Willie completes run-paddle-bike adventure

Remember Willie Richards, the guy doing his fitness and running training on the helideck of an off-shore rig? He undertook his running-biking-paddle self-adventure in late November and successfully made it over the 581-kilometre distance from Mosselbay to Franschoek.

Willie set off on 15 November. Five days in he wrote:

I’m still soldiering on with my little mission. Have a couple of niggles by now. But the pain is a good feeling. Past our 400km mark today and best of all the charity is doing so well by all of this while I’m having fun. Weather is really bad . Arrived in strong Cape wind and rain in Gansbaai. Early start again tommorow. Plan is to finish off on Monday.

Willie completed his adventure on 24 November 2015. He ended up with a total of 581 kilometres over nine days - 35km paddle, 181km running & 365km cycling.

Here’s a lovely post-adventure piece from Alfred, who one of Willie’s support crew, on the 500kmplus Facebook page:

Not only was the distance impressive, but when you consider the conditions and obstacles, it was astonishing. Sure there were a few pieces of smooth tar along the way. If you can call climbing up Franschhoek Pass smooth on day 9 with your legs having already done more than 500km the 8 previous days, or driving up the smooth Stilbaai hill into a pumping Southeaster after more than 60k’s of hilly and obstacle riddled gravel road in sweltering heat. That’s without considering the 15km run on the bouldered shoreline from Vleesbaai and the treacherous crossing of the Gouritz River mouth earlier and the murderous 12km steady climb, into the wind again, to Jongensfontein at the end of the day. And the smoothest of them all, the ‘short’ cycle hop from Gansbaai to Grotto Beach, into the teeth of relentlessly South-Easter driven freezing rain (at one stage hail bounced off the Land Rover’s bonnet). At the end of it at Grotto Beach, Deon had to hold Willie’s shaking arms in order for him to reset his watch.

Most days started off great weather wise, but the blustering Southeaster would start up early and Willie would, without exception, be heading straight into it. Add sinking ankle deep into the beach sand, navigating bouldered beaches, rock faces, sandy gravel roads, climbing mountains pretending to be hills, rip tide river mouth crossings and a few downpours and the words ‘fun run’ don’t apply. I won’t go into more details of every incident, but trust me when I say it was hard, damn hard. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few more hardships, but the list above is sufficient enough.

Through all of this Willie’s incredible character shone through. Not once, irrespective of how exhausted he was, did he make a comment out of place or act in anger or impatience. And man, can this guy smile! Only once, on the road to Jongensfontein, did he not acknowledge us with his beaming grin. His determination and exhaustion was complete and he didn’t have the energy for something that comes so readily to him.

Willie’s day-by-day posts on the 500kmplus Facebook page are great to read. And the photographs are lovely to look at.

Willie at the end with his wife Talita and son Liam.