By Ryan Sandes
To my disappointment, half way through the second day of scouting the Fish River Canyon Trail we decided to call off my record attempt due to high water levels in the river.
Namibia has had more rain in the last few months than its had in years. During my record attempt I would have had to cross the river at least 25 times, turning the attempt into a biathlon!
On day one of scouting, the river was so deep in parts we had to swim and on day two we skipped out scouting a large portion of the route, as the river was flowing so hard we couldn’t cross it. The river is also very wide at the moment and I would have spent most of the time boulder hoping along the side of the canyon slowing me down a lot.
It was a hard decision to make and in the back of my mind I was hoping the levels would drop by Saturday to make my record attempt possible. One of the reasons the river levels were so high was due to the opening of the sluice gates at two of the major dams in Namibia. The water flows directly into the Canyon pushing the river levels up by a few meters in the space of a few hours. Therefore the chance of the water levels dropping by Saturday was not likely.
I don’t think this was a wasted trip as I learnt a lot about the canyon and I will be better prepared when back for the record attempt. The Canyon is still one of the most beautiful places I have run in but at the same time I have huge respect for the harshness and enormity of it.
It was my nemesis in the 2009 RTP Namibia Race and once again this week the conditions proved to be too extreme for me. I will be back to attempt the record…most likely June next year when water levels are not so high.
Thanks to Tinus and Russell of African Extreme Promotions for planning my attempt from Namibia. Thanks to Nic and Julia from the Sports Science Research Unit, Dean and Greg from the African Attachment, Ryan Scott from Runners World and Vanessa for all coming along to make the record attempt possible. It was also awesome to have Trevor McLean-Anderson, the founder of Velocity Sports Lab join me for the trip. I did however think it was the end of my sponsorship when I took a wrong turn climbing out of the canyon and lead Trevor along the side of a massive rock face!! Thanks to Velocity Sports Lab, Salomon and Red Bull for making this trip happen. Thanks to my other sponsors Oakley, Cross Country (my sponsored X Trail got a solid 4×4 test…), Imazine, Suunto and Hammer Nutrition.