Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Land Rover G4 National Selections

Over the years I've noticed a correlation between the duration, vibe and intensity of experience to the severity of "post-event blues". I was recently involved with Land Rover G4 National Selections on the media side and even though I was not a participant, my post-event blues is testament to the energy and exhilaration of this exceptional event.

Land Rover G4 Challenge, as I explain to initiates, is a revamped, hyped-up version of the old Camel Trophy. It includes more multidiscipline physical elements, in addition to the obligatory 4x4 driving skills. I like to think of the driving element as a means to get the competitors from one spectacular location to another; with physical challenges happening at each location.

The first Land Rover G4 Challenge was held in 2003, and Chester Foster represented South Africa. In 2006, Martin Dreyer - adventure racer and "Duke of Dusi" - took on the other 18 competing countries to bring the G4 trophy (a Land Rover!) home to South Africa.

This next 2009 edition of Land Rover G4 Challenge has a twist: not one, but two people will be chosen from each represented country. And, the paired teams will be mixed gender. Yes, this is the first time that women will compete against each other, and not the men, for a place in their country's team.

South Africa was one of only two other nations (the other being Russia) to host a selection process that included Regional and National selections. Regional candidates were selected from entry forms submitted through the Land Rover G4 Challenge website. All in all, 120 men and women took part in three rotations. From these, 20 were selected (10 men and 10 women) to go through to National Selections, which was held just over a week ago in Lesotho.

The Selections were planned and managed by MagneticSouth, a South African events company headed by the Collins brothers, Mark and John, and their partners - in work and marriage - Belen Sanchez and Christine Collins. This quartet are ex-Camel Trophy competitors and support crew; they're also accomplished adventure racers and they've worked on previous G4 events in planning and/or support. And then you look at the rest of their team... Goose, Chris, Pieter, Devlin, Mark D. and others - a crew with extensive multisport, adventure racing, Camel Trophy and G4 experience.

The National Selection format included multiple activities each day. Designed to test speed, navigation (map and GPS), physical discipline prowess, 4x4 driving and rope skills, as well as problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills, these activities served to rank the competitors by a points system, according to their performance in the activities.
Points alone are not the definitive criterion; but they do help to give a fair assessment of competitor ability and to determine which candidates are eligible for serious consideration.

Other factors that then come into play are personality elements, which include how the candidate is able to work with their teammates. Land Rover G4 Challenge in 2009 is a three-week, high-pressure adventure; the final pair selected has to work and interact - in peace and harmony - with each other for the duration of the event. This is selection process is challenging (for the selectors too) and the choice of the four candidates to go through to Land Rover G4 International Selections at Eastnor Castle - home of Land Rover Experience - in England in early-2009 was not made lightly.

Our four 2009 Land Rover G4 Challenge candidates are: Richard Kolbe, Craig Carter-Brown, Jeannie Bomford and Hanlie Booyens. Only two of these (one man and one woman) will progress to the the three-week Mongolian challenge in 2009.

To comment on the activity and competition aspects of the National selections. Most of the activities were short at 30-minutes to 1-hour in duration; but of high intensity. As I was overseas during Regional selections, I was unable to compete for a slot at Nationals (media involvement was a pleasing alternative); but after watching Nationals I'm fairly certain that I'm just not fast enough, especially in the purely phyical disciplines and mini-multisport challenges. Every one of the twenty contenders are exceptional athletes and are credit to the standard of multisport participation in South Africa.

But, even so, my entry will definitely be in for the 2010 selection process. Whether you make it only to Regionals or a step ahead to Nationals, the experience of Land Rover G4 Challenge is something to be treasured. Slick organisation, creative activities, personal challenges, comraderie and a buoyant atmosphere make for an event that will keep you relating stories of your adventures for many weeks.

I've had the fortune of attending adventure races and ultra runs all over the World; including Land Rover G4 International Selections in the UK in early 2006. But this National Selection event stands out as the most impressive - credit to the vision and commitment of Land Rover South Africa and MagneticSouth's superb event planning. Friends, do not hesitate to submit your entries in 2010.

For now, the "final four" go into their preparations for International Selections; and it is hard to choose favourites because they're all so strong, skilled and competent; and they're really nice people too. And the rest of us come off this awesome G4-high, return to our normal lives and prepare to cheer our candidates through the last phase of Selections and on to Mongolia. Hip-hip-hoorah!


Anonymous said...

Great article, thanks Lisa. Having spent more than ten days on the G4 Selections crew - and having been there from start to finish - I bet my post-event blues beat yours six love.

The Land Rover G4 National Selections was one of the greatest experiences of my life - and certainly one of the greatest adventures. How do we ever do better?

All I can do is look forward to trying, I suppose.

And by the way, you might like to read an article I wrote about one of the tasks on the Regionals...


Unknown said...

How can I contact Goose who functioned as our security detail on our Timbuktu/Table Mountain Expedition in 2006, please..

adventurelisa said...

Hi Colin. Please drop me an email at lisa@ar.co.za. I don't know Goose but I can put you in contact with someone who certainly will. Lisa