Confessions from the Heart
Expedition Africa is an event that travels each year to a new adventurous destination, a place where race organiser; Stephan Muller designs a new route in a new playground. This year over 50 teams took on the 500km adventure race in the 'home of adventure' locally known as the Garden Route.
Race organisers Heidi and Stephan Muller aim to incorporate the unique qualities and aspects of each host destination, and this year incorporated the exquisite animals associated with the Garden Route as their trophy inspiration.
Each athlete that took part in this years gruelling 500km adventure race, recieved a beautifully beaded piece of art representing their adventure, and those that inhabit this particular playground.
According to Elaine Hannah, The Knysna Loerie is arguably one of the most beautiful birds and this is why our discerning locals regard it as a true icon. The plumage is striking an evokes a sense of the "true outdoors". The Knysna Loeries also epitimise "teamwork" with their monogamous relationship and sharing of child rearing responsibilities.
If you are aware of the history surrounding the Knysna Elephant, you'll agree with their status; the ultimate survivor. "The Knysna Elephant have emerged as the only remaining and naturally occurring herd in South Africa, after having thought to be effectively extinct. Evidence has exposed only one female elephant in the forest, however more recent sightings estimate that a small herd is roaming free in the Knysna forests. The elephants elusive nature and adaptability has made the Knysna Elephant a true icon" further states Elaine Hannah.
Elaine Hannah further explains that the Knysna Seahorse has a very special place in the hearts of locals and visitors to the Garden Route, as they are only found in Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms estuaries. It is an endangered species due to a decline in their habitat. According to Hannah, the Knysna Seahorse is a very special and unusual creature as it is a fish but bears characteristics of a horse.
Within the Garden Route; Sedgefield is Africa’s first and only certified 'slow town' incorporating the Citta Slow principles of a sustainable society based on slowing down and waking up. According to Elaine Hannah, the list of qualifying requirements is long and includes preserving traditional food, controlling growth, living a healthy lifestyle and working towards a sustainable future. The Sedgefield community have granted the tortoise their mascot, bearing a giant mosaic tortoise in the small city centre. The community takes pleasure in “making haste slowly” and living more consciously.
Each of these characters were used to create 2016's Expedition Africa trophies, something iconic enough for those residing within our beautiful nation looking to visit soon, and small enough for those who travelled back home abroad.
The Garden Route bared magnitudes of support and cheer to all athletes, as they took on their 500km challenge. Some athletes will testify to the phenomenal support, and how the unexpected shouts of cheer suddenly picked up their spirits, leading them to the finish line, conquering Expedition Africa 2016.
"It's all about the small things that make this event more than a race, and a memorable one" shares Heidi Muller. Congratulations to all the teams, supporters and the Garden Route communities for contributing to a memorable and love-filled event.
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.
WHY EXPEDITION AFRICA 2016 GARDEN ROUTE?
The Jewel of South Africa, the Garden route in the Western Cape will be the host area of EA 2016.
Kayaking legs will include iconic sea paddles passing massive cliffs rising from the sea, magical lakes bordering lush forest, coastal lakes and mysterious river going inland to where few kayakers have ventured too.
Mountain biking on some of the world’s most famous single tracks through majestic forest routes and in contrast will be the tracks of the Klein Karoo, a semi-desert landscape.
Trekking on awe-inspiring coastal sections leading to dense forest trails lined with ferns and maybe, just maybe a sighting of the elusive forest elephants.
EA 2016 will include one of the most incredible canyoneering sections ever in AR history, added to that, an abseil that will stay in racers minds till end of days.
Before and after the event, teams will be on the doorstep of the highly sought after Garden Route area. Our host resort Pine Lake Marina, 5 km from Sedgefield also known as “Slow Town” is central to all the activities of this tourism mecca. This is also the ideal opportunity to extend your trip and explore more of our beautiful Country.
Our next trip will be early January 2016 and we are now more into the final stages of the event. We plan to do the legs we haven't done physically and most important to finalize the last meetings and permissions with Tourism, Parks board, Land-owners etc.
