Confessions from the Heart
Earlier today an official written complaint was lodged disputing team Featherbed Painted Wolf's capture of CP 17. The local team lead the 500km adventure race, gaining time on their lead throughout the event.
Unfortunately the team identified checkpoint 17 as a misplacement or stolen after searching for 15minutes, and took a photograph of the location as suggested by the race director; Stephan Muller at race briefing.
Expedition Africa as an event applies by the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) rules and regulations, and based on these rules Muller gave the team an option of either collecting the CP before the finish or suffering a 6 hour penalty to their final race time. Muller noted that the team would therefore suffer a 2 hour penalty by collecting the checkpoint as they would have to go off course to collect it.
According to the team's checkpoint passport received as they crossed the finish line, they managed to collect the outstanding checkpoint.
An official meeting took place at 20h00 at Pine Lake Marina, where captains of the top ten teams competing in Expedition Africa met with Muller and a jury to finalise the dispute. After three hours of rule discussions and opinions shared on what the correct decision was to make, the jury released a verdict that four votes to one shared in Muller's decision and race directive, receiving a penalty of two hours.
This decision will allow Team Featherbed Painted Wolf to retain their title as the 2016 edition of Expedition Africa winners.
The team will be racing at the Adventure Racing Wold Championships in Australia later this year. According to Team Featherbed Painted Wolf's captain Mark Collins, "Heidi and Stephan Muller have brought direction and structure to adventure racing in South Africa."
As teams and supporters head off to sleep, there is still one remaining team left on course. Team Tumbleweeds (RSA) are on the few lasts final legs of the race. Once they have successfully crossed the finish line, Expedition Africa 2016 will come to a close.
Race Director; Stephan Muller announcing the jury's verdict: https://youtu.be/4oQtdxvBp7w
We look every year for what is most needed in the area closest to our Host Town and found this wonderful organisation who is so desperately in need of Funding. Our whole idea is to get the teams participating with a local child which will benefit from our contributions and make a Mosaic Creation which will be a Landmark in the Town of Sedgefield. All sponsors names will be engraved into this landmark and while teams are racing the Masithandane group of tilers will finish the Landmark. After the event teams can go back and take their Team photo's of this Landmark of which they were part of. Contact me if you want to assist me with this Dream!! #loveyouexpeditionafrica
We had the most amazing morning spending time with some of the local children as they were showing my Werner and Isabella all about Mosaic. You can also see the spot where we are going to make this Landmark!! See photo's below.
PRESS RELEASE: Expedition Africa Mosaics for Change Community Project
The Garden Route, known locally as the "Home of Adventure" will host Expedition Africa 2016. Teams from all over the world will arrive in less than six weeks to take on this team challenge of mountain biking, trekking, orienteering, kloofing, kayaking and abseiling in the picturesque Garden Route.
Organisers; Heidi and Stephan Muller have always ensured the local community benefits from their Expedition Africa events, and this year the Bursary Fund for Children of the local Non-Profit Organisation Masithandane has been chosen. Masithandane is a registered Non-Profit Organisation No. 052-253 & Public Benefit Organisation No. 930025275 and has been working in the area for 10 years. The Bursary Fund is used to assist families in need with transport costs to school, school fees and uniforms.
According to Jacky Weaver of the Masithandane Fund, "there are no High Schools in the area, and no public transport systems in place for children living in Sedgefield and its outlying rural area." The majority of the Greater Sedgefield Area's population is located in formal and informal settlements away from infrastructure, services and employment opportunities.
"The Bursary fund is a preventative measure needed to prevent high school drop-outs, teenage pregnancy, crime, drug abuse and the dangers associated with hitch-hiking" shares Weaver.
"Expedition Africa is more than just an adventure race; it's about changing lives!! This type of event will change the lives of not only the competitor; but also affect every person who is part of this event and ultimately give back to the Community. It's about making amazing memories and leaving a legacy behind" expresses Heidi Muller of Kinetic Events. Kinetic Events have aligned this year’s Expedition Africa with the Masithandane organisation to create a Mosaic Landmark showcasing this year's exciting event.
“Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market is proud to host the Expedition Africa 2016 participants. We are honoured to be chosen to provide the backdrop for the mosaic masterpiece that will be crafted as a memory for the community project” shares Cliff Elion, owner of the Mosaic Village and Outdoor Market.
According to Greg Vogt of Knysna & Partners, "one of the goals of hosting the event in the Garden Route was to establish and cement the claim that this region is the Home of Adventure within the Western Cape. "
The 53 participating teams will unite the day before their Expedition Africa adventure begins; creating a master piece that will feature the legacy of each individual taking part in this year's Expedition Africa and their representing countries. Teams will be given the necessary tools and equipment to develop a mosaic creation on a tile that will feature for years to come at the famous Sedgefield market, celebrating Expedition Africa 2016.
"We are delighted that the local community will benefit from this international event taking place within the true home of adventure, and look forward to witnessing the organisations success in reaching their fundraising objectives" shares Greg Vogt of Knysna & Partners.
The contribution towards the project required is a minimum of R1500.00 per tile. Local children and artists will be part of the interactive team experience on the 14th May 2016 creating 53 unique tiles that will form this master piece. Moreover this project will contribute to the Masithandane Bursary Fund for children and help generate income for ten local mosaic'ists and their families, and further support economic opportunities for local business.
Teams participating in this year's Expedition Africa are encouraged to spread the word to families, supporters and sponsors to support this worthy cause. Contributors will have their names engraved into the mosaic master piece, meaning their names will also live forever in Sedgefield, Western Cape, South Africa for years and years to come; celebrating 2016's Expedition Africa's Adventure Race.
The Garden Route is rich with resources when it comes to the natural beauty of the Knysna Heads, the tranquil forests and still lakes and rivers leading to the rolling ocean. This is the perfect opportunity to appreciate and uplift the local communities of this beautiful land by investing in their education, culture, fellowship and upliftment.
Help change lives with this year's Expedition Africa, make your contribution, make your change!
Expedition Africa Mosaic for Change Community Project 2016:
Expedition Africa teams will cycle from their Host Venue; Pine Lake Marina to the Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market, Sedgefield. Family and friends are welcome to witness and experience this project at the Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market.
Date: Saturday, 14 May 2016
Venue: Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market, Sedgefield
Beneficiary: Masithandane Bursary Fund for Children
Contact: Heidi Muller (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to get more involved with this event, eg: sponsoring toward Branded T Shirts, food packs etc.
Contact: Jacky Weaver (email@example.com) for banking details. As a contributor/sponsor, your name will be engraved into the Expedition Africa Mosaic Landmark. Certificate to RSA Businesses will be given for Tax benefit.
Expedition Africa 500km Adventure Race 2016
Date: Sunday, 15 May 2016
Start Time: 08h00
Venue: To be announced at the Opening Ceremony on Friday, 13 May 2016
Live Tracking: www.expafrica.live
Host Venue: Pine Lake Marina www.pinelakemarina.co.za
Note: All local families and supporters are welcome to attend the start of the event.
It has now been over 3 months since we finished our beloved event, Expedition Africa, which took place along the Garden Route. We spent 1 week per month, prior to our event, in and around this area in preparation.
I have been sitting with this “post-race” write up for a while and just cannot find the words to express what is happening in my heart… it is a mix of emotions.
It was truly a wonderful journey to put something of this scale together and to spend a few months in this wonderful part of South Africa. The moment that will never be forgotten was when all our teams spread out in front of us on the Knysna Lagoon, as we were standing on the pier in front of the Cruise Café. There was lots of excitement with photographers pushing each other to get the best shot and some of them were even on the boats to follow the teams. The horn blew and off they went. The wheel was rolling and you could not stop it.
While it is a non-stop race for our teams, it is a non-stop race for us, until the last team crosses that finish line. It is a year’s work culminating in the final stretch and afterwards the only memories you have left are the images and the videos. Sadly, this year I walked away empty. You know when a tap runs dry……. my tap ran out this year.
