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Kgalagadi to Augrabies Extreme Marathon
The Kgalagadi to Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) of 252 kms recently took place over 7 days (including a mandatory rest day). The tone was set from the very first day when the 34 extreme athletes from 9 countries set off in temperatures that steadily climbed to 46 degrees celcius.
A deputy sheriff from America, Chuck Walker, was the eventual men's winner in just under 30 hours. Louise Lambrects led the ladies home. 63-year-old Anne Centner ( member of the Southern Cape Honorary Rangers) was another strong contender as well as being the oldest female athlete ever to finish the event. She accomplished this in just under 60 hours.
The race, affectionately known as the “Big Daddy” of trail running events, requires athletes to be self-sufficient and carry all their own supplies, bedding and food for the duration of the race, over often rocky and rough terrain. The only 'outside' assistance permitted is the supply of additional water at the designated check points aproximately 10 kms apart (where the honorary rangers helped out) and of course medical assistance for many blistered feet and dehydrated bodies. With a total of 14 withdrawals, this year’s Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon ranks amongst one of the toughest.
Symbolically on the seventh and final day of the event, the heavens served up a spectacular desert storm to usher the athletes out of their last camp and onto the last stretch of the race. "It is an amazing race, and the folk involved are incredible and possibly mad" jokes J.J. van Rensburg, chairperson of the Southern Cape Honorary Rangers, "but guaranteed, many of them will be back again next year to take on the desert once again".