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Old 03-28-2003, 06:03   #1 (permalink)
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Land Rover G4 Challenge Starts Global Adventure Sunday in NY

March 27, 2003
Motor Trend

The inaugural Land Rover G4 Challenge adventure competition will get underway on Sunday, March 30th with an extraordinary urban challenge in Manhattan. Sixteen adventure athletes -- 14 men and two women -- representing 16 countries, will drive Land Rover Freelanders over a series of man-made obstacles set-up especially for the event in the canyons of the garment district of Manhattan. They will then head north into upstate New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire for the first week of competition.

The Land Rover G4 Challenge will test the stamina, strategy, driving skills and athletic capability of the competitors for the next four weeks. They will use a variety of skills including on- and off-road driving, kayaking, skiing, climbing, GPS navigation and orienteering as they seek hidden points. At night they will pitch tents while nursing sore muscles and begin to plan the next day's strategy.

From here, the event travels to South Africa and Australia before returning to the western U.S. for the finale. Over the next four weeks, they will cover more than 4,000 miles, driving four different Land Rover models on three continents.

After the first leg in the eastern U.S., the second stage will travel into the wilds of South Africa using Defender vehicles (Defender is not available in the U.S.). The third stage will cross the Australian Outback using Range Rovers. The final stage is in the Southwestern U.S. where they will use the Land Rover Discovery to travel from Las Vegas, Nevada to Moab, Utah. The event finishes on April 26th. The Land Rover G4 Challenge will be featured in a two, one-hour broadcasts to be seen this Fall on the Outdoor Life Network as well as on the official Web site: www.landroverG4challenge.com
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Old 03-28-2003, 06:42   #2 (permalink)
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G4 Challenge: Three continents in 28 days; USMC Capt. Olson reports from the front

By JOHN D. STOLL

By April 26, U.S. Marine Capt. Nancy Olson hopes to cross the finish line in Moab, Utah, completing a month-long international adventure that starts in New York and pits 16 select competitors in off-road racing and physical endurance challenges on three continents.

Dubbed the G4 Challenge, the event is sponsored by Land Rover, which is providing all the vehicles and logistic support for all competitors and support personnel—some 50 vehicles per stage.

LAND ROVER G4 CHALLENGE
Adventure race spanning three continents
Combines driving/physical endurance activities
March 30 through April 26
Land Rover is exclusive vehicle brand
Grand prize: 2003 Range Rover

Competitors will race in specific Land Rover vehicles in each of the four race stages: Freelanders in eastern North America, Defenders in South Africa, Range Rovers in Australia and Discoverys in the western United States. When not driving, competitors will face off in endurance challenges ranging from mountain climbing to kayaking to biking.

What is Land Rover doing to prep its vehicles for the G4 Challenge? Not much. Take the same Range Rover, Disco or Freelander you can buy off a showroom floor, add Tangiers Orange paint, Goodyear MT/R off-road tires, a Warn 9.5ti thermometric winch and a navigation system, and your G4 Challenge vehicle is ready to roll. Company officials say competition vehicles, including the not-for-U.S.-sale Defenders, have “no structural and mechanical refinements” over standard spec models; Land Rover only adds the expedition equipment listed above.

Land Rover is the official vehicle of the G4 Challenge, but the company is working with sponsors to provision competitors with all brands of expedition equipment.
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Old 03-28-2003, 06:44   #3 (permalink)
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CAPT. NANCY OLSON

U.S. Marine, 29 years old
One of 16 international competitors
Seasoned adventure racer, runner, triathlete
AutoWeek’s G4 Challenge correspondent
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Old 04-01-2003, 05:58   #4 (permalink)
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April 01, 2003
G4 Challenge invades Big Apple; American Olson fifth after day one of competition

By JOHN D. STOLL

When we signed up to follow Land Rover’s G4 Challenge, images of Land Rovers breaststroking through the muddy terrain of the world’s most remote back country, cascading down mountain slopes the pitch of roller coasters and laying rubber on massive, slippery rocks took residence in our head.
Yes, we read that other part in our media guide about Land Rover integrating ”dramatic cityscapes” into the competition’s international array of adventure venues, but we forgot. That is, we forgot until we stepped off the rubberized steps of a tour bus and planted our feet on Broadway on a rainy Sunday afternoon, saw the barricades and realized that seven blocks of one of the world’s most famous streets had traded its bumper-to-bumper traffic for a vehicle obstacle course fit for, well, a Land Rover.

