ALEX HARRIS - UPDATE May 2016
Arizona Trail Tested
A few months ago, we released the Limited Edition M290 with great success. It's likely that several of yow now own one. You can imagine how thrilled we were when Alex Harris told us that he wanted to ride one in the Arizona Trail Race 300. If you don't know Alex, he's the man behind the Munga, an endurance MTB race in South Africa, with a US version coming soon. Alex is also involved in the adventure company Xplore. He's a serious endurance athlete who rode a Lynskey in the Tour Divide, and has summited the highest peaks on all seven continents, so we took it as quite a compliment when he wanted to ride the M290 on the AZT.
Click below to read his write-up of the AZT - 300.
ALEX HARRIS - UPDATE May 2015
(Just a heads up that its been a frantic but successful Tour Divide prep.)
1st in the Race to Cradock: 580kms took 47.5 hours
1st in Solo Mens in the Parys 24 hour: 408 km
Check out the following links:
I can honestly say I will never do another 24hr in my life! I hurt from the 3rd lap!
Anyway, training is all on track for my Tour Divide record attempt in 3 weeks' time. On another note, I am still trying to find a title sponsor for the Munga. If I don't find one by the time I leave for the Tour Divide in June, I will spend a month stateside looking for sponsors with the intention of hosting the first Munga in California starting 1000 kms back from the sea, and ending in Marin County, San Fransico, the birth of mountain biking!
ALEX HARRIS - UPDATE July 2013
(racing the Tour Divide from Canada to the Mexican border)
Got back about ten days ago from racing the Tour Divide basically the world's longest unsupported mountain bike race. See www.tourdivide.org. 143 riders started in Banff in Canada, and 57 pulled out. There are still 5 racing, I think! The route follows the Continental Divide and heads south along the rocky mountains from Canada to the Mexican border, about 4500kms. I ended up in a group of about 4 riders fighting it out for 3rd place as the 1st and 2nd guy got away. I wasn't sure how I would be as I still had some injuries from the desert expedition. Eventually it came down to three of us and we were constantly chopping and changing position. Then about 20 kms before the end we were finally all back together and we decided we would sprint from a mile out, and in an all or nothing kind of fashion, go for the line and for third place. I just managed to pip the other two to the line and so after 17 days 5 and a half hours, ended up with a 3rd, which I am immensely satisfied with! I slept on average 3.5 hours every night and carried everything.
I took a Cellfood bottle which I added to a nightly recovery drink, and then through the day would take 4 squirts of longevity under the tongue! Crazy stuff! The pic attached is one from the finish line at the Mexican border.
ALEX HARRIS - APRIL 2013
South African extreme athlete team achieve world first
Alex Harris, renowned South African Mountaineer and Extreme Athlete, has successfully led a team expedition to achieve a world first of being the first men to cross the Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali) in the Arabian Peninsula unsupported. Their journey started on Monday the 4th of February in Salalah, Oman and ended at the historic Dubai Creek in Dubai on Friday the 15th of March. This 40 day trip saw the team walk 1210kms in total, enduring very high temperatures, all while pulling an expedition cart that weighed 400kgs that contained all their supplies. The team included entrepreneur and CEO of Eurocom, Marco Broccardo and David Joyce, the owner of Nimbletech, an experienced endurance athlete.
During the walk, they regaled their followers with stories of their trials and tribulations during the walk on their blog on www.emptyquarter.co.za. From losing a sleeping mat and their first aid kit at the beginning of the walk to losing their solar panel and Dave having to walk about 50kms to fetch it, walking through Wurglewood, meeting Italian tourists and locals, crossing the border and detailing the water stops at oases to counting down the kilometres each day, mutual respect, motivation and teamwork kept the men going. That and thinking of all the things they would eat and drink at the end!
"Soaring temperatures, hardly a breath of wind and back-breaking sand almost drove us to madness. Well certainly to a level of depravity we have never before felt the days have been made up mostly by weaving together the best line in a most unlikely world. Vast seas of sand stretch before us every day, flanked by great big dunes" wrote Harris on the blog at the halfway mark.