I function on love and I give love unconditionally. That is my thing. It is like adventure racing, its non-stop, and my river of love can never dry up (that is what I thought). Nevertheless, this year I walked home after prize-giving, looking at my husband and my heart was broken. We packed in silence, said our goodbye’s, farewells and thank-you’s, collected CP points. We were still sleep deprived, but tackled the 15-hour trip back to JHB, most of which was done again in silence and I can just remember the tears rolling down my cheeks. I could not stop thinking, why am I doing this? Why am I giving my soul to this? Why am I putting myself out there?
I had no words, nothing. I was just in turmoil with my thoughts and myself.
Now as I sit and open the photo galleries and the videos; my heart swells up with emotion… emotions of happiness, of sadness, of pride and utmost respect of the team of people who went out of their way and worked through-out the night with us to create and capture this “masterpiece”. The most amazing people who just gave it their all!
I mean where in the world do you find people working throughout the night? In the cold, fighting the sleep monsters, trying to keep it all together. Letting us know when the truck leaves, when it arrives, what boxes are short, which teams are close, how far the truck is along. They get worried… the gear does not arrive, the cups run out; we need more milk, then toilet paper. What next??
How can we help? the logistics car has broken down, how can we make plans? We need wood here, we need a marshal there, and we need a gate unlocked but cannot find the farmer, and then most important of all, WE ALL NEED SLEEP… How, just how, can I ever explain this world of intensity, responsibility, problem and crisis management to any person? You cannot prepare for it. You cannot just go and sleep and leave it to someone else to sort out. Once that wheel is rolling you cannot stop it!!
It is the one week in your life where you cannot think of anything else. Its 200% focused energy. Once you have all the balls in the air, you have to remember when was the last post made about this sponsor and a tweet about that sponsor? Did this happen and then that? When last did Stephan sleep? Or eat? Or does anyone know where he is? And where is Ian? And Jose? And there it goes again...
Finally, I move to the finish and our teams start pouring in… I wait for them, all of them. In the beginning, there is lots of excitement as the first teams arrive, with lots of supporters. Then the night becomes lonely and I stand mostly alone with one brave volunteer who is standing half asleep with me. Standing under the stars with a blanket wrapped around my body looking into the silence of the night. How beautiful is this?
I can hear the strokes of the blades as a team is nearing the finish line and then I can see them … Hopefully I am standing with the right country’s flag in hand, music pumping in the background and it is tears of achievement, of greatness, of proudness and just LOVE. Love for people and love for the incredible sport that pushes every person further than the body can do… it pushes your mind and shapes you as a person. It makes you think about yourself, your life, and the things that are really important in life.
I look at every person and I see their pain and smiles, I see, for that few minutes, emotions which not a lot of people have ever seen. I see and understand what they feel and I can see the “change” … it is a pure raw emotion and my privilege to share those first moments.
It is a humbling experience to know that we created an event/experience and that I know will be part of someone’s life forever. We create memories. What is life without memories?
I knew we had to get away after this magnificent event…
Time heals most things. Only time and as our event was on the one hand a massive success and we had massive reach and ratings, it was sadly overshadowed by things we had to address that were out of our control. We had to enforce penalties, upset friends and handle conflict which I Hate!! You can only learn from it. In the end, you still walk away with an empty soul. I was instead of celebrating sad. So sad, emotionally drained and tired.
Our event touched lives. We got so many emails afterwards from volunteers, participants and marshals who told us how expedition had changed their lives and enriched their soul.
I came to the conclusion after some “time out”…. I have put a year of love into this event and my heart walked out empty. Nevertheless, I have a lifetime of memories, memories that nobody can take away from me. Memories filled with time with my children on the beach, kayaking with Stephan on the rivers and hiking along the most beautiful coastline ever. Memories of challenges to get approvals and then amazing memories of discussing our Community Project where we made the Mosaic Landmark and donated the money to the Masithandane Bursary Fund. I gave an afternoon to the young girls at the Kranskop community showing them the finer things in life and helped to build their confidence. We raised money for children who do not have food or transport to go to school. Nobody can take any of those memories away from me. I gave it my all.
A mom who is a friend of mine on Facebook (our children used to be in the same school), came to me and said: “Wow I saw your event and had a look into it and now I see why you are always so busy….”
“It must be so amazing to be the creator of something so special and amazing!” she said.
