Ryno Schoombie presents Dawie Roodt with his Helly Hansen gear.


They are a boring bunch, those stuck-up big shots at headquarters. We all know it. And they have to be boring and stuck up; all those laws, compliance, tens of thousands of clients, and more than a hundred-billion-rand worth of assets to look after. They are boring, right? Or perhaps we are mistaken…
Heiko Weidhase, our highly efficient and seemingly heartless and uninteresting managing director at the Efficient Group, and Dawie Roodt, our award winning chief economist with a questionable mental facility, have finally and totally lost it. On the 7th of March they will be running the Baikal Ice Marathon; http://www.baikal-marathon.org.
But let’s be honest, there were signs. Last year they completed their second Comrades Marathon, and then there were some other extreme sporting events before, and talk of more to come…
But more about Baikal. The Baikal lake is the oldest, largest and coldest of all major lakes. It’s located in central northern Siberia, just north of Mongolia. In winter it can freeze up to three metres thick and the fauna and flora of the lake is the most diversified of all fresh water bodies.
The Baikal Ice Marathon has become an annual event and 2017 will be the 13th such marathon. Only 150 athletes are allowed to participate in temperatures that can vary between -10 and -40 degrees Celsius. The marathon is called a “run for clear water preservation”, a clumsy translation from Russian, to celebrate the pristine habitat of the Great Baikal lake. But an ideal description for one of our sponsors’ flagship products; “Just Water” http://www.justwateronline.co.za/ .
Running a race like this takes very special preparations. Sure, the participants have to be well prepared and fit – they say they are after training on the savanna of the Rhino and Lion Park north of Johannesburg. But running with wildebeest is different from running on ice and in sleet. Running under such extreme conditions requires very special equipment, clothing and above all, know-how.
Fortunately for Heiko, heikoweidhase@efgroup.co.za, and Dawie, dawieroodt@efgroup.co.za, there is support. The guys at Helly Hansen, an experienced sport and extreme enthusiast outlet, provided lifesaving information from their own previous expeditions https://www.hellyhansen.com/. One thing matters when running under these conditions – stay warm! And to stay warm you need three layers of clothing. The first layer’s job is to remove all moisture (sweat) from your skin. Inevitably, activity (running) leads to sweating and sweating turns to ice if you stop for only a few minutes when temperatures are well below zero. Secondly you need a layer of insulation and thirdly you need to be protected from the elements, rain and wind. Fortunately, Helly Hansen has all that is required.
As with all great adventures, keeping record is a must. The whole race will be recorded in high definition format for transmission at a later stage. Not just any equipment will do. Many cameras, mobile phones and other electronic equipment simply cease up at such low temperatures. Everybody will be able to follow our runners on the Ontbytsake Facebook page. Remember that the Baikal lake is in a time zone six hours ahead of South Africa and the race can start anytime, depending on the weather.
Speaking of Ontbytsake; Johann Joubert, johann@ontbytsake.co.za, is the third member of our team. Dawie has been the anchor presenter at Ontbytsake for the past 12 years and Johann is the big boss of this popular program www.ontbytsake.co.za. Ontbytsake will provide all the information on the expedition and progress of our runners, and Johann will be there to record it all.
But it’s not all just for fun. Efficient Group will donate one thousand rand for every one kilometre ran by Heiko and Dawie to Hoërskool Namakwaland.
Hoërskool Namakwaland is an outstanding school which is dependent on fundraising and sponsorships for its operations. This is both an academic as well as technical school, focused on family values and being a haven to which the children look forward to attending. In spite of the challenges that they face, Hoërskool Namakwaland attained a 100% pass rate yet again last year.
Do you wish to be part of the fun? Watch our progress on Ontbytsake’s Facebook page or on channel 144 on DSTV.

Sean Badenhorst