SHOOT! An Adventure Race, Adventure On!

Words & Photos: Jacques Marais

Shooting an adventure race allows you to snap a whole series of photos of the full gamut of outdoor disciplines. The MERRELL Eden Duo delivers exactly this, with 24 hours filled with trail running, kloofing, coasteering, mountain biking, swimming, and paddling.

Quicksilver Canoeing

The Shot: Paddlers negotiating the river stretch from the Ebb & Flow campsite in the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park. I shot right into the early morning reflection, and exposed for the glare to silhouette the subject.
The Specifications: 1/4,000th sec @ f8; Nikon D800 +
28-300 mm lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Auto); AE Setting (0 EV).
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Misty Morning Race Start

The Shot: Boats line up at the MERRELL Eden Duo start, ready to take on 150 km of undiluted adventure. I ran upriver to grab a long shot of the start with my telephoto zoom.

The Specifications: 1/2,000th sec @ f5.6; Nikon D800 +
80-400 mm lens; ISO 800; WB Setting (Cloudy); AE Setting (0 EV).
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Dark-water Swimming

The Shot: Getting into the Kaaimans River gorge means you have to negotiate more than 4 km of rock hopping, icy swims to black-water pools, and serious scrambling through white-water rapids. Thank goodness for my WX-TEX waterproof backpack!
The Specifications: 1/40th sec @ f4; Nikon D600 + 16 mm fisheye lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Cloudy); AE Setting (0 EV).
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Crossing Kaaimans

The Shot: The Kaaimans River was pumping this year, with many of the crossings via fast-flowing rapids. I stashed my Nikon in a waterproof backpack, and only accessed the camera when I was in a safe and relatively dry place to shoot from.
The Specifications: 1/120th sec @ f2.8; Nikon D600 + 16 mm fisheye lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Cloudy); AE Setting (0 EV).
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Monochrome Speedster

The Shot: Merrell athlete Tim Ellerbeck zooms across one of the old bridges along the 7 Passes back road between Knysna and George. To get the shots, I had to clamber onto the 30 cm wide pillion, about 3 m off the bridge, and shuffle out onto a 30 m drop.
The Specifications: 1/800th sec @ f4; Nikon D600 + 16 mm fisheye lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Cloudy); On-camera SB-910 flash set to Zoom and Swivel; AE Setting (-1 EV).
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Running in Eden

The Shot: A team disappearing into the coastal mist en route to the finish along Wilderness beach. I grabbed this long shot from a high vantage point about a kilometre away.
The Specifications: 1/400th sec @ f5.6; Nikon D800 + 80-400 mm lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Auto); No flash; AE Setting (0 EV); Lightroom filter applied.
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Winning Smiles

The Shot: Hanno Smit and Don Sims, both of Team Merrell Adventure Addicts, obliterated the course record, smashing the 12 hour barrier for the first time in 12 years. Their faces say it all.
The Specifications: 1/160th sec @ f5.6; Nikon D600 + 24-120 mm lens; ISO 100; WB Setting (Auto); On-camera SB-910 flash set to Bounce; AE Setting (-1 EV).
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The legendary MERRELL Eden Duo rates as South Africa’s longest-running adventure race, and the event once again rocked the glorious Garden Route this October. Set within the scenically diverse Eden Municipality region, it is no wonder scores of multisport athletes from around the country descended on the area.

Two primary events - the 150km DUO for hard core heroes, and a still challenging 50 km LITE – offered various levels of pain and suffering, both for athletes and the photographer trying to keep up with them. Now in its twelfth year, the Eden Duo is organised by 24/7 Adventures from Stilbaai and supported by MERRELL, indisputably one of the world’s leading outdoor footwear and apparel companies.

Respect to all the competitors who hiked, ran, biked, kloofed, and paddled for up to 24 hours to cross the finish line. And also to my NIKON cameras, which handled the knocks and splashes in the Kaaimans River kloofing section, on the windy beach run, and in the humid forests. More info on the event is available on or