Merrell teams at home with Expedition Africa

MEDIA RELEASE words by Sarah Hearn | The Merrell Adventure Addicts team may not have won the 2016 Expedition Africa 500km adventure race, but is happy with their performance.

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“We love competing and challenging ourselves to push to the limits. We had a good race, both Grant Ross and myself still had the Patagonia expedition pressing on our bodies and weren’t super speedy, but we performed well coming in second.” Says Graham Bird.

“The fast, short legs don’t suit us, but we finished strong after 88 hours. If it had been a longer course we may well have had the advantage as strategy and strength then come into play.

It was great to race against Team Featherbed again and with both of us now going to World Champs, South Africa is really going to be well represented at the Australian XPD.”

Kinetic Events put together a really good course encompassing many attractions of the area and successfully managed to get the town involved and interested in the sport that is traditionally a bit of a mystery for supporters.

“What a treat to see friends and family pop up at transitions!” says Tatum Prins, back with the team after several years away from competing.

By watching the super efficient live tracking site, some folk camped out and trekked along to meet teams with tempting coffee flasks, which, sticking to the rules prohibiting outside assistance, they couldn’t take, but the gesture was much appreciated.

“Seeing your little brown dog gleefully racing towards you on a long beach hike does more for your energy level than any number of hi-octane gels.”

“You can never explain exactly what goes on out there,” agrees Don Sims “but it’s wonderful for the sport to be getting this kind of exposure and support.”

Merrell Adventure Addicts is well respected as a racing team and good things are always expected of them. This year they also put together a Mentored team to experience the vibe at the back of the field and encourage people to attempt this crazy pastime. That didn’t quite work out as the team of complete newbies, led by long term Addict Hanno ‘Smelly’ Smit, stormed their way forward and stayed in the front quarter of the pack the entire way, finishing 12th over the line having completed the full course.

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“I’m not sure what we proved there!” says one member. “Smelly tried running away from us and we just chased after him.”

“We realised early on that there was no way we could fulfil our plan of posting updates while racing. We wanted to ‘give voice to the dot’ but found that non-stop really does mean no stopping. And we’re perhaps all a bit too competitive to linger at the back.”

“This was a perfect way to start, as the dynamics were sorted, we didn’t bicker about roles and didn’t have to fret about navigation, except when he was sleep monstered himself and arguing with the map. Without Hanno we would probably still be sorting through our handbags at the first transition. Merrell kindly supplied us with so much quality clothing and footwear and although I think they, as well as many others, were nervous we would not finish, they supported us all the way, backing the spirit of adventure that is #MyNature. The whole Merrell Adventure Addicts team were so encouraging and enthusiastic and this truly was a fantastic opportunity.”

“We were generously supported also by the Garden Route and Klein Karoo Tourism, although we don’t need any prompting to gush about the area we have chosen to live in, the #HomeofAdventure and our natural playground.”

Their story of their race is compiled via captioned photos in an album on their Merrell Mentored Facebook page

And the Addicts once again put together a series of great video clips, edited and posted during the race by Peter Kirk on the Merrell Adventure Addicts Facebook

Both teams give many thanks to main sponsor Merrell and to PVM Nutrition, Black Diamond, Extreme Lights, Ocean Eyewear, Squirt Lube, Island Tribe sunscreen, ButtaNutt tree spreads and Llama Bars – some proudly South African products.

Follow the Merrell Adventure Addicts Facebookfor news of their next exploit.

Photo (top) of Merrell Adventure Addicts by Peter Kirk.