Skip Navigation

Party, Party, Party

Adam Rose / Photo : Bruce Viaene / 08.09.2019

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 island, most having stayed in separate accommodation from the HQ. The rule book said we had to wear the bright floral shirts given to us on arrival on Rodrigues, plus the straw hats beloved of the tourism office, leaving at 15:00 sharp.

Naturally, there were teams still in the water at 15:00 (hem, hem, not pointing at you, Team Spot Africa), who then hightailed up the tarmac in bare feet to make themselves presentable.

The reception at the hotel was magnificent. Starting with a meet and greet on the beach, cocktails and Phoenix beer flowing, a gazillion selfies, and general high spirits as racers greeted each other like long lost souls.  All ceremonies should begin with sand between the toes. Closing ceremonies, weddings, presidential inaugurations – it sets the right tone.

En masse, we then moved upstairs into the hotel itself, where the previous biking storage venue (after the non-prologue) had been transformed into a trés chic dining experience. White linen, fairy lights in the arches, wine on every table. There were formal seating arrangements which had gotten lost in translation, though each table was named after a village on the island. I don’t know who paid for it all but it was extremely welcome.

A massive marquee had been added on the side to cater for the crowd of over 400 as the bike area wasn’t quite large enough. The speeches began. After a brief introduction, the assembly stood to sing Se Pou Sa, the anthem of the island. It translates as “That’s Why”, and captures the story of Rodrigan culture, the people, their life. It’s a glorious song, quite moving, and had been used at the opening ceremony, too. Loved it.

Heidi Muller spoke, thanking the officials and sponsors who had made the event possible. The sponsors were each presented with a framed race bib to commemorate their involvement. She also spoke about realising dreams, how this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and apologised for the long swim of stage1 -  “That was Stephan.”

There was virtual silence when she talked. The teams wanted to hear what she had to say. After she’d finished, and some officials spoke, less so. Also, the huge applause afterwards took some locals by surprise; there were giggles at my table. What would you expect from a bunch of rowdy racers who take life by the horns (apologies to Retief Coetzee)? Demure, not.

Then the Commissioner took the podium. His first words, “Do you luuuurve Rodrigues?”

Ecstatic response, “We LUUURVE Rodrigues!!”

He spoke about the locals’ appreciation for the “courage, passion and perseverance” of all the competitors, as they’d watched the teams crisscross the island, and paid tribute to their “courage, determination and mental strength.” He also complimented the local hospitality, and ended with his luuurve for everyone, sealing the deal with his customary kiss, kiss, kiss. Cue thunderous applause, hoots and cheers.  

The tables were groaning from the weight of the buffet. Cleverly, there were 4 locations you could queue, which made it somewhat more efficient. Seafood-heavy, curries, salads, crudités, loads of sauces. Aunty Bev commented that the pureed avocado was extremely spicy, only to be gently corrected that it was in fact green chilli sauce.

Not surprisingly, teams were already helping themselves before the compere had even finished. Don’t get between an adventure racer and their food!

After burping, we made our way back down to the beach, to watch slideshows from the main photographers, a video presentation by Elevated Adventure Films, and for the teams to receive their symbolic prizes (AR is never about medals), get photographed, and for the proper party to begin.

First, we were treated to local band No Shame, belting out a vigorous series of songs, which left the crowd crowing for more.

Standing on the side with Stephan, he had his typical stern-Stephan expression as he looked out over the throng. Turning to me, he said, “This is the largest gathering of floral shirts in adventure racing history.”

Before handing out the awards, Heidi was insistent in thanking every volunteer (local and overseas), who’d all gone beyond their remit to make the event happen. She brought them up on stage for hugs and recognition, as well as all media crew, both official and team-based. There were cheers galore.

So, the official results of the top 10:

1: Greener Adventure Powered By Cykelkraft (Sweden)
2: AR Team Blizzard (Russia)
3: Team Merrell (South Africa)
4: KeyHealth Nevarest (South Africa)
5: Jabberwock (South Africa)
6: Powerbar Swiss Explorers (Switzerland)
7: RAF (UK)
8: Plett AR (South Africa)
9: Castle Lite (South Africa)
10: Spirit Canada (Canada)

25 Teams did the full course, 34 short-coursed, and 1 retired. Those are decent results for a 6-day expedition race, significantly aided by the shorter stages which meant less foot problems. It wasn’t a course designed to break you, openly admitted by Heidi and Stephan before the start, though if you pushed yourself, it was far from easy. Overall there was an emphasis on having fun, a facet really appreciated by many experienced teams. It might lead to some of the novice teams entering EA Lesotho, which is in only 6 months time(!), and a rude awakening with the old school approach that is expected.

The final words were said by Merrell athlete Donovan Sims, who spoke from the heart about the heart and soul of the Mullers evident in this event, that all were touched by them, and all would remain forever changed by the race they’d experienced.

Then it was time to PARTAAAAY! And the raucousness began. The racers let loose, booze flowed, and I stood with a grin etched on my face, drinking it all in. Expedition Africa Rodrigues was an event not to be missed, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it all. Thank you Heidi and Stephan.  

[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


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


Footballs and Love

Footballs and Love
Dawn was ideal racing conditions. Slight overcast, cool breeze, low humidity. Not what I expected before arriving here. It boded well for 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