“At least a Mountain has Downhills”

Merrell Adv Addicts  - 7“Oh dear”* said Tweet, lying in bed half an hour before departure to Swaziland for the fifth Expedition Africa, one of the major races in the Adventure Racing World Series.

*Not his real words

The captain of the Merrell Adventure Addicts team had just checked the weather forecast for the coming week. The temperature was indicated in single digits of the newly born to toddler age. He forwarded it to his team members.

“At least it says partly sunny and not partly cloudy.” Replied Robyn Kime. Which is possibly the perfect attitude with which to enter into the world of expedition racing.

Merrell Adv Addicts  - 5On Sunday they will set off with 23 other South African and international mixed gender teams of four to tackle a roughly 450km non-stop route through the wilds of Swaziland. And rough is an appropriately used word.

“I don’t really know what to expect. But I’m going to rely on my experienced team mates to guide me through.”

They will cycle through bush land, run mountains, paddle rapids, traverse canyons for sure. What else will be thrown into the mix, is not known. As yet, they don’t know where they will be going, or even where they will start. This information will be delivered to them tonight at the briefing. Here they will learn where their check-in points are and where they will find their boxes with equipment and food for transition from one discipline to the next. Then they can get down to the logistics of packing those boxes which the organisers then drop off.

Merrell Adv Addicts  - 1 Once the race starts they will not be allowed any outside assistance, so making sure paddles will be found at the start of a river leg and food at the end of a long cycle is a vital part of a successful trip. Knowing how to navigate with a compass and map is another. They cannot use any gps device for this, although one member of each team will carry a tracking device, which allows anyone to follow their progress as a series of moving dots on the live tracking site. Together with updates, reports and photographs posted throughout the event on Merrell Adventure Addicts fb and website, supporters around the world can explore the race terrain of the kingdom of Swaziland and get involved with the emotions and mental battles of the team.

They are hoping to greet the finish line and claim their finisher’s pizza about three and a bit days after the start. Others expect to take up to six days.

Merrell Adv Addicts  - 4Heidi and Stefan Muller of Kinetic Gear, themselves well experienced racers, are known and respected for their superb organisation of the Expedition Africa events which showcase the diversity and magic of untamed areas in southern Africa.

“They really do look after us.” Said Grant Ross. It’s his fourth time racing this event, but the first time with the Merrell team, who have won it twice before in 2011 and 2012 and are now looking to make it a hat trick. “Amped!” Tiny Don Sims agrees, back for his fifth EA race as long time Merrell team mate together with Graham ‘Tweet’ Bird.

With the continuing support and shared vision of Merrell, the Addicts will continue to be driven by the “OUT. PERFORM.” philosophy of Merrell. Other team sponsors include PVM Nutritional Science, Black Diamond head torches, Extreme Lights, Giant Bicycles, Squirt Bicycle Lube and Island Tribe Sunscreen as well as Llama bars and Buttanutt Spreads.

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