By MATTHEW SLACK
Late one Wednesday night, deep in the bush of Quiet Waters, the Quest Boys gathered in the main area for a much needed bar night but were disturbed when Mr M came skipping in with his laptop. Before that night, no one in the intake had any idea of what Iron Will actually was but the video montage – put together by the one and only Lucy – of last year’s Charity event told a story that even the laziest of Questors wanted to take part in.
Traveling in that overlander is the worst…
Every single bump is felt when riding in this tin machine. Swaying in unity, we travel down what Zimbabwe call roads, in a crazy heat that only a sauna can compare to but this Sauna smells like stinky feet and rotten fruit.
On our way to Lasting Impressions Resort, I couldn’t help but think about how everything we’d done up to this point at Quest will be put to test over the next three days. Running, Cycling, Orienteering and GPS work will be present in the race and we’re all very well prepared
The briefing yesterday afternoon told us everything we needed to know about the history of Iron Will, how its run and how today is going to go. We Quest Boys are always hungry even at 06:00 when todays breakfast was served. Last night was the first night we’d spent in our tents since the Chegutu Touch Tournament. After breakfast the 13 teams were sent off in five minute intervals and had to be at the “ROC” table 15 minutes prior for a kit check before the cycle.
The morning was very entertaining, cycling through some fairly hard terrain, from checkpoint to checkpoint, up a massive hill that put our “Hangover Hill” to shame and eventually back to the ROC table for check in. The 48 km cycle took somewhere between two and three hours to complete and wasn’t anywhere close to as difficult as the cycles we did at Quest during our preparation.
Back at camp now, the groups quickly changed clothes, shoes, grabbed their hiking and overnight kit and set off for “Everest,” our base camp for the night to come. Some groups took longer than others to start the second phase of today (mine included) taking as long a break as 1:15 to eventually head off which was the record set and awarded to George and Tom.
It started to get really hot during the hike and exhaustion was becoming reality. On this hike we were all introduced to the immense amount of spider webs on the property. Every time we decided to go ‘bundu bashing’ it was inevitable to walk through at least seven spider webs at a time. The last checkpoint was atop what the ROC called Everest. The accent was hard core and the course was set in such a way that we were forced to climb the steepest side of the mountain which was pure hell. At the summit we checked in with ROC once again for a final kit check and prepared for our night out.
Waking up to a sunrise beats any alarm clock. All snug in my sleeping bag I watched as the sunlight made its way through the branches above and speckling the ground around us with morning sun. I love spending my nights in the bush because I am a Quest Boy after all.
Hiking once again this morning, I’m pretty sure everyone here thought it was going to be much tougher than it was. The only slight difficulty was taking a canoe to an island whilst still in full kit trying our hardest not to tip. Back at camp now, we all thought we’d be having a delicious hot lunch before our next phase of today but were told to be back out as soon as possible because we still had a cycle to do.
17 km? Agh that’s easy stuff, we’ll be back in no time…
Two hours later, the majority of us were all still out there cycling through the hardest and most unforgiving terrain I have ever encountered. I don’t know how I did it but I managed to shred my tire before the cycle even began and was forced to replace my tubeless tire with a tube – the tire was just too badly damaged to simply add some more slime and hit it up with a ‘bomb’. The last to leave, we made our way very slowly and cautiously through the course to prevent anymore tire damage. With just over 1 km left to go, I passed two teams with bike problems. Mr M’s team had suffered multiple broken chains and rumour has it he tore down most of the forest in frustration while Ethan struggled to get his chain back together for the 4th time. The second team we passed had been stuck for over an hour with a shredded tire. This was the team that dominated every cycle we did at Quest and in our minds were the predetermined winners of Iron Will. Eventually Thierry and Sean walked back and finished last on day two.
The final day and the last chance to creep up the leader board to victory. Today was all about orienteering and it was going to be one very competitive day. We had the mission of reaching 13 checkpoints, in four hours and would all be leaving at the same time but there was a catch. Each team was given a different checkpoint that they had to reach before continuing to any further checkpoints, spreading the teams up evenly throughout the map. We had the usual checkpoints where we had to record symbols and had some other exciting stuff too like the archery, blind folded course and two swims, one in the dam and another in the pool, through a small cave covered by a mini waterfall to retrieve more symbols. I really wished we did some more cycling but to be honest our bikes would be nothing but scrap metal if we did.
Every team made it back within the designated time frame but not all these teams reached every checkpoint and in the end lost some very valuable points as a result.
Day three is the day that can change everything and the evidence was in our awesome team of winners, The Quest Qwaggas. This trio of extremely dedicated and hard-working individuals placed second each day and became the first Quest team to have ever won an Iron Will. Thanks to Robbie, Matteo and Juan, Quest will be taking this year’s Trophy home.