Friday 26 December 2008

Abu Dhabi wrap-up

We've been back for a week - thrown into the festive season. Mid-December is a great time to race because the slippery slope joy-ride continues to the end of the year.

Abu Dhabi was an incredible experience. The race is exceptionally well organised - no horses are spared; and the staged nature of the race gives is a vibe like no other. I remember speaking to adventure racing legend Ian Adamson after the Outdoor Quest 5-day staged AR in Borneo in late-2004 (he was course director). It was there that he said staged adventure races would be the way of the future.

Expedition races appeal to the adventure racing and multiday purists; staged races offer a "softer" alternative. The latter also offers more of an experience of a country and gives sponsors and media more opportunity for exposure and involvement. And when I say soft, it is a perceived softness because you have the nights (well, most of them anyway) to sleep, eat and recover. The back teams can take it easy without much time pressure, while the front teams have an all-out high-intensity sprint through each stage.

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge probably won't be disappearing any time soon and I anticipate that participation numbers will continue to grow with each event.

Taking part in this race was an awesome experience for our team and I was fortunate to race with Lauren, Garth and Christiaan - they really were a dream team.

Reports that we posted during the race are on our team blog at

A collection of photos from the race are available on Flickr. The photos won't be online indefinitely, but they'll be there at least for the next few months. If you click through each of the images, you'll get the captions. If you put them on slideshow view you'll see the photos without the captions.

The event website is - if you're keen on attending next year.

My thank go to Lotta - for inviting us; to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority - for hosting us; and to Lauren, Garth and Christiaan for so eagerly jumping in to do this race and for making it an unforgettable experience filled with fun, laughter and racing.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Going to race in Abu Dhabi

After months of preparation for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, our departure date is almost here. We leave on Monday!

Around mid-year I was very kindly offered flights and entry for a South African team from race organisation. This is part of an initiative by Adbu Dhabi Tourism to encourage participants who have never competed in an adventure race overseas to attend an international event. I ran an application process through and after much deliberation selected a team. Lauren Greeff, Christiaan Greyling and Garth Peinke will be my team mates for this exciting event. We're a good match and I have little doubt that this will be an awesome experience for us all.

Since late-September we've been paddling and planning gear, flights, clothing and logistics. We all got together for the first, and only, time at the annual rogaine events in Belfast over the first weekend in November. The rest of the time we're in daily phone and email contact. Goodness, the weeks have flown!

We do indeed have a team blog at I'm very lucky to have a fabulous C902 Sony Ericsson handset through work - this the same handset as used by Bond, James Bond in the new Quantum of Solace movie. And, if I can get all the roaming things activated and working, I'll be updating photos and content from the race, directly from my handset. Aren't these things fun!

Many of our friends ask whether we're excited about the race yet. For me personally, the past few weeks have been hectic with house break-in, starting new job, finishing my last Runner's World gear column, battling bronchitis and dealing with race stuff. I have been so fortunate to have a lot of administrative and organisational help from Lauren; I just wouldn't have been able to handle this without her. So, I'm not that excited yet because it doesn't just feel real. And I'm so looking forward to getting on the plane - this is the moment when everything that can be done is done. I think the butterflies will kick in when we're all together on Monday afternoon and we're packing our race crates.

We've also been so kindly assisted by many people, who - with their excellent service and experience advice - have helped us to get our stuff together. Simon from Ram Mountaineering; Christo's gang at Adventure Inc (drybags), John from Eiger Equipment; Morne and his team at First Ascent; Russell, our paddling coach; and Cheryl and Steve who have been our essential 4th's for paddle sessions.

And of course there are not enough words of thanks for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge organisation and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, who have given us the opportunity to participate in this exciting event in Abu Dhabi.

Knowing the event organisation, I'm sure the online coverage should be very good. Check the event website for options like reports and tracking. I'm not sure what will be online. and will be running coverage too. And, of course, there's our team blog - I've updated it with the course information already.

Thank you for your wishes and thoughts. We're going out there to have a good race, which I'm sure we'll get.