Imana Wild Ride comes of age in 2015 !
Sixteen years to celebrate “Out there alone, racing the tide” at the Imana Wild Ride which took place between the first to the sixth of August on the back of a full moon. Mother Nature played along providing ideal weather over the five days’ as participants soaked up the wonders of the wild coast between the Great Kei River and the Umngazi River. Big swells the previous week and an unusually wet season through winter for the Eastern Cape region had left the grasslands looking greener while the oceans had sucked back a lot of sand from the beaches, leaving rocks and wrecks exposed.
The double event format continued for the second year with continued success. It would seem the non-timed second event ‘Ride the Wave’ is the way to go as participants enjoyed the relaxed non-racing approach, allowing time to savour the sights while keeping a check on the tide to optimise river crossings at low tide. With no formal start time, teams were free to set off each day in their own time with the only time constraint being the turning of the tide. Crossing key rivers each day at low tide is critical. Under the guidance of co-race founder Glen Haw (aka Farmer Glen) the stronger teams were treated to the full-on services of a tour guide as they navigated the most trusted routes up the coast. For the rest of the newbies in the field it was a game of tracking or latch on to an experienced team to minimise the extra mileage between overnights, whilst ensuring sufficient refills at the local shabeens and swims in the ocean to refresh.
Three teams raced their hearts out at the front end of ‘Race the Tide’. Cape Town duo Craig Woods and Nic Lamond (RSAweb-Biogen) threw down the gauntlet taking an impressive five minute win on the first day and snatching another two minutes on the second day. But on day three defending champion Warren Price and his rookie partner Trevor Rowe (Team Safire) pulled back to within thirty seconds of the race leaders to start the last day with a slim twenty-six second deficit. The experienced combo of five times Imana Wild Ride champion Nick Floros and top SA marathon rider Andrew Hill (TIB/Husqvarna) proved a constant threat, never far out of sight of the leaders. It was only in the last third of the final stage that Price and Rowe made their move on the infamous ‘Slimela’ climb before the descent to the Mngazana River and the last five kilometre stretch of beach home to the finish at Umngazi River Bungalows. After four days of hard racing, it was Team Safire who took the overall race honours in an accumulated time of nine hours, forty-nine minutes and seventeen seconds, giving Price his fourth consecutive win. The RSAweb-Biogen team gave it their all to finish second (9h53.51) with TIB/Husqvarna’s Hill and Floros taking a respectable third (10h14.02). For Woods, his fifteenth ‘racing of the tide’ will be his most memorable as he commented, “we didn’t lose, we may have come in second but we never lost !”. The fourth team home was a novice team to the Imana Wild Ride; Mathew Goetsch and David Leiman (Love Coffee) and whilst they spent a fair amount of time ‘paying school fees’ they relished the experience and vowed to be back !
A remarkable achievement from the winning mixed team and defending champs; Bjorn and Lindsey Vye (Team Vye), who accomplished a personal goal to claim fifth place overall and their third win in the mixed category. They were chased home by the highly experience team of Doug Brown and Diana Carolin (Team Lauf) who went through the frustrating process of getting lost several times, including a fourteen kilometre detour on the last day but were happy to retain their second place in the mixed teams. Brenda Potts and Keith Wenke (Cadence) were consistent in taking third place.
The heart of the Imana Wild Ride is the people; those that participate, those whose lives are touched through building classrooms, the hotels and their staff and the communities along the way. A heart-warming story that emerged from the sixteenth Imana Wild Ride is that of iKhaya-Loxolo; a home of peace for people with special needs – situated just outside of the Dwesa-Cweba Reserve on day two. This humble establishment is managed by German couple Michael and Alexandra Guenther whose dream to help disabled people in rural areas began in 2004. Today they are full to capacity with seventeen people with special needs who they have trained to cook and clean and grown their own vegetable gardens. In addition, they educate fifteen pre-school children. In sharing their success story with the participants of the Imana Wild Ride, spontaneous donations were forthcoming for which they are most grateful.
Just prior to the start of the event, on Friday 31st July, Imana Wild Ride and Imana Foods in conjunction with the Wild Ride Education Company, were proud to present the twenty-eighth classroom since the first classrooms were built in 2006. Mvumelwano JPS in the Takazi district is inland from Wavecrest Hotel, in a remote location and were the recipients of a much needed classroom. The school comprised two locally built classrooms hosing thirty-three learners with one classroom doubling as a cooking facility. The community were joyous at receiving this brand new classroom block. The young school children were given an opportunity to interact with the riders as they passed by Wavecrest Hotel on the first days of the events.
In conclusion, the sixteenth Imana Wild Ride is proud to have established itself as a small and unique event which touches peoples’ lives. Fundraising efforts brought a further four hundred thousand Rand into the Wild Ride Education Company, which will continue to strive towards providing improved educational facilities in the communities through which the race passes.