I was sitting outside waiting for Riaan Manser to join me for a coffee and thought about some of the adventures he had put himself through and what it might have been like.
For those uninformed adventurers out there, let’s take a quick look at what Riaan was up to the last couple of years:
At the end of 2005, he cycled back into Cape Town, 14kg lighter, having covered 36,500 km through 34 countries. It was a feat that earned him the title Adventurer of the Year 2006 and made his resulting book, Around Africa on my Bicycle, a bestseller.
Your eyes are not mistaken. You are looking at the Pyramids in the background.
In July 2009 Riaan again set another world first when he became the first person to circumnavigate the world’s fourth largest island of Madagascar by kayak; another expedition achieved alone and unaided.
This incredible journey of 5000 km’s in eleven months, was considerably more demanding, both physically and mentally.
In March 2011 Riaan took on his next challenge – mystical Iceland and her arctic waters – with partner, Dan Skinstad, who has mild cerebral palsy.
“Around Iceland on Inspiration” saw the two paddle 2300km to circumnavigate Iceland in a double sea-kayak over a five month period. On 5 September 2011, after 147 paddling days, blistered and aching, they arrived back at their starting point, their circumnavigation complete.
On 28 November 2013, the next adventure started with a seemingly innocent request for a holiday to New York, but never in her wildest dreams did Vasti Geldenhuys think it would take 10 700 km’s of ocean rowing to get her there.
Alone and unaided Riaan and his girlfriend, Vasti, endured a 133 day row from Agadir, Morocco to their destination; New York!
With this in mind it was quite an honor to talk to Riaan about passion and vocation in a context of career development with a good sense of adventure.
I shared some of the local stories of passionate vocational explorers I get to work with and really enjoyed listening to him talk about adventure being the vehicle for the highest expression of his own talents and passion.
Success is a very lonely road, and only few people are willing to endure the pain and sacrifices to be successful. Most of the time it’s an uphill battle, and along the road you’re probably not going to see too many friends. Most of the time the only thing following you… is a shadow, your own. Confronted by a kaleidoscope of emotions like fear, anticipation, love and hopefulness.
Being a pioneer means that you are convinced of a worthy cause, a winnable fight.
On your journey you will be confronted by people who tried what you are attempting to do. You will see a lot of people who failed, that didn’t quite have it, but you must move forward, past the point where others failed. Riaan did not look to go further, he looked to finish. This is what makes him different, and in his own words he explains:
“There’s an ocean between saying and doing.”
Riaan and Vasti, thank you for supporting An Unravelling Exploration with your passion for vocation and exploration. No matter how big or scary it may seem.