Adventure is out there, use your running fitness to grab it
24 October 2016
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Welcome back to yet another edition of Old Mutual Live, I’m Brad Brown. Great things start here, great things start now. I love the fact that we are just so spoilt for choice when it comes to different races and events around the country. Whether you’re into trail running or road running or adventure racing or multi-sport, we are so blessed to live where we do. Those events wouldn’t be possible without event organisers.
A lot goes into it and a lot behind the scenes that I think as competitors we don’t really understand and fully comprehend the magnitude of these sorts of events. But we’ve got one of those event organisers and they do a lot more as well, on the podcast today. A great pleasure to welcome onto the show today from Kinetic Events, Heidi Muller. Welcome, thanks for joining us today.
Heidi Muller: Hello, it’s wonderful to finally have a chat with you, wonderful, a great intro. We are so lucky in our country to have such wonderful adventure racing and all sorts of stuff. Our people are absolutely amazing and obviously our scenery, we’re spoilt for choice, nice to chat to you.
Night golf course running pioneers
BB: Thanks, and I think a lot us do definitely take it for granted. We are truly blessed to live where we do. But let’s talk about some of the events that you guys host. Let’s touch on the night trail run. It’s been going for a good few years now, it’s grown from strength to strength and that’s almost a doorway into some of the other stuff you do. Tell us a little bit about that night trail run that you guys host.
HM: Yes, we started many years ago, six years. We were actually the first people who, my husband, we had a corporate event on a golf course. As the sun was setting all the golfers move off the course and he was just standing there like wow, we live in Jo’burg and are complaining every day where we’re going to go run. I hate running on the road and he said, how beautiful would this be to run on a golf course at night time when it’s closed for the golfers?
It took me a year to get permission, I went to every single golf course, they all said no ways you can run on the course, it’s going to damage it. But yes, then I had one marketing lady who saw the light and said: All right Heidi, let’s try one. I promise you, it just went from strength to strength. We were, for several years, the only company who did it in Johannesburg, the night runs on golf courses.
We decided to do like a 4km event and an 8km. The 4km all moms and walkers can do it and then obviously the guy who wants to do a little bit more does the 8km. There’s a little bit of gravel and a little bit of road and grass. Some people will dispute over the years if it’s now real trail running. My husband is a biokineticist and he’s like, listen, to go into that debate is for another day.
Any person who we can inspire to get out of their houses and come on a Wednesday night, come do a 4km or 8km, normally there’s magnificent venues with safe parking – we do have that problem in Jo’burg – a great venue. Normally we the club houses are beautiful, you’re having afterwards a good burger and a beer, it’s a good social event as well.
A great start-up trail running event
It’s been really great for many years and this year we were lucky enough to have Energiser as our sponsor until December. Yes, now obviously there’s many more companies who jumped ship and they now also do night runs on golf courses. But yes, it’s a very good base event for us to get people out of their houses and to see what Kinetic Events offer. Like I said, to venture into maybe the multi-sport or the adventure races.
BB: Heidi, I think it’s a great way to get people introduced to the sport of trail running and that debate is interesting, running on a golf course, trail running, who cares. It’s something different and it’s a way for people to get introduced to a different aspect of the sport we all love so much in a non-threatening environment.
Let’s be honest, I’ve run some trail runs where if that was my first event, I would never go back because it was so technical and so hard. I think it’s a great thing that you guys are doing. You mentioned some of the other events, you guys are big into adventure racing and put on some epic events. Tell us a little bit about some of the other events that you guys host.
HM: Just to get back to that, we advertise it, it’s like you say, it’s a good start-up event. There are so many people who are scared to go and do trail running. But when you come to one of our golf course runs, there’s a good entry level run. Remember, it’s at night, you need a light, so it makes it a little bit more adventurous.
Then obviously they venture from there into the weekend runs which are definitely more technical, into the mountains, more track, single track. But again, I think it’s a good feeder for the other companies who do the weekends, if you want to call it the more proper, more hard-core trail running events.
We obviously at these events promote our adventure races. We were a few years ago racing ourselves, myself and my husband, for over 20 years, adventure racing in South Africa and international. We decided to start our own company, mainly adventure racing and multi-sports.
The great team aspect of adventure racing
I’m not sure if all your listeners know out there, but adventure racing is normally a team of four people, three men and a lady, that’s the international standard. It’s like an off-road triathlon and if that makes sense to you in your head. Yes, it is mountain biking, it’s trail running and then your kayaking. But the catch here is it’s a team sport. Four people must get to the finish line.
It’s navigation, it’s on a map, it’s not a market route. They go through the day, through the night, so obviously it gets more and more adventurous. But we start off with a 25km event, which is our Kinetic Adventure. We’ve also got now the Fluid Multi-Sport event which is 30km, that’s on a market route, but basically it’s all multi-sport and it’s to get people into this adventure lifestyle, that there is more to offer and trying to feel that kind of sporting.
Then from there, if they like it, they normally will then venture into our moon events, which is 120km adventure race. Where you will go, it’s like this weekend. We’re going to Parys and we start say at 12:00 and they will race throughout the night until they’re finished.
Then from there on you go to the double moon, meaning it’s 200km. Then our big premier event, Expedition Africa, which is 500km. That event is part of the Adventure Racing World Series. We get half our teams are international teams and that is obviously our massive premiere event. It’s so much, I don’t even know where to start!
