Drama-filled victory for Team Contego at TMC

Marie Wessels, Liandi van der Westhuizen and Danette Smith from Team Contego won the Table Mountain Challenge Team Relay Photo credit: Govan Basson

Marie Wessels, Liandi van der Westhuizen and Danette Smith from Team Contego won the Table Mountain Challenge Team Relay
Photo credit: Govan Basson

Marie Wessels, Liandi van der Westhuizen and Danette Smith from Team Contego won the Table Mountain Challenge Team Relay this past Saturday, but not before a good dose of drama.

According to Smith it was a super exciting day, but not without a few panicky moments.

Wessels started the race. Her leg was from Kloof Nek up to Rhodes Memorial (approximately 9.4km). “Liandi and I took a stroll up to the block house where we would meet Marie, and Liandi would start her leg. On the way there, some passing hikers told us how long the route is and we definitely underestimated the ‘little hike’. So Liandi started racing up to be there in time. At least she had a good warm-up! Marie finished way earlier than expected and was done for 10 minutes before Liandi got there.”

Luckily the team was still in the lead with the start of the second leg. “Liandi ran about 11km while Marie and I made our way to Constantia Nek where the second handover was. Liandi had a great run and ended it off with a very successful baton handover. No waiting this time.”

Smith was supposed to run 19.4km for the third and final leg. But the real drama was about to start. “I felt quite strong and the scenery was beautiful. After a few runnable kilometres, the climb to the top of Table Mountain started. I’m still not sure what caused me to go off the route, but somehow I took the wrong path at the top. When I realised that the path I was on came to a dead end, a wave of panic came over me. I made my way back as fast as I could and luckily found the right trail again.”

By this time two competing teams have overtaken Smith and she lost about 30 minutes. “I was desperate not to let my team down and managed to unknowingly get back into the lead. The race ended off with the very technical Kasteelspoort ravine. The end was in sight, but I wasn’t sure whether there were still teams ahead of me. As part of the ‘craziness’ all the finishers had to run/hop through a jumping castle before crossing the finish line. As I crossed the finish line, I asked Marie and Liandi how we did. They said that we won, much to my relief!”

The team’s winning time was 5 hours, 25 minutes and 30 seconds.