I closed my eyes ... it hit me… Thank you! Thank you God! Thank you for putting me in a position where I can create something where people can go and “explore”, find themselves, push themselves and feel FREE!! Her words are humbling; sometimes a few words like this from a stranger can change your whole perspective of how you look at things.
I started reading the race reports, and it was a healing process for me. We went away, I switched my phone off, laptop off, I started dancing again, laughing, and running in the rain… I found my “Mojo” again… I looked at my husband with a heart full of admiration and love! I am so proud of him and the man he is and that we can share this love together.
I look back and only see the beautiful things… we made special friends and had the most amazing crew around us who worked their asses off to get the best images, video moments, transport boxes/boats etc. They worked through the day and night not for money but – for us Heidi and Stephan Muller. No money will ever be enough to pay them. They do it from the heart and that is what Expedition Africa is all about. It is more than only a race… its Love!
To every person who was part of the event it does not matter how big or small, you gave in time and in love, we do see it and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!! Thank you for giving your time and for working so hard at an event where most of you hardly know me and Stephan. Thank you for sharing our love and for the sacrifices you have made for Expedition Africa!! May this event be in your life and heart for all the years to come and hope to see you again at the Start of Expedition Africa 2017? I extend this Thank you to every sponsor, venue and institution who were involved and supported us. Thank you for believing in us and making our event just better and better!! Lastly the thank you to our family who is our greatest supporters in love and time where our whole family was there this year to come and help us. Isn't that just so amazing to have this support system!! I am truly the luckiest girl!!
Yes, soon we will announce the Host venue for 2017. If we inspired you this year, book your dates for 12 May – 21 May 2017 and we will meet again! I am excited as my heart is filled with love and energy. To go out and to put together another World Class event that will give you memories for Life!
I am in the business where I give love unconditionally, I will always believe in love and I will always organise our business with love #itsallaboutlove “loving life with abundance”
Otherwise, we waste each other’s time…
As nothing else matters to me…
(I tried to get a photo of most of the people who were involved this year but could not get from all, but just know that I love all of you. See more pictures in the "confessions from the heart" photo album)
until we meet again..
The 7th edition of Expedition Africa; South Africa’s only multi-day adventure race, will take place in the Baviaans and Kouga Regions between 14 and 21 May next year, with Cape St Francis acting as the base of the competition. The announcement was made in Johannesburg by race organisers Stephen and Heidi Muller from Kinetic Events, and welcomed by local sportsmen and businesses.
This annual event, one of 11 around the globe and part of the Adventure Racing World Series (http://arworldseries.com/ ) is a non-stop 7 day long race where teams of 4 navigate an unmarked route by trekking, cycling and paddling. Elite and entry level adventure racers will navigate by map only their way between Control Points through the Baviaans and Kouga, the Klein Karoo and Tsitsikamma, however Baviaans, home to the well-known Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be the highlight of the 500km route.
“The Kouga Local Tourism Organisation invited us to host the event on their home ground, and we are thrilled with the prospect to let it happen in the Adventure Province,” Muller said.
“We grabbed the opportunity with both hands as we are very excited to include the Baviaans, a true wilderness area into the route. This much sought after venue is perfectly suitable for adventure racing,” says Muller.
In true Adventure Racing and World Series style, the route of Expedition Africa 2017 remains a secret until race day, and teams from all over the world are waiting in anticipation for the start location to be announced. The winners will receive an entry in the World Championships, to be held in the USA in August 2017.
The Kouga Region, part of the Eastern Cape, includes the world famous surfing mecca Jeffreys Bay, rustic holiday destinations St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis as well as the fruit basket of the Eastern Cape, the Gamtoos Valley. It borders both the Baviaans and the rugged Tsitsikamma, allowing the race organisers to create a route filled with diversity and contrast.
The Addo Elephant Park, the third largest national park in South Africa is the only national park in the world to conserve the “Big 7” adding the great white shark and southern white whale to the traditional big 5. The park is situated a mere 90 minutes drive from the race venue, and is a fantastic opportunity for the international teams to experience the African Wildlife.
Teams are equipped with GPS trackers which enables viewers from all over the world to follow and support the event live throughout the race, 24/7.
