TRAVAILEN – Film Review. Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drak Traverse

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

‘Travailen’ – To make an arduous journey

It was never going to be easy. Making an arduous journey never is, however, the Drakensberg Traverse has a history and in the opening minutes of this 30-minute visual candy, we are introduced to that history, not only in words but mages.

Ryan and Ryno explain the process of how they met at the Salomon SkyRun years earlier and how a seed was planted, a seed that would grow and blossom into the Drak Traverse.

It’s in the early section of the film that we are treated to an explanation of the challenge through an array of images accompanied by short interviews

Gavin & Lawrie Raubenheimer pioneered the trail in 1999 (104hrs 39min) and established a benchmark (and route) that must include the 6-peaks under self-sufficiency. Previous record holder, Stijn Laenen excitedly discusses the ‘Drak’ and how difficult a speed attempt will be. But ultimately, one of the most important characters is Cobus Van Zyl, a large man with a deep authorative voice. Cobus held the current record which he set with Ryno, but he shows no jealousy, no hint of contempt; in actual fact it is the contrary. Cobus actually becomes involved in the whole process, helping recce the route, plan logistics and during the attempt, Cobus is the ‘pin’ back at HQ following the tracker.

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Ryan speaks softly and shows vulnerability throughout the whole film. He may well be a superstar with a list of palmarès to confirm his ascendance in the sport in such a short space of time. However, we see none of that in this film… no previous glories, no back slapping… in actual fact, the back slapping comes from Ryno who almost places Ryan on too high a pedestal.

‘I felt super vulnerable, out of my depth and out of my comfort zone’

Ryan tells us in the middle section of the movie where we are introduced to the extremities that the Drakensberg can throw at anyone. On the third day of a fast-pack attempt; Ryno, Cobus and Ryan are confronted by extreme weather and Ryan pulls the plug amongst snow-covered fields. One has to remember, Ryan is new to running, let alone extreme running and it becomes very clear in these moments, that although Ryan may very well be the vehicle of the film, this attempt would not be possible without the knowledge and experience of Ryno and Cobus. Ryan has no façade, he has no bravado, and he tells it like it is…

‘If things go wrong, I don’t think I’d be capable of looking after myself.’ 

Footage of the actual record completes the final third of the film and for me; the process of reducing 41hours 49mins of record-breaking time into approximately 11-12 minutes is where the true miracle happens. I know only too well as a photographer how protective I can become of images and moments. Dean Leslie and the crew at The African Attachment work wonders. It’s like a wonderfully crafted piece of music that actually takes instruments away, rather than adding, to make the whole piece larger, greater and more memorable. Switching for arial vistas and close ups; the story is told in a series of bold moments that encompass key moments during the traverse. 

‘If I am not ready now, I never will be’

Ryan rushes to prepare in the final moments before the midnight start. At the stroke of 12, they depart into the night. Climbing metal ladders running through the night, head torches are replaced by the arrival of the sun.

Back at base, Cobus and Cindy Van Zyl follow Ryan and Ryno; they monitor each step via trackers.

‘You realize how quickly things can go wrong, how vulnerable they are… if you need to escape, it’s at least 6-hours hard hiking!’

Exhausted by the heat, Ryan and Ryno reach Cleft Peak at 08:39 and run on. Dreaming of milkshakes they become dehydrated and face the demons of trying to refuel at night at Giant’s Pass.

‘If you don’t get your nutrition right you will fail and you will simply stop’

Tired, exhausted and lacking concentration they move on into the night. Trying to sleep is almost impossible. The dawn of a new day shows us the impact of the terrain, the beauty, the magic and the splendor of the traverse. Here words aren’t required and the mix of visual and music takes us to a new level. This is more than a running movie. It’s art.

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

Travailen screen capture ©theAfricanAttachment ©RedBull_564

‘It’s about doing things that make you happy and doing it because you want to.’

Bushman’s Neck Border Post 5:49pm with 205km’s covered, Ryan and Ryno approach a Red Bull arch. It’s the first glimmer of the real world and the brand that made this attempt possible. No crowds, no razzamatazz, just a few friends and family…

‘Just a short run in the Drakensberg Mountains,’ Ryan says to camera.

As the film closes, quite rightly, respect is given to the history of the Drakensberg Traverse via visual snaps:

  • Cobus & Ryno
  • Andrew Porter (successful solo attempt and record)
  • Stijn & Andrew
  • Gavin & Lawrie

Travailen is not your usual showboating movie about running. It’s a honest piece. It shows vulnerabilities and how we overcome them. Egos and reputations are dismissed into a collective gathering of skill and experience. It’s a spiritual journey that I am sure will live on within each of those involved.

As a movie it is a visual feast handled with great skill by Dean Leslie and the team at the African Attachment. The blending and fading of subtle music provides a wonderful and balanced atmospheric to the pain and struggle of Ryan and Ryno. For such a tough challenge, the movie is a calm and tranquil homage to a very tough, rugged and gnarly mountain range. The characters involved, maybe it’s the South African accents, blend with the nature providing a wonderful silky smooth experience.

