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Discussion: Expedition Africa 2016 - Knysna

in: Adventure Racing; General;

May 4, 2016 1:44 PM # 
This is going to be a cracker of a race!
15 transitions, 18 stages (not quite sure how that works) in a part of South Africa with extremely varied terrain. Just to paint a mental picture of the area: there is a mountain range that runs approximately parallel to the ocean. The foothills practically end at the beach. That belt is lush and green with dense natural forests interspersed with lakes and lagoons. The rivers often cut deep valleys in their paths to the sea so canyons and kloofs (gorges) are plentiful.
On the other side of the mountains, in the Karoo, the climate is completely different: a reddish, semi-arid, dry, rocky landscape with scant vegetation. I can't wait to see the route!

Event website:
May 4, 2016 2:26 PM # 
A massive field of 53 teams will be taking part of which about half are South African and half not.

The SA teams will have the advantage with this being the backyard for a few of them such as Merrel (ranked #7) and Painted Wolf (racing as Featherbed) who would have to be favourites. Other top SA teams racing are Cyanosis, Olympus and Jabberwock.

The top international team capable of taking it is French team Naturex (Raidlight) currently ranked #6. Teams Averne, Sweco and Gallaecia will also be up near the sharp end.

Interestingly Craig Bycroft, the director of the World Series will be participating in Team That's Cray. A race director getting a taste of another race director's medicine!
May 4, 2016 2:37 PM # 
Going to be hard on me to follow this one online... would have loved to be there!!!!!
May 4, 2016 2:40 PM # 
Wetsuits, climbing harnesses and abseiling devices are a requirement so there is going to be a bit of canyoning involved. From initial info it seems about half the 520km distance will be covered by bike in 5 stages with trekking of around 160km and paddling making up the rest.

The race kicks off on Sunday 15th May, top teams expected back in by about Wednesday with the rest of the field slogging it out until Saturday.
May 4, 2016 3:46 PM # 
Did the last two EA's. Done well over 20 expedition races (all over) and no one puts on better events, designs better courses, or has access to better venues.
(That's not to say that there are not other great events and RD's. There certainly are others.)
May 4, 2016 4:01 PM # 
I did Expedition Africa last year in Swaziland and must admit it was one of my favourite races. It should be on everybody's bucket list.
May 4, 2016 4:57 PM # 
Om my bucket list
May 4, 2016 6:59 PM # 
Oh yes! Counting down the days :)

Pretty much the entire South African AR contingent is doing the race, so you might not get the usual local flavour on this thread. Looks like greatescape has that covered though!

South African APers racing (please add any I've missed):

- briangardner (Jabberwock)
- shebeen (Rustproof)
- Rob1280 (Sugar Monsters)
- Piers Pirow (Sugar Monsters)
- Black Eagle (Sugar Monsters)
- MichelleVR (Never Stop Performing Sports)
- nthompson (Cyanosis)
- nmulder (Cyanosis)
- JaneS (Olympus)
- Murray Crichton (Gone Racing)
- zimkev (Charnas)

And I'll also be racing in Team Charnas as a pair.
May 5, 2016 1:05 AM # 
We're going to miss you on the Night Shift but best wishes to all of you! Be safe, be fast, be smart, have fun!
May 5, 2016 12:55 PM # 
Stijn I'm sad to say I won't be contributing during the race on this wonderful site, where I've spent countless hours experiencing FOMO. I too, have finally cracked. I'm happy to say I'll be racing my first EA, in Team Parallel. In fact, my first 500k race. Wish me luck.

FB that is one hell of a compliment you just paid EA, coming from a well-travelled and experienced racer like you. Reassuring indeed.
May 5, 2016 1:00 PM # 
You'll love it!
I'm jealous.
May 5, 2016 1:16 PM # 
Ah - excellent! See you out there :)
May 5, 2016 1:59 PM # 
Entry from Urtzi Iglesias, TEAM SAN JUAN AVENTURA, must be the highest ranked individual at EA this year, not sure about the team he is racing in though... I'm sure they'll have a good one.
May 5, 2016 1:59 PM # 
Don't bet against Stijn from popping into a local internet cafe during the race to update everyone on his progress :)
May 5, 2016 2:05 PM # 
Oh, you don't have live AP log updates set up from your watch? :-P
May 5, 2016 3:57 PM # 
Well spotted Rob, that team San Juan Aventura is bound to stir things up.
May 11, 2016 4:00 AM # 
Pre-race comments from Team Merrell Adventure
May 11, 2016 2:23 PM # 
Two interesting notes from that article:

1) 18 legs with 15 transitions - shorter legs by expedition racing standards, more opportunities to see the competition

2) Merrell's Hanno "Smelly" Smit is leading a team called Merrell Mentored. His teammates are three journalists - all women - who have special permission to use electronic devices to post reports directly from the race course. Should be interesting!
May 14, 2016 12:07 AM # 
From Facebook:

Expedition Africa is officially a "go" with the Opening Ceremony and Race Briefing done and dusted.