BB: That’s brilliant, I think that’s a great overview. If people want to find out more, what I’m going to do is I’m going to send them to your website because obviously all the info is there. It’s kinetic-events.co.za, we’ll put that link into the show notes of this episode of Old Mutual Live, go check it out. If you have any interest in these adventure races, these multi-sport races, go check it out. I think what you guys at Kinetic are doing is amazing.
How a love for adventure racing is born
But you also mentioned Heidi that you guys race too, it’s not just that you’re putting on events, you almost saw a gap in the market because there aren’t many of these races around. You thought, you know what, let’s put them on! Tell us a little bit about your experience in these sort of races, how did you get roped into it to start with?
HM: Obviously at school I was an athlete and athletics, but I was never a long distance runner or anything, I was more of a sprinter. After school I met my husband Stefan and he got roped into it, he went to do the Echo Challenge in Borneo. It was a South African team that put the race together. I don’t know if you know those years, it was like 800km. It was Mark Burnett was the organiser of it, Mark Burnett of Survivor and all other programmes.
He did the Borneo Challenge and he came back and basically for Valentine’s Day bought me a red bicycle, a mountain bike. I’m like wow, I’ve never ridden a bike before, is this what I’m going to do? He’s like yes, there’s a 100km adventure race two weekends later, we’re going to do it. I’m like okay great, but I’ve never even cycled 5km, never mind even run 5km.
We did two weekends later the adventure race and we won it and I got hooked. I was like, what is this? I obviously started training and we basically just did race after race. Then there were many organisers, different organisers throughout SA. Yes, we were for many years sponsored by different names and it was my life.
When we started our own family we again saw the market in the country and thought we can do it better and bigger. Let’s do what we love, maybe not the business where we’re going to make money from, because it is a niche. But you know, you have to do what you love and adventure racing is more than just a sport. For us it’s truly, you change people’s lives.
Any person who takes up a challenge where you have to endure and co-exist with three other people throughout the day and throughout the night, continuously. You’re hungry, you’re tired, you have to push your limits, you go far beyond the limits. That is maybe for a 100km race for some people and other people push it to 200km and others go up to the 500km.
When they come over the finish line, your life has been changed, you are different the way you look at stuff, at your daily work environment, of course after you’ve done such an adventure. That is why adventure racing is truly our love and we love the outdoors. That’s why we’re so passionate about it. It’s definitely not a money making business, it’s a life changing business.
Being a part of the global adventure racing scene
BB: You also mentioned that you get, SA is awesome. But it’s also allowed you to see great parts of the world, not just SA. You guys have recently returned from the Himalayan Challenge which you ended up winning, tell us a little bit about that experience.
HM: What happened, because Expedition Africa, the 500km race, we’re part of the World Series, meaning that the winning team in SA, which was this year the Featherbed Team in Knysna. John and Mark Collins, I’m sure you know them –
HM: They get then a free entry into the World Champs and then every year there’s a World Champs. We as directors of the African race go to the World Champs every year, so every year we have the opportunity to travel all over the world to these amazing venues. Hopefully we can host the World Champs one day in South Africa. I’m just going to throw it out there, I need that one big sponsor so that we can host the World Champs in SA.
We’re going every year to the World Champs, but also because we’re part of the World Series, the Indian Federation wanted to host a race in India. They came to observe Expedition Africa this year in Knysna and afterwards they asked us if we would not be their advisors, to come and assist them by hosting a race in India.
What happened, we took a South African team there, it was the team Jabba Walk through to compete in the event, the Himalayan Challenge. But we took our media team, our PR, our video crew, our photographer, we took a whole media team with us to go and promote their event. We obviously go as technical advisors to assist them to make obviously their event better. We had the most amazing experience.
We flew into Delhi, we had one day in Delhi, the evening we had press conference and meeting all their sponsors. The next morning 3:00 we flew out to Ladakh, I don’t know if you know Leh is the name of the little town. it’s basically in the Kashmir area and the border of Pakistan and China.
It’s totally, I cannot explain to you, it’s just breath-taking. I’m sure you’ve seen some of our photos and videos on my page. We had really there the most magnificent experience. We took our media crew everywhere to film it and document the event for them. Obviously we will play a bigger role next year with their event again.
Yes, obviously adventure racing is giving us this life of adventure, we were in India a week ago. We fly two weeks from now again to Australia and yes, the world is our oyster you can say. We’re trying to host Expedition Africa, it’s next year in May, it will be in the Baviaans area, and Cape St Francis will be our host town. Every year May we have our big event in another area in South Africa.
Like I said, hopefully one day we’ll have the World Champs, hopefully somewhere in the Western Cape. We venture into Africa now, we’re looking at Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania. So definitely for the true adventure seeker, that kind of person, they should start following us. Come and do all these wonderful things with us.
BB: Heidi it’s incredible. If you want to check out those pictures, make sure you head over to the website, you can also check them out on the various social media platforms, Instagram, Pinterest as well as Facebook and Twitter, YouTube. It’s all there, go check it out. kinetic-events.co.za. Heidi Muller, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live, much appreciated. Thanks for sharing your love of adventure racing and what you guys do at Kinetic, thanks for your time today.
HM: Thanks for chatting with me and Hashtag also, It’s All About Love, remember that, so hopefully I can convince you one day to come and do one of our races, what about that?
BB: You wouldn’t have to do too much convincing, let me tell you, I’ve got rubber arms.
HM: Awesome, so I’ll see you soon, thanks for the chat.