Merrell’s Adventure Addicts team has shown that it’s not only experienced adventure racers who can tackle the 500km Expedition Africa adventure race. Everyone has to start out somewhere. Before entering the latest Expedition Africa, not one member of the Merrell Mentored team had run more than 150km non-stop. They finished the race under the mentorship of Don Sims, one of the Merrell Adventure Addicts, a team that has won Expedition Africa three times and is ranked number 7 in the world.
The Mentored initiative was started last year by the Adventure Addicts team to encourage more people to take on adventure racing. “At some stage we had to let on that us adventure racers are not superhuman,” says regular team captain Graham Bird. “We’re not trying to say we’re all winners, but if you have a body and a mind you can put them to work together and do incredible things.”
Extreme endurance events take the athletes’ perception of their limits, and show they are merely “mirages on the horizon that recede as you approach them”. The events aren’t about the activities (running, biking, and paddling non-stop for days), but about realising what the participant is capable of. Here it’s to his benefit to have an experienced mentor who can giving him tips on the way, to explain practicalities – for example why he should strip down and cross a river naked (so that the clothes will stay warm and dry when on the other side).
“I’m hugely proud of all of them and they’ve definitely earned my respect,” says Sims. “This was probably the most emotional finish I’ve had in all my years of racing.”
Next stop for the Merrell Adventure Addicts is the US, where they’ll participate in the AR World Championships in August.
Merrell is locally distributed by Medicus Shoes.