Marysville to Melbourne attracts its first entrant – all the way from Botswana!

(Posted - 16 Jul 2010)

The Marysville to Melbourne Multisport Challenge (M2M) is quickly building sky-high awareness amongst all athletes and we are stoked to announce our very first entrant into our newest event – Kelby Murray from Botswana!

Not only is he the first entrant, but Kelby will probably have the furthest to travel to take part in this iconic event as well. We were of course fascinated to hear more about the adventure scene in Botswana and to suss out just who this guy is and what makes him want to come and race M2M.

RA: So Kelby where do you live and what do you do?
KM: I’m a Brit who is currently livening in a town in Botswana called Francistown. I am a primary school teacher at a private school, John Mackenzie, which is over 100 years old. I have lived here for six years and was living just inland from Durban prior to here.

RA: What type of races have you done in the past?
KM: I love the Dusi canoe marathon , I won it in 1998. It is a 3 day crazy event with lots of portaging and some gnarly rapids. I have also taken part in surf ski racing in the local series in Durban when living there and have done some longer multisport races, such as the Triple Challenge (run 22, mtn bike 50, dam paddle 22 km) and tons of shorter similar events. I won an off road triathlon in Zimbabwe recently and I have won the Nissan Adventure Challenge in Gaborone, Botswana twice.

RA: Can you describe what it's like to live, train and race in Botswana?
KM: I suppose the best way to describe it is as a trade off. We have awesome places to run, ride and paddle, however if you feel the need to race, a short 500km trip one way is needed to find some like minded people to race against! The capital (500 km away), Gaborone has an active cycling club - the rest of the country is not too crazy about anything too taxing!

RA: What is the terrain like and what do the locals think of you running around in the bush…?
KM:> The terrain varies from Kalahari type sand, to rocky areas, grassland and some thick mopane bush areas. Tubeless tyres with extra sealant seem to do the trick (ed: sounds just like Alice Springs!). Most of the locals just shake their heads when they see me, they all ask why I don’t own a car, they don’t understand when I tell them my car is at home, that it is my choice to ride or run and sweat!

RA: What has been your most memorable experience whilst out on the trails?
KM: There have been a few heart-stopping moments with the odd elephant and I have seen lots of leopards in the rocky hills where I ride. However, the most memorable (for all the wrong reasons) was a black mamba caught on my handle bars for a few heart stopping moments! I was gunning down a single track at about 40 km/h. It lunged across the path and was high enough off the ground to become caught on my bar extensions! I stopped about twenty yards away with a serious case of the shakes – the snake having extracted itself and got away.

The funniest thing happened a few years ago in a multisport race in RSA at a place called Albert Falls. After a 5km run we were onto the 20km trail ride through a game park. Now picture this..... a nice downhill about 400m long, plus a boundary fence on one side and some thickish bush on the other side. There was a group of ten or so of us that had broken away. At the end of a sweeping bend in the track, the lead rider was confronted by the huge rear ends of two grazing white rhinos in the middle of the track. Brakes... skidding.... and suddenly there were ten or so riders all neatly packed together concertina style, facing 90 degrees from where we should have been going. This resulted in 2 game guards (yes the rhinos had 24 hr protection from poachers) doubled over with laughter and two unfazed rhinos, still grazing! Nobody could race terribly hard after that!

RA: How did you hear about the M2M race and what has inspired you to come and do it?
KM: The Rapid Ascent website is awesome to keep up to date with what’s going on over there - I am very keen to live in Australia, so what better way to check it out than a multisport journey like M2M?!

Well, we reckon Kelby will fit right in with the Aussie adventure racing community with tales like that. We're not sure we can quite match the endangered white rhinos in M2M, however we will remind him to be on the look out for the odd platypus on the Yarra and maybe the occasional drop bear around Healesville as he makes his way to Melbourne. We wish him all the best for his training and preparation – keep the ‘soul’ alive – you won’t be short of training buddies once you move to Oz!

NOTE: The M2M website is still under construction and entries are officially set to open in early September. In the mean time, follow discussion on the event and see photos from the course here