Land Rover officials began partitioning off the closed portion of Broadway prior to G4’s opening day, working to set up an “urban maximizer” course that would have teams of two competitors maneuvering bright orange-colored Freelanders through various obstacles while spectators and media crowded in to see the action.

No, there were no slalom runs, skid pads or lane change maneuvers on this course.
Instead, drivers were required to scale the Freelander up a slippery incline without touching cones on either side of a narrow lane, turn the vehicle right at the obstacle’s pointy pinnacle and slip back down it, all while following the hand-signaled guidance of their teammate. The obstacle, and the others that occupied Broadway (such as a makeshift railroad), served to prep competitors for what might be found while on extreme off-road expeditions. It also gave media and spectators an up close look at the competitors and the challenges to come, including more urban activities in places like Sydney, Australia, and Las Vegas.

In all, 16 competitors have been selected for G4 and we spent a college credit hour worth of time familiarizing ourselves with how G4 scoring and logistics work before the competition among the 16 began.

This is what we found out: Land Rover and other sponsors supply the tents, kayaks, climbing gear, bikes, various equipment and vehicles needed to complete four weeks worth of driving obstacles and adventure racing. The sixteen competitors are paired up in twos, although they are all individually trying to win. The teams are shuffled at the beginning of each of G4’s four stages (America’s East Coast, South Africa, Australia and America’s West Coast) based on scoring in order to keep things interesting. Points are awarded along the way based on predetermined goals (such as not hitting the cones with the Freelander on the slippery incline or kayaking to a certain location in the fastest time). The winner of the entire event takes home a new Range Rover.

A number of elements are included in the competition’s overall scoring procedure so the strongest or fastest may not necessarily win. In fact, the event’s substance revolves around strategy and teamwork rather than pure athleticism. But physical strength will be needed to endure a competition that has its players cramming as much driving, orienteering and physical exertion as sunlight allows.
After day one, U.S.M.C. Captain Nancy Olson, the U.S. competitor, and her teammate for the day, Sergey Polyansky from Russia, placed fifth out of eight teams. But there's a lot of competition ahead, including the next leg of the eastern U.S. stage—a foray into New York State’s Catskills. Land Rover race organizers expect the competitors to remain somewhat close to one another through the stages and have designed G4 in a way that should have the top four scorers battling for first as the event concludes in late April with a challenge called 'The Seperator' in Moab, Utah.

Olson will be periodically reporting on the events to come, including the Catskills leg, so stay tuned.

(Photo)Chester Foster (South Africa) guides team mate Guy Andrews (Australia) through the 4x4 driving course on the streets of New York City during opening day of the Land Rover G4 Challenge.
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Old 04-01-2003, 06:00   #5 (permalink)
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Land Rover took over seven blocks worth of Broadway to stage day one of its G4 Challenge. Competitors were required to manuever through about a half-dozen obstacles such as this one that elevated the left side of the vehicle on a narrow cat walk.
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Old 04-01-2003, 06:01   #6 (permalink)
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Competitors launch off on the city-wide orienteering portion of G4's opening day competition.
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Old 04-03-2003, 08:07   #7 (permalink)
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G4 Challenge update: Event trades downtown bustle for backcountry serenity

April 03, 2003
AutoWeek
By NANCY OLSON

A slew of New Yorkers go “upstate” for a quick getaway now and then. Or so we’ve heard.
Such was the case Sunday as we left behind the bustle of Manhattan for the serenity of the Catskills. However, we weren’t looking for a quick getaway, we were headed straight to the heart of the action.

Monday’s day two of competition was just around the corner, with temperatures dropping towards 20 degrees for the evening while a convoy of 49 Land Rovers, shaded in the flavor of special edition “Tangiers Orange” paint, scurried over the George Washington Bridge in anticipation of setting up camp and sitting around the campfire to exchange Day One stories.

