One of our own passes away: George Forder

It is with great sadness that I relay news of the passing of George Forder, one of the old bullets in our adventure racing community. In fact, I can’t remember not knowing George  and over more than a decade he has been in my life either through races, Facebook, phone chats or by-mistake-calls, as was the case on Thursday.

At this stage all I know is that George and his wife Penny were driving in the Midlands this morning when they were hit head-on by a vehicle that was overtaking another. George died on the scene and Penny was taken to hospital. [I’ll update in the comments below when I hear how she is.]

When I think of George I cannot help but smile. A quirky and colourful character, George was always up for anything and totally committed and passionate to everything in which he got involved. A keen writer, you were always guaranteed a hoot reading his race reports and AR email group messages and I found great delight in his blog posts. Boring and uncreative George was most certainly not.

I quickly went to his FB page to grab a photo to post here. Nothing mundane I can delightedly report; they’re mostly crazy images of George (best profile photos – ever). I think you’ll enjoy them – I’ve posted a few of my favourites below.

George came on to the AR scene in the early days of the sport in South Africa – very much part of South Africa’s first generation of adventure racers – and could be guaranteed to be at all long events – in… err… ummm… creative apparel. In the early 2000s he setup the ARinKZN club and for the past couple of years he has been organising events in KZN, most notably the Mudman events. He has also been very involved on the school AR scene.

As an ARer, George was into all the disciplines and the list of the events he’s done in paddling, biking and running (road too) is probably way longer than the stories he wrote.

George was always a paddler and very much on the Dusi and river scene. The year before last (2010) he took his dear [long-suffering] wife down Dusi in their ‘love boat’ decorated K2. I had the pleasure of paddling this same craft at Triple Challenge in 2010 – a white boat decorated with red hearts – all over! Leading up to their Dusi adventure George’s posts about their preparations were hilarious. In a post from October 2009 George writes:

Yesterday Penny and I did the 28 km Oszzi Gladwin Canoe Race to see if it were possible for a shagged out old housewife with no experience to do the Dusi. The race had 7k’s in a choppy dam, 3 k portage and 18k’s of rapids. To show that I am not a chauvenist, or whatever, I even let her drive. I even let her carry the front of the boat. I’ve found pushing is easier than pulling.

She managed like a pro. The dam was like paddling in the sea, but once she got the hang of the side waves and stopped crashing into everyone (mainly because they had paddled away), we went fine.

On the portage, the duct tape on her recovering broken ankle held well (amazing stuff Duct tape, nature’s answer to just about everything). She couldn’t really run, because her ankle wouldn’t flex anymore, but she has a stylish hobble.

In the river she made good choices only hitting the soft rocks, although she doesn’t take instruction well and I had to correct her with a paddle once or twice.

Conversation Sample:
Her: “where do I go”
Me: “left”
Me: “left now”
Me: “Turn f…ing left”
crash, bump grind…silence…
Me: “So what’s the f…ing problem with left?
Her: “Don’t be rude”

We got better and better until a km from the end when a silly paddler pushed us under a tree block. Penny hasn’t learnt yet that sometimes you just have to ride over people to get your way, although I’m teaching her slowly, and a nasty swim had me just managing to rescue the boat and paddles before going back for her. By kicking around in the water till I found something soft, I was able to pull her up. She has done some scuba diving so can hold her breath really well. I keep her in practice. She had lost her nerve a bit so I had to use the marvelous duct tape to hold her in the back of the boat, whilst I drove the final km. She has recovered now I think, and later I will
let her out the house, as I don’t think she’ll bolt to her parents.

His actual post on their Dusi race is on his blog. Although he chirps big time, Penny was totally his heart and the light in his life.

George, travel safely, my friend, on the other side. You made an impact on the lives of so many and will be fondly remembered. Although my tears flow at the sadness of your untimely passing, I’m smiling from memories that I’m fortunate to have from the crossing of our trails.

George was 51 and he is survived by his wife Penny and sons.

30 Comments

  1. Chocking news since I was just telling my mates about my South African fried I learned to know as a young scholar in South Africa 1997, and who I came back to visit during my research in Zulu land 2000 – George, who always was happy to inspire, who always taught me to be better, was a beloved friend.

    RIP George Forder – Diving buddy and Mentor. You will be missed. Love and thoughts from Sweden to Axel, Liam and Penny.
    /Magnus Eriksson

  2. I’ve been haunted by this sad news ever since I heard. Known George for over 40 years – even though it wasn’t often that I had seen him recently, our meetings were always memorable. Whether it was clambering up some rock strewn valley in Swaziland, or slogging up out of the Umko valley, I remember those moments so so well. There aren’t too many people on this planet who have lived their lives to the full like you did George.. RIP my friend

  3. So sorry to see you go George. At school you were a big fan of Black Sabbath. After school we mucked about on the Bushmans River together. Once went up Grays Pass in the berg on a treasure hunt. Can’t fault your utter committment to the great outdoors – you really got the most out of it. Go well my man.

