39 teams ventured through the Kouga and Baviaans regions, exploring race director; Stephan Muller’s masterpiece of a course over the past week. Expedition Africa kicked off at 07h00 on 14 May 2017 where teams of four tackled the awaiting 514km route through parts of the Eastern Cape many never knew existed.
The Baviaanskloof proved to be a highlight for many athletes, especially after realising that they might never be able to set foot in that specific canyon ever again. The Baviaans brought a true element of magic to this year’s Expedition Africa. The tranquillity, the rugged beauty and the wild life are all factors that created a true African splendour.
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest of its kind in Southern Africa. The 225 000 HA mega-reserve boasts unspoiled, rugged mountainous terrain featuring spectacular landscapes and incredible wildlife throughout the canyon area. International and local teams ventured into the canyon hoping to see many animals, especially the buffalo. “I came all this way to South Africa, and I did not see one buffalo! Oh well, let’s go do it again!” expressed Philippe Chod of Running Shade (FRA) soon after exiting the canyon leg.
Other participants expressed their highlight to be the hospitality throughout the Eastern Cape, especially at each transition area. “The people here are fantastic, and the hospitality is absolutely superb” shared Malin of Skylotec whilst walking from the finish line.
Skylotec (SWD) crossed the finish line on Wednesday night, completing the 514km course in 82h11, soon followed by Thunderbolt AR (AUS) and Nevarest Jabberwock (RSA) claiming third. Scylotec will now represent their country at the Adventure Racing World Champs in August, due to their win at Expedition Africa.
The true inspirers throughout this expedition however lies with each team that crossed the finish line thereafter. The bond created amongst each team has been incredible to witness after crossing the finish line. Adventure stories of experiences, highlights and low moments have all been spoken of all around the Cape St Francis Resort over the past four days. Each team journeyed along the same route, however each extracted something different from their experience.
Team Fluid (RSA) were the final team to cross the finish line this afternoon and received quite a reception from fellow athletes, supporters, organisers, family and friends. Brigitte Joubert, Ivan Zimmerman, Johan Bornman, Marlize Moolman and race organisers; Heidi and Stephan Muller celebrated the teams achievement with a tequila on the Cape St Francis Resort beach.
Expedition Africa will officially come to a close this evening, where all participating teams will be awarded for their achievement at the Cape St Francis Resort.
“This event has taught me quite a lesson when it comes to what people are capable of achieving. If you put your mind to something you can certainly attain any goal” shares Cape St Francis Resort owner; Fasie Malherbe.
“I have always wanted Cape St Francis Resort to be a centre for sport as I have always been involved with sport, and having Expedition Africa here is the largest sporting event we have ever had, and it was incredible to host. Expedition Africa has definitely been the most eventful one and it is incredible to believe that each and every athletes are back at the resort in one piece” further expresses Malherbe.
“It is incredible to have all my ‘chickens’ in! I cannot believe that after a year of planning and organising that this year’s Expedition Africa has already come to an end. I only hope that each team enjoyed the route, the race, the people and everything else that made this year possible. Adventure racing is all about love for Stephan and I; it is all about sharing a beauty to people that would never have otherwise set foot in parts of our beautiful country. Now – we start planning for 2018!” shares co-organiser, Heidi Muller.
Congratulations to every single team that took on this year’s Expedition Africa – according to many athletes this proved to be an adventure race of a lifetime.