For the journey north, the Freelander I was assigned to carried not only myself and expedition gear, but also my stage one teammate Sergey Polyansky, the affable G4 competitor from Russia who looks as much like a college professor as a rugged adventure racer. His day job is directing a company in Moscow and thankfully, he has a stomach for pizza and doesn’t mind listening as I sing along to Sheryl Crowe.

About six inches of snow greeted us at the camp site, where various quips could be heard by those thankful they brought their thermals and occupied by the tasks of ten-pitching and kettle-firing after a particularly exhausting and cold day. Cold, yes, really cold, but temperatures aren’t really affecting us. It’s not bad if you keep moving or if, like me, you sleep like a rock. I woke up sweating—always warm when I sleep—and ready for the competition.
Conditions this morning were windy, snowy and as cold as the night before. We begin days in the “Strategy Pit” where the two-person team is required to meticulously chart a course for the days challenges, which are called “Hunters.” We sit down with a map and GPS coordinates predict in what order we will finish each Hunter in relation to the seven other teams. It’s a concept that introduces a good dose of strategy to a competition that could be perceived as simply physical exertion and driving skill at first glance. For this morning’s strategy pit, Sergey and I waited out the other seven teams, let them determine their course and then we completed ours. This gives us the advantage of knowing the field, but being last to the actual battle.

Sergey and I, if anyone competing here in the wilds of Upstate New York on the edge of the storied Adirondacks, will tell you it’s as much strategy as anything. For most adventure races, you have a really good map and know how you use your compass. For G4, you can't use just maps, you have to use GPS, because of the way we've been given the coordinates. But don’t neglect your map and simply rely on your GPS, as Sergey once did, and you find yourself significantly disoriented.
Six Hunters were planned for the day, with a mix of various challenges to keep it interesting and cater to each competitor’s particular strength. The Hunters were spaced out over 200 miles worth of wilderness. Most of the driving today was on pavement. It's exceptionally beautiful around here. Very hilly, with lots of rock faces. Orange Land Rovers, with the heavily loaded racks cradling a kayak and mountain bikes, a heavy duty winch and extra lights, get a lot of attention no matter where you go, but particularly in the small rural towns.

The first Hunter we encountered had us climbing and we had to choose three of the four possible such challenges. This is what I most enjoyed, defying gravity with little other than ropes, harnesses, carabiners and personal grit and balance. Following the climbing, we moved on to three more Hunters requiring a mix of mountain biking, running and orienteering. We reached our fourth Hunter at 4:15 p.m. and needed minutes to finish that particular challenge. By the time we were done with Hunter No. 4, it was 5 p.m. and the Hunters were closed for the day; no exceptions.
No team completed all six Hunters, I don't think it's possible. In fact one team arrived at the kayaking Hunter at 5:03 p.m. and was turned away. Three minutes separated them and their chance at scoring more points. Not only do we get points for our success in the Strategy Pit, we also score an automatic amount of points for completing the Hunter and another fluctuating amount of points for finishing first, second, third, etc…

While Hunters were easier physically than I expected, travel time—with all the quirks and intricacies of plotting oneself along through unfamiliar territory—is an element that you have to conquer with precision. So, we tweak it as we go. We take our time plotting and let GPS tell us the shortest way. We spent part of the day studying other teams, noting how they finished and how well they had planned in Strategy Pit this morning, as well as testing our own theory of going to the furthest one first today, and we think we'll be the first ones there, because we think the other teams will skip it entirely. Tomorrow, we’ll shoot for five of the six Hunters, crossing our fingers that our Strategy Pit predictions will be good, if not spot-on.
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Old 04-04-2003, 06:27   #8 (permalink)
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April 04, 2003
G4 Challenge update: Olson misses camp curfew by a few tics of the minute hand

AutoWeek
By NANCY OLSON

Tuesday, April 1: Green Mountains, Vermont
The clock can be your best friend or your worst enemy. On Tuesday, it turned out to be something other than our friend. After a day of hard work, we missed the check-in deadline of 10 p.m. by minutes and didn’t get any points for the day.

