Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 8 Rain?

We started the day early due to a rainy weather forecast for the day since David was hell bent on ensuring we stayed out of the rain. This prediction turned out to be irrelevant when the forest we were training in was to far away from Lenzerheide to receive rain and received a mere 3 drops. Our first training session was on a map called Trin Digg. It was composed of 3 separate loops using the different sections of the map and planned by David. The first loop started with a super steep albeit manageable climb to the first control but luckily it was downhill from there. The terrain had some detailed contour features which were a blur at speed but by reading the larger features we could start moving a bit faster.

For lunch we decided to go find a lake to picnic at. We were successful and managed to find the most beautiful lake ever. The water was varying shades of turquoise and was so clear you could see rocks in the depth's of the lake. Unfortunately we were not able to go swim or sit by it as it cost a rather ludicrous 7 francs per person (R120). In the end we all crowded around the fence to take photo's. We then decided to drive to the start of the second session for lunch and proceeded to have an absolutely neccesary 30 minute nap.

The second session was in the very   ominous sounding Bermuda Triangle. People have gotten lost in it and have never returned... Not really. It just has a reputation for confusing people and at one event the planner put out a control and when time for control collecting he couldn't find it... The terrain was technical with many knolls, depressions, hills and cliffs. Luckily everyone managed to return from the triangle intact. Michael, Tim and Roark managed to conquer the Bermuda Triangle, finishing the whole course without getting lost. The massive rocks actually made navigation easier when the contours or vegetation got a little to crazy. As soon as we were all back at the car we crammed ourselves in and got moving on the relatively long journey home.

Compass escapades:  The Americans decided to go look for Karen's compass as soon as we got back, whilst everyone else got dinner ready. After two hours they were still out which lead to the much asked question "where are the Americans". Eventually after we had all finished supper and it was starting to get dark (which only happens once it's pretty late), they returned with glum faces to announce that they hadn't been able to find the compass. Although as part of their attempt to find the compass they did  manage to do some comprehensive research into 1) how compasses land by repeatedly dropping it on the side of the path to see how far it would bounce (conclusion: they all stayed exactly where they were dropped, 2) how far a compass rolls down a hill (conclusion: not very far). Useful research if you ever find yourself in their position but unfortunately not enough to help them find the compass. Austin also managed to get shocked by the electric cattle fence, something that Roark knows all to much about.

After the Michael and Austin had had dinner we took another trip to get WiFi before going to bed. Michael revealed his inner nerdiness by fiddling with IP address's amongst other things to connect Roark's phone to WiFi.

Karen gave training a skip today and instead went up the Gondola to the Rothorn for some awesome views of the alps.

Moment of the day: Tim actually having the excuse: the dog ate my work (well, map if you're being technical). While trying to pet a dog, it stole his map from his grasp and ran away with it. Initially there had been a bit of tug of war but Tim pulled out in fear of ripping the map to shreds. He then had to sprint after the dog which yielded the map after a short skirmish.

Another moment of the day: Michael disowning the US team by taking his jacket off before going into a bar to get half francs for the washing. His excuse being that he didn't want to confuse the person by wearing US clothes while speaking German (we're not so sure...)

Illegal moments:

Driving on the forestry roads (which according to a hiker and a sign we would only see afterwards) we were not allowed to do.

Hoopla of the day:

Our washing had got stuck in the washing machine as we didn't realise you had to pay for the electricity after the washing was done. It only accepted half franc coins and unfortunately, it being the first couple of days we didn't have any. Michael whipped out his swiss-army knife and tried unsuccessfully to open the washing machine door while a Swiss couple stood nearby, observing in a shocked silence.

Quote of the Day:

A South African show came on Swiss television and naturally  Austin asked: "Do you go to witch doctors"?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

 Day 7 

After many hours of travelling we got our first decent night of sleep,
yaaay! Although at 8am we were rudely awakened to eat and get ready
for training. This didn't go down well as we had to move all our
mattresses out of the lounge area in order to eat breakfast, saying
this, it required us to actually get out of bed. Which was not the
fastest activity to happen this morning.

After breakfast we piled into the car for the hour and a half journey
to Flims in a car which was tightly packed. It was not
the most comfortable way to travel but we got used to it.

Our first training session was a line walk with 3 loops. Carl, Christie, Kirsten
and Roark headed out slowly, while Tim, Michael and Austin headed out
at a jog. Roark joined in to help out as this was their first time in
the Swiss forests and he had sprained his ankle the day before.

