Skip Navigation

Footballs and Love

Adam Rose / Photo : Kirsten Oliver / 31.08.2019

Togetherness at the race briefing

Dawn was ideal racing conditions. Slight overcast, cool breeze, low humidity. Not what I expected before arriving here. It boded well for tomorrow’s start.

Until the heat hit. After a big breakfast, busses, scooters, 4x4s and walking had everyone at the local soccer stadium. En route, it was amusing watching the ever-vigilant constabulary pull over a VIP for not riding a scooter with a helmet. Ahem. One can’t afford to mess with the hair, darling. 😉

The local scout groups were in attendance, and after receiving the donated footballs each team had brought along, impromptu games broke out across the field as we waited for the procession. The scouts were intrigued by the racers, not really aware of what is to unfold this week, though after some explanation, wondered if they’d have the money to participate in such a sport. The scout leaders do have an active programme, mostly featuring hiking, orienteering and water sports, and teach the youth that life isn’t just about enjoyment, but hard work, discipline and service.

After the chickens had scarpered off the field, the procession began in earnest, led by a marching band, with one scout brandishing the banner for each team. With a serious police escort, the parade wound its way into the centre of town, before circling around to the large marquee that had been erected in front of the bike-building villa of yesterday, La Residence and seat of the Executive Council of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly. This is also adjacent to the Rodrigues Tourism Office, which is very convenient if you want to get things done on the island. We also arrived proper sticky - “perspiring” doesn’t cut it.

With a creole band playing, led by smartly dressed dancing couples, the teams filed in for the official presentation. The senior executive of Rodrigues, Chief Commissioner L.S. Clair, asked Heidi for an impromptu dance as the band grooved in the background. Dancing seems to be a thing here, hmm.

Heidi delivered the opening address, starting in native Creole, which the locals responded to warmly. The nerves out of the way, she embraced the islanders, their support and invaluable help, before celebrating all the first time expedition racers, the first-time visitors to Rodrigues (pretty much everyone racing bar one team), and gave a salute to the parents of Julien Samson, which left them tearful midst a raucous cheering.

Heidi celebrated the bravery of all volunteers, officials, supporters and teams for believing in them, for following her and Stephan to the island, and with a big laugh, said “you don’t know what’s about to hit you.” Could some of the caution from experienced teams be vindicated? 

She also encouraged teams to embrace the local culture, dance, taste the beer, and if they spot media crew hiding in the bushes, when the teams are suffering, hurting, or just need a hug, to embrace the media too. Literally.

Speaking with passion, she closed with her message of It’s All About Love, prayed over the entire assembly, and ended with the theme of family, of Saffy’s “Brotherhood”, of the tribe. If we’re going to do anything, we should do it with love.

This clearly resonated with the Rodrigans, and the Commissioner’s message was no less loving. In fact, he should be the lead crooner in a jazz band, such is the silky smooth, liquid gold of his husky delivery. In a plain white T-shirt, slacks, and comfortable loafers, he doesn’t stand on ceremony, and after voicing kiss after kiss, asked if we could feel his love. The teams lapped it up – one couldn’t help but be beguiled. A sincere charmer of note.

The teams were then individually paraded to the audience, followed by singing, and then Stephan Muller got up to conduct the obligatory Q&A.

I’m now sitting under the blossoms of a peregrina tree, waiting for smoked marlin salad to arrive, so while I’d love to detail the content of that briefing, my stomach is calling. Au revoir!

-------------------

Follow the action live from Sunday 1st on http://expafrica.live

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue reporting on Adventure Racing then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign or make a donation via PayPal.]

About The Author

Adam Rose
Adam Rose (Do-Wat). Adam is our specialist dot watcher and Facebook updater, as well as reporting races, when he's not racing them. (Recent outings include the Basque Expedition Race, Raid Bimbache & the Czech AR.