Below is a breakdown of the legs and teams have only received one map. The rest of the maps will be handed out as the race goes on at each Transition Point.For now, we can confirm that it will be a Le Mans start with kayaking being the first leg. Teams will paddle around the famous Knysna lagoon and end off at Featherbed Nature Reserve.

Leg 1: 1km Kayak
Leg 2: 4km Kayak Orienteering
Leg 3: 5km Kayak
Leg 4: 13km Trek
Leg 5:17km Kayak
Leg 6: 30km Cycle
Leg 7: 58km Trek
Leg 8: 84km Cycle
Leg 9: 35km Trek
Leg 10: 16km Kayak
Leg 11: 45km Trek / Canyon
Leg 12: 13km Kayak
Leg 13: 118km Cycle
Leg 14: 26km Trek
Leg 15: 28km Cycle
Leg 16: 19km Kayak
Leg 17: 32km Cycle
Leg 18: 9km Kayak

Total: 544km of South African Wilderness
May 14, 2016 4:32 AM # 
Gonna be a splendid race! Last year was a blast to follow online. I recall some very difficult navigation on the last hiking stage last year that really shook up the leader board.
May 15, 2016 4:25 AM # 
Race starts in 90 minutes! They are 6 hrs later than Toronto time.
May 15, 2016 10:17 AM # 
4 hours in! The current bunching of trackers at T2 and CP10 is because they aren't doing the ocean paddle with backpacks - the backpacks (and trackers) are going straight to CP10. The first pictures of the surf exit to get over the sand bank are coming through - plenty of action!
May 15, 2016 12:56 PM # 
Thanks, Apope, so glad to see there is at least one Attackpointer from SA to do the "night shift". (Actually the day shift.) :)
May 15, 2016 4:55 PM # 
It is already dark on Day 1 and most teams are already on Leg 7 (58 km trek, in spite of what the leaderboard says). It is described as being "a 58 km section of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail" but apparently it's not a mandatory route since Merrell Adventure Addicts are taking a different route from CP12 to CP13, mixing roads with some bushwhacking and less climbing. Cyanosis started on this alternate route but they've returned to the hiking trail.

The top 3 teams on the trail are Featherbed (aka Painted Wolf), Naturex (aka Raidlight) and Sweco.

Sunrise is about 7:15 a.m. and sunset around 5:30 p.m.

Great race coverage by the organizers.
May 15, 2016 5:34 PM # 
I'm mIssing breadcrumbs on the tracking map. Really going to be hard to discern which alternate routes play out faster without them.
May 15, 2016 5:45 PM # 
Yeah breadcrumbs would be good. All pretty tight racing up to this night trek. Interesting Sweco and Merrell taking 2 different routes. Sweco the race line and Merrell a short bushwhack to a good (faster) trail? One wonders where Naturex are off to? Featherbed have a lead but I wonder if they will clear CP13 and move on before Merrell spot them...
May 15, 2016 5:47 PM # 
Cameltoes so far so good :-)
May 15, 2016 5:53 PM # 
May 15, 2016 5:54 PM # 
Naturex back on track. Looks like Merrell is racing them for 2nd place at CP13 where Featherbed will be checking in any minute.
May 15, 2016 6:30 PM # 
Looks like Featherbed got through the valley between 13 & 14 before Merrell was close enough to see them. Maybe with headlamps they saw each other, but who knows. Key thing is, barring a nav blunder, Merrell will hit CP13 before Sweco and perhaps right on top of Naturex, catching them both during this trek from CP12-CP13.
May 15, 2016 9:23 PM # 
Ah you can show track but seems only for one team at a time..
May 15, 2016 9:54 PM # 
But not timestamped bread crumbs unless I'm missing something.
May 16, 2016 8:50 AM # 
10:45 or so, and Featherbed have arrived at T6. Merrel just gone past CP20. Will be interesting to see how long Featherbed spend in transition, and if they get back on the road and passed the double back and into the gorge down to the beach before Merrel (and Sweco and Naturex who are not far behind) make it passed CP22 and they see each other on the road
May 16, 2016 9:38 AM # 
Looks like they are just about to pass each other on the road just past Cp22
May 16, 2016 10:20 AM # 
I was surprised to see how compact an area they've kept the race in this year - it's all very local to Knysna. Looks like they pass through plenty of towns as well, so opportunities to pick up a cold coke on the way!

