Getting my Impi on: Review of the Impi Challenge 18 October 2014
It’s been a week since the Warrior Race and again I’m up early prepping for another bashing in the form of the Impi Challenge.
This week’s preparation has not been great – to say the least. I’d been ignoring a cough that I developed last week ahead of the Warrior and it’s gotten worse. You know it’s not looking good when Wafiq recommended we take a couple of days off gym to recover – a nice way of saying “my bru you look verdala”
I took his advice, but on Thursday I went to our family doctor to get final sign-off that I could take part in Impi. The verdict: I was suffering from a combination of a viral infection in my throat and an allergic reaction to the usual pollen etc. Good news is that it wasn’t bacterial (so no antibiotics needed) and I’d passed the worst stage of the infection – so I was free to race WOOHOO!
She did however say that if I felt any discomfort during the race around my chest and lungs that I should pull out – words which I ignored and would later pay the price for…
So ready I was, bright and early awaiting Taahir and Aneesa as they were going to be my lift to Stellenbosch. They were running in an earlier slot as part of a team and I was doing this as an individual. This was the race that I would see if I could do it on my own. Last weekend’s Warrior was pretty rough and I was sure that nothing Impi had was going to intimidate me – not even the fabled Leap of Faith which is a 12m high jump into a dam….twice the height of the Tower of Rage!
We arrived at Legacy Park and it was clear from the amount of cars and the vibe that Impi is more established in the Cape than Warrior. The fact that the challenge was split over two days showed the support the race has gathered over the years.
While Taahir and Aneesa registered, I went to buy some Impi merch and a nice pair of gloves to help me with any wall climbs etc. It was at this point when some doubts crept into my mind…
Would it be as fun running this race solo?
What if I need a boost?
I know I can do this!
Why won’t this damn cough stop!
Just then Taahir and Aneesa pitched up with the news that the rest of their team didn’t arrive and they were going to head out alone. To which I responded “Would you mind if I joined you?”
Boom! I was in and we were running together under our team named “Cool Runnings”.
Suddenly a wave of calm, then a rush of excitement as I wanted to hit the course and check what the Impi was all about.
We were ushered into the starting pen with our batch getting a quick warmup from the Adventure Bootcamp ladies that were in attendance. At 9:10am we were off!
First up was Snake Hill, a series of eight 50m uphill runs that quickly separated the not-so-unfit from the completely unfit. I must say that by the fifth turn you could definitely feel the burn! As soon as we were done we hit the first water obstacle which was a nice swim across the dam/pond/water feature (check the picture below for clarity what the heck it is :))
I had started off with a blistering pace, not realizing that I’d left Taahir and Aneesa behind. By the time I completed the swim, I had an uncomfortable stitch in my side. I took the opportunity to take a break and wait for them to emerge and join me on the opposite bank.
Next we hit the trail for a short distance before encountering one of the obstacles I’d had my eye on to complete on my own. Now, I’ve never been much of an athletic kid. So when the Rawson Wall came up I thought, “Here is my chance to climb this bloody wall that kleine Fareedjie would never have” and you know what…I did it.
Special shout-out to the mudstacle Youtube channel for lessons on how to climb a wall 🙂
Some more running followed and then there were some jumps over bars about 1.7m high. This was followed by more running (uphill!) and then we were crawling under what can only be described as croquet hoops just before running through some shin-deep mud. As we would find out, Impi is definitely a running focused obstacle race and you would generally have 2 to 3 obstacles quickly in succession with a gap of running (uphill!) in-between.
We then met our first bottleneck at the half-pipe climb. With the huge popularity of Impi, certain obstacles would result in large traffic jams when people from different batches would end up at the same obstacle. After about 10 or so minutes we were through and we welcomed the sight of the first water break. Yippee!
The toughest obstacles followed in the Monkey Bars and Jungle Vine – both of which I found myself landing hard on my ass. I definitely need to get back on those core stability exercises!
The next section of running really got to me. With the sun now firmly beating down I was suffering. My throat had been throbbing and it was really painful to speak. The longer I ran the more I was considering throwing in the towel.
Then suddenly the Swamp obstacle appeared. To be wading chest-high through a smelly bog caught me by surprise and made me quickly forget about the pain that I was in. After the swamp came the Snake Pit where we crawled through a narrow pipe (again more waiting) which was followed by the Vit-T-Go tower (a fun climb) and then further queuing at the Sewage Pipe crawl.
One of my favourite obstacles was the Rocking Ropes which had you pulling yourself Rambo-style across a river by a rope net – really fun 🙂
We then hit the second drinks station which sported apples and bananas. Really Classy!
After a short run we climbed down some tyre-ladders and continued through tunnels, passing some cows in a field and then a swim across another pool/pond.
One hellova hill followed and again I was really suffering with my throat. My fellow team mates really helped motivate me here to push through and we carried on what seemed like the longest stretch of running EVER!
We finally came to the third and final drinks stop and we knew that we were close to the finish. We passed a closed water obstacle and carried on running through the forest in what felt like a scene out of a jungle chase.
The last couple of obstacles were classics in Leopard Crawl under barbed wire (some people tried the salomie roll – which didn’t work), the run over a wooden pyramid, the Mud Crawl and to finish it off the Lily pads across the water to the finish line.
What an epic race!
I was really glad that Taahir and Aneesa let me tag along with them. These obstacle races are meant to be done with your mates and I really owe them for helping me through the pain.
I must say that I was a bit disappointed with missing out on the Leap of Faith, but apparently the dam was too shallow. I suppose we will have to tackle that one next year.
Big thanks must go to my wife Aanikah, my mom and little one for coming to support me during the race – it’s always nice to share some Spur burgers with loved ones 🙂
The finisher’s photo and the warm showers were an awesome touch! Well done Impi Race Organisors. I’ll definitely be back!