Namibia's first Climbing Competition
A peaceful Saturday morning, rays of sunshine promise a joyful day. We feel composed, yes, even relaxed while we finish setting up the last bits for the competition.
Let's rewind, though. This sense of serenity was definitely not the predominant emotion during the weeks leading up to the event!
The seed for this idea was planted in 2018 with a simple "Hey, climbing is in the Olympic Games for the first time in 2020 - a climbing competition would be sooo cool in Namibia!" and then started to sprout in our heads. A few months ago the deal was sealed and the date was set. No biggie, we thought, how hard can it be?
We started brainstorming and soon came to realise how many questions need to be answered, how many expectations need to be met (not to forget our very own ones) and how many nitty-gritty infrastructural elements need to be assembled not only to construct a clockwork event, but to entertain the climbers as well as the audience. We went through a mental roller-coaster pulling all strings, keeping in touch with suppliers, sponsors and not least ourselves.
The last night before the event we were buzzing with excitement and restless enthusiasm. Dan came late in the evening to help setting routes (only after he gave us a huge freight - why using a door if you can just climb in? ;)) and the little one slept in an improvised tent made of lots of pillows and a crash pad. Drinks, dough, shirts, routes, prizes, medals, speakers, ... last minute dot com was our source of strength - before we sank into bed like a led live safer and passed out for a couple of hours.
And that brings us to the aforementioned morning. Friends and members arrived well before time and helped setting up, the food was being prepared, t-shirts handed out, participants signed in. And then from one moment to the other it seemed, we were in the middle of the tumult, a welter of voices, time records and impressions inundated us, hours passed by and when the music stopped, we were stranded on the land of bliss with the drone of silence in our ears and a dumb smile on our faces.
What a wonderfully smooth event, what a success for the first time hosting a climbing competition. Yes, we gave us a pat on the shoulder and believe, we deserve it.
From absolute beginners never having touched a climbing grip to seasoned pros, the range of participants could not have been more challenging for the organisation. And how could we integrate the younger kids and their keen families? The solution was a small obstacle course emphasizing teamwork, trust and the conquest of fear - our Family Fun Challenge.
All in all, we were amazed by the talent displayed that morning by the youngsters and the adults. It was a sheer delight to witness the sincerity and fervour of the climbers while the audience followed every move in suspense. Not just being athletes, but true sportsmen/women, the climbers were very supportive of one another and proved once more that our climbing community is like a family where anyone is welcome.
Was it a surprise that the winners of men, women and kids were teens from our training classes? (Congrats Lavinia, Dominic and Joshua!) Well, maybe a little. We hoped they could give the adults a good challenge, knowing how hard they train, how well they climb and how devoted they are to this sport. I have to admit, seeing them on the pedestal, stirred up some motherly feelings. We have a fantastic bunch of young climbers and we might even have done a good job with our training...
Looking back to the event, we see ourselves as winners as well not only because we are privileged to call our passion ''work'', but also because so many wonderful people supported us and came to watch and participate. After all, there were 4 winners that day. A million thanks to everyone, our sponsors Black Diamond Equipment, Namibia Breweries, OTB Sport, Maerua Superspar, NamBean and Leon Engelbrecht Design, and Richard Morsbach from NamibAdventure who brought two skilled participants from Swakop! Hopefully we can return the favour soon and bring our climbers to a coastal competition.
Of course we see room for improvement and luckily we are capable of change ;). We will certainly continue with the climbing competitions and create a regular platform for exchange between climbers and, by all means, to lock horns.
Photos by Adrian Steyn
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