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
Team Blizzard proved themselves as champions crossing the finish line at 07h50 this morning, completing the gruelling 560km adventure race in 94h55m. The Russian team showcased their worth, racing incredibly well over the past 4 days. A combination of brilliant navigation and perseverance on their final legs helped retain their growing lead on teams Sani/Best 4 Sport (RSA) and Omjakon (FIN)
The African component of the Adventure Racing World Series; Expedition Africa commenced on Sunday morning along the Namaqua West Coast. 52 teams took to the start line prepared for a challenging 'wilderness' race that would navigate them through an arid and desolate terrain like no other.
From the onset, South African team; Jabberwock set off at a furious pace, pulling away from the majority within the first leg, however they renounced their lead when Sani/Best 4 Sports showed their strength on the 50km paddle leg, and overtook the team, whilst Omjakon (FIN) followed closely behind them.
The newly crowned champions; Blizzard (RUS) continued to push themselves up the leaderboard after day one's 37km trekking leg, essentially playing 'cat and mouse' with teams Sani/Best 4 Sports (RSA) and Omjakon (FIN).
All three top teams selected to retrieve CP 22 A and endured the difficult bike hike section, a choice Sani/Best 4 Sports regretted, according to sources. During the course of day three, a heavy mist set in, creating incredibly difficult conditions for navigators, especially those who were sleep deprived. Team Blizzard collected each check point in good time, and relentlessly continued to race with minimal sleep.
"The misty and wet conditions the region experienced over the past 36 hours, made for a slow moving race, however these conditions did not take away from the 'race element' between the top 10 teams. In the 7 years Expedition Africa has been running, I don't think we have ever had such a competitive race, which has made the past few days very exciting" shares race organiser Heidi Muller.
Omjakon overtook the team and sped through TA 5 as night fell on day three. The Finnish team were hoping to keep their lead on the Russians, however were caught and overtaken during the challenging 59km trekking leg.
With the end nearing, team Blizzard continued to push through, reaching their final transition area at 23h09 last night. The team gained good time on their final leg, leaving Sani/Best 4 Sports and Omjakon in the dust as they tackled their last 57km cycle to the finish.
Organisers, supporters, media and sponsors welcomed the winning team as they crossed the finish line at Letsatsi Lodge. "The team truly gave the best performance! Their navigation was spot on, the team was fast through every transition and continued to race professionally and brilliantly throughout the 560km course" expresses Heidi Muller.
"We felt quite a bit of pressure to perform at this race, and upon arrival were unaware of the type of competition we were up against. After the very long paddle leg, we felt we weren't doing too well until the fourth leg, when we realised we could actually do this. We were passing teams and pushing ourselves, and so we pushed it to the end" shares Blizzard team captain; Evgeny Pochaev.
An exhilarating dot watching experience is expected throughout the morning as teams, Sani/Best 4 Sports and Omjakon race their way through to the finish line closely followed by Jabberwock (RSA) and Agde Raid Aventure (FRA).
51 teams remain on course, each challenging themselves to obtain every check point before reaching the next transition area. Steak n Kidney, Sleepy Dragons, Rogue and Keyhealth Nevarest Origin are expected to reach Transition Area 5 during the course of this morning, whilst others make their way to TA 6 and TA 7 throughout the day. This year's adventure playground; Namaqua West Coast has truly challenged all 52 teams competing in 2018's Expedition Africa, which has proved to be an adventure race of a lifetime.
Follow the excitement via www.expafrica.live as the remaining teams make their way to the finish in Vanrhynsdorp.
Photo: Bruce Viaene
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.
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 (email@example.com) if you would like to get more involved with this event, eg: sponsoring toward Branded T Shirts, food packs etc.
Contact: Jacky Weaver (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Day two of Expedition Africa - Namaqua West Coast presented its own set of challenges as teams prepared themselves for the daunting 198km cycle ahead. Already, these athletes have endured over 36 hours of non-stop racing and the navigational element of this year's 560km race continues to challenge teams as they tackle leg 4.