The sequence goes something like this: Sergey Polyansky, my teammate, and I began to build the bridge of international friendship, having washed a good deal of laughs down with a steady diet of Red Bull. We also gelled more in the Strategy Pit, where we predict our performance for the day against the performance of seven other competitors.

Whereas yesterday it took us one hour to plot a course in said pit as we waited out the others, today’s war-room session cost us only about forty minutes, launching us to the starting post and consequentially out of camp fifth out of eight teams, rather than last as we had on Monday.

We were making the long, nerve racking trek back to camp after a day of trying to complete as many Hunters or challenges as possible. Our goal, as stated after Monday’s four-for-six challenges completed performance, was to complete five Hunters of six. We had to reach camp no later than 10 p.m. and our plotting equipment was acting a bit indecisively— sometimes the GPS told us we were going to make it in time – just in time – then other times it would say we would be late. As I said, it was nerve racking and exhausting.

I was really tired as days worth of fatigue compounded upon sleeping through sub-zero lows, eating freeze dried food out of a bag and hopes of a shower. None of that was on my mind as we were racing home. It was all driving and navigating in an effort to beat the clock.

We didn’t. As consequence, we were docked a Tuesday worth of points. Sergey and I are both very competitive, so it’s hard to lose a whole day worth of points and, as a result, there’s a lot of pressure on us for Wednesday. If there’s any consolation in the disappointment, another team, composed of Chester Foster (South Africa) and Guy Andrews (Australia), also missed the curfew. But we’re not out here to compare notes, we’re out here to win and that’s what I intend to do, starting with a well-plotted Strategy Pit in the morning and even a new strategy to the Freelander's stereo (softer music for driving between the Hunter stages, then upbeat music as we approach the Hunter, to get the energy level raised).

Wednesday, April 2, White Mountains, New Hampshire

Wednesday, with temps hovering above freezing at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and spirits grateful for the thaw, we see our chance to make up some serious points staring us straight in the face: a Hunter named Equinox.
Equinox carries additional value on Wednesday because one of the six Hunters was cancelled. The Hunter is a 4x4 driving course at the Land Rover Driving School near Rutland, Vermont. This means we’re relying on our driving skills and, to say the least, we know how to drive.
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Old 04-08-2003, 08:21   #9 (permalink)
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April 08, 2003

G4 Challenge update: Olson weathers final two days of Eastern USA Stage

AutoWeek
By NANCY OLSON

Wednesday, April 2, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Today we hit the ground running, literally. The first of the four Hunters, or staged challenges, we did today was composed strictly of running. After two days of a lot of running, I’m itching for more exotic events (read rappelling, off-roading, etc…).

Because of the weather, Land Rover G4 Challenge officials had to change a lot of the events they had planned, so it has thus far turned into a lot of just running for us. I’m better at running than anything else but it’s just not very exciting, frankly.

My Eastern USA Stage one teammate Sergey Polyansky and I had originally planned our first Hunter of the day to include biking, but when we looked at the actual terrain we decided that going on exclusively foot was the way to go. It was a lot of bushwhacking through the woods and just running through deep loads of snow. Consequently, we mastered land navigation to our checkpoints and ran through the forest.

Gunning up and down hills and crossing really cold rivers by foot made something as monotonous as running exciting. In addition, I was able to utilize my backlog of land navigation skills working together with Sergey to navigated using a map and compass instead of relying on the GPS. In the adventure races I normally enter, competitors aren’t even allowed to use GPS. It’s a great tool, but I prefer terrain analysis and navigating based on my own skills and knowledge over do-it-for you technology.

Russia/USA was the first team to attempt the bushwhacking Hunter and, instead of running on the trail, we went around it, so people wouldn’t be able to follow our footsteps. We were playing little mind games on the other teams coming after us.

