Not too many people in this world get to have an office like mine. I am part of a fortunate few who gets to call the mountains and rivers my desk. This doesn’t come from a place of arrogance but rather I am humbled by these circumstances.
It’s 04h00; I find myself stripping down with a group of South Africa’s finest Adventure Racers as we prepare for an icy water crossing deep in the Baviaans. Someone cracks a joke which includes the size men genitalia and the temperature of water. Laughter emerges from those re-dressing themselves. Its light hearted, yet certain seriousness is felt by the cold and the impending 50 odd kilometres that lie ahead on this trek leg.
This is one of many stories that you will hear from the photographers who were out in the field. People in the wilderness doing what they do best, while we photographers do what we do best; capturing the essence and love of adventure racing.
Being a part of the team who brings Expedition Africa to the world is not only an exciting job, but an exhilarating one. Here we are, shedding a tear with teams who are at their lowest point, trying to comprehend their pain, their feelings and then capturing it. Then, we find ourselves with a team member at 22:00 on day something-or-other who is wiping away tears simply because a local farmer shared dinner with them, allowed the team to catch an hour sleep on his porch. Welcome to the Adventure Racing Amusement Park where Emotions are the roller-coaster of choice!
Six years; Yip, I am part of the furniture of Expedition Africa. Port Alfed, Drakensburg, Wild Coast, Swaziland, Garden Route and now Baviaans. Watching the teams come and go, seeing athletes grow and get older (some would argue wiser!) over the years has been fascinating. Many I call friends, most I call family… and I am not the only one that shares this notion. Stumbling in the dark and coming across a familiar face is like seeing a long lost brother or sister. My right shoulder is usually damp from a few crying eyes as a hug is shared in the most remote locations.. (Right, Noodle?)
So why do I shoot Adventure Racing? Exhaustion, broken equipment, bodily damage and away from family for extended periods are all pretty good and valid reasons to move onto something more easy. But, who wants easy? Who wants safe? Let’s hike in Buffel territory with friends, let’s shiver of cold and alone waiting for the shot… Let’s live a little. Let’s live a lot! The love that drives this sport is like no other I have been a part of… I’ll even dare to say that I see more love at this finish line that at an altar.
We all want to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. Expedition Africa is just that; a cumulative of intently hard work by an intensely skilled team lead by a couple who intensely leads us through integrity… why?
Because it’s all about love.