Back in April I wrote about a land-sea duel that was set to start in May; a duel between ultra-distance runner Steve Black and surf-ski paddler Clyde Barendse. This Coastal Challenge was set to take place along the coastline from Cape Point to Durban. After a month of daily challenges, the duel was won by Clyde.
This Coastal Challenge started on 17 May and wrapped up around 21 June.
This long-distance duel was won by Clyde – he put in a massive 125 kilometres on the final leg to get to Durban ahead of Steve. But this was more than just a physical duel. It was a challenge they devised to raise funds for a friend fighting cancer, Nix (aka Lettie).
On his blog, Nix’s husband Zoog Haynes writes of Clyde’s endeavours:
Clyde sat amongst an angry ocean for weeks. If you would care to, go and have a look at the weather that he has had to manage on his route. Alone, unsupported and amidst a very angry Indian Ocean, Clyde spent many solitary hours heading up the coast, dodging slabs of liquid and everything else the coast could throw at him. Only those that use the ocean and have had a taste of her unforgiving force will begin to appreciate what Clyde has managed to do here.
Steve made Durban the following morning, running back-to-back ultras for the duration of the challenge.
Steve, presumably safer on terra firma had to contend with 30 Ultra Marathons in a row. Try and think about your last running experience and then get your head around the physical despair that would erupt from an effort like Steve’s. Paddling is relatively impact free. Running however is quite different. Throw some extra sea sand into your socks, wet your shoes from the eleventeen thousand river crossings (knowing full well that if you cross enough rivers in the Transkei you will meet up with Johnny one eye), limit your nutrition and liquid intake and you will start getting an idea of the external irritations he would have experienced. Unfortunately the internal havoc caused by running is quite disgusting. What happens to your chassis after 30 ultra marathons back to back – probably indescribable!
Steve and Clyde conceptualised this challenge just a few weeks before setting out. No specific training. As Zoog says, they turned talking into action.
“I just don’t know where or how to start recording the immensity of what Steve Black and Clyde Barendse have achieved,” Zoog writes on his Mamuloman blog.
“Certainly people have run and paddled from Cape Town to Durban before . I just don’t know what it is that makes their effort feel like more people need to hear about what went down. I guess the only thing I can think of is that their efforts were quite personal to Nix and I, dedicating their adventure to help us raise cash for our fight and also to create awareness along the way for what all cancer fighting families get to face. I guess what has made this such a powerful statement is just how far our friends will go for us.”