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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Father, son’s adventure triumph

Its a very nice bonding for a father and son.

THERE are certain moments of achievement which remain in the memory and that bring to those experiencing them a sense of great satisfaction.

For the East London adventure racing father and son team of Donovan Sims and Dylan Sumner, this year’s edition of the Eden Wildman Duo is an example of such an experience, that will remain in their memory for years to come. Participating in his first race, the 16-year-old Sumner and his father were the underdogs going into the 140km race, but they pulled off what seemed an impossible task, by grabbing a second-place finish in the seven-stage extreme racing event held in George at the weekend.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch on their return, seasoned veteran Sims said coming second had made their achievement all the more sweeter.

“When we started off the intention was to just finish,” said Sims who recalled standing at the start at the Nelson Mandela Metro University’s Saasveld Campus at 6am.

“We were underestimated because I was with my son … but we were there at the end. Not only that, we totally blew them!”

Sims had actually only believed that he and his son could compete, when they reached the halfway mark.

“When we got halfway through, at the end of the second paddle, we were in fourth position and I thought we were in it, but I didn’t want to tell Dylan just yet.”

That feeling intensified when he stood at the top of the Outeniqua Mountain range, as they approached the last stage.

“When I was on the top of the mountain I actually saw that we were about 25 minutes behind the second placed team, then I believed we could do it.”

A better choice of route meant that not only did the East London pair – the D Squared team – pass their opponents, they also finished six minutes ahead of the chasing pack, in a time of 15hrs, 52min.

Two other city teams made the trip to George – Team Topie en die Laaitie comprising veteran Coen de Bruin and Roland Pearce, who came in 20th in 20:46, and Team Kubusi, featuring brothers John and James Williamson who withdrew.

The non-stop event started at the campus gate and took participants through a 60km trail run, a 60km cycle and a 20km paddle, to the finish at Glenwood House on the campus – all within 24 hours.

It also featured 10 kilometres of the trail run, which included ‘kloofing’ down the Kaaimans River after the start. It was a tough challenge, but Sims said he had no doubt his son, a Port Rex first team rugby and water polo player, would be up for the test.

“He’s a fit boy and an athlete,” said Simms.

“We started training for the adventure race as early as three months back, so I knew he was ready and what he could do.”

Preparation for the epic, which included the Sole Destroyer duathlon and the Lilyfontein Adventure race, was not without its setbacks. Sumner had sustained a rugby injury towards the end of the school season.

Sims also had to accommodate the youngster’s social programme during the school holidays.

What is important to Sims are the lessons his young protégè, and other pupils, could glean from the character-building sport.

“There’s more to it than the physical aspect, it’s also a mind game where you have to strategise and plan.

“If there’s anything you learn from a race of that nature it’s that nothing is impossible,” the father, said referring to the challenges they had to endure throughout the race.

“For any father you can’t help but be proud of him, during the race he fought on and at the end he was knackered.

“He has tenacity,” Sims concluded. - By SABELO SKITI


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