Their long walk across the desert was a test of their endurance and stamina. Each day started at sunrise with the guys crawling out of their tent like three dirty worms. Tasks were divided into three main categories: Cooking, Tent/sleeping arrangements and Technology (charging all their gadgets etc). Breakfast was one packet of 'hot cereal start' each made with water that was boiled over a small gas stove. Snacks for the day were a flapjack and a packet of trail mix each.
Once the campsite was packed up and water bottles were filled, the day's walk began. They had two pulling systems. One was simply where all three of the guys were tied into the cart at the same time and they pulled simultaneously; the other was where two pulled at a time while the third guy is off. As the two guys pulled the cart, the third guy was free to wander. This was both a physical and metaphorical must. Often, the route ahead needed scouting and the hardest line of sand needed to be picked out. This is the job of the third guy. After an hour, the guys rotated and had a 15 minute break. On a good day, they managed eight rotations and walked between 30 and 35kms a day.
At the end of the day, they looked forward to pulling up next to a dune to camp for the night. It was magical for them to be able to watch the sun set between the red sand dunes. The evening ritual involved a cleansing of sorts. They had one wet wipe each per day that they all used in their own special manner! Dinner was a freeze-dried meal and dessert each, and on the odd occasion, a cup of tea. One would cook while another would set up the tent and the other would write for the blog. By 19h30 they were ready to sleep. Stretched out on their sleeping mat, the guys would look into a sky filled with a million stars and feel the coolness filling the valleys as they fell asleep.
Absa is the proud sponsor of the Absa Xplore Empty Quarter Expedition. Stephen van Coller, Chief Executive for Corporate Investment Banking and Wealth Management, says teamwork has laid the foundation for Absa's success.
"Absa believes that through teamwork anything is possible. It is through teamwork that we ultimately make the lives of our customers and clients much easier which is central to our ethos of being the 'Go-To' bank in all of our chosen markets," said van Coller.
Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter), one of the driest regions of the world is virtually uninhabited and largely unexplored. The terrain is covered with reddish-orange sand dunes with heights up to 250 metres, interspersed with gravel plains and salt flats with a typical annual rainfall of less than 35mm. This hyper-arid desert is 650 000 square kilometres encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula, including the southern quarter of Saudi Arabia and areas of Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. To place this in context this is more than the combined land mass of The Netherlands, Belgium and France.
This world first Absa Xplore Empty Quarter Expedition falls under the NPO Mountain Heights which was set up by South African entrepreneur, recovered addict and team member, Marco Broccardo. Through Mountain Heights and its initiatives, Broccardo aims to increase awareness regarding the severity of drug addiction in South Africa today and to ultimately realise the vision of giving hope to the addicted. Broccardo says, "Mountain Heights is a mechanism to effect change. Whether it is through this expedition, the 7 Summit Challenge or any of its other initiatives the message is ultimately the same. Reaching and achieving such goals demonstrates to those battling addiction that anything that you put your mind and body to can be achieved. We aim to bring hope to those who need it most."
ALEX HARRIS - OCT 2012
Just an update on what's been happening.
1. June was the Freedom Challenge for me and this time I came second. Click here to read my report.
2. August was our cycling trip across the Himalayas. Have a look at one our guys blogs on the trip…quite a thrill: http://2wheelsintibet.blogspot.com
3. Then last week was our annual ride from Joburg to Durban. See the blog at: http://durbancycletour.blogspot.com
We are now two months away from our main desert expedition (click here to see more info),
so the year is winding quickly to an end! I look forward to giving you feedback from this trip on my return.
ALEX HARRIS - FEB 2012
Cape Epic Coverage:
3 Ride Magazines facebook page:
This article included a nice pic of me on my bike on the FC.
8 Picture of us on Singletrackcompetotor.com:
In addition, two TV interviews were done during the Epic:
1 The first was a live interview with Owen Hannie just before our prologue.
2 The second was done at the finish line after Stage 3. Im not sure what channel this went out on.
My recent trip to Tibet was a mountain bike trip. I cycled from Lhasa to Everest Base camp and then down to Kathmandu. Considering Everest Base camp is 5200m, and it took me five days to get there, I felt surprisingly good. No doubt in part to upping my doses of Cellfood!