Course director; Stephan Muller presented teams with a route choice like no other this year, adding a new element of navigational 'risk' to 2018's Expedition Africa with the option of collecting CP 22a or CP 22b. Each check point bears its own set of challenges: option A, will take teams along a shorter path, however will be required to carry their bikes the entire way, whilst option B, features a safer, yet longer route, venturing teams for a further 20km in order to obtain the checkpoint.
The top 10 seeded teams of Expedition Africa 2018, opted to collect CP 22 A, selecting the shorter, more intense route of the two. According to sources, team Sani/Best 4 Sports regretted this route choice and wished they had chosen the less strenuous path.
South African teams; Plett AR and Black Diamond are amongst the brave who have risked the epic and exhausting 2km bike hike for a shorter cycle. Whilst teams Secretos De Ullum (SPN), Bucket of Hope (RSA), Grit Nyamezela (RSA), Rustproof (RSA) and Park Rangers (RSA) are amongst the group of teams that have opted to collect CP 22B.
The risk in it all is a simple calculation of a lengthily, conservative activity versus a short, high intensity activity. Knowledge of team mates strengths and weaknesses will come into play, as navigators make their risky route choice of the day.
Lack of sleep is beginning to take its toll on athletes as they push themselves to reach the halfway mark of the 198km cycle. An hour or two of well deserved sleep and a warm meal are keeping teams motivated as they push their bodies a little further.
Historically, day two's strategic sleep deprivation is usually when navigational mistakes are made, and in turn when the leaderboard changes the most. Don't miss out on the excitement by tracking each team via the Expedition Africa's live tracking platform: www.expafrica.live
The final countdown to 2018's Expedition Africa - Namaqua West Coast is officially underway as race organisers, Stephan and Heidi Muller undertake their final preparations that make this 500km Adventure Racing World Series event, an adventure race of a lifetime.
52 teams will take to the start line on Sunday, 20 May 2018 ready to tackle Stephan Mullers masterpiece of a course which will venture teams through this arid yet diverse terrain well known as the Namaqua West Coast.
Expedition Africa officially kicked off this morning, 52 teams venturing along the coastline from the shores of Doringbaai onto Transition Area 1, found at the mouth of the Olifants River. The 19km trekking leg proved to be an interesting start, featuring 14 check points for teams to collect, which kept the athletes hugging this pristine coastline. Many teams were fast off the block, racing to get ahead of the majority, whilst others planned to conserve energy on the first leg, considering the lengthy legs up ahead.
Jabberwock (RSA) managed to reach TA 1 first, closely followed by Omjakon of Finland and South African rookie team; Keyhealth Nevarest. The 50km paddle proved to be the true game changer for Day 1 of Expedition Africa, with a game of cat and mouse between South African teams Merrell Mentored and Best 4 Sports as they overtook the above mentioned leading teams.
Currently leading the pack, team Best 4 Sports reached Transition Area 2, completing the 50km paddle in 07h32. The team, considering their strengths, apparently expected to have a great paddles. They also suspected another team was following close behind, however were unsure how far behind them they truly were. According to race photographer; Bruce Viaene, although Best 4 Sports planned to do well on the paddle leg, their strategy is to race slow and steady in order to limit any mistakes, especially considering the night navigation ahead.
Following this lengthily paddle leg is the gruelling 198km cycle leg. Although this leg may seem easy for those dot watching, the terrain does not feature very prominent landmarks which will make for a difficult navigation throughout the 560km race.
Graham Bird of Merrell Mentored, currently in third place and Darren Berry of King Price, currently in fourth place are both known well for their navigational skills, making these two teams the ones to watch out for during leg 3's mighty challenge.
Sponsors and volunteers have ensured a festive and vibrant atmosphere welcomes teams as they complete their paddle leg. Warm fires, rooster brood, snoek and wine are available for teams to enjoy, whilst their navigators plot and plan their route to TA 3 on a new set of maps.
All 52 participating teams obtain a SPOT Gen3 satellite tracking system, which features satellite tracking, an SOS button and emergency messaging which in turn enhances each team’s safety and makes the dot-watching element of adventure racing more efficient and reliable.
Follow the live tracking contingent www.expafrica.live, and observe the added features of social media updates, daily video's and press releases providing convenience for supporters of Expedition Africa - Namaqua West Coast.
Images: Bruce Viaene