We are also going into details of things like the look and feel of the artwork eg: Bib design, bike board, discussions about the Community project and what will be best for both racers and local communities, transport services, transitions, Media and the list go on.
This is a whole year of intensive planning and all you can ever hope for is that teams have an amazing time, the weather is kind to our event and that we created a life-long adventure which will be a memory in each persons life!
For the Love of Adventure!
For more information regarding the event, volunteers and Media www.kinetic-events.co.za or contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here we go on our New Adventure!!!
To go and confirm the venue for Expedition Africa 2016 in one of the Most beautiful parts of our Country, The Garden Route - Western Cape.
We were invited by the Knysna Tourism CEO Mr. Greg Vogt to come and see if we can host our event in the area. He indicated to us that Tourism will give us their full support and assistance to organize our best event ever. The next step was to get Sanparks on our side as we need their permission for all the Nature reserves and after a few calls and discussions this was also finalized. Then we had to confirm a Host Hotel and Greg suggested the Pine Lake Marina resort in Sedgefield for a 1 stop venue as it has everyone we need. a Few meetings later and we are proud to announce our partnership with the Pine Lake Marina as our official Host venue for Expedition Africa May 2016. Then we had to produce a 2min promotional Video for the event and area and Greg pulled in his "Staatmaker" Ashley and after many hours of editing they produced a wonderful promotional video for this event. If you haven't seen it hereby the link: http://www.kineticgear.co.za/ExpeditionVideos/lc/6299/lcv/s/expedition-africa-2016-garden-route-2-min-promo I strongly felt that we had to get a true South Africa Icon as PJ Powers as our backing song and believe that the song gives it that special "heartbeat feeling" Thank you also to PJ Powers for the permission to use your song.
As you can see below lots of these initial meetings goes hand in hand with a few cappachinos' and cake and I must admit I love this part of the deal!
As Isabella and Werner was with us we also made sure for "playtime" dates with them. The good thing about this area is that you can have a pit-stop nearly every 5km as you will find plenty of little shops with food, decor stores, play-parks for children and some kind of entertainment for the kids. Its such a "child friendly" area and another reason why so many people decide to give up the city living for this fantastic lifestyle. Here you also feel so much at Home thus our Campaign Slogan "Welcome Home"
The beautiful town of Knysna has so much to offer from little coffee shops and curio shops I can just wander around town and love discovering these small shops. One of my favorite visits were this beautiful shop French Kiss and just around the corner from it Steffini Jewelry design... dont event think that you will walk out of them without a bag full of shopping.
We were also hosted by the Protea Hotel on the Waterfront and what a spoil it was. Your view from your room overlooks the jetty and yachts on the water and you are minutes away from all the shops and restaurants of the Waterfront. I can highly recommend this Hotel if you visit Knysna in the future.
After this successful week we were rejuvenated and excited to get the wheels rolling and as we were driving back the 14 hours to JHB we were already planning the next scouting trip where we will have a launch event and start to explore the hidden roads and paths... Until next time.
The final countdown for Africa's biggest adventure race; Expedition Africa, has begun. Athletes from all over the world are arriving in the Garden Route to accept the challenge of the gruelling and exciting 500km adventure race. The race starts this Sunday: 15th May 2016.
Over 50 teams will arrive at Pine Lake Marina, host venue to this year's multi-disciplined international event that will play out in the Garden Route, recently labelled; 'the Home of Adventure’.
"We are excited to welcome teams taking part in Expedition Africa 2016", shares Greg Vogt; CEO of Knysna & Partners who approached Kinetic Events to hold the event in the Garden Route.
Members of the Australian team Dash x RSS Expedition Africa, and team That's Cray explored the beautiful wanders the Garden Route has to offer by exploring the mystical West Head of the Knysna lagoon Mouth; Featherbed Nature Reserve, a rich and stunning piece of land offering the most magnificent views and experiences just before pre-race excitement hits.
