The 5th edition of FEAT in South Africa took place on Thursday last week. Even though the speakers are known in advance and the slides approved a few days before the event, how the evening pans out is always a pleasant surprise. The mix of disciplines and adventures featured have made every FEAT event distinctly different to any of the others.
This speaker lineup was quite water heavy, which was unintentional, but featured very diverse water disciplines.
Richard Kohler kicked off the evening, detailing his 3,500km surfski expedition, paddling a smile around South Africa from the West coast to the East coast. The pictures of his beard growth – and removal – were crowd pleasers.
The tag-team of Gavin Moffat and Ingrid Lotze took us on their journey of transitioning from recreational to technical divers and the experiences they had in the build up to a 103 metre dive. Achieving this goal is definitely not the end as they keep diving and improving their technical skills.
Ray Chaplin was pulled off the Orange River to speak at FEAT. He’s riverboarding the length of the river. Alone in the water, Ray has to be very safety conscious and yet the rapids seem to be less dangerous than the polluted water itself! As we speak, Ray is back in Upington and headed for the river to pick up his adventure in the morning.
Karen Hauptfleisch has watched the sunrise from the top of the highest peaks of 33 African countries. What experiences! Getting to the hills and mountains is clearly more of an adventure than getting to the summit.
Nikki Candy spent a week at US Space and Rocket Centre’s Space Camp immersed in astronaut training activities. Simulations like trying to assemble solar panels on a space walk following auditory instructions, multi-axis spinning things, helicopter rescue similations, mission control simulations, zero-gravity activities… Space Camp sounds more appealing by the minute.
Marco Broccardo and Dave Joyce took us with them on their journey across the Empty Quarter, which they did earlier this year with teammate Alex Harris. Sweltering temperatures, hauling their +/-400 kg cart through sand and having to decline offers of food and iced drinks from kind people in order to remain self sufficient… just some of many challenges the desert threw at them.
David Waddilove took to the stage to tell us about the Freedom Trail route that he created between Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town, and when he first ran it from Cape Town, between running Two Oceans and Comrades. More than a mountain bike race, Freedom Challenge is about history, South Africa, people and incredible remote landscapes.
Ricky Goodhead would make Forest Gump look like a fun runner… Ricky’s recent 4000km run from Ushuaia to Aconcagua, included a climb to the summit and a visit to the local police station (not just to say hello), was definitely an adventure. Traversing through snow, open expanses, forests and mountains was definitely not a walk in the park.
Kevin Davie spoke about his recent mountain biking adventure following the route taken by English explorer, naturalist, traveller, artist and author William Burchell 200 years ago. Burchell’s records were incredibly detailed and as a result Kevin found exact locations mentioned by Burchell. He’s still hoping to find a rock that Burchell initialled in the Karoo.
Chris Bertish wrapped up the night with an account of his recent SUP adventures in the UK. He completed a run (18km), SUP (245km) and bike (40km) adventure down the Thames River from source-to-sea and then SUPd the English Channel, setting a new record by 12 minutes.
Jacques Homan was awarded the annual FEAT Award for an ultra-triathlon he plans to do in April 2014. This five-day (including travel to and from Pretoria) adventure takes place in Lesotho and is entirely self-sufficient.
Elegant and simple, this accessible adventure will see Jacques and a friend kayaking the highest dam, cycling the highest official mountain pass and walking up the highest peak – all within a cut-off time of 48 hours. Jacques will speak at FEAT next year.
FEAT was MC’d by the friendly, sporty and easy-going Simon Gear. This was his third FEAT after speaking in 2011 and being the MC in 2012.
Thanks to the speakers for eagerly agreeing to share their adventures, and to our supportive FEAT sponsors; Black Diamond, Capestorm and Powertraveller for making FEAT possible.
Thanks to the backstage team who handle the sound, lights, microphones, slides, tickets, photographs, videography, catering, parking guards.
Finally, thanks to the interactive audience for coming to FEAT. This event exists because you love adventures too.