Amusing to see the density of controls on some of the coastal trekking legs - in some areas they have controls at an average of 1km spacing. Guess they're trying to hold the teams to a defined route, but weird compared with some other exped races where sometimes you'll only clip 2 CPs in a day!
May 16, 2016 10:31 AM # 
Featherbed are fairly moving. Is this purely down to significant local terrain knowledge or are this team a previous AR force anyway? Naturex, Merrell and Sweco are not exactly sight seeing in chase! Is it just me or is the race so far relatively "easy" nav in comparison to say GZ? No teams getting lost on the first decent trek. Most teams moving quite well. When you zoom in there are clear tracks and not a confusing number of them.

2 other teams I'm tracking No 3 to see how Sabs on RaidGaleacia does. Currently top 10
DAR Dingle is a local team with 2 Irish. Noel O'Leary just back from an injury so they are flying in 15th or so all considering.

And of course Cameltoes, who are also ITERA bound :-)
May 16, 2016 10:35 AM # 
It does seem to be a closer loop of a course but the amount of stages and variety of terrain (plenty of coastal and urban elements) is really interesting.

I'm keen to hear reveiews of this vs the epic Pantanalesque wilderness stages..
May 16, 2016 11:03 AM # 

Not unlike the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland!
May 16, 2016 11:51 AM # 
Sabs is going well - think they stopped for a sleep near Diepwalle but they're moving well again now. In response to the nav question, and having been there a year or so ago, I'd say it's much less "wild" than Godzone looked to be. Most/all of this race will be on good tracks, I doubt there will be too much bush-bashing. SA maps are pretty good as well, lets hope there are some interesting route-choice options later in the race to split things up a bit.

Interesting to see that most of the paddle sections are going upstream as well! Sounds like this next one involves a lot of portaging, which could be a nightmare at night...
May 16, 2016 12:02 PM # 
Are Featherbed heading for a wee swim?! Merrell are chasing hard.
Seems Averne and Cyanosis took a turn too early too but CP21 is barely a km away.

Raid Galeacia moving well in 8th and DAR Dingle moved up a spot

Top 14 are
1. Featherbed
2. Merrell
3. Sweco
All on stage 9 trek

4. Naturex
preumably sleeping in T6

5. Keylthyjabberwockees (ok I changed that a little as the name reminds me of a dance crew)

6. Averne
7. Cyanosis
Both recifying the little error, both within 3km of T6

8. RaidGalleciaFrance
Then a gap of 7km+ back to

9-11 a couple fo SA teams
12. IssyAvAbsRaid 2
13. Powerbar Swiss
14. DAR Dingle
May 16, 2016 1:11 PM # 
without breadcrumbs its a bit tricky to tell, but Merrel appear to have either gone back up to the top of the cliffs between CP 23 and 24, or they skipped CP 23...
May 16, 2016 1:29 PM # 
Not only that, where are Sweco off to?! Are these trek CPs minimal penalties that maybe they feel are not worth it and getting a jump on Featherbed?

Raid Gallecia in T6 now and moved into 7th en route
May 16, 2016 1:38 PM # 
Sweco pointing the right direction again, having somehow circumnavigated the town. Merrel have decided to go via the airport on teh way to CP28. Featherbed now off on a funny path too after 28/29
May 16, 2016 2:19 PM # 
Interesting when you click on teh team it gives the distance they have travelled. So RaidG, Averne and Cyonosis are more or less together on the stage 9 trek. Respectivally they have travelled 72, 74 and 90km

Meanwhile Cameltoes have completed 42km and are running or rather cycling mid pack :-) GWAN Cameltoes!
May 16, 2016 2:20 PM # 
Word on the beach is that Featherbed's lady (Jeanie - hard as they come) had twisted her ankle on the previous trek. It was looking nasty in T6. But every update I see is at 6.8km/h. Amazing.
The Colins brothers (Featherbed) organise a Robberg Trail Run race, so they should be pretty quick through this next bit.
I think Merrel are a big threat still. They are known to bide their time and finish fast.
May 16, 2016 2:22 PM # 
Maybe that coasteer/trek from CP 28-33 is not a mandatory route. Looks like Featherbed opted for a longer but faster route than the coast/cliff. I wonder if that long beach is soft soothing sand and gently lapping water for the tired feet... AS IF!
May 16, 2016 2:32 PM # 
That distance travelled is the distance since a particular time in the race shown above the upper left side of the tracking map. So some teams may have been biking during that time while others were on a trek. Thanks for all the updates!
May 16, 2016 2:55 PM # 
Someone asked about Featherbed's history. They normally race as Painted Wolf, one of SA's top teams. In 2014, they finished 4th at Expedition Africa, 1st SA team ahead of Cyanosis, Olympus and Merrell. That year the podium was Seagate, Haglofs Silva and Tecnu - what a race! I don't know if there have been personnel changes but it's not surprising to see them up front.
May 16, 2016 3:27 PM # 
Photos recently posted by AdvFeel show Team San Juan Aventura rolling into TA6. Their tracker has not updated in over 3 hours, so good to see them still making progress. This team includes Urtzi Iglesias, who is one of the top racers in the world under Team Columbia Vidaraid (ARWS 2nd Ranking).
May 16, 2016 3:37 PM # 
another potential spot for Merrel and Fetaherbed to catch sight of each other as the two routes will be very close to each other just around CP32
May 16, 2016 3:38 PM # 
I bet they don't see each other.
May 16, 2016 3:46 PM # 
Featherbed (formerly Painted Wolf, formerly Team Mazda) are legends in SA AR terms. The Colins brothers raced in an Eco Challenge (I forget which one - Fiji?) and came out of a nasty forest leg in the lead, ahead of the big favorites Nike and the NZ'ers. They didn't stay at the front, but it was good to see.
May 16, 2016 4:18 PM # 
A leaderboard update on teams that include Attackpointers. (Anyone missing from the list?) We miss you here on the Night Shift but we're excited to cheer you on! :)

