Team MERRELL suffer major wipeout

MERRELL Adventure Addicts’ Hanno Smit breaks collarbone

With just under three weeks until the start of Expedition Africa, the MERRELL Adventure Addict’s preparations suffered a major setback over the past weekend. The second edition of Expedition Africa, which now forms part of the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS), will see teams lining up for a non-stop 500km adventure through the wilderness area surrounding Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape.

Expedition Africa is a multi-discipline event where teams of four person mixed teams, navigating with map, compass and landmarks from control point to control point in a number of disciplines which can include: mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, swimming, rope work and orienteering. Teams will travel non-stop through the 500km course, deciding if and when to rest, with the first team to complete all the race legs and visiting all the checkpoints being declared the winner.

The MERRELL Adventure Addicts have been one of the top Adventure Racing units in South Africa over the past few years competing in numerous Adventure Racing World Series Races around the year, including finishing 7th at the 2011 Adventure Racing World Championships. Much of the Addicts success has come from the team’s vast experience of competing together as a tight unit over the past five years in a sport that demands teamwork and most importantly team dynamics. “Our team dynamic has stemmed from our detailed understanding of one another’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses”, says the “lady” of the team, Tatum Prins. “We are all just such good mates and enjoy spending time with one another racing, training and parking easy.” Joining Tatum Prins in the Addicts four person team: is captain and navigator Graham Bird; the wise old stalwart Hanno Smit and backup navigator and workhorse Donovan Sims.

The MERRELL Adventure Addicts traveled to Ecuador in February for the 400km Huairinchi ARWS race, but unfortunately failed to finish due to illness. This was the foursome’s first withdrawal as a team from an Adventure Race and left the team disappointed but highly motivated for the remaining plans for the year. After winning the 2011 Expedition Africa, the defense of this title is one of the MERRELL Adventure Addicts major goals.

Over the past weekend the MERRELL Adventure Addicts gathered for a training camp to sharpen the skills for upcoming Expedition. As part of the preparations, the team competed in the MERRELL Tsitsikamma MTB race on Saturday, where unfortunately Hanno Smit came off his bike on one of the descents, breaking his collarbone in the process. This has ruled him out of action for the foreseeable future and paves the way for the team reserve, Craig Carter-Brown to step in to the team. “It is just devastating to lose Hanno in this way,” says Donovan Sims. “He is the wise old man of the team and his experience and influence on the team will be sorely missed.”

Craig Carter-Brown, a cattle farmer from Ixopo, brings true grit, dedication, commitment and motivation to the team. “Both Donovan and myself have raced with Craig in the past and he is someone whom will race his heart out for the team,” says Graham Bird. “He is easy to get on with and will fit perfectly into the team. He is in top form, having recently won the Garmin Wartrail. Guess this makes me the old man of the team now. Now one of us will have to step up to be the Wise man!”

Their sponsorship deal with MERRELL, an internationally acknowledged leader in the footwear and outdoor apparel industry, has enabled the team to focus their energy on racing rather than procuring sponsorship. With MERRELL’s tag line “Let’s Get Outside”, the partnership with the Adventure Addicts is a match made in heaven with the team focusing their lives on the outdoors. Other team sponsors include PVM Nutritional Science, Giant Bicycles, Island Tribe Sunscreen, Squirt Bicycle Lube, Glider Eyewear and Black Diamond head torches.

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