Runner or not, Travailen holds joys and pleasure for all. The film previewed on May 29th at The Labia, Cape Town. The film will be available for public release, however, the date has not yet been made available. I will update as and when appropriate.

READ MY DRAK TRAVERSE INTERVIEW WITH RYAN SANDES HERE

Thanks and credits:

I’d like to thank Ryan Sandes, Ryno GrieselKelly Burke, Dean Leslie, Greg Fell, Red Bull and The African Attachment for the opportunity to see an advance copy of Travailen.

Links:

TAA logoRed Bull Logo

 What Red Bull have to say:

The visually epic tale of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s Drakensberg Grand Traverse record.

At midnight on Monday, March 24 2014, trail runners Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel set off into the darkness from Witsieshoek car park. Their goal: to complete the 210 kilometreDrakensberg Grand Traverse – the mother of all Drakensberg hikes – faster than anyone had before.

To rightfully claim the title they had to travel on foot, carrying all their own gear without receiving any form of support along the way. It was just them against the mountain elements. Against the clock.

Travailen is the thrillingly visual tale of their attempt. Dean Leslie, Director for Travailen, gives us some insight into the toughest assignment the The African Attachment have ever taken on.

Into the Light – Salomon Running TV S03 E08

©copyright .iancorless.com._1020451

I remember it well, Zegama-Aizkorri in 2012. Smiling, bubbly, full of anticipation, Emelie Forsberg joined the Salomon International Team for what was to be the start of an incredible and awe inspiring career.

In 3-weeks time, it will be Zegama-Aizkorri once again, in just 2-years, Emelie has not only become one of the most dominant mountain runners in the world but in the process, in her own unique way, has become an inspiration and an example to all.

I feel honoured to have shared many of Emelie’s moments on the trail, capturing her effortless running style and smile in images.

Generous with her thoughts and time, Emelie even has a regular slot on Talk Ultra, co-hosting a segment of the show called, ‘Smiles and Miles with Emelie Forsberg.’

Here, The African Attachment, once again work the magic behind the lens to provide us with a insight into a wonderful and inspirational lady.

Enjoy…

©theafricanattachment ©salomonrunning

The African Attachment HERE

Salomon Running HERE

Emelie Forsberg HERE

The Mother – Salomon Running TV S03 E04

screenshot_493“Running to me is a way to keep happy…” Kasie Enman

Kasie Enman hails from the small town of Huntington, Vermont where she lives with her husband and family. She was World Mountain Running Champion in 2011 and had a string of podiums in the 2012 SkyRunning Series before falling pregnant with her second child.

In this episode we discover Kasie’s home and family life as she shares her thoughts and feelings on running during pregnancy.

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Another great film from Salomon Running and The African Attachment that shows us the importance of balance and passion.

Kasie Enman is not your normal runner!  2011 World Mountain Running Champion, Olympic Trials Team Member, 2012 winner of the Skyrunning Giir di Mont and 2:39 marathon runner (Marathon PB 2:37:14 set in 2008) just 9-months after her first child was born.

Kasie has said many times before that her priorities changed after the birth of her first child;

“I’m not the same person any more in terms of priorities. Running is no longer as important as it used to be and I have to work a lot harder at hanging on to my goals and not letting opportunities pass me by.” credit http://www.baa.org

©TheAfricanAttachment ©salomonrunning

Credits:

Music:
“That’s When I Knew” & “Birth”
By SignPost
Written for The African Attachment & SRTV
http://www.signpostsound.co.za

HOME – Salomon Running TV S3 E02

©copyright .iancorless.com._1010575

Anna Frost has spent the past 8 years wandering the globe competing in some of the worlds top trail races. Her win at Transvulcania in 2012 cemented her place as one of the top ultra trail runners in the world. Following that race, Anna was plagued by a string of injuries and forced out of the racing circuit. As a result, in late 2012 she decided to return to her home in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In this episode Anna reconnects with her identity and roots as she questions what running means to her.

More inspirational work from The African Attachment and Salomon Running but the star of this film is Frosty…. 

©theafricanattachment

©salomonrunning

Music:
“Make Me Fly”
By No Dancing!
Written by Henk Labuschagne
Produced by Francois de Klerk

“Wrecking Ball”
By Holley Maher

Additional Race Footage:
Transvulcania – Dream Team Television
Marathon du Mont Blanc – Mouss Productions

Why We Run – Salomon Running TV S3 E01

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“Ideally I would like to be a bird but running is a close second”

The African Attacment and Salomon Running once again take our sport and the visual story to the next leveel

©SalomonTrailRunning

Bernd Heinrich is a retired Professor living in a log cabin in the woods of Western Maine. He has held numerous running records throughout his life and has committed much of his time to the study of the natural world. In Episode 01 we look back at this man’s incredible life, his achievements, the lessons he has learned, and what we can possibly learn from him.

Music:
“Breathe”
By SignPost
Written for The African Attachment & SRTV
http://www.signpostsound.co.za

Additional Race Footage:
Transvulcania & Zegama – Kikazaru Producciones
Marathon du Mont Blanc – Mouss Productions
Olympus Marathon – Stamos Birsim