“This gives us an amazing opportunity to showcase our best to over 40 000 online viewers per day. As teams move through the region, a narrator highlights the Points of Interest which are included in the route. We must take ownership of this event and make the most of this opportunity,” says Esti Stewart, Marketing Director of the KLTO. The race will be organised with the full support of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA), the Kouga Municipality and Sarah Baartman District Municipality.
Teams, organisers and media crews will stay at the Cape St Francis Resort, co-sponsor and host venue for Expedition Africa 2017. "We are ecstatic about the Resort’s support as it offers top class accommodation and facilities for our teams e.g. airport transfers, spa treatments, shuttle services to local shops and an amazing restaurant and bar"; Heidi Muller excitedly said.
Participating teams will also get involved in a local environmental project. The selected project for 2017 is SANCCOB, the Sea Bird and African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre in Cape St Francis. The centre specializes in rehabilitating injured or sick penguins to be released back into the breeding colony. A local community school, Talhado Children's Haven as well as Nomvula's Knitters, will also be included in the project.
Heidi and Stephan Muller will spend several weeks in the Kouga and surrounding areas to ensure Expedition Africa 2017 will be an adventure never to be repeated. Their dream is “to create memories for a life time”.
The official launch of Expedition Africa 2017 will take place at the Cape St Francis Resort, on Thursday 6 October 2016.
For more information, visit http://www.kinetic-events.co.za/Events/Expedition-Africa
The Baviaans brought a true element of magic to this year's Expedition Africa. The tranquillity, the rugged beauty and the wild life are all factors that create a true African splendour.
The 59km canyon ventured all 39 teams through an untouched picturesque part of African soil. Race organiser; Stephan Muller predicted that the Baviaanskloof region would certainly be a highlight for athletes racing Expedition Africa 2017.
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest of its kind in Southern Africa. The 225 000 HA mega-reserve boasts unspoiled, rugged mountainous terrain featuring spectacular landscapes. Athletes from far and wide were introduced to an entirely new kind of beauty over the past 24 hours.
The ECPTA provided an amazing experience to every single athlete by granting the relevant permissions for Expedition Africa to race through this unspoiled area. SANParks rangers patrolled the Baviaans area day and night providing an element of safety to all teams racing through the area, in turn providing the opportunity for athletes to experience such grandeur.
This part of the world is extremely pristine, and to capture it through a lens of any kind is a privilege or sorts.
Adventure photographer Bruce Viaene trekked parts of the canyon with teams, capturing the diversity of this beautiful area. " There is something magical about walking on a sandy "beach", dwarfed by tower stone pillars and an ice cold, clean flowing river. The Baviaans is a place of true beauty and a photographers dream, I could of stayed in there for days!"
Many teams exiting the area commented on the beauty and wildlife they had come across throughout the day. Eland, Wildebeest, Baboons, Buffalo and snakes were at the top of the list, especially for the foreign teams who have now truly experienced what Africa is all about. Plett AR athlete; Kate Southey expressed that the canyon leg was a "trek of a lifetime" before arriving at Transition 6.
"I had the opportunity to walk far down into the Baviaanskloof from CP 18 and it was spectacular! What a beautiful place. The clean water and magnificent steep red rocks! It was a privilege to get to experience that area" shares Andreas Strandh from Sweden
"I feel extremely touched each time I see the photos and the video footage of this specific area, as if every person that experienced this part of the Baviaans was touched by an angel. This place is truly magnificent, and I feel so honoured that we were able to share this part of our beautiful country with the world" shares Heidi Muller; co race organiser of Expedition Africa.
After 5 days and 22 hours organisers, volunteers, athletes, supporters and sponsors have officially begun wrapping up the 2016 edition of Expedition Africa. This gruelling 500km adventure race ventured teams and individuals on a mixture of self discovery and hard competitive racing.
The Garden Route played host to the 6th annual event on the Adventure Racing World Series circuit, seeing 53 teams gather at Pine Lake Marina for this exquisite race. Starting on the picturesque Knysna Lagoon, through the surrounding indigenous forests, untouched coastline, dry desert like region of the Klein Karoo and then finally finishing at Pine Lake Marina . Not many races like this come close in terms of bio diversity, experienced by the athletes at this year's Expedition Africa.