Next we hit Equinox, a 4x4 driving course at the Land Rover Driving School near Rutland, Vermont, which was worth additional value today based on some necessary elminating of Hunters during previous days. G4 Challenge officials had pickets set up for this course, and we had to go through as many gates as possible in the time allotted. We had 15 minutes, and at 7.5 minutes we had to switch drivers. I drove first and Sergey guided me, then we switched and he drove and I navigated him through.

Equinox was significant because Sergey and I were experiencing what Land Rover does best, as we spent time commandeering these vehicles through terrain that is rugged and challenging and remote. The Freelanders we were driving managed well.

At the third Hunter, we ran from the start point along snow-covered railroad tracks onto a railroad bridge. We rappelled off the bridge down to the second checkpoint, and ran along the tracks there, around and back up the hill to the vehicles. This particular challenge included all the elements of what you envision as an adventure challenge sport. You’re out wearing the helmets, and the climbing gear and it is something you can wrap your emotions around and really enjoy. I felt like Spiderman, sort of.

From there we jumped back into the cars. It was a short distance to our last Hunter. As opposed to the previous Hunter, where we barreled through the starting line in hopes of not wasting time (despite our Strategy Pit plan that would have had us wait for another team to go through before us), this time had to wait for Belgium and Canada to come through.
We had guessed we would be at the Hunter seventh, and planned it so we had enough time to wait for another team to go through if we were early. It worked out well for them, too, because they had predicted they’d be there fifth, and were still able to get 10 points by being sixth, or one position off from their prediction. We came in seventh, so we rang in right on time, netting 20 points for following our Strategy Plan to the letter.

This final Hunter was an adventure activity for sure. We went to a climbers dreamland of sorts, a place called the Cathedral, which is characterized by sheer rock face that simply tempts onlookers to try climing. It was undercut, so we had to use “jumars” to get up. Jumars are tools that you hook onto the rope and use to climb straight up. You can get up anything if you have a vertical rope and jumars. While there, I saw this huge icefall come off the mountain and fall down the cliff. The ice fell on the left and the right of where we were ascending, so it was really spectacular. We used an auto-locking seatbelt-like device to come back down face after our ascent.

We hit perfectly on one of our Strategy Pit predictions for how we were going to attack the Hunters on Wednesday. To explain, in early-morning Strategy Pit sessions, we predict when we are going to complete each Hunter in relation to the order of the other 14 competitors finishing the same Hunter. This has proved to be both difficult to predict and execute and essential to winning the overall strategy game. In addition to hitting one prediction head on for 20 points, two of our other predictions were just one off, scoring us 10 points each. Overall, Wednesday was a good day, how I envisioned this challenge being. Although it wasn’t as physically taxing as expected, it was taxing nonetheless if only for the sheer magnitude of the competition.

The campsite that night was very enjoyable too, mostly because we were there early as opposed to our late finish Tuesday that cost us the entire day’s worth of points. Since we camped early, we had the time and energy to hang out around the campfire and socialize with the others.

April 3, Springfield, Massachusetts

Thursday morning brought along the second Maximizer of the G4 Challenge and the final leg of the Eastern USA stage, which began Sunday with an “urban Maximizer” in Manhattan. This second Maximizer, staged before larger crowds and contained between tighter coordinates than the competition of the last three days, wasn’t, to say the least, Manhattan.

Instead of breaking the day huddled in Strategy Pit, we met eight support Freelanders parked at the bottom of a ski hill in western Massachusetts. G4 Challenge officials handed one teammate a map of the slopes, with a checkpoint indicated on the map, and handed the other teammate handheld radio and a snowboard or set of skis.

I opted for the snowboard, ran for the ski jump and jumped on while Sergey hopped in the Freelander with one radio. I went first, ran to the ski lift and jumped on. When I got to the top, Sergey navigated me via radio down the mountain to our checkpoint. At the checkpoint was an enlarged photocopy of our ticket to South Africa…clever indeed. I had to look around for at least a minute and a half or two minutes to find the ticket with my name. It seems like I looked at every ticket at least twice. Finally I found it, and snowboarded down the mountain. I was either first or second down the mountain, entering the spectator area after my descent to an enthused crowd.

