Boom! The 5th edition of FEAT in South Africa took place last night. Even though I know in advance who is speaking – often months before – and I’ve seen their slides in the days before, how the evening actually turns out is always a surprise – a pleasant surprise. Every FEAT event has been distinctly different to any of the others as a result of the mix of speakers, disciplines and adventures that are featured.
This speaker lineup was quite water heavy, which I hadn’t intentionally planned. I couldn’t have had more diverse water disciplines.
Richard Kohler kicked off the evening, telling us about 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.
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 I type this, Ray is back in Upington and headed for the river to pick up his adventure in the morning.
Chris Bertish wrapped up the night with an account of his recent SUP adventures – squeezed between business meetings – 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.
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… I’m sure that I’m not the only one that also wants to go to Space Camp.
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+ kilogram 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 put Forest Gump look like a fun runner… His recent 4000km run from Ushuaia to Aconcagua (and of course he climbed to the summit too!) was definitely an adventure – including a police station visit (and not just to say hello). Snow, open expanses, forests, mountains… 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 writings were incredibly detailed and as a result Kevin has found exact locations mentioned by Burchell. He’s still hoping to find a rock that Burchell initialled. In the Karoo.
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 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 – he was a speaker in 2011 and our MC last year.
All talks were filmed and they’ll be released on the FEAT website over the coming weeks. Photos from the event will be posted on the FEAT Facebook page.
My thanks go out 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.
Backstage there are more than a dozen people who handle the sound, lights, microphones, slides, tickets, photographs, videography, catering, parking guards… Thank you team.
And thank you to you, the interactive audience, for coming to FEAT. FEAT exists because you love adventures too.