A mix of all our India trips in 2017 as we create our first ever Expedition India adventure race. It was most probably the craziest thing to do but a great success!
Confessions from the Heart
Thoughts while I am between India and South Africa.
As I’m sitting on the plane, flying back from India to Jozi. I am staring out of the window at the magnificent sunset through the clouds.
I just finished watching the documentary of Manolo Blahnik (the Spanish fashion designer and founder of the high-end shoe brand: Manolo). For those of you that don’t know me or just met me at some race, please let me inform you that I am a fashion lover in my heart. I love the creativity and free spirit of the person who designs and creates. There are similarities between us. We both create! We don’t design shoes, but we create a desire to achieve, an adventure, a goal, a dream to do something not many can do.
Why…the question pops up so many times over the years? I guess like any other entrepreneur.
Passion drives you! Passion is something you can’t force onto someone – you just have a passion for something and that drives you to continue.
Some people take their whole lives looking for it and never find that something special that they love. People who find their passion are the lucky ones, that is what I think. Our every drive is filled with Passion and love for our business.
It’s clear to me: it’s the most wonderful feeling to create something that changes others, inspire you, ultimately in my eyes makes you a better person. I wish I can give you more at each race, but I can only give you my love, my care and my heart!
It brings us back to #itsallaboutlove
Manolo Blahnik is just showing me again that you must love what you do deeply and it must give you something personal back…a feeling, a satisfaction. Every mail of gratitude or message of thanks to me, inspire me to do more.
Thank you, Manolo, (you don’t know me, nor do I own any shoe of yours – not yet) but you inspired me again today on this Emirates flight to strive for bigger dreams!
Preparations for the Expedition Africa 2018's closing ceremony is in full swing, whilst the remaining 14 teams of the 52 make their way to the finish line at Letsatsi Lodge. Over the past 24 hours, 38 teams have completed this year's gruelling 560km course, all bearing smiling faces as they crossed the finish line.
In 2017, race organiser; Heidi Muller created the #itsallaboutlove brand, one that flows through every aspect of the plans and preparations that have gone into creating Expedition Africa. The incredible fact is that adventure racing has truly become a love story, showcasing passion, love, torment, admiration, trust and a dedication to the sport itself. Physical, emotional and mental challenges are all obstacles teams may face when racing as one. "You may go fast as one, but you will go further as a team" shares Expedition Africa Photo Director, Bruce Viaene; a sentiment that motivates recurring entries into an event like Expedition Africa.
A unique friendship is created amongst four people when taking on the challenge of racing as a unit, especially when the task is to complete a 560km course by navigating multiple cycling, paddling and trekking legs in 7 consecutive days, with minimal sleep.
Whilst the final teams mission to conclude their Expedition Africa journey, finishers have congregated around Letsatsi Lodge throughout the day, sharing war stories and experiences of the race they've all just completed. Fires, music, wine, beers and lawn loungers have added to this 'rustig' and vibrant atmosphere as families and friends get ready to welcome these remaining 14 teams 'home'
Expedition Africa 2018 will officially come to close tomorrow evening at Die Keldery: Namaqua Wines in Vredendaal, when all 52 teams wave their country's flag high, and are awarded for their achievements in tackling such a race. Rankings will vary, featuring 'Full Teams' who have completed the 560km course and collected every checkpoint, 'Missed Checkpoints', and 'Partial Teams' who have crossed the finish line with less than the four members the teams started with. At this point, 38 of the 52 teams are ranked in the 'Full Team' category of finishers.
Congratulations are awarded to Russian team; Blizzard for their brilliant efforts in claiming this year's winning title and will now represent their country at the Adventure Racing World Championships later this year. The team have won their entry into this esteemed event, which will take place on Reunion Island from the 5th - 16th November 2018.
The show is not over folks... monitor the final hours via www.expafrica.live, show your support, send in your messages as Expedition Africa's real champions race their final legs. These remaining 14 teams have journeyed for the longest and pushed their bodies to no end... and so, the end is nigh.
Photo: Bruce Viaene
A collection of emotions washed over the Doringbaai shore this morning, where over 200 athletes readied themselves for this year's grueling adventure race, Expedition Africa. The 560km event featured on the Adventure Racing World Series circuit officially commenced at 09h00 this morning from the local fishing beach.
Supporters and locals cheered in support from the Doringbaai pier, as teams gathered along the shoreline. Local fisherman chartered their fishing boats and transported team captains to a marshal based at sea, where they were able to collect their team trackers.
The excitement upon the beach was electric; emotions were heightened and nerves had set in. Once all 52 team captains had retrieved their tracker and reunited with their team mates, they prepared for the official start, which kicked off with a 19km trekking leg.
The first leg of the eight, will explore athletes along the beautiful coastline well known as the Namaqua West Coast, collecting 14 checkpoints. A 50km paddle leg will follow venturing teams along the 'not-so-wet' Olifants River, colleting an addition three checkpoints before reaching Transition Area 2.
