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On a good day the paragliders racing against the trail runners and mountain bikers in the X-Berg Challenge can soar across the mountains to the next check point. This pic was taken the day before the start of the race and ironically bad weather throughout the race kept the paragliders mostly on the ground. The weather's unpredictable nature keeps the race exciting! ? @bennofeelings
Ria Moothilal - Push your Limits
I'm no athlete, and wasn't in it to race so to speak. The primary goal was just to push myself and enjoy the mountains.
Training tips? Do lots of walks with your gear using the same setup as you would use during the race. In my race preparation I didn't have many opportunities to do long hikes (between working and flying) but I did several short ones which I think helped quite a bit. I also started quite late with my training for 2018 so for 2019 I'm starting now.
From a flying perspective I think cross country flying experience was a big help from the perspective of in-flight decision making, out landings, and tight landings. I must say I even used dune flying skills during the X-Berg where on one occasion I kited my wing up a slope to help take the burden off my legs.
Meals en-route? This year I ate like a king thanks to having my dad around. There's much to be said about having a proper curry and rice for supper whilst in the mountains 😉 Other than that I had boiled eggs for breakfast and lunch in addition to the energy bars. Hopefully I can stick to the same recipes for next year!
Finding your way from turn point to turn point (general navigation in the Drakensberg)? This is the one aspect that cost me some time and effort. I used the ViewRanger app for navigation which worked really well except I made some navigation errors using it - for example not taking note of the scale of the map. I found the Drakensberg a little harder to navigate given that there are gullies and peaks all over the place. I'll definitely spend more time getting comfortable with using a GPS/ViewRanger for navigation next year.
Mental fitness/state? I found it quite therapeutic being out in the mountains and mostly alone. There were times I just walked in silence, and there were times that I listened to audio books or music to keep me going. My advice to newbies would be to take along music and audio books that inspire you. I think even when times are tough, it is hard not to appreciate the beauty of those majestic mountains. Always remember that you're there to have fun.
X-Berg Challenge competitor