Hundreds of adventure athletes, at this very moment, are packing, preparing and double checking their gear as they get ready for their pilgrimage across the sea to a tiny Indian Ocean island; for the highly anticipated, Expedition Africa – Rodrigues.
What were once butterflies have now morphed into a fever of stingrays, as team captains distribute the recently received race book to their team mates. “The big feakin ‘boogey-man’ spiders, Stonefish and limited beer selections are challenges that we are preparing to face at this year’s Expedition Africa, as well as some night swimming in the ocean after the first 24hours could present challenges for weary, sleep deprived racers” shares Dave Hitchon of Canadian family team; Spirit Canada.
An Expedition Africa record of 29 legs make up the 320km unique expedition styled adventure race, with teams having complete access to their transition boats, while racing from Map Point to Map Point across the 18km(L) x 8km(W) island. Each team will receive a locally built 6.5m long fibre glass boat, which will be used throughout the race to transport team bicycles, food, water supplies and race gear. All 60 teams are required to supply their own sail/kite system for these boats, which add to the interesting preparation challenges many teams have faced.
“We have been able to practise all of the wet activities; one of the advantages of living at this sea” shares Helen Kernohan of team Mountain Mammoth AR. “Our team did an awesome training session, where we did some rock clambering on the coast, swam out to a rock outcrop, got onto that and then got ourselves back in the sea – all in full gear. This was then followed by wading through rock pools and then a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board. We are very comfortable with the ocean” Kernohan continues.
Challenges teams are also preparing to face are the effects of salt water and sore bodies, according to Jonas Andersson of team Greener. “Since walking and mountain biking are already disciplines we were strong at, the focus of our preps was already everything that has to do with water. Once the race concept was revealed we started testing equipment, procedures and techniques. Every time lessons were learned, they were shared and have adjusted our race methods resulting in many try-outs and a huge amount of equipment in our storage room” comments XPD Holland’s, Rens Rijnbeek.
650 km east of Mauritius lies the smallest of the Mascarene Islands which comprises Mauritius and Reunion. Exquisite coral reefs, micro islands, beaches, caves, creeks and sheer cliffs are amongst the natural beauty that makes Rodrigues island so attractive. “The island of Rodrigues at a true Gem! The warm turquoise water, palm trees, the unspoilt beauty – who wouldn’t want to race on an island?! The entered teams are the fortunate ones who will experience all that makes this place so special” shares race organiser; Heidi Muller.
“Expedition Africa 2019 will be unique. With over 100 checkpoints scattered all over the islands it will require team’s constant concentration to choose the shortest route at all times. Nowhere will the route go over the same area twice. The route is one continuous leg, with 30 map transitions, where new leg maps will be issued as the race proceeds, teams will have to bring their “A game” in navigation and decision making. The checkpoints on the outer islands will require a lot of strategy from teams, on when to swim, paddle or sleep, and when to collect the checkpoints, especially at night time. Multiple swimming legs from island to island, snorkelling to collect underwater points, sailing with the help of local sailors and multiple rope works challenges including: ziplines, Via Ferrata and a bridge abseil will make this edition the ultimate adventure course of 2019″ shares course designer and race director; Stephan Muller.
Due to the isolated location of the island, the near impossible task of transporting 240 bicycles via cargo ship and air travel, has proven to not be the only challenge for race organisers. “The normally highly accurate and reliable Spot Tracking has a 2.5 min tracking update, however because of how remote the island is, the tracking can possibly be delayed by 20min to 30min during the course of the race” shares Heidi Muller.
Dot watchers will find little time for food, work and sleep, from the abundance of insight channels exposing Expedition Africa to the world. Over and above the user friendly SPOT GPS live tracking, a nightly online TV show, live from the host venue; Les Cocotiers Hotel, presented by Terence Vrugtman will showcase the daily challenges, leaders, back markers, tourism and interesting conversation. Mesmerising images, captured through the professional lenses of Bruce Viaene and Kirsten Oliver, daily video’s composed by Simon and Sharla Faragher; highlighting each days highs and lows. Enticing editorials written by Sleep Monster’s; Adam Rose and of course, supporters can scroll through the daily updates via the Kinetic Events Africa Facebook page and ExpAfrica Instagram account.
Expedition Africa will officially kick off this Sunday; 1 September 2019 at 13h00 with an exciting regatta. Get ready to experience an array of emotions as teams from all over the globe tackle this unique adventure race of a life time. Follow www.expafrica.live as this exhilirating island adventure unfolds.