5th (T6) Keyhealth Jabberwock - briangardner
7th (T6) Cyanosis - nmulder, nthompson
10th (T5) Olympus - JaneS
18th (T5) Gone Racing - Murray Crichton
22nd (T5) Sugar Monsters - Rob1280, Piers Pirow, Black Eagle
27th (T5) Charnas - Stijn, zimkev
32nd (T5) Parallel - greatescape
33rd (T5) Never Stop Performing Sports - MichelleVR
May 16, 2016 9:59 PM # 
Sweco has just arrived at TA7 in "third", but they did not visit CP33...yet. Very curious if they are just super-tired or injured and plan to tackle the CP after some personal care. I presume that they are required to punch that CP before they get in their boats for stage 10. If so, the extra swim/splash/wade out to it and back can't be something they are looking forward to in the dark.
May 16, 2016 10:00 PM # 
Merrell appears to be stopped at TA7 for a wee kip.
May 16, 2016 10:08 PM # 
On cue, Sweco has "jumped" in the river to snag CP33 and appears to be having trouble finding it. I think they chose a poor attack point. Wonder if the tide is up and making things a bit more difficult in the dark?
May 17, 2016 12:20 AM # 
I'm not even sure from the track (w/o breadcrumbs) that Sweco visited CP33. Their track beyond the main beach does not go near the tracks of the other three teams that have taken the direct route along the beach into the TA. Hmmm?
May 17, 2016 2:29 AM # 
A few hours and laps around the estuary later, it appears that Sweco has finally located CP33. Be very curious to be there to hear what's going on with them to lead to this. If my assumption that CP33 must b punched before checking in to end the trekking leg, they would now be in 5th position (two teams currently at TA7 have also not ventured near CP33). However, they may immediately checkout to start the paddle and reassume the 3rd position. Time will tell.
May 17, 2016 2:52 AM # 
Still dark for another couple of hours and Featherbed Painted Wolf has started the 45 km trek from TA8. Merrell hasn't tracked for 90 minutes but they should be near the end of the paddle (TA8). Sweco is the only other team on the river, holding 3rd place after their adventures around CP33.
May 17, 2016 10:24 AM # 
Loving the format of the race. Featherbed nailing the course but Merrell are still chasing hard and 1 mistake from Featherbed...

Sweco moving well again now after a bit of CP circumnavigation last night. Still 3rd.

Also done with the paddle are Kethyljabberwk.

RaidG have moved up to 5th and are just up river, practically within sight of a gang containing Averne, Naturex, Cyanosis and Sportson

So thats 5 SA teams, 2 Swedish and 2 French in the top 9

3 others at TA7 including IssyAdv who are moving well.

Then I'm loving how there are 26 teams scattered over a mere 12-15km on the Robberg Coastal trek.

DAR Dingle and Cameltoes making solid progress.
May 17, 2016 10:46 AM # 
Weird manoeuvres around CP33. My guess is that as long as the CPs are punched in order, teams may visit transition ahead of collecting CP33. Given that it involves a swim in order to get to it, I suspect some teams are transitioning first, then swimming across to CP33 in their kayak kit before returning to transition, picking up a kayak and starting the paddle.
Better to get your kayak kit wet than having to dump sopping wet trekking kit in your transition bag I suppose.
May 17, 2016 1:24 PM # 
Wow all teh pics I'm seeing of the Robbell Coastal trek reminds me of the Wild Atlantic Way!! A bit of home for DAR Dingle.. only warmer.

Sabs & RaidG flying through the trek
May 17, 2016 1:43 PM # 
I've been dipping in and out. What an epic looking course!!
May 17, 2016 1:53 PM # 
@Shotgunmcos, do they have sharks off the coast of the Wild Atlantic Way, too? I'll need to prepare myself for that :)
May 17, 2016 2:18 PM # 
When I was in Plett a couple of years ago we were told about the local resident great white shark known as the Robberg Express. He enjoys playing with the kayakers that go out to look at the seals on Robberg Point, bumping the bottom of their boats. He's supposedly 4m long....
@abiperk, think the worst you can fear in Ireland is to be gummed to death by an affectionate codfish ;)
May 17, 2016 2:34 PM # 

DAR Dingle broke a paddle. Silly really, those kayaks work better in the water than on sand!

