Sing-alongs and head games inspired Kowie race winners

David Macgregor

AFTER just three hours’ sleep in three days, the winners of the gruelling 500km Sunshine Coast extreme adventure race told yesterday how nursery rhyme sing-alongs had helped get them to the finish line.

Team Merrell Adventure Addicts captain Graham Bird, 40, said he had started singing a modified version of the popular The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round during a particularly challenging river paddle to keep possible sleep deprivation hallucinations at bay.

“I sang the wheels on the bicycle go round and round,” he quipped.

Not to be outdone, Craig Carter- Brown, 30, chipped in with how he and fellow teammates Donovan Sims, 38, and Tatum Prins, 34, had changed the “Grannies on the bus go knit, knit, knit” chorus to suit other aspects of the race.

Although they finished the self- navigate mountain bike, bush trek and kayak race in less than three days – a staggering 12 hours ahead of the second-placed Red Ants team – the seasoned Adventure Addicts said they were inspired to keep going by the back-marker teams.

“We were out there for only a few hours, they have been out there for days,” Bird said.

While the winners finished in 65 hours, late on Wednesday night, teams bringing up the rear – like Team Nyamazela (“back markers” in Xhosa) – were only expected at the Port Alfred finish today.

According to Sims, who lives in East London, just getting a four-man team to the starting line from all over the country required a huge effort.

Although the Expedition Africa Extreme Challenge was not the toughest race the Adventure Addicts had entered, Sims said it was definitely the most iconic.

During the race, the team came within metres of elephants and spotted a smorgasbord of game from rhino to bush buck and fish eagles as they criss-crossed Settler country.

By winning the race, the team has automatically qualified for the world champs later this year in France, but they are undecided whether they will compete and try to improve on their seventh-place finish last year.

Prins the first thing she looked forward to at the finish line was a long, hot shower, while all Carter-Brown wanted to do was put his head down on a pillow.

For Bird it was a phone call to his girlfriend, while Sims just wanted to “chill on a comfy sofa”.

The team members said although a person had to be physically fit to enter the race, making the finishing line was more about head games than actual superhuman abilities.

Battling blisters while trying to keep going in a body that just wanted to shut down was part of the attraction to adventure racing.

“You have to switch off and accept what is happening,” Sims said.

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