After about an hour and a half of orienteering through some technical
terrain we had all completed our planned courses. This terrain would
be one of the toughest we'd encounter over the course of the week. We
then gathered around a bench in the parking area to eat some lunch,
the standard bread, cheese, ham, tomato and lettuce finished off with
an apple or two.

After lunch we travelled for about half an hour to  Ems for our second
training session. This training session was a course used a few weeks
prior for the regional championships so not only was the map quite
nice but there were also a couple of elephant tracks through the
forest. The terrain was much cleaner than the previous session and
much nicer to run through.

Once we had all finished running, we headed back towards the
apartment, getting dropped on the way at the lake for a quick swim.
Whilst the thought of swimming sounded magnificent whilst hot and
sweaty, by the time we'd driven to the lake and walked down to the
waters edge, it was a little bit chilly. Nonetheless Tim and Michael
swam to the island in the middle of the lake and ended up skipping
stones for a while. Since the lake was really shallow in one part,
people had made tall rock towers (sharp, tall cairns) that rose out of
the middle of the lake and so Tim, Michael, Christie and Kirsten swam
over there to add their stones to the pile. Once they had all swum
back, making sure to avoid the fisherman's barbed hooks, we headed
back up to the flat.

Due to the shear number of bums which had to be accommodated in a
lounge designed for three people and since all our beds had been
packed away, we were forced to find innovative places to rest. While
Tim fell asleep on the hard balcony floor outside, Roark brought the
small mattress out into the lounge to lie on. Getting a bit cold he
decided to use the South African flag which was lying nearby as a
blanket. It didn't take long for Karen to crack up, commenting that he
looked like a dead body with the flag concealing his face from the sun
streaming through the window. After we'd gotten over the rather
mundane event that was Roark sleeping we managed to sneak a short nap
in before dinner.

For dinner we had pork fajitas (which was meant to be chicken fajitas,
but we were yet to find chicken in any shop) with potatoes, peppers,
tomato, carrots and rather nice home-made sauce.

Once all the food had been eaten (and i mean all of it), which didn't
take long, we were ready to head to the games room to try out hands at
some table-tennis and foosball. With so many people in the games room
it was hard to keep track of everything that was going on, but in
amongst the chaos a few competitive moments popped up. Roark and Tim
had a tough table tennis battle which Tim took  3 games to 2, whilst
Austin and Carl battled it out in a near endless game which totalled
more than 120 points. We then all crowded around the foosball table
for some competitive and entertaining games with nearly everyone
having a hand in each game.

Then came the time for Michael and Austin to head back to their
apartment in town. Kirsten decided to go along for the ride so she
could get hold of WiFi while the rest of us decided to hit the sack

Illegal moment of the day

- Not paying for parking in the middle of
the forest (only because we didn't know we had too).

Hoppla of the day

- David walking all the way down to the car
(actually quite a journey), without the car key's.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Day 6: Run up the mountain and meeting up with the team.

Adventures of Roark, Tim and Michael:

We woke up a bit earlier today so that we could do a quick summit
before we were scheduled to meet up with the others in Lenzerheide
later that day. We ate a quick breakfast before getting out the door
just after 9. After a short drive through the mountains we saw the
peak rising out of the valley as we approached it. It wasn't particularly high but due to its steepness it had quite a prominence.

We arrived at the base, laced up our shoes, took a short look up and
then started slowly running up the mountain. We ran passed a couple of
hikers and then amongst the cows (along with their ever ringing cow
bells) before taking a short stop at a fountain to drink some water
(they have fountains everywhere in Switzerland, towns, hiking trails,
you name it). We then continued on our way until we reached the saddle
between the two peaks. The view from the saddle was insane so we
whipped out our phones and took some pano's.

From the saddle the path changed from being easily runnable to pretty
darn steep and while Tim did manage to slowly jog up, Roark sensibly
hiked the seemingly vertical hill. We then made our way along a short
ridge with nice drops on either side before starting the final ascent,
a short section of light scrambling which Coni lead us through.

We stuffed around on the top for a while, taking photo's and posing
with the South African flag before beginning our descent down a
somehow steeper side of the mountain. After winding our way through
the steeper section we found ourselves on a scree slope. This made for
a fun and fast descent once we embraced the slipping and sliding. By
now the path was no more so we made a bee line for the car park
through a short section of forest and then down through a steep, open
area. Tim took off like a hare and Roark followed in hot pursuit.
Maybe Roark was trying to run too fast or maybe it was bad luck but he
managed to sprain his other ankle and so had to limp home while the
others made their way to the car. Coni suggested Roark use the stream
to ice his ankle and when he tried the stream was much colder than he
was expecting and he struggled to keep his ankle in the water for more
than 30-40 seconds at a time.

