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An ostrich and a RAV meet in the dark...

2007-05-28 09:00

Dave Mosely

I recently relieved Wheels24 of a spaciously plush Toyota RAV4 (2.2 D-4D, I think) for a trip to Montagu. The occasion was the Petzl Adventure Nights Night Run, a 12km trail run (in the dark, hence the name "night run") organised by South Africa's premier adventure racers, Mark and John Collins. Naturally, it was a weekend not without incident. A blinding rain deluge en route was just a hint of the hilarity to come over the two days. The ostrich was the cherry on top.



Why is the ostrich licking my ankle?

Well Dave, my game ranging experience tells me that it's a frisky male ostrich, most probably on heat and quite possibly a little startled at two pasty white boys having run straight into it.

Ah, yes. I see. Well can we jump over this fence now because he's just invited me to dinner and movie and I don't like where this is heading.

Of course, of course. Let's go this way. I tell you what, Dave, you're lucky that wasn't a springhare. You don't even want to know how forward their advances are when it's mating season.


Unwarranted attention

I can report that the RAV is an excellent ride. Highlights of our drive out to Montagu included starting the car with a button and hurling insults at the disembodied female voice (husky, yet creepy at the same time) of the satellite navigation device.

Her increasingly frantic pleas to turn around were amusing, in a possessed flight stewardess kind of way, at first. After 20 km of ghostly "perform u-turn now" we realized we couldn't shut her off. After a failed exorcism Alan, my partner for the night run, became so enraged that he eventually hacked out the consol with his Leatherman and tossed it, now cackling like the possession had been passed unto him, into the overflowing Molenaars River beneath us. The race, I thought, should be an interesting affair.

After I buckled Al down with the excellent backseat seatbelts (ideal for lively kids) and a garlic necklace we rolled the RAV into town in becalmed interior silence. The RAV's growling diesel engine, though, announced our arrival in city-slicking style. The streets were empty, the sky was heavily laden with imposing clouds and our host for the weekend was everything you'd expect of an old dear living with 231 animals in the country. Stark-raving bonkers. She gave us the grand tour of her office (not quite the Tate Modern, but some beguiling art on display none the less) while her similarly unhinged dogs began to vigorously hump my Levi's.

We unloaded our luggage and with the impressive seat warmers in full blow we alighted from the B&B and crossed town to the start of the race. At the entrance we were met with the worst kind of welcome wagon, a security guard at the end of a 36-hour minimum wage shift.

No room for the RAV?

"You can't park here." Why not? "This is private property. You must park behind that car." But that car is three metres away from where I've just parked. "You can't park here." This went on for about three days until I relented and reversed the required five meters back and secured my parking on top of the guard's bicycle. Score one for the high clearance of the RAV and the durability of the bumpers. Not even a scratch.

The sun set and the race was on. Al and I set out enthusiastically, missing our first turn, but getting a chance to further harass the security guard who by this stage was down on all fours letting the air out the RAV's tyres. We gathered our thoughts, found the right path and bounded off into the Montagu wilderness for 12kms of map-reading amusement.

One kilometer in I realized my headlamp was about as helpful as a scented candle on the International Space Station. Al took the lead and we slipped and tripped our way to the finish line, avoiding disaster with the ostrich early on and another near death experience with two aggressively competitive girls who pushed us down a small ravine in an effort to gain a minute or two advantage.

I tried to drag Al out of the brambles. By now, however, he was lying on his back bemoaning a sore ankle and twittering sweet nothings to the shooting stars that were dashing through the sky above us. We mustered up enough team spirit to cross the finish line, let the security out of the boot (very roomy, he was in there with two mountain bikes) with a stern warning not to bother us again, and ended the evening with a quiet sherry at the B&B while our host's dogs howled agonizingly at a blinking street lamp.

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