  4. I was a follower of George and engaged with his many pursuits over the years – from flyfishing to SCUBA diving to adventure racing and website design. He had that knack of drawing you into his world and was a born teacher and mentor. He was always up for a challenge and his enthusiasm, support and commitment to the causes he supported will be sorely missed. RIP George

  5. All I can say is that when someone like George passes away, it makes one question so many things. Most importantly it makes you realise that you have to live life to the full and that good friends, family and appreciation for all that our wonderful world has to offer, are the most precious ingredients in this quest. I didn’t know George as well as many that have already commented above, but I can see that he certainly new what mattered most. George’s memory and spirit will always be with those who loved him and shared his passion for adventure and life.

  6. George, your passion was infectious, your enthusiasm boundless. Whatever you did, you did at 110%. We could all learn something from the way you lived your life: with charisma, flair and commitment . Thank-you for taking over the reigns of the N3TC Karkooof Adventure Quest, so exuberantly and seamlessly. The multi-sport and adventure racing communities are going to experience a gaping hole without the brilliance of ‘bird man’ plotting the next adventure, keeping the spirits high, and your steadfast dedication to encourage and support novices of the sport. You have left an indelible mark and you will be sorely, sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Penny and the boys over this incredibly sad time. Penny – Im so glad that you could join George in his crazy adventures over these last few years, I know he was SO proud to have you on his side.

  7. Think I’ve ‘met’ the Baron before I met George. I am really sorry to hear of the sad loss of both.

  8. George, what character, he had his own way of doing things, sometimes crazy, somtimes brilliant, you got to love him because his heart was always in the right place. We will miss you my friend, the world is a poorer place with out you. May you memories always be with us.

  9. a bad day for AR all our kids and parents and friends that new him will miss his advice and qurky comments he was a great man and many a persons mentor he will be sadly missed RIP Mr AR

  10. Its an honour to have known you, RIP great man! – Deron Howard, ex GAP

  11. I am proud to say that I participated in one of The Baron’s events. Sorry to say goodbye.

  12. I’ve just seen in a note from Penny on Facebook that she is back home. She has minor bruising and otherwise was virtually unscathed from the head-on collision.

  13. So sad to hear of the passing of a great man. We only got involved with George and Penny through hosting our annual Bundu Bash at Balele three years ago. Thank-you George for your guidance and support, you will be remembered as an icon by all the Adventure Racers and Coaches at St Dominic’s Academy Newcastle. Penny and Boys our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  14. George, your writing was always classic and totally unique. I read it often and marvelled at your choice of words – really special! No doubt you’ll run that show in heaven! Go big bro!

  15. A Tribute to George by Hennie Pelser, a former fellow lecturer at Varsity College PMB:

    There once was a man named George
    Who’d jump down a cliff or scurry up a gorge
    To some he was crazy, to others a lunatic
    The reality a world to naïve to know what made him tick
    Good at heart, naughty as can be
    A spirit that set others free
    Not a nasty word, no never one
    Ever uttered by the universe’s great son
    Indeed it is a sad day
    When the good is called away
    The message from George I believe will be, if I dare
    Don’t worry ‘bout me, I left to cause havoc elsewhere

  16. It is truly tragic to here of the passing of George. As a newcummer to the crazy sport of AR in KZN many years ago, George was somewhat iconic in his presence at all the races. No doubt he would be sporting some crazy tights, often his camouflaged pair.

    After fumbling about in the bush at far too many races we eventually approached George and attended one of his Navigation Skills Workshops. A fun filled afternoon in the beautiful botanical gardens learning the basics followed by a rather strenuous hike led by George to test our newly acquired skills.

    His passion for not only passing on his skills and knowledge to others but also his “no nonsense grab life by the scruff of the neck and enjoy it” attitude will never be forgotten.

    Thanks George for teaching me that getting lost always leads to the discovery of something new, so enjoy getting lost.

    You will be missed…

  17. It is wonderful to read the accolades to ‘little’ bro’ as he was singularly unique and has left a massive void in many lives but just as massive a contribution. He is an amazing brother and I am so thankful for his life and love which will always be. We will be there for Pen and the boys. Blighty seems so far away and bleak just today. Cheers Gundi xxxxx

  18. I was at Estcourt High School with George and there was never a dull moment with him in the classroom. Every morning he would share a new word and meaning from the dictionary. My friend Kim and I have very fond memories of him. He made Kim feel so welcome when she first moved to Estcourt many years ago. Making fun of her Vaalie accent etc. We remember the “goolie-gunder” term he made up for the monsters in the old home movies we used to watch at a friends house. Such good fun memories. I last saw George at the Ronnie Daval in Hilton where he said he was wanting to run Comrades this year. RIP George, you will be greatly missed by all. To Penny and children my deepest sympathy and prayers. Love and Light to you all.