We then made our way to a lake for lunch. Coni had packed a delicious
assortment of food: ham, cheese, fresh bread, watermelon, berries,
chips and chocolate biscuits to finish it all off.

We then took a swim in the lake. The water was refreshing as the
weather was quite warm. We swam out about 30m to a floating platform
where we lay for a good 30 minutes before swimming back to shore.

After quickly getting changed into dry clothes we were back on the
road to Lenzerheide. The three of us quickly dozed off, tired from our
earlier excursion and lack of sleep the night before. We woke up as we
entered Chur (apparently the oldest town in Switzerland), but more
importantly the place where we would collect a couple of maps for

We then stopped off at a Lidl (European supermarket chain) to get some
food for the week ahead.

From there it was a short drive over a pass to Lenzerheide where we
were kindly given free accommodation in Stephan's parents holiday

The apartment's are used primarily in winter for skiing so they were
mostly empty. We put our bags away and had just started settling in
when the rest of our team pulled in. After quick introductions,
goodbyes and thanks, Coni was on her way.

The journey of Christie, Carl, Kirsten, David and Karen

After 24 hours of travelling, 8 hours of trying to sleep on hard
airport floors and 8 movies we finally arrived at Zurich airport in
Switzerland. We collected our bags and went to the car rental shop
where we met our new American friend (Austin). We got our car and had
to squeeze 4 people into the back seat for the long trip to
Lenzerheide. When we finally arrived we were greeted by Coni, Roark,
Tim and Michael.

After settling in to the place we were staying Christie, Kirsten and
Carl decided to go for a little jog on the hilly roads to checkout
their surroundings. We ended our run at the beautiful lake where we
dipped our feet in the rather freezing lake. Kirsten managed to step
on something which would later cause her foot to swell up and turn a
little blue. Tim, Austin and Michael headed up the mountain to check
out a really cool waterfall and do a few controls on a rather outdated

After everyone had returned to the house,  except Austin, dinner was
prepared and everyone sat down to eat. The room fell silent, besides
for the munching of food and the complaints about the smelly cheese.

Just as we were about to send out a search party for Austin he glumly
came through the door to announce that he had lost Karen's compass
during the run and had gone back to search for it.

Then it was finally time to go to bed and for 7 people to fit in a 4
sleeper house, which left 4 people on the beds and 3 on mattresses.

Tim and Roark decided that they would put off sleep by going with
David to drop off Austin and Michael. This decision was mostly guided
by the fact that the Americans had WiFi, so we managed to post a blog
and post an update on facebook. David was also trying to do some admin
but couldn't connect with his laptop. This meant that we left a bit
later than we would have liked and only got to bed just after

Quotes of the day:

"Wow, it's light until it's dark", Christie.
" Welcome to the future", Michael : the cool beds that fold up into a
" You have 24 hours to live",
Roark (as Kirsten's foot turned slightly blue )

Hoppla of the day:

- Kirsten standing on something in the lake and her foot swelling up
and turning blue (not really that blue)
- Austin losing the brand new compass he borrowed from Karen.

Illegal moment of the day:

Piling 4 people into the backseat of the car

Monday, June 27, 2016

Day 5. Sprint training, euro lounge and an unconventional experience of Zurich.

After planning to wake up to do the sprint at around 10 (that's late enough right!?), we stumbled out of bed later than expected. By the time we had had breakfast,  been through the complicated process of creating three equally forked sprint courses, put our shoes on and headed out the door it was nearly 1pm.

Standing at the start line ready to sprint off we decided to aim for a sub 20min sprint as we assumed the sprint was not much more than 4km. Thirty minutes later Tim dove off the end of the pier into the lake to punch the last control. The course turned out to be a bit longer than expected at just over 7,5km. Michael was neck and neck with Tim heading into the last control but the map had changed so his route choice ended in a dead end. Roark was a good 30 seconds back as he lost some time through the gardens in the last section.

After Roark and Michael caught up with Tim again they found him chatting to a life guard. As it turns out you were not only not allowed to dive of the pier but you were also not allowed to film in the public swimming area. This was a problem as Tim had run with his go pro. We decided that we wanted to be able to take pictures so we headed just down the road to the place we'd swum the night before. After a refreshing swim and some go pro selfies we played a bit of soccer on the lawn with an 8 year old from the international school.

A short stroll home to pick up some cash and we were off to the shops to grab some lunch and a few other things.

A quick lunch topped with all things Swiss and yummy was followed by a short run to the train station to catch a train to Zurich.

