Drakensburg, the origins of the name alone brings to mind a treacherous, dangerous, and hostile environment. In Zulu the area is known as the “Barrier of Spears” and in Afrikaans the translation is “Dragon Mountains”. The landscape is vast and was formed from the vicious lava eruptions over 200 million years ago that created the second highest waterfall in the world and the second highest mountains and plateaus in Africa. While beautiful and picturesque, the race directors Heidi and Stephen brought over 31 teams here because they knew that this would be a foreboding area that would take the most seasoned adventure racing teams and best navigators in the world to their limits.
Our team was comprised of some of the most experienced racers in the sport including Karen Lundgren, Bob Miller, Kyle Peter and me (Garret Bean).
Kyle Peter – Kyle serves as the team captain and backup navigator and his job is to keep the team moving with the big picture in mind. Kyle takes pride in this role and has trimmed his beard accordingly to mirror that of the Dos Equis most interesting man in the world. There may or may not be wisdom contained in that beard, but during this race it definitely contained an assemblage of bugs, dirt, sweat, and at the end champagne.
Bob Miller – Bob’s has over 30+ expedition races under his belt and in is known as one of the sport’s best navigators. Don’t let his skinny legs and arms fool you, this guy is one of the best technical off trail runners and has amazing balance as he runs off trail down and up mountains. I thought when I delivered his 2XU compression gear to him he must have put in an order for his fiance Shannon, but then I watched as he threw them on pre-race, and the XS’s fit just fine.
Karen Lundgren – Karen has well over 30 expedition races under her belt. She brings a voice of reason to the team, is a master at logistics and makes our team efficient and quick in TAs by keeping track of everyone. She manages the details that are easy to miss and makes sure we are efficient on the trail and in the transition areas. She is truly the Queen of our Machine.
Garret Bean – Yours truly only has 2 expedition races under his belt, so experience is not my strong suit. My job on the team is to move the team faster. Everyone calls me a mule, but I think Cabillo (horse) is a more appropriate and complimentary description. My role on this team was to tow teammates, take weight when possible and push the limits of endurance.
Since none of us have raced as teammates together except Bob and Kyle, this was going to be an educational experience. We would have to learn about how each other functions on no sleep and how we can help each other move faster. Contrary to popular belief making fun of Bob’s skinny legs doesn’t make him faster, but if you dangle raisin bread, a highlighter, or a picture of a clean and organized gear bag in front of Bob you will get his attention and he’ll move faster. This race was learning about team dynamics and how to move efficiently together.
You can read the rest of the team’s report on the ExploreCompeteLive website.
Photo by Andreas Strand.