Team www.AR.co.za going to Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge
In June, six adventure racers – four women and two men – were selected from written applications for the Teamwww.AR.co.za squad. Over a period of two-and-a-half months, these Gauteng-based squad members have attended paddle coaching sessions, training on dams twice a week through the dead of winter to improve their technique and proficiency.
The hopefuls have practised their rope skills and they have participated in sprint and one-day adventure racing events including the recent non-stop, multi-day adventure race Swazi Xtreme. Now, with just over three months until the start of the fourth edition of the annual Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (ADAC) in December 2010, the members for Team www.AR.co.za have been selected.
The process of selection for the three places on Team www.AR.co.za began with the submission of written applications from which six squad members were recruited. After three months of training and racing the three racers to make up the mixed-gender, four-person team captained by experienced adventure racer, Lisa de Speville, were chosen. “In previous years, my ADAC teams were chosen from written applications. This year, because I received notice of our entry, which is sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, earlier, I was able to change the selection process,” de Speville says.
“Managing and choosing from a squad has been more difficult for me because I have gotten to know and train with these talented, competent and compatible racers; all super people with common racing objectives,” she adds. “We ‘lost’ Ilze Jansen van Rensburg in early July after an emergency eye operation put a halt on her training and racing for weeks.”
The choosing of only three from the five squad members – Adri van der Westhuyzen, Keane Ludig, Lizelle Smit, Lizelle van der Merwe and Steven Erasmus – has weighed heavily on de Speville’s mind. “I’ve played over and over with all kinds of combinations and they would all work well. But, I had to settle on just three. In making my final selection I’ve looked at age, experience, ambitions as well as opportunities that they currently have or could have as a result of being part of the squad and team.”
The selected team members are Adri van der Westhuyzen, Lizelle Smit and Steven Erasmus. Keane Ludick and Lizelle van der Merwe are the team’s reserves, ready to jump in should they be needed. “In previous years we’ve had stress fractures, injuries, illnesses and lost passports crop up weeks and days before departure. The role of a reserve is not an easy one, especially when you really want to go to Abu Dhabi. Keane and Lizelle’s ongoing commitment to training and the team is really special and reassuring,” explains de Speville. They will all continue to paddle together and work on skills and disciplines needed for the six-day semi-staged race in Abu Dhabi.
Although the most common team composition is three men and one woman, Team www.AR.co.za has flipped things around with their female-weighted team, which will be a first at the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. Erasmus is the only man in the team. “The women that have been chosen are great people and they are all really strong. It is going to be different to the standard team format but I’m also sure that it’s going to be fun too. Women bring a special balance to teams,” he says.
With three months until race day, the team is looking ahead as they focus specifically on paddling and running.
About Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge
This six-day semi-staged adventure race is held every December in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The event attracts top teams from around the World, with participants from almost 30 countries. Disciplines included are sea kayaking, desert trekking, canyoneering and mountain biking. South Africa is one of five countries to receive an entry (incl. flights) from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority as part of their generous Awards programme.