam powering along behind us. Just as we pulled into the eddy above Itanda they caught and we cheered them on as they ran their boats past the first part of Itanda before putting in and running bad place. We also portaged past the first part of Itanda before putting back in and skirting the bad place on the right, by now we could see Irene and Andrea in front of us again and a few local Ugandan guys were passing us but they didn’t seem to be in the their pairs- you had to be within 45 seconds of your partner at all times or you would be disqualified.
We began the day 2 section happy with the knowledge that most of the flat water was behind us and that Andrea and Irene weren’t too far ahead. After the first three rapids in day 2 we hit the flat water but unlike the sections before the flat water here was actually still flowing downstream, Rae and I settled into a steady pace gradually gaining on the girls in front. At the last rapids we were quite close and Irene was looking tired, we caught up to them just as they were getting out of their boats at the beach at Hairy Lemon and they started off sprinting the finish line which was the bar, unlikely to catch them on the sprint, Rae and I skipped up the Hairy Lemon to the bar to come in third in 3 hours and 35 minutes, 15 minutes behind the winning girls and one minute behind Andrea and Irene. In the end only two men’s teams finished due to disqualification and people pulling out so Sam and Will won in just under three hours and Anton and Adrian came second. (Becky singing at the Finish)
Then it was back to NRE again for a party… but somehow the day took it’s toll and collapsed into bed before midnight.


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