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Training Log Archive: GD44

In the 1 days ending Apr 3:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Running1 21:11:47 54.55(2.6/h) 87.8(4.1/h) 4772
  Total1 21:11:47 54.55(23:19) 87.8(14:29) 4772

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Sunday Apr 3 #

11 AM

Running 21:11:47 [1] 87.8 km (4.1 kph) +4772m

Expedition Africa Lesotho 2022 - Leg 1 & 2

Leg 1 involved coaxing a donkey around the rural village of Semonkong and collecting bottles of beer from various checkpoints. We seemed to have one of the most reluctant donkeys there which meant that we were one of the last teams to finish this leg. This didn't matter to us at the time as we were using this as a tester for Ian F who hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days after arriving in Lesotho. It could potentially have been COVID but we didn't have LFT tests to determine if it was or not.

At the end of Leg 1, Ian said that he wanted to continue and see how he got on. :-) I was delighted with this but was concerned that he might become weak at a vulnerable time.

After a short run to the Semonkong Lodge, we received 4 A4 1:50k maps which we had to mark with the CP locations from the master map. I marked them up and asked Phil to double check them to make sure. We bought some local bread from the lodge and off we went. CPs1-4 were marked on Map 1. The start of Leg 2 involved trekking to the top of the canyon where the Maletsunyane Falls falls ~200m into the canyon below. We trekked down to near the base of the falls to collect CP3. We took a wrong track initially on the descent and the track faded out. We traversed across to the correct path to CP3 and then headed back the way we came in and down the canyon on the right side.

I suspect we were in approximately ~35th position at CP3 and we caught up and passed many teams on the next ~4km to CP4. This was sometime treacherous with big loose rocks falling down the steep sided canyon. One french team member cut his legs badly and was particularly worried about his safety on this section.

Our original route choice from CP4 to CP5 entailed staying on the west side of the river however I spotted an alternative whilst I was navigating and run this past Phil and Ian F. They agreed with my proposition to cross the river to the east side and use the village tracks, then drop back into the canyon to collect CP5 before the confluence with the Orange River. We were with another 5 or 6 teams in the village of Ha Ntlhasinye and it rained heavily. I called the team into an old ruin which had a roof to put on our waterproofs and eat some food. I had a tuna wrap!

All the teams appeared to have done the same at different locations in the same village so we seemed to rejoin at the top of a spur. Whilst the other teams descended directly down the spur, we headed back into the village for a short distance and went down the track which lead us down to a river tributary crossing and directly onto a track. All the other teams were to our left (closer to main river) at this point. We headed on and found an indistinct track down to the main river where we were looking to cross to the other side. We got bluffed out twice but then found a steep reentrant which was safe enough to get down. We crossed the main river together with the water up to our hips.

There was no track on the map up to the village tracks so we just headed up the steep slope until we hit one.

We effectively followed the village tracks on the eastern side of the river from hereonin. We lost it a few times but used compass and/or contoured to ensure that we were heading in the right direction. We did inadvertently miss some villages (e.g. Sefateng) because we followed a different track e.g. 32km to 35km. We did go through Ha Maluke but missed the next few.

We did manage to go through the villages of Ha Pelesa and Mahlokolo prior to descending back into the canyon to get CP5. There were a number of minor route choices down to CP5. We decided to take the safest but slightly longer route of following the track to the south of the ridge to reduce the risk of getting bluffed out off the ridge.

After collecting CP5 (which entailed crossing the river and back), we headed back up the same way we came down and tried to find the 'major' track up the northern bank of the Orange River. It's interesting to look back at our route because we clearly missed the 'major track' by a significant margin between 62km and 67km. We headed too far south (towards river) in this section. It is however interesting to see from Google Maps that there is no 'major track' on the ground where it was showed on the map. Perhaps we did take the 'right route'?

After finding the major track at 67km, it was relatively easy, particularly as the sun came up near this time.

We were interviewed by Craig Giese after coming out of the mini canyon and crossing the airstrip. Interview here:

We were the fourth fastest team on this leg (of those that were ranked at the end) - see below. The top three teams through that leg were ~5 hrs faster.

Race finish positionTeam#Team nameRace finish timeLeg 2 timeTA2 - entry time from Leg 2 trek
27400TEAM NATUREX84:4515:22Mon 4:06
435SEIKLUSHUNT-HONEYPOWER104:4515:52Mon 4:37
536ENDURANCELIFE UK105:1020:32Mon 9:28
332NORDISK100:1520:38Mon 9:25
724UK ADVENTURERS111:5521:46Mon 10:39
512MERRELL105:1023:01Mon 11:42

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