ALEX HARRIS - NOV 2011
So it was a tough time to be on Mount Aconcagua in November this year. Unusually high winds peppered the mountain for most of the three weeks, and thick snowfall made passage difficult. For most of the team, it was their first real peak, having only climbed Kilimanjaro before. Also, don?t forget that most of these guys are recovered and recovering drug addicts. That means their physiology has been adversely affected by years of drug abuse. This hasn?t been an issue on Kilimanjaro and Australia?s fairly low Kosciusko, but on Aconcagua, it was made pretty clear how tough this journey is going to be. First to display problems was kabelo, who went down with Asthmatic Rhesus shortly after getting to base camp. The BC doctor said his climb was over but he made a dramatic recovery two days later and was given the go ahead to climb higher. Then, as we reached 5000m, and one of the higher camps, Marco started displaying signs of Cerebral Oedema. This was surprising as on Kilimanjaro, he reached a similar height in far less time and had no problems. Nonetheless, he had to descend and after showing no signs of recovery, was flow off the mountain the following day. It was sad to lose one of the key people so early, but we pressed on. By the time we set off for summit day, we had last one more guy. Michael started showing signs of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), and so he too had to descend. This left only four of us. We set off at about 3am and climbed in the darkness through 15 knot winds and temperatures of -17. By sunrise Barry and Mghabi had turned around leaving just Kabelo and i. three hours later we got to our high point of 6200m. I could see that kabelo had slowed as a result of his earlier problems. We were simply not going to make it at this pace. We sat for ten minutes on a rock in the son, staring up at the summit which seemed so close. Slowly the truth sunk in and Kabelo agreed, it was time to turn around. Thus, with our tails between our legs we beat a hasty retreat back down to base camp and eventually off the mountain. When we were reunited with Marco, he had made a full recovery and had resolved to come back. Such is the fortitude and determination of these guys. They got beat, but they?ll be back. I must say thanks though, to Cellfood. As without the Sport and Longevity, we simply would not have recovered as quickly as we did, or remained as healthy as we did. High mountains eat you alive?Cellfood kept us in the game!
Oman Empty Quarter:
Not two weeks had passed since returning from Argentina and the cold slopes of Aconcagua, that we were on a plane to Oman, and the hostile Empty Quarter desert. This was just going to be a short training trip as we are still trying to get permission from the Saudi Arabians to cross the entire desert. Nontheless, we had a car drop us off about 600kms away from Muscat, on the fringe of the desert. For the next week three of us pulled a cart weighing 280kgs across 150kms of desert. The sand condition varied from hard pack to soft, quicksand type sludge that sucked our cart wheels and made passage excrutiatingly difficult. Sometimes were crossed high dunes, other times we criss crossed sand flats, or a maze combintaion of both. After 9 hours a day, we were broken and aching. But, there is no water along the route and so we need to figure out just how possible it is to do all of this carrying the water with us. We saw one camel and one scorpion, such was the remoteness of the place. It was with great relief that a week later, not 500m from where we said we would be, was Sulumein our driver!
About Alex Harris
Alex Harris grew up in the relatively flat city of Johannesburg. After joining the Mountain Club of South Africa in 1992, he started to fulfill his desire to climb some of the world?s highest mountains. In 1996, Alex became the youngest person ever, at the age of 25, to lead an expedition to Mount Everest. Alex is an established speaker on the school and corporate circuit. He is also a keen caver and always seeks adventure in faraway places. When he isn?t at the top of a peak, deep underground or sharing his story on stage, you are sure to find him tearing along a stretch of tar on his beloved road bike, preparing for his next journey.
We here at Oxygen For Life are astounded by Alex's achievement in what is the toughest race in South Africa and we salute him. We are extremely proud of being associated with Alex. He is a true champion.
Alex started his business career with The Hospitality Group International, and within the first year, became the number one salesman for Southern Africa. By 1996, with a chance to go to Mount Everest, he resigned and turned his passion for the mountains into a profession, by starting Adventure Dynamics International. Through ADI he not only guided people up some of the world?s highest mountains, but also motivated schools and organizations - through speaking and writing about his experiences. Alex left ADI to focus on his speaking and writing. He combines his experiences in business and the mountains to draw life-changing and relevant parallels to both organizational teams and individuals. His experience is varied, interesting and unique.
Alex has a BA in Sport Psychology (Cum Laude) from the University of Johannesburg.
Tour Divide June 2015
June 2015 was the great Tour Divide for me where I came fifth.