Two teams from Johannesburg, one from Durban and one from Cape Town met for an epic contest — the final of the Land Rover G4 Spirit of Adventure. The thrilling grand finale of the “mini-G4 Challenge” at Sun City’s Valley of the Waves took an unexpected turn…
The inaugural Land Rover G4 Spirit of Adventure – a scaled-down version of the international G4 Challenge – finished in dramatic style at Sun City’s Valley of the Waves.
A totally unexpected victory saw “Team Brazil” overcome a three-minute handicap to walk away with not only the title but also four tickets to London and a visit to the home of Land Rover in Solihull, with the compliments of the main sponsor, British Airways.
In contrast to the “Ironman” credentials needed to compete in the international G4 Challenge, the Spirit of Adventure was aimed at less serious competitors, who were still able to show their mettle in various G4-like activities such as climbing, driving, abseiling, canoeing and orienteering. Although the tasks were physically and mentally demanding, competitors did not need to be super-athletes.
The contest also gave them the opportunity to experience the on- and off-road capabilities of Land Rover vehicles.
Semi-finals were held in all the major cities. The four teams with the highest overall scores from the provincial rounds qualified for the final.
The four finalist teams took their names from the four countries that hosted the Land Rover G4 Challenge in 2006 – Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia.
The final started at Sun City early one Saturday morning, with the teams competing in events such as running, mountain biking, canoeing and abseiling.
Then came the deciding event of the day, a 45-minute relay race combining abseiling, swimming, “hydrobronking” – the latter requiring competitors to walk a slalom course on an inflatable craft that looks like a hamster wheel – and finally orienteering.
By this time Team Laos from Johannesburg was in the lead after a consistent performance during the day. Team Bolivia, also from Johannesburg, and Durban’s Team Thailand were tied in second place and began the final task one minute behind Laos. Fourth-placed Team Brazil from Cape Town started the last task three minutes behind the leaders – a seemingly insurmountable handicap.
By the time Team Brazil completed the course and handed the baton to Ingrid Uys, who was scheduled to do the final orienteering section, they were a full five minutes in arrears. This exercise required the competitors to visit various plaques set up in a forest in the right order, memorise words written on them, zoom down the near-vertical slide at the Temple of Courage and place cards in the order that the plaques were visited.
Astonishingly enough, it was Ingrid who came down the slide first, not putting a foot wrong in the forest, and closing the seemingly impossible five-minute gap. However, it wasn’t over yet. The team still had to place the plaques in the proper sequence. Ingrid was frantically shouting instructions to her teammates as Team Bolivia and Thailand were close on their heels.
After a tense wait, race director Mark Collins from the organising company, Magnetic South, confirmed that all the cards were in the right order.
“Because I came from behind, I never felt any pressure,” Ingrid said afterwards. “We had nothing to lose. I remained calm and was able to keep track of where I was. When I heard the crowd cheering as I came out of the chute, I thought one of the other teams had already finished…”
The Cape Town-based “Brazilians” then ran over to the bright orange Freelander and slapped the bonnet to complete the G4 Spirit of Adventure.
At the prize-giving that evening Martin Dreyer, the current G4 champion and also a Capetonian, said: “In Cape Town, it’s not how fast you go, but how good you look going slowly.”
That about summed it up…