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Beyond the Bale : February 2010
91-kilometre leg, which was the longest in the event's history. But the Merino top felt comfortable throughout the day and into the night. I went straight through all the checkpoints -- I never sat down the whole time. "I was amazed at the number of people running in wool tops. I am now a complete convert and have a range of wool tops that I use for everything from summer running through to cross-country skiing. They don't smell, and they really are more comfortable than the synthetic ones." Ineke was the first Australian female and 27th female overall to finish, coming 364th out of more than 800 competitors who started. Three years ago, AWI worked with The Merino Company to introduce Driza-Bone® to the unique benefits of Australian Merino wool and innovative outdoor fabrics. The company's Merino range has been popular; it is available for purchase in stores around Australia and from its website (www. drizabone.com.au). AWI global manager for the sports/ outdoor sector Lars Ulvesund says the expanding activewear market is an area of growth for Merino wool. Despite the global financial crisis and declines in most other apparel categories, this market has been doing quite well. 10 SELLING MORE WOOL February 2010 BEYOND THE BALE FAST FACTS l Merino wool's versatility was appreciated by runners in the 2009 'Marathon des Sables' in the Sahara. l The use of Merino wool in sports and activewear markets is growing. l AWI is investing in product development and joint marketing with major global brands and retailers to grow this market growth. Merino proves its worth in desert marathon Travelling on foot through the vast desert in northern Africa -- it is hard to put the experience into words ... When Lawrence of Arabia crossed the El Houl, a desolate plain near the Nefud Desert, on his way to attack Aqaba in July 1917, he observed the following: "It was a breathless wind with a furnace taste ... and as the day went on and the sun rose in the sky it became stronger and more filled with the dust ... By noon it was a half-gale, and so dry that our shrivelled lips cracked open, and the skin of our faces chapped; while our eyelids, gone granular, seemed to creep back and bare our shrinking eyes." Today, Bedouin tribes still cross the deserts. But Lawrence would be amused, or perhaps aghast, to discover that modern ultra-sports enthusiasts now run across the deserts -- for fun. Last year was the 24th running of the 'Marathon des Sables', a multi-day running event through the Sahaha desert. The event attracts competitors from all around the world, who pit themselves not so much against each other, but against the harsh conditions and terrain. Traditionally, the Bedouin tribes of the Sahara have wrapped themselves in wool for protection against the desert's extremes. Ineke Kuiper from Sydney, one of last year's competitors, also 'wrapped herself in wool'. With a rural background, and a career including communications for the Sheep CRC, Ineke is well aware of the performance attributes of wool apparel, so she competed in a Merino top from Driza-Bone®. "The conditions for last year's event were especially difficult with unexpected rain causing floods that delayed the start of the event," Ineke says. "Our clothing had to be very versatile to cope with all the different conditions. And of course, as well as the hot daytime temperatures and the cold nights, we had the extra heat and sweat generated from the running to cope with. My Merino top performed really well. "The third day of the race was a The start of the 'Marathon des Sables' across the Sahara. PHOTO: CIMBALY/PRASTOIN © MS 2009
September November 2009