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Into the unknown

Synthesis is divided. There are those who openly admire Team Synthesis – Into the Unknown as they head to Rodrigues, and there are those who shake their head in wonderment that seemingly smart, rational people would be prepared to head to a remote island in the Indian Ocean for Expedition Africa (EA), where they will be tested physically and mentally. And maybe even emotionally.

It’s a gruelling event. Really unimaginably gruelling.

Some information about the race:

  • Disciplines include mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and orienteering.
  • Teams are expected to navigate using a map and landmarks.
  • Teams must be able to operate in harsh remote environments in all weather conditions.
  • Teams travel throughout the night. They can decide if, when and where to rest.
  • The first team to complete the whole course, with all the control points visited, will be declared the winner.
  • Teams are required to complete the entire distance together (always within hearing and visual distance of each other), helping and assisting each other.
  • Teamwork and team dynamics are essential. A detailed understanding of your teammates and of your own capabilities is essential.

To most of us it sounds like five days of hell, but to Team Synthesis – Into the Unknown, it is a challenge that was difficult to turn down. The team is focused, excited and united. They are ready to go.

Team Synthesis – Into the Unknown includes:

Tom Wells, Synthesis Director and CIO and the motivator behind this stunt. Wells started out life as a happy couch potato. Unfortunately for his family, he discovered the joy of bicycles at the age of 30. Wells has since completed five Ironman events (two at full distance), many multi-day stage races, a few 24-hour adventure races, plus the nine-day Joburg2c. Expedition Africa will be absolutely the hardest thing he’s ever done. Wells is a coffee addict (read “snob”) and will be ensuring that the team is well caffeinated throughout the race!

Steve Yates, who clearly has a psychological problem as demonstrated during his more than ten years of adventure racing experience. His madness extends to mountain biking, which he no longer races due to his enthusiasm extending beyond his skill, resulting in a fair share of significant crashes and broken bones. When not rock climbing, Yates’s focus has changed to long distance trail running; he has completed some of the best South Africa has to offer, such as Sky Run, Addo 50-miler, Bushman’s and Oxpecker, with many top 10 finishes to show. With an intense spirit of adventure, and the optimism of a pirate with very little fear, Yates is set to help Synthesis into the unknown and conquer the island of Rodrigues, whether it be by bike, foot, sailing boat, paddle, swim, snorkel or abseil.

Barry van Rensburg, a 43-year-old IT professional from Johannesburg, is a mountain bike enthusiast who has 10 multi-day MTB races under his belt. His most notable adventures include a five-day hike-a-bike along the beaches of the Wild Coast in South Africa, and two-time finisher of the iconic nine-day 900km Joburg2c mountain bike race also in South Africa.

Caspar Lessing is a 43-year-old weekend warrior with a problem of not being able to say no. EA Rodrigues is a good example of his adventure racing buddy Wells abusing said handicap. Lessing has done all the usual Johannesburg races and even some stage races, but nothing that will prepare him for EA. His worried wife and three daughters hope to one day see him again after his visit to Rodrigues.

Synthesis stands behind the team. Managing Director Michael Shapiro, no stranger to running up mountains, says: “The spirit of Team Synthesis is one that embodies the ethos of the company. We meet challenges head-on with positivity, enthusiasm and determination. For the sake of our clients, we often find ourselves in unchartered territories. We work as a team and have the conviction and the confidence that we will be successful. Africa Expedition 2019 is the pinnacle of endurance events and I will be tracking every stage along the way with much interest and excitement. I wish all the participants best of luck.”

Follow Team Synthesis on social media #TeamSynthesis, #IntoTheUnknown, #ExpeditionAfrica, #expafrica2019