Media Release: Southern Storm sweeps the Garden Route
Six days of tempestuous action came to a head on Thursday September 23, when the Southern Storm Duathlon, presented by Hi-Tec, reached its climax near the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) on the Garden Route. After nearly a week of gruelling off-road running and biking, competitors and organisers alike lauded an unprecedented double win for Ian Don Wauchope and his wife Sue.
The Wauchopes, who hail from KwaZulu-Natal, entered the Male and Female categories less than a month before the start of the Southern Storm after receiving sponsorship from Hi-Tec. “I did not think I was fit enough for an event of this magnitude”, said Ian after his victory, “but it’s a special feeling to have performed so well against some of the best multi-sport athletes in the country”.
Both Wauchopes broadcast an early ‘storm warning’ during the Prologue Stage, and went on to utterly dominate the inaugural Otter African Trail Run, Stage One of the Southern Storm. Approximately 180 athletes joined them as they raced for glory along the 5-day Otter Hiking Trail after a historic agreement was reached between the event organisers, Magnetic South, and the management of SANParks.
Rugged terrain, breathtaking panoramas and an elite field of athletes did not distract Ian and Sue Wauchope for one moment as they blistered home to claim top honours in their respective categories. In the process, Ian managed to pull off what many thought to be impossible: he ran the 42km route in 4hrs 59min 02sec, thus breaking the magical 5-hour barrier. Sue carried the Hi-Tec banner high as well, setting the standard for future ladies’ champions at a lofty 5hrs 58min.
Anyone who thought the racing was going to get easier after this was in for a rather rough ride. Day 3 saw the competitors duelling it out along a technical trail run on the Robberg Peninsula, before immediately transitioning to their mountain bikes for a relentless ride to Diepwalle Forest Station, set high within the surrounding Garden Route peaks.
Days 4 and 5 followed suit, with the athletes gritting their teeth as they forced mind, body and spirit to withstand the strain of no-holds-barred racing. “On average, we are spending an hour on our feet and 3 hours in the saddle every day, and this after a 6-hours trail run on Day One”, smiled a tired Sue Wauchope in Buffels Bay at the end of Day 4.
Although both the Wauchopes retained their yellow jerseys for the duration of the Hi-Tec Southern Storm, it was certainly not due to a lack of challengers. Well-known mountain biker Hanlie Booyens forced a stage win on Day 2, while Dawid Labuschagne and Cas van Aardenne consistently attacked Ian during crucial race stages in an effort to unseat him from the Southern Storm throne.
Day 6 proved the toughest day of the event, consisting of an energy-sapping, 12km trail run through Goukamma Nature Reserve, before transitioning into a staggered Run-Bike-Run Stage to the Ebb & Flow Camp at Wilderness.
At the end Iain Don Wauchope won the Southern Storm in an overall time of 19hours 05 minutes 37 seconds. A strong overall performance by Dawid Labuschagne saw him claim second position in front of van Aardenne, while Sue Don Wauchope won the race in the female category in a time of 22 hours 11 minutes and 55 seconds. Second and third places in the female category went to Kirsty Scott and Christine Woods respectively. In the Veterans Category, Comrades legend Nick Bester and Rhona Zonnestein walked away with the spoils.
“Great events do not just happen. They are created by a team of committed people whose vision extends beyond the ordinary”, said Mark Collins or Magnetic South, the organisers of the Southern Storm. He thanked his team as well as sponsors Hi-Tec for making the event an unqualified success, but reserved his final thanks for the management of SANParks.
“Without their vision and assistance, our dream of presenting a multi-day duathlon within the Garden Route National Park would have remained just that: a dream”, he said. “But now we have laid the foundation for an environmentally sound and sustainable event. And we promise to stay to true to our core values of being ecologically sensitive, to market and promote the national park both within SA and beyond our borders, and to create long-term employment within the region”.
Shayne Vervoort, marketing manager of Hi-Tec, echoed Collins’ sentiments and pledged continued support to both the event and SANParks. “As the official footwear sponsor to National Parks, we value all efforts to make South Africa’s parks accessible to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. Sustainability of protected areas is intrinsically linked to communities enjoying the great outdoors, and Southern Storm has allowed a brand new generation of adventurer to immerse themselves within the splendour of this park”.
Jacques Marais Media: Cell: 083 444 5369 or Tel: (021) 78 22 849, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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