Sergey then grabbed his board, went up the mountain and I navigated him to his checkpoint. He got his ticket and came down the mountain. Then we had to run together through a gate, and back to the lift, and back down the mountain to our final checkpoint, where we picked up our own national flags.

We finished by boarding down the mountain, myself with the Stars and Stripes trailing behind me, and Sergey with the Russian flag. That felt great for me, being proud to carry the U.S. flag, and it was equally great to see the Stars and Stripes and the Russian flag coming down the mountain as a team. We jabbed our flags into the snow, and we finished in second place in that adventure. Netherlands/Turkey were the only team ahead of us.

That to me the final leg of the Eastern USA stage illustrates what the Land Rover G4 Challenge is all about, with the nations coming together with a common goal and sharing in the spirit of adventure. To top it all off, the third place team was Ireland and UK, and Irishman Paul McCarthy had never been on a snowboard before in his life. For them to come down in third place, when McCarthy had never even seen snow really, was amazing.

At the end of the first leg, I knew I’d be in the bottom eight, and I was, due to losing our points on Tuesday. That means that instead of picking who my teammate will be (as I did choosing Sergey in Manhattan) someone else is going to do the picking this time, and I get to be picked. There’s not anybody who I don’t want to be paired up with, so whatever team I end up as will be a good match, I’m sure. (It would be great to get Chester Foster, because he knows South Africa, but really that’s the only advantage.)

I’m definitely looking forward to South Africa, and I’m looking forward to some sleep on the plane ride over. This hasn’t been really physically demanding so far, but it’s exhausting. I’m used to getting a lot of sleep, and I haven’t been getting much sleep. I’m getting used to the game and learning how to adjust and plot strategy in pairs. However, the best strategy right now might just be a nap.

After romping through the woods on foot, flinging myself off mountainsides with support ropes and putting a Freelander through its paces, I can say this G4 Challenge is phenomenally well done. This whole stage has been on public roads. We’re stopping at gas stations and going to rest stops and people see us and come up and want to know what it’s all about.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to being in a remote environment. I think there’s probably going to be a lot more middle-of-nowhere variety and remoteness in South Africa, which constitutes home base for Stage 2. This time we will be using Defenders, and they will be doing exactly what the Defender is designed to do – taking us where no one else has been.
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Old 04-10-2003, 09:14   #10 (permalink)
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April 10, 2003
G4 Challenge update: Cape serves up grueling terrain and a dose of bad luck

By NANCY OLSON

April 6, Cape Town, South Africa
As expected, South Africa is more of what I imagined for G4.

The beautiful, diverse countryside is phenomenal and lends itself to a plethora of activities. You almost can’t describe this to someone who’s never seen it (pictures will have to do). Sometimes you just have to take a break from racing and simply look around.

I prefer the camping here much more than on the first leg, because you can enjoy sitting around outside the tents thanks to warmer weather, making for more of a campsite atmosphere. At the end of the day, we’re simply slapping the boil-in-the bag dinners provided us on the warm manifolds of our orange Land Rover Defenders.

South Africa is the Defender’s territory. I’ve been looking forward to driving a Defender in South Africa since I joined the G4 Challenge and at the extreme off-road course, we were able to play with the Defender in its own playground. Of course it performed perfectly. We got through the course without winching. (More on that below.)
Due to the fact that I, and my Eastern USA Stage partner Sergey Polyansky, lost a day’s worth of points last Wednesday in Vermont due to being late to camp, I was behind the eight ball a bit starting the South Africa Stage, placing in the bottom eight of 16 competitors. The beginning of the Stage meant I would get a new partner—one who would pick me—and with a new partner came the opportunity to make up ground and chase the heels of the G4’s overall leader, Jim Kuhn from Canada.

Tim Pickering, the Brit holding down third place overall following Stage one, picked me to partner with him throughout the South Africa Stage. Tim was with Irishman Paul McCarthy during the previous leg and he’s pretty confident he made the right call. The press quoted him as saying “Nancy and I had so many laughs last week and good humor is really important in such a stressful competition. I reckon that by the end of the week we’ll either love each other or hate each other.”

