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Expedition Africa - Blog

Expedition Africa - Blog


For the Love and development of Adventure Racing. Expedition Africa established in 2006 and has organised over 150 adventure races in Africa and Internationally. This blog is about our story over the years and our personal views.

With love from Heaven

Heidi and Stephan Muller of Kinetic Events and Expedition Africa would like to send out their heartfelt love and thanks to their adventure racing family, and sincere condolences to friends and family of the enthusiastic and talented adventure racer Sabelo Sibeko from Swaziland, and Canadians Melissa and Brendan Perrott with their three year old son Colton and five year old daughter Evi, (who would have turned six on Sunday) who tragically lost their lives in a road accident on the R74 between Harrismith and Qwaqwa, on Sunday morning on their way home after attending the beautiful race in the Drakensburg, Expedition Africa 120km.

Heidi and Stephan are also so grateful to those first EA teams at the accident scene who assisted where they could and organised Emergency Services. The adventure racing community is shocked by this devastating news, and Sabelo touched all of their hearts in his final 48 hours.

“We know that all five of them are smiling from Heaven.”

Everyone just needs a chance - Sabelo and his journey with adventure racing

By Annabelle Latz

“In life we sometimes just need opportunities, and I felt I was in the position to provide Sabelo with one,” said Heidi, when she first learned about Sabelo Sibeko, when planning the Expedition Africa Swaziland 120km race held in April.
The race was based at Bulembu, a town which in 2006 was given a second chance by a team of social developers and entrepreneurs. Acknowledging Swaziland’s dire rate of AIDS, this dedicated Christian group purchased this abandoned mining town with the vision of restoring it. They created a non-profit organization which now oversees many successful projects under the umbrella of Bulembu Ministries, one being the safe care facility for more than 350 orphaned and vulnerable children.
Working closely with the community of Bulembu leading up to the race, Heidi and Stephan saw this as a great chance to create an opportunity of adventure racing learning for some of the youngsters who lived there and held equal passion for the outdoors.
This opportunity changed the lives of six from Bulembu, a team of four and a team of two who bravely ventured off on their first ever adventure race.
Sabelo was racing as a pair and together he and his team mate toed the start line of a 120km adventure through the hills and rivers they knew so well. It was on a chilly Saturday morning and they were surrounded with the warmth and encouragement of the Expedition Africa ethos – ‘It’s all about love.’
These two youngsters had been granted this chance to push their unfounded boundaries like never before.
The race did not quite go to plan for the pair, as Sabelo’s team mate decided part way around that he could not continue. For Sabelo, there was only one option; to continue alone. More than 24 hours after the starting horn sounded, amidst the cheers of fellow adventurers and supporters, Sabelo appeared, and with a massive grin he crossed the finish line. There was not one dry eye anywhere as the morning sun was peeking above the surrounding Eswatini mountains.
The grit and determination displayed here was stark evidence that Sabelo had what it took to embark on his dream of experiencing more adventure racing, seeing what else he was made of.


Fast forward to Expedition Africa Drakensberg 120km this last weekend.
He was taken under the wing by fellow Bulembu Ministry friends Melissa and Brendan Perrott, who, with their two young children, drove together to Alpine Heath Resort in the Drakensberg. Brendan and Melissa came to Bulembu almost two years ago as missionaries from Canada, to serve the community. They had a great impact on all the people they worked with in Eswatini but especially the children in the Bulembu childcare program.
A spokesperson from Bulembu said when they weren’t organising games for the Bulembu community, Brendan was a keen guitarist, who also loved to teach it to others. Melissa was a very good baker, who was often baking birthday cakes and giving lessons to keen learners. “They were selfless, they loved wholeheartedly, empowering lives wherever they went, and in doing so, impacted many people’s lives,” said one person from the Bulembu Ministries.
Last weekend in the Drakensberg, Sabelo raced with team Phoenix; Matthew Slabbert, Karli Frenz and Dieter van Rooyen.

From the perspective of his team mates, Sabelo was a treat to be around and race with. His ‘default’ setting seemed to be one of positivity and joy, a man who was always able to focus on small pleasures that came his way such as the odd cloud that brought relief from the sun, or a gentle breeze that urged the team along.
“He was in his absolute element during the day, whether it was running up mountains faster than any of us could manage or chatting to locals about soccer while we rode past. While his capacity to care seemed enormous, his smile was always even bigger. We had the pleasure to spend 18 hours racing with this incredible person, in hindsight I wish we took a little longer,” said Dieter.
Fellow team mate Matthew said it was a privilege to be able to race with a wonderful man like Sabelo, and remarked on the beautiful connection Sabelo had with the Perrott family.
“After meeting him and the amazing Perrott family, who brought him to the race and helped him achieve his dream, it was clear that he was not merely traveling with the family, he was part of it.”

It was Sabelo’s smile and positive outlook on life that captured his team mates the most.
“He wore the biggest smile the whole race and had a love for the mountains and adventure. I chatted with him as we kayaked down the river and he told me all about his dreams of being in business and how much he enjoyed nature. He was a passionate and ambitious person and I wish I could have gotten to know him better." said Matthew.
At Sunday morning’s prize giving Sabelo was grinning, and as he approached the stage, after a shy smile he took the microphone and laughed about his sore bum from all the biking.
The audience let out a roar and hearty applause, and everyone was so much looking forward to seeing this great talent at more EA races in 2020.

It was soon after the conclusion of prize giving that this family of five got into their Subaru, and headed on their way home back to Swaziland.
Reflecting on the weekend, Heidi loved seeing Sabelo and his team mates come through the finish shoot in the dark on Saturday night.
“It’s all about love – everything Bulembu does, they do to serve their community, and then they fell in love with adventure racing. Sabelo loved it, it was the best thing that had ever happened in his life. All the teams looked up to him and adored him.”
Heidi added that Melissa and Brendan served their life to God by living in Bulembu, and bringing Sabelo to this race was one of their final acts of love here in Africa. They were planning to head back to Canada early next year, where they would spread the word about Bulembu and its very significant motto of ‘Faith Hope Love.’
Speaking to Melissa on Sunday morning at prize giving, Heidi said this wonderful lady had sat in the back row, and was in awe of watching the procession unfold and the buzz of love and respect in the room, the ricochet of the passion Heidi and Stephan have for this sport and the opportunities it creates for people.
“She said to me, ‘People like you are going straight to heaven,’ and that was her last words to me.”
Heidi said the weekend’s tragedy was a stark reminder to treasure these special moments that are created for us, because they can be taken away so quickly and easily.
“Everybody who did this race was touched by those mountains. Whatever your love is, you must hold it, because you never know when you are having your last moment.”

END NOTE from Annabelle.
It has been the biggest pleasure and privilege working with Heidi and Stephan at their Expedition Africa races this year. One great special memory etched in all our minds was watching Sabelo cross the finish line at Bulembu in Swaziland. We were all in tears and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with goosebumps. Heidi and Stephan epitomise #itsallaboutlove, and it is their pure love and adoration of adventure racing that transpired into Sabelo’s life. They created for him opportunities beyond his wildest dreams, smiles wider than he’d ever imagined, and a colour in his soul for adventure racing that will shine forever, especially at his home in Bulembu and those mighty Drakensberg mountains.

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