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.
Her: “where do I go”
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.