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Trailblazing Through Nature: Adventure Racing in Mzantsi Afrika


Blood pumping, sweat dripping, and adrenaline coursing through your veins, as you and your team work together to trek through The Great Outdoors. Now, add the special ingredient of competition – and you’ve truly got an adventurous sport!

Yes, these are some characteristics one could use to describe adventure racing, but where did it all begin, and what does it entail? Read on to learn more!

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The Beginning of Adventure Racing

If you truly want to see the eyes of an avid adventure racer sparkle, then mention the words Raid Gauloises.

Indeed, Raid Gauloises was the beginning of this epic sport we call adventure racing. But the overall concept dates back to 1987, when Gérard Fusil had the brilliant idea to create a sport that combines multiple disciplines, orienteering, teamwork, and lots of excitement! He developed this concept over the course of two years, writing the rules, and gaining sponsorship, until eventually, the first edition of the Raid Gauloises took place in 1989 in New Zealand.

The Rules of Adventure Racing

So, in short, what is Adventure Racing? 

We delved into this topic briefly, back when we chatted with Heidi ‘Adventure’ Muller, however, here is a refresher about the rules and regulations of this sport:

Adventure Racing is a team sport comprising four members, who must work together to traverse the allocated days and nights until they reach the finish line. But that’s not all, because as they embark on this journey, in the great outdoors, they will partake in various disciplines such as kayaking, mountain biking, abseiling, trail running, and the like.

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Map work is crucial for this sport, as teams must navigate through all kinds of terrains to reach all their checkpoints on time and in the correct order. 

There is also essential gear that teams must carry to ensure optimal performance throughout the race. Items such as food, first aid kits, water, emergency gear, and navigation tools are what the gear consists of.

This is a team sport, therefore if any of the members cannot compete, and does not want to continue, the entire team must then, forfeit. This also means that no team may leave a member behind, as this calls for disqualification. Respecting the environment is also an important aspect of Adventure Racing, therefore teams must avoid littering or causing damage to their environment as this will result in penalties of some sort.

At first, this sport may sound quite intimidating, however, the number one rule is to have fun! Many teams who are new to the sport enter with a ‘we are here to have fun’ attitude, and that is possibly the best way to begin because people learn from mistakes and experiences.

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Adventure Racing in Mzantsi Afrika

Now that you’ve learned all about this exhilarating sport, are you ready to get your hands a little dirty?

Merrell South Africa, has long since been a part of this adventurous scene, by providing excellent footwear for the rugged terrains, as well as, working with teams and race directors to create more excitement and involvement with this sport in South Africa.

As the official sponsor of Team Songlines, Merrell South Africa has had the privilege of watching first-hand, how incredible this sport is! To witness these amazing athletes in action, as they work together as a team, whilst navigating the great outdoors, is an indescribable experience.

This is certainly the type of energy that is needed in South Africa, and October 2023 will be bringing just that! Indeed, South Africans can look forward to Expedition Africa – Kouga, a race that can best be described as “a gruelling and exhilarating multi-day endurance event that challenges teams of four to navigate through rugged African terrain” (ARWS).

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If you’re interested to learn more, then stay tuned to our social pages, as well as, the Adventure Racing World Series website, where you will find all the latest news on upcoming events.

And of course, if you’re thinking about beginning your Adventure Racing journey, then take a step in the right direction with Merrell’s Agility Peak 5 - the ultimate outdoor ‘adventuring’ footwear. This style promises out-of-the-box comfort and offers the most Float Pro cushioned midsole we have ever offered in a Trail Running shoe, along with an enhanced rocker, reduced weight, and a sculpted heel cup to minimise slipping.

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