@abiperk - you are more likely to get cuddled by a seal than attacked by a shark in Irish waters :)
May 17, 2016 2:55 PM # 
An observation about standings vs live tracking: San Juan Aventura left for the stage 10 paddle in 4th place. Assuming thy have held that position, they would be not far behind SWECO in the canyons right now. Be really useful to have their tracker back in contact.
May 17, 2016 4:02 PM # 
Leaderboard is also now falling victim to short course teams. From the looks of it Gung Ho stayed on their bikes and rode past the coastal trek altogether. The leaderboard suggests they are ranked as if they completed the trek. Happen to be following them, so I know/believe they skipped it. Don't know how many other teams may be skipping things too?
May 17, 2016 6:38 PM # 
And from the pointy end of the race:
"News Just In:
Featherbed Painted Wolf missed CP 17.
They have the option of going back to it on their next cycle leg which will take them off course their planned route
As of now, the team had not yet discussed if they will fetch the CP - So stay tuned to "The Dot" and lets see how this pans out"
May 17, 2016 7:03 PM # 
So, once again we get the chance to wonder about a race and the RD's decisions.

In most races of this caliber, if you skip a CP you are either UNF or you are ranked behind all others. On the twitter feed it says this detour will cost them 20km. But looking at the tracking map, it seems like it is far less than that to get CP 17 from the bike route as mapped on the website, the one north of CP17.

An interesting decision. Maybe in the rules it says this is legal. Personally, this seems like yet another can of worms in a major race. So, can any team elect to skip points and get them later? I understand that it's a penalty of sorts for them to go get it now because it will add some distance, but the principle of the whole thing can raise philosophical questions. Would all teams be allowed to do this? Is it possible a local team with more knowledge than others could strategically skip a point on one leg and get it on another?

Again, by all accounts, this seems like a mistake and nothing malicious about it. And I doubt there is anything to be gained anywhere. But now there is this question about what is normally a DQ or significant penalty or automatic short course.
May 17, 2016 7:22 PM # 
I'd be very surprised if this RD got tripped up by something as basic as the issue broots points out above. I would wait for more info before spending too much time speculating.
May 17, 2016 7:40 PM # 
What??!! You miss a checkpoint and you are allowed to go back and get it? With local knowledge and possibly knowing that in advance was the CP skip planned? If not is it really fair to allow the runaway leading team a chance to redeem a nav error? It just so happens that CP17 is probably one of the handier CPs to retrieve on the back of the race loop but what if it was a different CP? Or would you be allowed track off a bike course to grab a missed trek CP? What about the teams who missed some or all of the Robberg trek?

Its concurrent with an earlier perspective that teams were hitting TA7 first then popping out for a swim to get CP33 before the kayak...

Unless Featherbed were given the option of taking an X hour penalty or retrieve the missed CP at any given opportunity?
May 17, 2016 7:58 PM # 
Not interested in debating this issue personally, but will remind folks that maps for each leg of the race are not provided until the beginning of the leg. So, the route of the long MTB to come (leg 13) would not have been known to any teams as they clipped off (or missed) controls on the leg 8 bike.
May 17, 2016 8:16 PM # 
O.K. made me look. Seems Featherbed took the 'prescribed route' they just appear to have ridden past the CP without punching. Given that they covered the distance and just missed the punch I would say a fair penalty is to incur a time penalty of X? or pick up the CP later in the race.
Used to be a time when if you lost your passport your race was over.. until it happened to Eco-Internet. Then the relevance of the rule was Very quickly re-evaluated. What was the intent of the passport?
I think the intent of the CP's is to make sure all teams go through certain points between TA's, in the interest fairness for all teams. Featherbed did that. Stephan will/has apply/applied his (refreshing) common sense approach to this, no doubt.
May 17, 2016 8:41 PM # 
From Featherbed's (aka Painted Wolf's) FB feed:
"Unfortunately, Featherbed Painted Wolf received some negative news. They reported to Stephan that Cp17 on the first cycle was missing. Stephan went out on route to discover that it was in its place. This means the team have missed the CP. The team has been told that they need to go back find it at some point on route in order to be official. While this does add a slight detour, the team doesn't think it will affect their bid to win."
May 17, 2016 10:40 PM # 
In Untamed New England a few years ago, one of the top teams was in the correct area to find a CP but couldn't locate it. After hearing that other teams had found it, they returned to pick it up on a different leg while doing a different discipline. They would have been on the podium but they were DQed when the RD learned of it. In this case, the RD has approved it so the rules must be different.
May 17, 2016 11:01 PM # 
So Featherbed are fast approaching the detour for CP17. They are miles ahead and can take this and a snooze. Sweco may have a fight for the podium yet.

