It was time to applaud the incredible performances of all the racers and to thank those who supported the event, which has gripped and inspired so many.
It has been a race made all the more difficult by severe weather and the tented outdoor area by the finish stage was flooded by torrential rains in the hours before the ceremony, so the finish stage couldn’t be used. Adventure racers don’t let bad weather stop them so teams gathered in the tent despite the water underfoot and display screens were moved undercover and indoors, where friends and family could watch out of the wet.
Expedition Africa Race Director Heidi Muller welcomed everyone and invited Fasie Malherbe, the owner of the Cape St. Francis Resort, to speak. He said the resort had worked with Heidi and Stephan Muller for 6 years and added it had hardly rained at all in that time, and now it was bucketing down!
“Heidi is an exceptional person,” he said, “and Stephan has to be even more exceptional to keep up. She sets impossible tasks and he gets them done, and between them they persuade and charm all the many people who need to give permission for an event of this scale to take place. They are the ultimate experts at event organising and we have just watched in wonder from the sidelines.
“We are lucky our resort was in the right place at the right time to be a part of this fantastic experience, and hope we have been up to the task.” The applause and cheers he received left no doubt Cape St Francis Resort and their staff have been the perfect hosts and risen to the challenge of supporting an Adventure Racing World Championships. Not many events ask for food for a finishing team at 2am in the morning, but whatever the race has needed has been provided with a smile.
There was a big thank you to Merrell South Africa for their support too. Everyone at the race has been wearing Merrell shoes and the distinctive Expedition Africa race shirts which are part of the Merrell clothing range designed for the race. Teams will wear them with pride on their return home. Merrell also had two sponsored teams and the Merrell team lead by Graham Bird was the highest South African finisher, taking 11th place.
David Palmer (Director of Merrell SA distributors Medicus Shoes) was racing himself with team Mountain Mammoth AR and completed the full course on the last day of the race in 211 hours 19 minutes. The Merrell manifesto “to share the simple power of being outside with everyone” was delivered as never before with their sponsorship and support of AR World Championship.
The race had many other supporting, brand and local sponsors, including the Kouga Municipality, Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Cape St. Francis Tourism, and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism.
Heidi Muller called up and thanked all of the volunteers, logistics team, referees and media who had been working so hard on the race, and there was a surprise video from all of them saying thank you to her and Stephan for the opportunity to work on the race.
Expedition Africa honours every participant and each of the 106 teams who started the race were announced and presented with their race medals.
Finishers were ranked according to how much of the course they had completed and 45 teams from 16 different countries completed the full course, visiting every checkpoint.
During the presentation there was a chance to see the photography from the race and a highlights video (both now available on Youtube @arworldseries).
Hundreds of thousands of race followers from all over the world have been following the race through the live social media, and this was a first chance for teams to see the images their friends and family at home have been viewing.
The volume rose as the podium teams took the stage and new World Champions, the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team (SAFAT) received thunderous applause from their fellow competitors. Each of the winning team was presented with a specially commissioned trophy of a lion, made by renowned sculptor Abel van de Merwe who took part in the race with team Bloed en Omo. (At age 71 he was one of the oldest competitors in the race.)
SAFAT team captain John Karlsson said, “A huge thank you to Stephan and Heidi for putting on this awesome event, and to all of you in the race for making an event which will be a memory to last for my lifetime. For all my team mates, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for bringing this amazing family together. Other sports watch out, Adventure Racing is coming!”
Santiago Lopez of the Huairasinchi race in Ecuador was presented as the Race Director of the next AR World Championship, and he promised his team would work hard towards making next year’s championship a mind-blowing experience in some of most bio-diverse terrain in the world. He presented SAFAT with their free entry as the defending World Champions and Karlsson said he was pleased the race would be at low altitudes, having suffered from altitude sickness at the last Huairasinchi World Championship in 2014.
Expedition Canada was also officially announced as the host for the 2025 Adventure Racing World Championship, which will take place from Penticton in British Columbia. Now teams can plan ahead for the next two AR World Championships.
With the ceremonies concluded the screens around Cape St. Francis Resort switched to the build up for the Rugby World Championship and everyone from the race and resort watched South Africa win. Even the after-race party for ARWC 2023 was unique, and celebrations went on through the night.
For more information on the AR World Series and the World Championship see www.arworldseries.com
The AR World Championship social media coverage is on all ARWS social media channels @arworldseries and race video can be seen on the Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/@arworldseries
For more information about Expedition Africa see www.expafrica.net