Confessions from the Heart
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."