The organisers, Stephan & Heidi Muller have once again kept the start and all other locations a secret. Media, supporters and athletes will only receive communication regarding the route, disciplines and transitions incorporated in this year's race at the opening ceremony taking place at Pine Lake Marina on Friday evening, 13 May 2016.
Expedition Africa has always kept the local communities at heart and the 2016 edition is no different. Leading up to the race, teams will be partnering with the local Knysna & Partners Tourism office, Sedgefield and Masithandane Bursary Fund for Children to leave a legacy of a creative mosaic masterpiece, a Sedgefield trademark.
Members of the public, supporters and media are welcome to attend the community project which will take place at the Mosaic Village & Outdoor Market on the Saturday at 12h00. “The 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.
Once this daunting yet exciting adventure race kicks off this Sunday, families and supporters can cheer on their teams via the live tracking feed which will feature a leader board, transitions and checkpoints along the route. Witness your favourite teams progress on www.expafrica.live as they endure a race of a lifetime.
As Teams gear up for their final preparation, messages from all over the world are pouring in with encouragement from their supporters. This race will not only be a physical struggle, but a mental one, so have your positive messages heard and cheer on your team by utilizing the official #expafrica2016 hash tags and message board posts featured on www.expafrica.live
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.
Image: Bruce Viaene
The majority of the Expedition Africa pack have completed the first 120km of the 544km course, with multiple teams currently cycling through the heart of the Knysna Forest and onto the world famous pioneering Harkerville single track. Athletes will venture from the heights of the forest and cycle down towards the coastline for 84km reaching transition six in Plettenberg Bay.
Leading the pack this year; team Featherbed Painted Wolf have maintained their lead throughout day two, however teammate Jeanie Bomford is suffering from a swollen ankle after she rolled it earlier today. "Bomford is hurting and looking tired along with the rest of her team. I'm sure they are beginning to feel the pressure" shares photographer Bruce Viaene after capturing the team along the course.
Local team, the Merrell Adventure Addicts are currently fighting for second place along with team Sweco Adventure (SWD). The team and looking to catch Featherbed Painted Wolf within the next 24hours, however were not expecting to race such a fast first half of the 544km. "A couple of us are having a rough time with the speed, and its proving to be quite taxing on the team" shares Grant Ross of the Merrell Adventure Addicts.
Teams will venture through the picturesque Robberg coastal Corridor collecting checkpoints along route before reaching transition seven. This section of land is a pristine 18km eco corridor within the Cape Floral Kingdom that connects the Robberg Nature Reserve with the Garden Route National Park in Harkerville. It's preservation has been secured by local landowners whose objective is to conserve the botanical, marine and human treasure this unique stretch of coastline hosts" shares Marcelo Rangel Valenzuela.
With just over 30 hours into this gruelling, yet stunning adventure race, excitement has hyped up the Garden Route extensively. "Productivity in Knysna has ground to a halt as people remain glued to their computers dot watching. WhatsApp groups are a hive of activity with comments flying back and forth between those following the race, and those who do not have access to the internet. Speculation is rife on what the strategies are for each team, paired with predictions on routes taken and whether these choices will pay off are flowing from arm chair experts. The bottom line is we are all hooked" shares Greg Vogt of Knysna & Partners.
Amongst all the excitement of day 2, local team Head of Hills have unfortunately pulled out of the World Series adventure race after completing 128km of the route due to two team mates suffering from severe diarrhoea and another team mate injuring his shoulder. "By the early hours of the morning things had started deteriorating. Neill's shoulder had gone downhill after the earlier paddle and sea swim. He couldn't lift it. Andrew had lost all control of his stomach, unable to keep anything down, including water" shares Head over Hills spokesperson Carmen Froneman
Over 50 teams are adventuring through the Garden Route in pursuit of reaching their next transition. Athletes are beginning to look tired as sleep deprivation begins to creep in, awaking the sleepmonsters.