Attended my first ” Crazy challenge” hosted by the Seychelles National Sports Council (“NSC”) this weekend (October 22nd, 2016), and what an experience it was!
There was a lot of planning and information gathering before the trip and Williana (from the NSC) was a gem, always answering my queries and putting up with my calls and questions. She organised for the boat tickets and when they were ready she called me so I could go pick up my tickets.
So on the Friday, took a lift from a fellow competitor (Ray) to the Victoria jetty. Left Mahe in the afternoon to go to Praslin. Took the Cat Coco, which is the ferry that would take us to Praslin. Reached Baie Ste Anne, Praslin at around 5.30 pm.
It was such a long boat trip and towards the end started feeling a bit queasy. Things went from bad to worse towards the end of the trip, when a little boy standing infront of me started hurling, with all the sound effects. Was glad to step onto land.
Arriving, we got lost looking for the others , and then found out that NSC had organised a bus to come pick us up. We met the Praslin NSC representative, a jolly lady ( Nadine).There was about seven of us due from Mahe; two of which would be coming by flight. Four were competing, and the other three were officials. We would be meeting the other competitors from Praslin the next morning. The bus took us to the place where we would be put up for the night (Baie Ste Anne field), we would be sleeping on make camps at the changing rooms. Feels like I was back at school camp! However since there was a football match going on and the rooms was being used, we decided we would go to Grande Anse office, where there were matches going on and then we would return to base in about an hour or so.
Arriving at Grande Anse four of us decided we would go and get take outs for dinner and also pick up a few drinks and snacks. We went to buy dinner at this quaint little take away, seemed quite popular, maybe it being the only take away we spotted right away. It was being manned by two people. It seemed that the lady serving could not handle the crowd and man the phone at the same time.There was this man bringing in refills. She looked pretty relieved when the “Chef” came in. The line went pretty fast from then on. The take away had a very limited menu, but in the state we were in, we just wanted something to eat and go to sleep.
We headed back to the office to wait for the others. We decided we would sit under the big Takamaka tree to eat dinner. Bad idea, Jenna was attacked by the hairy caterpillars, better known as “senir plim” in creole. We quickly moved from there.
After what seemed like an hour, Williana and Hillary (the Mahe NSC representatives) arrived. They had taken the flight to the island and due to some miscommunication which resulted in their delayed arrival.
We took the bus back to Baie Ste Anne. There were two rooms allocated to us. One would be for the Boys and one for the Ladies. Williana managed to get us all mattresses. She had informed us to bring bedsheets and pillows and the works, which worked out pretty well. It was quite well organised, basic but definitely comfortable for the night we would be spending there.
The shower room had no doors, and the girls were unlucky in that we had no lights in the room nor in the bathing area. Torches and mobile phones came to good use. We got ready for bed, lighting up mosquito coils all around the place. Williana and Hillary decided they would bring their mattresses outside and sleep. It was pretty safe, since there was a watchman at the building.
We decided we would go to bed around 10 pm so we would be well rested for tomorrow’s event, however we ended up talking till late. The eldest lady competitor (Jenna)was a 61 year old lady! Jenna and Mr. Medor (an official from Mahe) were telling us their childhood stories, and about the walks and challenges they had attended. Jenna has been doing these challenges for the past 10 years. Mr. Medor used to take part in such events, until his knees started giving him trouble, and now he helps out as an official.
By the time we all headed to bed, it was past midnight. Was awoken around 3 am by a group of drunks singing in the streets. Eventually we all went back to sleep, only to wake up in another two hours.
Adrenaline pumping and excited. Quickly got ready and headed off to the starting point which was the Baie Ste Anne office. The race was to start at 7 am. There were a few who reached slightly later, and their times were adjusted accordingly.
The path would be to go to Côte d’Or, Anse Boudin, Mont Plaisir, Amitié, Grand Anse and Consolation before reaching the finish line at the Baie Ste Anne office.
I will not fib and tell you it was a pleasant walk/run. I felt I was doing pretty well, there were about fifteen people behind me.
I got lost at the turn at Côte d’Or and ended up at Berjaya Praslin Resort. I had to call Williana for directions, and thankfully they were close by and were able to point me in the right direction. I thought that the immediate three competitors that were behind me had got an advantage now and started running, only to get confused upon reaching Raffles Praslin.
I saw a huge “Diversion” board and then saw an arrow saying “Beach access” which I took, not knowing this was a short cut (an automatic disqualification- no shortcuts allowed). I started to jog for a bit and tripped and landed hard on my ankle. Started swelling and the pain did not help. I had miles to go!
After walking for about two minutes, called Williana and she informed me I had taken the wrong road. However since I was pretty close to the main connecting road, I decided to continue on. At this point I knew I was disqualified, however I chose to go on and see where the trail ends. Stubbed my toe and tripped over some roots a few times along the way. Did not help with the pain in my ankle.
I walked on, trying to keep myself motivated. I reached the junction between Zimbabwe road and Anse Lazio road. There was a young adult who had set up a little table and was selling fruits. At this point I was exhausted and ready to pass out. I went on for another two minutes till I felt I was going to pass out, and by then the road was a bit steep and the ankle was getting worse. So called Williana and told her I would be stopping now and could not go on. She was at the beach waiting for us to come so she could go over Mt. Plaisir with the last competitor. She asked me to take a bus back to the starting point.
Headed back to the fruit table, I remembered I had seen a bus there. Thankfully it was still around when I arrived. asked the bus driver if his bus would go to my destination and he said yes, however he was not due to start work for another 15 minutes, so he said I would have to wait. Sat in the bus and waited, exhaustion taking over. It took me just over 2 hours to reach this far.
Reached the starting point and joined Hillary. She was waiting for the competitors to clock their time. Spent time chatting with her and dozing off here and there. It was a really difficult track, I had totally underestimated the endurance that would be needed.
There were approximately 30 competitors, however a total of 10 competitors completed the course. The NSC bus picked up a lot of people on the way. They all arrived at the office. The ladies winner was Jenna (just about 2 hours) and the 3rd competitor was a lady who completed the challenge in 6 hours.
Shortly after we walked back to base so freshen up for the boat which would be leaving in two hours. We had already packed this morning, which made things a lot easier for us.
Came back to the office on the way to the jetty and the winners picked up their trophies, then took the NSC bus to the jetty. Took a group photo ( which I was part of, even though had not win or completed the challenge).
The boat back was quite uneventful except for the sea sickness that overtook me. Was glad had not eaten lunch. Reached Mahe, waited a short while for Dad and then headed off home.
Lesson learnt this weekend: You need to prepare well for the Praslin crazy challenge, and not just hop onto a boat and go for it.
That’s it for now folks!
The Island Girl