Merrell are going to have to get moving now
May 17, 2016 11:09 PM # 
I wonder if Sweco and San Jan Aventura (#47 with dead tracker) are at each other's heels as they reach the beach on the current trek? Hard to know for sure, but photos posted 2-3 hours ago showed that SJA was just starting a canyon rope section after sundown (it was dark in the photos). Maybe they are mixed in with the pack trailing Sweco?
May 17, 2016 11:18 PM # 
I thought that too. Probably with that timeline, mixed in with the chasing pack.

Go RaidG pushing ahead of that pack in 4th and not far off Sweco!

Featherbeds position hasn't updated from that junction in the last half hour so I presume they are en route (or off route depending on how you see it) to claw back CP17
May 17, 2016 11:26 PM # 
There is a good discussion over on FB about this as well. Matthias Carling from SWECO is pointing out that in ITERA SWECO had the same issue and was ranked behind all the full course teams. (though from doing that race, I know it was a bit different in that they didn't have the luxury of passing by the CP again).

That said, someone also posted the following from ARWS rules:
"3.4.1. It is generally permitted if a team accidentally misses a checkpoint (for example at the next CP they discover they didn’t collect the previous CP), to return to the missed CP to collect it, and then continue on the course, even though in this case they may have collected these CPs out of order. A penalty may be issued if this situation resulted in an advantage to the team.
3.4.2. Only an official directive from the Race Director may change a rule that has been printed in the race course book/maps. This directive may be verbal or in writing, and passed by the Race Director, or their Race Officials.

This seems reasonable to me.

That said, as I noted in my original post, the fact that this conversation is now unfolding in multiple places is important. I'm not judging the RD in saying this, but I do think this feels like a recurrent problem. While I recognize that the above ruling suggests all is fine, I think in reality, there are very few major ARWS races that allow for this. It may be a technicality in that yes they likely rode right by it. But when most other major RDs differ and the perception is that a missed CP means a more significant penalty if not a DQ, we are back to that question of streamlining rules.

All this said, the one thing I would like to know is: what did the official race-printed rules say? Not the ARWS rules, but what was given out beforehand by the RDs? FB, I hear you, give it some time. But I'm surprised there isn't a clearer response from the RD. This is a rather basic and common scenario, and I would hope it's clear in the rules as I feel like almost all ARs big or small usually address this in the rules. That's my point, just that it seems like we are once again now watching a race with controversy at the top, and I think this takes away from the whole thing for people wrapped up in it (I refer to racers at the event and the RDs who now have to deal with it).

Also, this from Facebook, from a comment from the organization: "There are rules in place for situations like this. The race director is aware of all these rules, and will make a final call and announce his decision on Saturday."

Those calling for patience, I get it, it's not a big deal and they were there. BUT they also admitted to looking for and not finding a CP. It's not typical to get second chances thereafter in such situations. But no, it also is clear there is no advantage gained, and yes, some time lost, though not that much.

For those who believe the penalty not harsh enough, I understand. When in other major ARWS races teams are DQed or Short coursed (and personally, I think this is the "norm" even if the rules allow for other solutions) it's tough to understand such a difference.

Like I said, my personal reaction is surprise: this seems like a problem that should be clearly addressed in the race specific rules. I hope we get to see those. Either way, there is now at least a bit of conflict at the top. I would also like to know how Merrell, SWECO, and others feel about the situation when they find out. I am going to go out on a limb and say SWECO will not be happy about it regardless of what is on paper.
May 17, 2016 11:33 PM # 
It's after 1 AM in SA at the moment. I wonder how difficult it will be for Featherbed to find CP17 in the dark, seeing as they already looked and failed to find it a day or two ago? I presume that others have found it, both during the day and at night, so the area near the flag should be mighty trampled by now. Oodles of footprints & tire tracks pointing to the control flag are not usual for teams at the pointy end of these races.
May 18, 2016 12:04 AM # 
Hmmm. And it seems that Featherbed is passing by the logical turn to CP17…maybe the maps suggest a different route? Maybe they have to ride up and back around? Maybe their tracker just isn't showing them turning yet…

On a different note concerning Featherbed. Saw an interview with them this AM. Was impressed by the following: they noted that local knowledge was a factor and that teams were taking short cuts. They noted that international teams were at a disadvantage and so they were purposely not taking all the shortcuts. Suggested they might be taking some, but I thought it was quite impressive they were purposely taking the long way around sometimes.
May 18, 2016 2:28 AM # 
broots: I think they did an out-and-back from that road junction. Their tracker went silent for an hour or more at that spot.
May 18, 2016 3:28 AM # 
The course is going to be shortened. Teams will ride directly from T12 to T15.
May 18, 2016 3:50 AM # 
There was a time not long ago that if you missed a CP, you could go back and get it but then had to proceed on the racecourse in the prescribed order thereafter - eg. if you miss CP20, you can collect it later but then your next CP to hit was #21. Admittedly, this was during a time when there were far less CPs on a racecourse. I feel like I'm out of touch now with what's OK if a missed CP happens! Not sure that this is a good thing...
May 18, 2016 4:01 AM # 
Phatty, if I missed a CP, I would assume that I had to do what you described.

