FEAT, Fascinating Adventure and Expedition Talks

I have a new mission in life I want to be invited to speak at FEAT. Just to be clear, I have no desire to speak in front of 500 people, but what I do want to do is an adventure that is worth speaking about.

FEAT, Fascinating Adventure and Expedition Talks, is organised by well known adventure racer and trail runner, Lisa De Speville. A brilliant concept, it involves one evening, with nine speakers relaying their fascinating stories, with large screens displaying slides and video footage. They each get seven minutes, which is not a lot of time, especially for the kind of adventures that these speakers have experienced.

The speakers:

Braam Malherbe, together with running buddy, David Grier, ran the entire length of the Great Wall of China (4218km), in 2006. They ran a marathon a day for 98 days. Yes, seriously cooked, especially when the experts, and by experts I mean Tim Noakes, said it couldn’t be done. Seven minutes wasn’t nearly enough but it gave a good taste of what they went through.

Monde Sitole (20), the youngest speaker on the night, told of his three months spent on a Canadian tall ship sailing from Cape Town to Bermuda. Sitole, definitely one of SA’s up and coming adventurers, is planning many more and he has the seven summits firmly in his sights, with two knocked off already (Kili and Aconcagu).

Tatum ‘The Hobbit’ Prins has adventure raced all over the world and won many local trail races, but it appears the experience that most left its mark on her and her three AR buddies, was getting attacked by stinging trees in Australia; can’t those Aussies just leave us alone?

She describes the pain as similar to being attacked by someone with a hot iron. The cure, which seems even more excruciating than the stings, involves placing toilet paper on the wounds, and then pouring hydrochloric acid on them and leaving it there for up to 20 minutes. The video footage of her and her team mates being treated is funny and horrific at the same time, and made Australian TV.

Hanli Prinsloo is one of SA’s top freedivers. This woman can hold her breath for six (6) minutes. Go on try it – see how far you get. She holds numerous national records and is probably as close to being at one with the ocean as you can get – for a human.

Prinsloo has trained some of the world’s best big wave surfers in holding their breath and her talk focussed mostly on the physical aspects of free diving, which, while educational and interesting, kind of left me wanting to know more about her experiences, as some of her slides showed her free diving with sharks and in one case holding onto the fin of a very large predator of the deep.

Johnny Cronje and his mates thought it would be fun to unicycle from Durban to Cape Town, through the rural interior. So they did, taking 44 days to cover 2473km. This is a unicycle – one wheel – a fixed wheel at that – so no free-wheeling downhill – you pedal every kilometre. Yip – nutters.

Peter van Kets paddled 5,438km, with rowing friend Bill Godfrey, winning a transatlantic race. They alternated paddling and resting for 1 ½ hours at a time for the duration of the race. This clearly wasn’t challenging enough for van Kets so he returned to do it all again solo, on one occasion spending six days in a full blown Atlantic storm, in the middle of the ocean.

Nick Bennet played a cooperative version of “Survivor”, seeing how long he and nine others could last on a deserted island. The goal was 30 days, he lasted 25; only two of them lasted the full 30 days.

Allyson Towle & Marc Booysen completed a sea-to-summit adventure in Chile. They cycled from the sea to Ojos del Salado, Chile, the highest active volcano in the world at 6900m. Considering neither of them was particularly experienced in this type of adventure makes it pretty special.

Benita de Witt, a physiotherapist who deals with many top athletes and claims the barefoot shoe is the way to injury free running. That’s a bit simplistic but her talk was good and those five finger shoes are now on my shopping list – low down – but on the list.

So time to find my adventure – although I’m waiting for my 3 ½ year old to get a bit bigger so he can join me. Ray Chaplin, extreme adventurer and speaker at FEAT Jhb last year is about to embark on an expedition to become the first person to vertically circumnavigate the planet using only human power, tells me no one, as far as he knows, has circumnavigated Africa on foot. Now there’s an idea – that should get me an invite – put me down for 2020 Lisa.

Max Cleur, the entertaining MC for the evening, describes the speakers as “Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” More like a bunch of nutters doing crazy stuff.

The evening is like a selection of Ted Talks for the outdoor adventurer – educational, inspirational (I know it’s overused) and highly entertaining.
Can’t wait for the next one.

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