  19. RIP George, prayers are with Penny and the rest of his family at this time. The Mac’s :-(((

  20. george taught me how to dive, years ago when he had seacats at his and penny’s home in pmb. little did i know that years after, he would be the one i would be doing my first adventure races with. george, trev and luke were the best team ever. he had just such a big heart to take me on as a novice. just the most amazing leader who i was so excited to race with and learn from. his quirky ways and leftfield thinking were so refreshing and having a conversation with him was always intrigueing and enlightening. there was never a dull moment no matter the time of day or weather conditions. and paddling with him was so much fun, especially him belting out his version of “angie” by the rolling stones loud enough to embarrass me infront of all the paddlers at the drift on a thursday night. there was more laughing than paddling going on. cant begin to say how sad i am that youre gone, such a talented, respected and inspiring friend, taken from us far too soon. we will miss you so so much “georgina”! you will be spoken of and remembered so very much too. my thoughts and love go to you penny and your 3 boys. you truly are in my prayers. xx

  21. What a shock, darling brother. Can’t believe you’re gone but happy memories will survive.
    We all Love you
    Big sister in Oregon

  22. Bad news, but a what life lived! I met George at Uni where I was trying to run a rock climbing club and George was trying to run the universe. He was doing a better and funnier job than I was. After several years of trips with George (ie ventures into nether chaos, with Gluwein) we each went separate directions, but I ran into him again when my boys where involved in adventure racing as posties at Treverton – I was older and greyer, but George was still the same lunatic laugh like a javelin through chenille, and same impeccable sartorial elegance, to match same restrained delicate behavior for a hooligan having fun. And he was still having fun. ‘Must get together’ – yeah well. I guess the answer is don’t put it off.

    salute

    Dave (aka Scruff) Freer
    Flinders Island
    Tasmania.

  23. George was an inspiration: Why do anything in a mundane grey way… when it could be done with panache, style and wit. He set a high standard for anyone to match in terms of positive impact… a life lived as it is meant to be lived!

  24. So sad to have lost such a legend adventurer, writer & friend! I had the privilege of racing with & against George, training with him, travelling to events with him & most of the time being entertained by him. He was such a contagiously fun person & could brighten up any dreary paddling training session or middle of the night AR hike. Many of his race reports & blogs had me in tears laughing so hard. What an amazing man, Pietermaritzburg will certainly not be the same without him!

  25. I never met George, well I don’t think I did but we might have been at the same event sometime along the way. I think I know enough about him to know that he was one of those that people that are like gold. He was behind a lot of the events on the KZN scene that I never got to, but was jealous of being on my side of the country for missing. In particular that ARKZN race that required teams to blog from cellphones as ticking off their checkpoints was a brilliant concept. I had email conversations with him about it, we both thought we were so clever.
    But what I will probably miss the most about George, is that we will never again hear from the Baron(his alter ego). Look through the AR list and you will find some GEMS from over the years. He took it a step further and even got the Baron to actually organise an ARKZN event. The damn racing calendar gets clogged up these days, it’s tough clashing with a big race and all us marginal events have to scrap it out for the open weekends. Some just put it up on their site and then get hot under the collar if someone else touches their date. But then, the Baron just did it his way:

    “Sorry to abuse you gentle folk out there. The Baron here.
    18th July is the date for the 18 – 24 hr HR.
    Richard Starr parks his butt on the chair and demands coffee.

    “Baron” he says “you pick the weekends”
    “This isn’t the Transvaal, home of the sporting event destitute. In Kzn we
    have a life”
    “Jeep Msinsi is on Sunday 19th”

    “But that is for woosies and short event weekend warrior types” I say.
    “Short Fast makes you lank quick” he says. Unfortunately it’s true.

    “Scottburgh to Brighton Saturday” he says, flexing a bicep (I think it
    flexed)
    “George paddled that with Trevor” I recalled.” Lucky for Trevor he had a
    fine specimen like George to get him through. Apparently it isn’t easy. Our
    guys are keen to drop paddling from AR anyway as they say it’s too hard, so
    maybe they’ll come anyway.”
    Richard just sniffed.

    So I’m asking you what else is going on. I can make it 25/26 July easily at
    this stage. I’ll make the call before the weekend, so please let me know
    now!”

  26. So sad to here this, George still had so much contribution to make to the world – not the least being his humorous and talented blogging and his infectious zest for anything adventurous or outrageous. Sorry Penny and your boys it will be a huge loss and my heart goes out to you all.

  27. So sad to get his news from Lisa today. George, RIP my friend. A lot of people are going to miss your humour and your craziness, as well as your love for what you did, including endurance sport.

  28. Horrible, horrible, horrible news. George was a brilliant, passionate man and I enjoyed everyone of our meetings. Brilliant writer whom always made me laugh! RIP George.

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