Here's Heidi's comment on it. I feel bad for the RDs and top teams since no one wants an unclear situation like this. I think there will have to be a penalty in addition to the requirement to visit the CP later, out of order.
May 18, 2016 8:12 AM # 
one could argue that teams have already been hitting CPs out of order, such as teams going to T7 , and then only getting CP33 on the way out (possibly even by paddling to it) (in my mind a Transition is another kind of CP). I think featherbed are just damn lucky that the one they missed was 17. If it was say 16 or 18 this would have been a very different scenario.
May 18, 2016 8:21 AM # 
That said, baring some massive nav blunders i think race for 1 and 2 is all over. Featherbed are almost at T11, and Merrel are just past CP43. 3rd place looks a bunfight back on the paddle, SWECO and RaidGallaecia are neck and neck, with Cyanosis a bit futher back followed by Naturex. KeyhealthJaberwock have slipped a few places and have just got to the Transition at the start of the paddle along with SportsonSkovde. Adventura are on the beach still. SanJuan's tracker is stopped again at CP41 at 4:30 this morning, so a bit hard to say where they are in this mix. There are a few short course teams in the mix there too now which makes the tracker hard to follow.
May 18, 2016 9:12 AM # 
RaidG are first of the chasers on the Bike and now in 3rd!

Unclear from the track back whether Featherbed got CP17 or not..

Naturex missed a CP too
May 18, 2016 9:27 AM # 
"If Featherbed (Painted Wolf) do not collect CP17, they will receive a 6hour time penality. Therefore the race for first place could be quite exciting between Featherbed (Painted Wolf) and the Merrell Adventure Addicts!"

Could be interesting - strategically thinking, if they are more than 6 hours ahead skip the CP and hope to stay in the clear.

Wonder if they are aware of their lead gap?
May 18, 2016 9:27 AM # 
Thanks conman. You might be right!

An interesting development with Naturex. As thenjdk notes, if this had been a different CP for featherbed, totally different story. It will be interesting to see what CP Naturex missed. If it was not CP 17, then presumably they will have a different penalty. Either they will be unable to get the CP and hence will actually lose a CP or they will spend much more time getting the CP than Featherbed took to get CP17. One could neutralize this by imposing a heftier time penalty on Featherbed I suppose for an "equal" penalty, but then they are serving a penalty with rest.

RDs will be lucky if they both missed the same CP. If not, then this just got much harder to sort out.
May 18, 2016 11:58 AM # 
Right Old chase going on between Sweco and RaidG for 3rd! Has Sabs podium'd in an ARWS race before?

Featherbed are machines but have the enough over the time penalty? Are Merell aware of any of it?

Meanwhile some trackers are not updating but Cameltoes are in the Canyons and Lunar Chicks are motoring.

No idea where DAR dingle are, nealry 9 hours since tracker update. Hopefully all good and either in or beyond the canyons
May 18, 2016 1:30 PM # 
Sabs came 2nd in a race in either 2014 or 2015 but I don't think it was an ARWS race.
May 18, 2016 3:49 PM # 
Sabs was 3rd in the Tierra Viva ARWS race last year, racing with the French Agde Raid Aventure team. Close race, they were leading for a large part of the race.
May 18, 2016 6:04 PM # 
So FeatherBed paddling to the finish. Should cross the line in an hour or so. How far back are Merrell. Race against the clock now for them....
May 18, 2016 6:09 PM # 
I suspect that there is no time penalty for Featherbed, meaning they picked up CP17 but the track is not showing it. If they were to be assessed a penalty, it is typical for RDs to hold the team at a TA with the goal of a corrected arrival order at the finish line.
May 18, 2016 6:21 PM # 
FYI - Eric Nachtrieb is live on facebook video right now awaiting Featherbed at the finish.
May 18, 2016 6:22 PM # 
it is typical for RDs to hold the team at a TA with the goal of a corrected arrival order at the finish line.

That's the ideal scenario. Often RDs don't do that if there is no comfortable place for the team to wait for hours in damp clothes or if they don't have access to food.
May 18, 2016 6:47 PM # 
Also, I noticed that on facebook they said they are "the first team across the Expedition Africa finish line", not that they "won".

Penalty still in play?

Any reports on which point Naturex skipped?
May 18, 2016 8:55 PM # 
So, IF the 6 hr penalty is still in play, at this moment:

Merrell has reached the last transition and just has the final paddle remaining.

