Confessions from the Heart
The Thadlado Marimba Band festively welcomed all 39 Expedition Africa teams to the Cape St Francis Resort where they received their first set of maps before attending the event's opening ceremony.
After receiving the vital information regarding this year's exciting 500km adventure race at last night's race briefing, teams completed their compulsory gear check this morning. They were required to report to various stations providing their helmet, whistle, headlight, space blanket, waterproof jacket, life jacket, sleeping bag/bivvy bag, kayak glow stick, rope work equipment, medical kit and compass before meeting up for the flag parade.
The Cape St Francis beach was festively decorated by an array of international teams waving their respective countries flags all the way through to the Cape St Francis lighthouse. The local community cheered on participants and their families as they walked leisurely along the beach from the Cape St Francis Resort.
Keeping local communities at heart, race organisers Heidi and Stephan Muller selected SANCCOB as 2017's community project beneficiary. Cape St Francis is home to the Eastern Cape's Southern African Foundation for the Conservation and Coastal Birds, and specialise in building a better future for the endangered African penguin and other sea birds the organisation cares for.
A member representing each competing team placed a plaque upon the Expedition Africa landmark that will remain in the lighthouse grounds for years to come. Athletes and their families where then welcomed to visit the SANCCOB sanctuary where they had the opportunity of adopting a penguin in support of SANCCOB's work in the area.
Athletes and their families were able to enjoy their final Saturday afternoon before the chaos of this year's 500km adventure race hits the Cape St Francis Resort. Team captains have now had the opportunity to copy the control points off the master map and question any concerns that could arise along the route.
All 39 teams will meet on the Cape St Francis beach tomorrow morning ready for their beach start at 07h00. Teams will trek through to Port St Francis where they will then endure a sea kayak through to the Kromme River. There are many participating teams competing for a podium finish, which will account for an exciting dot watching experience for all supporters following the event via the live tracking site; www. expafrica.live. Supporters will also have the opportunity of watching the exciting start live via the Kinetic Event Africa Facebook page from 06h45.
Teams are in for an rugged yet beautiful race, bringing adventure racing back to its roots. "Teams will trek, kayak and cycle through extremely remote areas, venturing where few humans have set foot before. Expedition Africa 2017’s teams will explore through magnificent mountain ranges and onto beautiful coastlines of the Eastern Cape," said race organiser, Stephan Muller.
A very chilly yet absolutely stunning canyon greeted the tired and the already cold this morning. Many teams raced through the night to reach Transition 5 late last night in order to tackle the dark zone leg at 04h00 this morning.
The top five teams reached Transition 6 with plenty of time to refuel and rest before their early start. Skylotec Adventure and East Wind were the first teams in the canyon this morning closely followed by Thunderbolt AR.
Team Nevarest Jabberwock have raced extremely well after yesterdays slight set back with CP 13. The team left Transition 5 and continued to race particularly well, moving from 9th place to 4th place by the time they reached Transition 6.
East Wind is currently doing their best to regain their placing after backtracking to collect CP 20. The team are currently racing the 97km cycle alongside Nevarest Jabberwock, both in pursuit of reaching the two leading teams; Thunderbolt AR and Skylotec.
More than half the field managed to race through the buffalo 'dark zone' before the zones shutdown commenced at 18h00 this evening. All teams between CP 17 and CP 21 must make camp at their exact spot, and are not allowed to move until 06h00 tomorrow morning.
The Merrell Mentored Adventure Racing team, lead by Donovan Sims had to unfortunately setup camp in the middle of the Buffalo area. According to their team media; Kirsten Oliver, the team were on the move to hopefully reach CP 21 before 18h00, however were unable to do so.
To ensure the safety of all teams racing Expedition Africa, race organiser; Stephan Muller created the dark zone as a safety precaution, as athletes racing at night will not be able to see the buffalo in the area, which could create an extremely hazardous situation.
Team Skylotec Adventure were charged by buffalo earlier today when passing through the same area. The marshals and ECPTA were roaming the area, and managed to intercept the chase with their vehicle, ensuring the safety of the team.
Marshals are on course patrolling the area, providing an element of safety to all teams within the zone. The team are in good hands however, with seven Expedition Africa's under his belt with the Merrell Adventure Addicts; Donovan Sims, team captain of the Merrell Mentors has the experience and training to lead this team out of any potential danger.
Michelle Powell, Troy Sims and Dean Findley have yet to race an expedition event until this very year. In preparation for Expedition Africa, the team have been training since last year, and have expressed that supporters will definitely hear their team before they are seen.
The remaining teams within the dark zone have camped out of dangers way and should have a fairly good night's rest despite the cold. "We wish all teams within the dark zone area the sweetest dreams and a good night's rest" shares co-race organiser Heidi Muller.
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.
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 Merrell Adventure Addicts crossed the finish line early this morning, followed by team Sweco Adventure claiming third place on day 5 of Expedition Africa .
According to Merrell Adventure Addict Donovan Sims, the amount of support received from locals along the way has been incredible. Members of the public all along the Garden Route have truly embraced Expedition Africa by sponsoring water and food at transition areas, cheering on teams along the river's edge, cycle legs and trekking legs. The live tracking element of this event has proved to be an entertainment tool for many supporters and locals in the area, as they dot watch carefully, hoping to intersect a team along the route and cheer them on.
South African team, KeyHealth Jabberwock crossed the finish in 100h 50min taking 8th place as they complete their 6th Expedition Africa. "This year's race has definitely been the best thus far. The kloofing section was an interesting time for our team due to the cold, but it was awesome, I loved it!" shares Cobus van Zyl.
The AfriCanyon kloofing section is a clear highlight for all teams that have crossed the finish during the course of Day 5. "I would really like to take my family back there to experience that canyon" shares teammate, Craig Metherell of KeyHealth Jabberwock.
As day 7 of the 500km adventure race draws near, the efforts to ensure all teams complete the course has become a priority. Multiple teams failing to reach transition 9 before the cut-off time earlier today are on 'Route 2'. This route will venture teams on a Kayak to Transition 10, a cycle to Transition 15 and their final paddle to the finish.
Teams Black Diamond and DASH x RSS chose Route 2 due to an injury within the team. "Leon suffered from severe tendinitis and was unable to walk for most of the night. They will do a 13km paddle, the 100km cycle and the 9km paddle to the end, finishing as a team" shares team spokesperson for Black Diamond.
Finishers and supporters share in the excitement and atmosphere along the lake side as they wait in anticipation for the next team paddling their final leg. Teams Merrell Mentored, Pennypinchers Adventure Racing and Checkpoint Zero are to be expected at the finish before sunrise tomorrow. Athletes currently cycling 118km along the Karoo dig deep as they make their way to the next transition, and onto the finish for Expedition Africa 2016.
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