So far, we work well as a team. In a word, Tim is fan-freakin’-tastic. We’ve been busting a gut laughing and I’m really honored and flattered that he picked me, and he picked me early. Tim is excellent with strategy and navigation which complements my knack for terrain analysis. Our similar mindset—competitive and fun-loving—makes us a natural G4 pairing.

We’d test our mettle at the Sunday Maximizer, which was really tough due to a horrible heat and leg-burning terrain. Going uphill destroyed my lower legs and, though you need to take a break to make it better, nobody is willing to take a break.
The Maximizers are set-up to squeeze as much competition into one day without having to traverse miles of countryside in a Land Rover to do so. Today’s Maximizer was very frustrating for me as I made a navigational mistake and missed a crucial checkpoint during the run. I didn’t want to go back up that mountain. Tim lost his identification microchip, necessary for scoring, and he climbed the hill twice (no wonder they’ve dubbed him “The Plucky Brit.”)

They told me when I got through the hill climb to the biking that I was in first for the Maximizer, and I thought they were joking because I missed a checkpoint and lost points. My bike didn’t seem to care that I was in first as I embarked on the next leg in the journey, which required us to maneuver mountain bikes down an off-road decent towards the city. My bike didn’t work, and the GPS didn’t work, leaving me with the frustrating feeling that I was really out of control. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. Kuhn, the Canadian leading the entire G4, took a major tumble off his bike at high speed, causing lacerations to his elbow, wrist and knee, requiring 30 stitches and all the might he could muster to finish the day.

The Maximizer pretty much ruined my whole day. As it turns out, the Maximizer ruined Kuhn’s entire competition. He decided to withdraw the next morning on doctor’s advice and will stay on as a computer con******t. Another Canadian is coming to take his place and inherit his points.
Perhaps it goes without saying that after the frustration of faulty equipment and the daunting hill climb, I was really glad to get to the kayaking part of the day. We kayaked to a boat out in the harbor and were required climb onto it to find our checkpoint. I must have run around the boat for 10 minutes looking for the checkpoint. After targeting the checkpoint, I then had to dive off the deck, which was hoisting 49 feet above the water line, into the water.

April 7, Cape Agulhas, South Africa G4 Challenge officials decided to stir our campsite, perched at the southern-most tip of South Africa’s mainland coast, with U2’s Bono bellowing from a Range Rover stereo at 5:30 in the morning. So much for the “Cape of Good Hope.”

It was time to drive the Defender 110 TD5 we had swapped into out of the Freelanders we had on the U.S. East Coast, and drive it hard. Seems bad luck is following us, however, as one of our support vehicles had an incident that cost us three hours of progress on the day. It was frustrating to lose the time, but gratifying to know everyone was alright.
I’ve lost the equivalent of about a day and a half of points so far. I keep reminding myself I’m not here just to win the grand prize Range Rover. The prize is the voyage. You’ve given away your prize if you don’t enjoy it.

Still, I’m painfully competitive, and I’m not doing as well as I should. Tim and I have had three bad days and I think we’re through with our bad days. I think the last two stages after South Africa are really going to be intense and the pool of competitors includes one group of really intense people who are all out to win and another group of people who are very competitive but also want to have fun. I prefer to run with second group.

As for South Africa, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Said Turkey’s Cuneyt Gazioglu, who’s ultra-competitive and holding his own out here, “We didn’t score many points today, but we learned a lot about African conditions and had lots of fun.” Heck, he’s still learning to drive from the right side of the vehicle. His teammate, Alberta Chiappa from Italy, is simply laughing at watching him get the hang of it: “It was very, very funny.”

As for my partner, Tim Pickering, he’s philosophical going into tomorrow’s competition, having been quoted by media as saying, “It seems that we’re getting all the bad luck at the moment, but this is after all an adventurous challenge. We scored some good points this afternoon and we even managed to snatch a shower.”

The chap said it well, indeed.

(Photo)South Africa proves to be a "playground" for the Land Rover's Defender, the official vehicle of the South Africa Stage.
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg g4defender.jpeg (21.1 KB, 14 views)
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