"Our region has gone through an incredibly difficult time with the recent drought, sucking so much energy and hope from our communities. Expedition Africa has truly given our region hope again, watching the 'sea of pink' in the form of this year's race bibs consume our little town of Vanrhynsdorp has been magic, and to top it all off the rain began falling all over our region yesterday" shares Monika De Jager of the Namaqua West Coast tourism.
"After dreaming of hosting Expedition Africa for the past two years, I cannot believe this day has finally arrived. Heidi & Stephan's dedication and passion for this sport and what they do is incredible to witness. The dedication and resilience from every single team taking part in this magnificent event is both heart warming and inspiring - there are so many stories to tell. Words cannot describe how much this event has moved me, and we have only just begun" further expresses De Jager.
Leading teams are expected to reach TA 2 by days end, where they will rest, refuel and get ready to tackle this year's 'monster leg' - a gruelling 198km cycle leg. A new set of maps will be handed out at Transition Area 3, where navigators will be required to plot and plan their way forward.
Jabberwock, East Wind and Merrell Mentored are amongst the teams to watch out for at this year's race, however it is said that this year's Expedition Africa is going to be exceptionally close between the top 10 ranked teams.
Activity on the www.expafrica.live site has increased since 08h00 this morning as dot watchers began tracking their favourite teams from the comfort of their home. Follow the excitement and stay up to date with the social media updates, video uploads and daily press releases that will also feature on this site.
You can only Love the Garden Route
Life and work have just been running away with me and before I realise it, a few weeks have passed since our last visit to the beautiful Garden Route.
Sitting here tonight and thinking of this exciting life, filled with the adventures I am living, I once again get the overpowering feeling of Thankfulness. This whirlwind life is not for everyone but it definitely fits me like a glove.
Expedition Africa has got the ability to overwhelm us every year. As we get closer to the event date the pressure is mounting, and maintaining a balance with all our other events can become a challenge. I sometimes feel that it will be so much easier if we just could stay for 6 months or longer in an area and build relationships with people, instead of trying to get it all sorted 1 week at a time. Needless to say it is what it is, so you must make the best of the situation and get the job done.
I think it’s the smell of the sea and the amazing people that makes me want to spend more time in this amazing place in our country. What is it that makes the Garden Route so special? The answer is just plain simple: it has so much to offer. So much variety and things to do and to enjoy. Every time we go we discover more magic spots, and that for me is the reason why I have fallen in love with the Garden Route. For those of you joining us at Expedition Africa, I do hope you will find this Love too.
We had a week of everything you can think of and more. We drove 14 hours non-stop, and as I always say, with 2 small toddlers in the car this can only be an adventure on its own. Not a moment of rest as we explored the white sandy beaches the first morning to the delight of our kids. The week started with a "bang" as Stephan went out on a 2 day scouting trip on foot. I was off to meeting more farmers to ask for permission and we moved from the 1 meeting to the next.
Thankfully I had my big girl Shauni with me, as she was joining us on this week. She saved these days as my assistant, aupair, driver, photographer, social media manager and most importantly of all, my daughter who appreciates the beautiful things in life. It was fun to have a partner who can share some laughter, love eating prawns with me and see the beauty in all things around us. Shauni knows more about adventure racing than most other people out there, as she was only 4 years old when she embarked on her first Adventure race supporting her parents running in the mountains. She understands our passion and crazy dreams and above all sees what it takes to organise these events and to run a business.
All I can say is that she saw more of the Garden Route in 1 week than what most people would see during a 3 week holiday. Yes we do way too much in 1 day for most people out there, but that is the only way you can try to get everything done in a few short days.
A very special mention must go to the Community project that we are planning for this year. It is scheduled for the Saturday morning at the Sedgefield Mosaic market and more details about this will follow soon. But the intentions are good and I believe that if we can “fine tune” the concept we can make a difference in a child’s life. It must be a “feel good” story or we are wasting our time, and it must fit in with the local culture of the town.
We even had the pleasure of fitting in a day trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, which is most probably the number 1“Must Do” trip when you are in the Knysna area. The trip over the Knysna lagoon and the short walk on the Heads are magnificent, and neither words, nor pictures can really capture the beauty.
Lastly we ended this week with a night in a hut in the middle of nowhere. Don’t even ask me where it is, as I would never be able to find it again. Our fellow Adventure racer friends Hanno and Nikki invited us to join them for 1 night at their “hide away”. With a "braai" under the stars and a bath in the river pools in front of the hut, this special place is so far away from our normal living in Johannesburg that I feel honoured that we had the opportunity to experience it. It makes you think about all the luxuries of life, and brings you back to the basics. It made me realize how grateful I should be to be fit, healthy and alive so that I can see all the different things in life!! Thank you guys for sharing your love of nature and adventure with us!
See below some of our moments of this magnificent week. Not too long and the car will be packed again for yet another trip down to the place that makes my heart smile. All thanks to Expedition Africa.