Arriving in the rather grand Zurich train station we had an hour to explore Zurich before we had to be at the Euro Lounge to watch Italy play Spain with Coni, Stephan and Andrea.

We took a stroll through the park and found a bridge to wander across the river. Stretched between the bridge and the side of the river was a 15m slackline. More pano's ensued before Tim noticed a couple of the slackliners jumping into the river from the bridge (an easy 4m jump). Unfortunately Michael and Roark hadn't brought spare shorts but before long Tim had donned his and was in the water. After his second jump he floated a couple of hundred metres down the river before getting out as we finally caught up.

Our hour was running out so we started heading back and found our way to the Euro Lounge a few minutes late.

Inside the game had just gotten underway so we snuck in and found Coni and Stephan. Soon the Italian's had put one in the net and it became apparent that we would have some vocal support from a few of the people.

We munched away at chips and had a couple of drinks before piling our plates with sausages, bread and salad.
We then all took to the foosball table to battle it out.

 We created all the possible teams of two that we could and soon realised that Stephan was the master. Although his work colleagues are pretty insane too. We learnt this when they took to the table at half time and thrashed Michael and Roark 10 - 2. We nearly felt as helpless as the Spanish when the Italians scored their second goal a bit later to roars of approval from all the Italians present.

After the game we went out onto the balcony to look at the city streets from above before going inside to grab an ice-cream.

We decided to do a bit more exploration of Zurich so we bid farewell to our hosts and took to the streets with another ice cream in hand. We decided to make good use of our rather expensive train ticket which allowed you free access to all public transport in Zurich, by randomly hopping on trams and seeing where they would take us.

We were up for adventure and so we switched trams randomly and as often as we could. We eventually hopped of for good when we saw Lake Zurich (that's probably wrong but anyway).

For the next couple of hours we wondered the city and took in the awesome sights and sounds (including some awesome views from the hill and from the university) before eventually making our way to the train station and back to zug.

Illegal activities of the day:

Thinking about crossing the road not at a pedestrian crossing

Wearing a gopro in a swimming area

Jumping off piers

Swimming in the Zurich river??

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 4 Long distance, Roman empires, late night swims and a trek across the country.

Starts were a bit earlier today (10am), so we had to get going a bit earlier and pack up our bags before we left. Jan Erik was a bit too keen and woke up at 6:30 to the bemusement of his tent mate- Tim.

He then preceded to go for a jog/walk to the store to buy some fresh bread and jam, only to find out that it only opened at 8am, so ended up arriving back empty handed.

Tim and Michael were off 1st with Anton a few min later and Jan Erik a couple hours later. Roark wasn't feeling great, so he decided to sit this one out.

Tim had an okayish run, just having a shocker 1st control and losing 6min on that as well as 3min on #8.

After the race we chilled at the event centre for a bit looking for Coni who would take us through to Zug (near Zurich). This turned out to be a bit more difficult than it would be in SA with over 1000 people at the event.

We eventually found each other and a short while later were on our way to Zug. Halfway into the drive we stopped to do a bit of sightseeing at an old Roman amphitheatre and took a look at the castle. This was the perfect opportunity to snap a few pano's while learning a bit about the Roman empire's many provinces. We then hopped back on the road and soon found ourselves at Coni and Stephan's apartment just in time for the footy.

After the German's crushed the Slovakian's and we created a similar fate for the mid-game snacks we moved over to the table for dinner. We were then treated to Raclette which is a Swiss specialty where you melt your own cheese to smother the potatoes, pickles, pineapple and veg.

We then whipped out a choc-chip cake that we had bought in St Cergue to go with the ice cream Coni had, which made for a pretty awesome dessert.

Andrea (their daughter) had the brilliant idea of going for a swim in the lake so we all jumped onto bikes and took a leisurely ride down. Roark found his playful side while Tim and Michael experimented with filming on the go.

At the lake we took a couple pano's and had a lekkkkker swim while watching the sun slowly set behind the snowy peaks. Not only was the water incredible but the pink sky was gorgeous too.

We then hopped back on the bikes and followed the canal back to our new home, all the time videoing our ride. We even managed to find a cool little bicycle ramp along the way.

After that we were left alone to exploit the WiFi and post our first blog as our hosts went to bed. A couple of hours later we sunk into a deep, oh so gloriously soft sleep which was much appreciated after 3 nights camping without a mattress.

Quote of the day:

Michael talking about the soccer ref: "he's one hunk of a man"

Moments of the day:

Jan Erik trying to cuddle with Tim thinking he was someone else (a certain Swiss meisie)

Roark falling of his bike.

