With just over two weeks to go to Africa’s Adventure Racing World Series event, the Merrell Adventure Addicts are winding down their training as they prepare to defend their title at the 500km Expedition Africa.
The race, due to start at the scenic Mont-Aux-Sources Hotel, Drakensberg, Kwazulu Natal on the 6th May, has attracted a strong field of over 30 mixed gender four person teams. The teams will race non-stop and unsupported on foot, mountain bikes and kayaks over the 500km racecourse using only map and compass. It is expected to take the lead teams just over three days to complete with the back teams anticipating five to six days.
The Merrell Adventure Addicts will go into the event as one of the race favourites, having won the previous two Expedition Africa events in 2011 and 2012. Being one of South Africa’s top Adventure Racing units, regularly competing international on the World Series, the team will be eager to live up to their favourites tag. However, they expect a tough race with a host of top international teams making the trip to compete in Africa’s Major AR.
With regular Team Merrell stalwarts’, Graham Bird and Tatum Prins, only just recovering from injury and childbirth respectively the team have had to call in reserves to fill the gaps. Craig Carter-Brown, no stranger to Adventure Racing or the team, takes his spot alongside Donovan Sims and Hanno Smit, as the three powerhouses and SanMari Woithe, will join them as she makes her Expedition Adventure Racing debut. As part of the training and preparation for the event, the “new look” team spent a wet weekend on the Wild Coast, Transkei working on team dynamics, navigation and fitness. “The team gelled brilliantly and the exercise allowed us to build the trust and mutual respect which is vital to a successful team”, Hanno Smit commented after the non-stop 36 hour training exercise. “It gave me a wake up call as to what to expect and it showed me that anything is possible,” stated SanMari, “I’m looking forward to the test of Expedition Africa, but I am scared”.