With less than two months until the start of Expedition Africa, the MERRELL Adventure Addict’s suffered a further disruption to their preparations. Expedition Africa, which is now in its third year, forms part of the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) that sees teams lining up for a non-stop 500km adventure through the spectacular Drakensberg region of South Africa.
Team MERRELL has established itself as one of the top Adventure Racing units in South Africa. The teams success and strength has been based on the solid dynamic that exists among the core group of the team. Graham Bird, Tatum Prins and Hanno Smit have been racing together for over five years with Donovan Sims having joining the outfit for the past three years. “These are my mates and I love getting outside with them”, says team captain Graham Bird. “We just enjoy the time we spend together whether it is racing or training.” With Tatum Prins out for the first part of this year due to her starting her journey with motherhood and Graham Bird having been ruled out of competing due to a torn tendon, this left the team in a position of finding two replacements for the Expedition Africa.
Initially South African Mountain Biking Legend, Yolande de Villiers had been draft ed into the team to fill the void left by Tatum Prins, however with Yolande’s commitments to her mountain biking team proving to be more substantial than initially thought, it was decided to bring in fellow Merrell athlete SanMari Woithe. SanMari had impressed with her hard work and dedication to training and she has strung together a number of notable results over the past few years. Having recently competed in her first adventure race at the 250km Kinetic Double Moon with Donovan Sims, where they finished tied first place in the pair’s category, she has proved she has the necessary mental strength that is vital to compete successfully in the sport. “SanMari is super strong and is a good fit for the team,” mentioned Donovan after the Double Moon. “She just got on with doing what needed to be done and is super motivated”.
As with Expedition Africa 2012, Craig Carter-Brown has stepped in to replace an injured team member. Craig, a cattle farmer from Ixopo, brings true grit, dedication, commitment and motivation to the team. “He proved to be a valuable member of the team at EA 2012,” stated Graham Bird. “He has the same outlook and passion for life as the rest of us and that makes it easy for him to fit in.”
The team boasting its now complete line up will gather at a team training camp in the upcoming weeks to sharpen their skills ahead of the 500km Expedition Africa. The event will see mixed four person teams navigating with maps, compass and landmarks from control point to control point in a number of disciplines which can include: mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, swimming, rope work and orienteering.