Illegal activities of the day:

Not getting off our bikes to cross the pedestrian crossing. 3*R500

Not signalling when making turns on the bikes. 3*R500

Potential Fines: about R3000

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Day 3 Rain rain rain

Woke up in the early hours of the morning to the pitter patter of rain on the tent and had a short moment of panic that we were going to get soaked, but luckily the tent held out and a few more hours of sleep were attained.

Got to registration ages before our starts and took a bit of time trying to communicate with non-english speaking si card hander-outers (luckily we had Anton and Michael on hand to translate)

We also managed to find a couple other jwocers (U.S., Australian, French and New Zealand and ex-Swiss).

We wasted as much time as we could before jumping on the busses to the start.

Tim, Anton and Michael ran the H20 (M20) (4.9 km) course whilst Roark and Robbie (a Canadian) ran a slightly shorter (4.6km) open course as they hadn't pre-registered.

Whilst Tim and Roark both could have had good runs, their many clean controls were offset by a few horrendous ones. Looking back at the races it irritating to see how close we were most of the time.

It rained most of the race and continued for a couple of hours after so the wait for the bus after the finish was quite cold. Tim decided the wait was to much and ran the few kilometers it was back to the competition centre.

After showering at the competition centre, Jan Erik, Michael and Roark trudged through the rain to the shops to get supplies that would last us until we left.

We then all walked to the train station to catch a very short train ride to our campsite. We sprinted the last 50m thinking we were about to miss the train but it turned out to be the train going in the opposite direction.

Back at the campsite we were to scared to investigate our tents in fear that they were soaked through so we decided to use the communal area to dig into some lunch. While we ate the rain cleared so after lunch we headed out to play boule's. Once again Anton was on form but the game never really got anywhere as the rain soon hit again. We all piled inside and soon Roark was playing chess and Tim started writing the first day of our blog.

The rain soon stopped so we headed back outside to play boule's and kept on playing sporadically between WiFi, soccer watching (unfortunately Switzerland lost..) cooking, dinner and when it finally got too dark to play, we moved inside to play some cards (cheat), which eventually ended somewhere near midnight.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Day 2. Frenching it up

We woke up bright and early (9:30am) and discovered that Michael (who had arrived the evening before), had gone to the shops to buy fresh bread+jam+yogurts, so breakfast was quite an improvement on the previous night's dinner.

After a lazy morning, we finally got going and headed out to another middle distance training in a nearby forest. Once again it was about 4km to the start, so none of us were particularly keen on running hard. We instead decided to break the course into about 3/4 controls per section and met up after each section, alternating between running  sections slowly and then at race pace)

Walking back Tim bravely decided to walk through a herd of cows but soon abandoned that idea when they slowly started surrounding him. We then decided to run back to the campsite to reduce time on the legs. Soon after we took turns showering to cool down from the excessive heat.

We then took a nap in the shade while Jan Erik disappeared into the forest to set up his hammock. He returned a few minutes later to inform us that it was a two person hammock and he was lonely, but no-one took the hint. (Though he might have been referring to a certain Swiss meisie)

It was then unanimously voted upon that we should go for a quick visit to France (a 15min train ride away) to add a country to our lists. We ended up walking into the next town to go buy some groceries (which were almost half the price of in Switzerland) and then having to take a bit of a jog back to make the train.

After getting back, we went to the field to play some boule. Roark took the lead at the start, but Tim soon caught up until the scores were tied at five a piece. At this stage Michael and Jan Erik were a couple of points behind and Anton was on a seemingly pathetic one.

We took a break for a dinner of pasta with ham, melted cheese and sauce. Short on plates we amassed all the tupperwares we could find whilst Roark got to use the pot's lid.

After dinner we all sat down on the bench outside, probably because it was the best place to find WiFi. Anton, fired up from the dinner break thought it would be a great idea to play boulle's from the bench. Before we'd blinked Anton had scored a good couple of points and was well in the game once again. The game to ten culminated rather surprisingly with a round that scored Anton an incredible 3 points in which the boulle balls were left to the mercy of the trampoline.

It was then time for some dessert and then bed.

Quotes of the day:

Jan Erik: Your balls are bigger than mine... it's so that they don't bang each other.

Jan Erik: I don't need a backup girl, but if I did, I could get one easily.

Jan Erik: I could've chosen anyone girl I wanted

Anton: That's a Ferrari coming. 2min later, oh wait- it's a train.

Lesson of the day: Don't steal cake from Jan Erik (as Roark and Anton found out)

Illegal activity of the day: Buying half tickets to France (and none for the way back..)