More About Expedition Africa Rodrigues 2019

Sailing Adventures in Paradise – Expedition Africa Rodrigues

Sailing Adventures in Paradise – Expedition Africa Rodrigues
Adventure Racing tests endurance, outdoor skill and team work by putting teams into new situations and locations, where they can explore Read More


Party, Party, Party

Party, Party, Party
The closing ceremony took place at the Mourouk Hotel, where the race had started 7 days previously. Teams were bussed in from all over the Read More


This Is The End, My Friend

This Is The End, My Friend
The last day of racing. Today was the busiest I’ve ever seen at Expedition Africa, with 50 teams crossing the finish in a single day, Read More


Das Boot

Das Boot
OK, let’s talk about the crux of Expedition Africa Rodrigues: the Floating Vessels of Dooom!! (cue thundering chords and howls to the Read More


Mind Games And Loads of Bull

Mind Games And Loads of Bull
Navigation is key in AR. We know that. With all the mental pressures in this race due to its complexity, teams are employing whatever means Read More


Fine Details Made The Difference

Fine Details Made The Difference
Whew. That was a good one. And so frequent in AR, a sprint finish after days of racing, in this case 70hrs 40 mins. Swedes Greener Read More


Swedish Team Greener Adventure Cyklekraft Take The Win

Swedish Team Greener Adventure Cyklekraft Take The Win
Leading teams, Greener Adventure (SWE) and Blizzard (RUS) race neck and neck throughout the night, hoping to gain some sort of advantage Read More


Noses All A-Quiver

Noses All A-Quiver
You know how rabbits prick up their ears, sniff the air, get all quivery when they sense something a-lurking? That’s how Day 3 ended. Read More


Families, Couples, Neighbours and Butt Cracks

Families, Couples, Neighbours and Butt Cracks
This race is a curious beast. With so many stages, and all so short, it has encouraged many competitors out of the jungle, with visions of Read More


T4 Top 4 High And Dry

T4 Top 4 High And Dry
The first team to arrive at T4 on Pierrot Island were the Swedes, Greener Adventure Team, at 3:02am. Only 7 minutes slower than Read More


The Helluva Start

The Helluva Start
That was intense. Knock my socks off and grip my knees intense. Like certain mangrove swamps, it will be a stage never forgotten by the Read More


Shaun the Sheep, Newbies and The Ear

Shaun the Sheep, Newbies and The Ear
Teams took different approaches before the 1pm kick off. Some bothered their gear, checking and rechecking. Others lolled in the sun or the Read More


Expedition Africa - How it Works!

Expedition Africa - How it Works!
Expedition Africa Rodrigues is going to be a real one-off with teams using local sailing boats as a mobile transition and the 350km Read More


Race Day 1: A Jumping Memorial Service

Race Day 1: A Jumping Memorial Service
Riding down the long hill to the start, dark clouds were brewing to the south. Storms over Mourouk? That would be hectic. With a southerly Read More


The Prologue That Wasn't

The Prologue That Wasn't
Q: How do you get 238 bikes across a hilly island without any effort, guaranteeing there won’t be any damage or logistical Read More


The Brief-ing

The Brief-ing
Stephan gave a customary no-nonsense briefing to answer all the questions, and such was the preparation, it finished pretty sharpish. Read More


There's Still Time For Dance

There's Still Time For Dance
Registration took place at 12 o’clock today at the Women and Family Centre (Youth) of Anse aux Anglais, a few hundred metres from Read More


Everyone’s In The Same Boat.

Everyone’s In The Same Boat.
I arrived on-island at about 8pm last night, straight into a meeting that confronted the enormity of the task ahead. It is hectic. Everyone Read More


Encore! Encore!

Encore! Encore!
Encore! Encore! In the passport queue at Mauritius airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Rodrigues, I spied an Osprey Read More


Preparations Are In Full Swing For Expedition Africa Rodrigues

Preparations Are In Full Swing For Expedition Africa Rodrigues
Hundreds of adventure athletes, at this very moment, are packing, preparing and double checking their gear as they get ready for their Read More


Expedition Africa Rodrigues 2019

XK RACE

Support Adventure Racing

SleepMonsters Patreon

Facebook

like us on facebook

Adventure Racing Tags

Oman Desert Marathon, Augusta Adventure Fest, Kathmandu Coast to Coast, AR MALAYSIA, ROOTS NIGHT RACE, FNB Wines2Whales, Lakes In A Day, Trans-Cascadia, Burn Adventure Race, Spring Challenge South Island, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, adventure racing, expedition racing, Adventure Racing World Series, Eco Challenge, Adventure Racing European Series

Our Patrons

Adventure Race Croatia

Rootstock Racing

TanzNavigation

SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you to all our

adventure racing

patrons


Adventure Race Croatia

Rootstock Racing

Tanz Navigation

-- -- --

Brian Gatens

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Chipp Dodd

Celia Nash

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Fiona McBryde

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Josh Hayman

Strong Machine AR

-- -- --

Adrian Crane

Barbara Campbell

Dejna Odvody

Klaus Mygind

Marco Ponteri

Nigel Davison

Rob Horton

Semyon Yakimov