Race Village is packed once again, but this time with tired, limping athletes sharing highlights of their race experience. Athletes gathered for the unveiling of this year's community project at the Sedgefield Mosaic and Outdoor market this afternoon. This exciting project raised over R20 000 for the Masithandane Bursary Fund for Children and will now live in the market for years and years to come sharing in the legacy of Expedition Africa 2016 and their host; the home of adventure.
As teams travel back to their countries and homes, they will be taking back stories of brokenness, elation and total awe of the route that they accomplished. Sharing the tales of untouched, dark water canyons where the sleepmonsters gnawed at their tired minds. Athletes will tell you where sleep over came them, that they awoke with sea lapping at their faces or on the side of a gravel road. They may tell you these stories, but their faces will tell you what those words can't describe.
"Dot Watchers" will now have the opportunity to catch up on sleep, and the Garden Route communities can now get back to work after the excitement passes through their beautiful countryside. It goes without saying that the support and camaraderie each team experienced throughout the race was a highlight.
Tonight, teams will celebrate under a full moon, Lake side as fires burn bright continuing the event festivities for one last night. The closing ceremony will honour their accomplishments no matter what placing. Team Featherbed Painted Wolf are this year's champions, but each and every athlete that took part in the 500km adventure race are heroes.
Race Directors, Heidi & Stephan Muller, put on a true masterpiece, connecting the very best of the Garden Route for the teams to visit and explore as they took on Expedition Africa. The experience and focus of this dynamic duo has created one of the most elite and sought after races on the ARWS circuit. So without further ado; that is a wrap for Expedition Africa 2016 and in the words of Heidi Muller, "It's all about love."
Image: Bruce Viaene
3 days, 12 hours and 33 minutes is how long it took for Expedition Africa 2016's champions to complete 500km of pure adventure racing. Cheers from the side lines howled as team Featherbed Painted Wolf neared the spectator filled shoreline at Pine Lake Marina this evening.
The local come back team drew massive support from all over the Garden Route throughout the race. "Some of the guys would pop out while we were paddling the Keurbooms, saying: I'm watching you live!" shares Mark Collins. According to the athletes; the Expedition Africa live tracking made a major difference to the sport in South Africa.
The Home of Adventure created the perfect playground for Stephan Muller's masterpiece of a route. The local team confirmed that they have officially ventured through parts of the Garden Route they didn't know existed. "That cave was spectacular! I had never seen that section of Robberg , and I would love to back into that cave; particularly to find out how the organisers expected us to come out of the coasteering leg, as we came up through the Robberg Quarry!" Mark Collins shares laughingly with a Mitchells beer in hand.
Expedition Africa has become one of the most highly rated Adventure Races in the world." The New Zealanders dominate the sport, but they have acknowledged Expedition Africa as one of the accredited event, and we have just won one of the best accredited events in the world" proudly shares Collins.
As the team enjoyed their first meal (pizza), seated on leather couches at Pine Lake Marina, media asked questions and photographers flashed away. Giving this team the true feeling of champions as the Merrell Adventure Addicts race their way to the finish to claim second place. The Merrell Adventure Addicts are expected to cross the finish line around midnight on Wednesday, as teams Sweco Adventure, Raid Gallaecia Fridama and Cyanosis Adventure Racing compete for third, fouth and fifth place.
Expedition Africa 2016 has proved to be an exciting and entertaining event for dot watchers, marshals and supporters here in the Garden Route. With over 50 teams to still cross the finish line at Pine Lake Marina by Friday this week the entertainment continues watching dots on a map, but more importantly watching adventurers racing a race of a lifetime.
"We have never received such an amazing support system in an adventure race. We would like to ask the people of the Garden Route, South Africa and abroad to continue the support that is streaming in as the rest of our teams race their way 'home'" shares Heidi Muller, co race director of Expedition Africa.
Our Champions are home, but the teams who are still out in the wilderness are our heroes as they battle physical and mental drain with sleep monsters biting at their hills. This is Adventure Racing at its finest.