4y ago
- Jungle, 4x4s and Girls. It's SHEMUD 2016. Tia Calvo tells us how she got through a week of the world's toughest all-girl off-roading competition!
- Growing up in Western Australia I used to take my old Jeep off-roading to surf breaks, so when I received a press invite to compete in the world’s only international all girl extreme 4x4 challenge SHEMUD, I figured I was qualified.
- Turns out they don’t use the term “extreme” for nothing.
- This year Shemud was held in the wild jungles of Negiri Sembilan, Malaysia. Because I came alone I was paired with a local driver. This is my driver - mother of four Azrimah Kasim.
- She was almost as inexperienced as I was - we were the rookie team. Language barriers and cultural difference were half the fun. Don’t let the traditional dress and cute face fool you, Azrimah was pretty badass.
- Our car was the only vehicle in the contest that wasn’t modified, lifted or with PTO winch. We were also the only ones without a ground anchor.
- First day, second challenge and we got bogged pretty quickly. Here I am attempting to bounce us free when there was nothing to winch to. I’m tiny, it didn’t work, and we received our first of many DNFs (did not finishes).
- Pre-emptive winching, day two. We discovered because of our low clearance there wasn’t any point in trying to make it through, so we’d start winching before the mud hole.
- It was always a little eerie getting into the water, there were these big spiders that would walk on the surface of the water and they were everywhere, plus there were lots of leeches…
- The same mud hole a few minutes later. Our winching wasn’t going so well and my driver was flooring the gas pedal even though we were stuck. I tried telling her to lighten up but the crowd was cheering so loud she didn’t hear me.
- She was so determined. The car was smoking so bad I thought she might pass out. After a lot of smoke and winching we actually made it out.
- Event champions Team Italy showing us how it’s done without a winch.
- Day two. Team Thailand and Malaysia roll their car. Driver Sharisa Haris broke her thumb. You have to know when to go fast and how to handle the power of the car. I learnt that while speed is great, if uncontrolled it ends in tears.
- After getting a cast at the hospital Sharisa returned to compete, swapping positions with her co-pilot. However, after the event finished she was back in hospital having surgery to repair the break.
- Broken cars were a theme of the event. Almost every one of the eight teams had some form of mechanical problems. Here, local co-pilot Norhayati tries in vain to restart her car in the mud.
- We had our fair share of problems too. Once our car stopped it couldn’t restart, so if we stalled during a challenge it was all over. We had to roll start just to get the car going for each stage.
- Our media tent, definitely one of the most rudimentary I’ve worked from. We spent four nights camping in the jungle, washing our clothes and bathing in the rivers and eating squid and rice for breakfast with our hands.
- Race founder Nurin Red giving the morning event briefing. Nurin is a passionate competitive off-roader herself and is a Malaysian local.
- Shemud is her brainchild, she started the event on her own last year through passion and determination, wanting to give the girls their own platform to compete.
- The final day. A freak accident on the way to the start of the stages sees a huge piece of bamboo skewer through our windscreen, right where my head should have been.
- By some stroke of luck or fate I had exited the car to walk a few minutes prior, saving me from serious injury.
- Girls in the mud! 8 teams, 7 countries, different ages, religions and languages. Although it was one of the toughest, most nerve wracking challenges of my life, I’d come back for next year’s event in a heartbeat.


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Comments (3)

  • Awesome..... and quite inspirational!!

      4 years ago
  • Great images and captions, and of course stunning girls, all of them! And... hahaHAAAA, this last image. Cartier-Bresson would've LOVED it. This is certainly 'le moment décisif' + NOT posting the next one, leaves us guessing what the next second looks like. =,-]]

      4 years ago
  • Looks like a good time well done

      4 years ago