Picture: The Songlines Adventure Racing Team – Matt Trautman, John Collins, KelvinTrautman and Tracey Campbell – celebrating their victory. Credit Expedition Africa

Well-known local John Collins looks set to shoot back into the international World Adventure Racing scene – this time with ‘Songlines’ teammates Tracey Campbell and brothers Kelvin and Matt Trautman. This weekend they were the No.1 finishers in the first race of the 2022 African Adventure Racing Championship series, which took place in Swellendam. This with an impressive lead of three hours over second-placed‘Varicose’ – the Stellenbosch University team.

The race, hosted by Kinetic Events, started at the Kam’bati River Resort, with six consecutive legs comprising an 18km paddle, 20km mountain bike, 7km trek, 38km mountain bike, 16km trek and finally a 27km Mountain Bike. ‘Songlines’ took the lead from the word go, and their strong paddling background enabled them to start the second leg, an hour ahead of the next team. The route was both beautiful and gruelling, the queen stage being the 16km trek with 900m of elevation.

Following gravel roads, jeep tracks, cattle paths and bushwhacking up and down mountains, the team completed the course in 12.5 hours, just before sunset, and three hours ahead of their nearest rivals.

“After finishing in first place, we aim to keep the lead for the rest of the series in hopes of winning an entry into the 2023 World Champs.,” says John, who raced with cracked ribs after a kite-surfing accident the week before.

The ‘Songlines’ four have been racing together for a year now, with the ultimate goal of climbing to the top step of the World Adventure Racing Championships podium in 2023. They won the African Adventure Racing World Series last year, earning themselves entry into the 2022 AR World Champs in Paraguay starting 15 September. The plan is to use this event as a learning curve to ‘sus out’ the international competition and plan for next year’s World Champs, where they are determined to take the win.

“The road to Paraguay will consist of a lot of preparation,” says Tracey, “We’ll be dipping our toes into the international arena for the first time as a team and seeing how we race against the world’s best in adventure racing.”

Fortunately, although the ‘Songlines’ team itself is relatively new, it boasts a true Adventure Racing pedigree with top results at World Championship level. Many will remember John’s accomplishments with the Sanlam Painted Wolf team when they finished 4th in the 2016 AR World Championships, held in Australia, not to mention when his Mazda Team came 4th in Eco-Challenge Fiji in 2002 – both events involving the world’s top AR teams.

Tracey says, “John has been mentoring the team, and he’s still in top form and very excited to compete!”

Rumour has it that the 2023 AR World Champs will be held in South Africa next year, and the ‘Songliners’ cannot think of anything better than winning in their own country.

Adventure Racing is often referred to as the hardest sporting discipline out there. It is a combination of multiple disciplines in one event. These formats involve trekking, mountain biking, paddling, mountaineering and navigation. Teams collect checkpoints in sequence whilst navigating with only a map and compass – that’s right, no GPS watches are allowed!