Featherbed finished roughly 2-3 hours ago and took less than 2 hours to complete the paddle.

Seems like worst case has Merrell arriving 5 hours (or less) behind Featherbed and winning the race by about 1 hour.

Hmmm? If only there were more details on the true status of this situation...
May 18, 2016 9:12 PM # 
They've just clarified things on Facebook:

"3 days, 12 hours and 33 minutes is how long it took for Expedition Africa 2016's champions to complete 500km of pure adventure racing. Cheers from the side lines howled as team Featherbed Painted Wolf neared the spectator filled shoreline at Pine Lake Marina this evening."

So it's settled unless someone protests.
May 18, 2016 9:45 PM # 
I still think Featherbed took the extra time to snag CP17 while on the long bike. I watched their tracker stall for at least an hour at the apparent best intersection to go out and snag it. Then, they resumed moving along the expected route of travel. Not sure 1-2 hours for that out-and-back makes sense, but it does seem do-able on bikes. They earned the top podium position either way, in my opinion.

This is another case for breadcrumbs making spectating/dot watching far more enjoyable.
May 18, 2016 10:10 PM # 
Yeah really missed the breadcrumbs. GZ was great. Showed sleep stops too. The fact the their tracker went on the blink for 2hrs at the exact moment they passed that junction was just plain odd. If they knew it was a 6hr penalty and we're lucky enough that it was CP17 they missed, a quick out and back would be a no brainer

Still I was impressed with their route choices. Not a huge variety of route differential across all level team from what I checked on the treks so I presume mostly hiking trails?
May 18, 2016 10:33 PM # 
Sleepmonsters has the news that CP17 was picked up by Featherbed during that long bike yesterday.
May 18, 2016 11:53 PM # 
Sweco and Raid Gallaecia are right on top of each other on the last part of the final trek. The 3rd podium position is going to come down to who has the most fuel left in the tank over the next 3-4 hours. Be fun to watch!
May 19, 2016 2:15 AM # 
Looks like Sweco had more in the tank. Not sure what happened with Raid G, but I'll guess that, given that it's nearly ~2am and they've been racing for near on 4 days, the sleepmonsters got the best of them. Great race Sweco! Hope there are still lots of folks to greet and celebrate with you. You will be the first "international" team to cross the finish line at ~3am.
May 19, 2016 4:41 AM # 
From Facebook: "San Juan Aventura are at base (Pine Lake Marina) awaiting the teams coming in to cheer them on. The team withdrew from the 500km adventure race early hours this morning due to an knee injury from the canyon section."

And yes, we needed breadcrumbs!
May 19, 2016 9:02 AM # 
Fair play to Heidi Muller for the updates on social media and standing out there all night to dance and cheer teams in.

Happy to see most teams are past the T9 cut off including Cameltoes, DAR Dingle though they all have the bulk of 4 stages left to go!

It looked like a great race from 3rd to 6th and no doubt sleep monsters played a major role in sorting that one out.

Shame the leaderboard has not really helped tracking the race. Apart from seeing the actual positions on the map it would be useful to see that they have punched/carded(?) each control. If we had all know that Featherbed had missed CP17 it would have been even more interesting to follow. I prefere the leaderboards that show that CPs have been tagged
May 19, 2016 2:25 PM # 
Route 2 for those teams that did not make the time cutt-off at T9:
T9 - Kayak - T10
T10 - Cycle - T15
T15 - Kayak - Finish

So Cycle straight from T10 to T15...?

Have Powerbar Swiss decided to head for home or is that Route 2?
May 19, 2016 2:30 PM # 
Wow DAR Dingle involved with a gang of 10 teams just aftter CP43. Must really feel like a race in there!

Averne over the line in 9th. Looks like Olympus will round out the top 10. So top 10 teams more or les been top 10 since the gun...
May 19, 2016 2:34 PM # 
What are they, 100k or so from the finish? Hard to judge.

Must be mighty racing there within the mix of the teams.
May 19, 2016 3:15 PM # 
Yep Its the short route. 4 other teams followed
May 19, 2016 3:19 PM # 
I love the name "Route 2" for the short course. I might borrow that for Wilderness Traverse.

Here's a Day 4 video to get a feel for the beautiful landscape.

May 19, 2016 3:27 PM # 
Man those plank walks before the abseil...
May 19, 2016 3:32 PM # 
So if everyone behind CP43 are all "Route 2" teams, then gang up the gang up the road from CP43 will include the last finishers to cross the line

I wonder if Lunar Chick have ignored CP46 or have they just travelled too far along R62.. Turn back girls!!
May 19, 2016 3:33 PM # 
I'm still curious about whether there will be a protest, given the high stakes at an ARWS qualifier. Rule 3.4.1 doesn't apply because they didn't miss CP17 accidentally; they made a nav error by looking and not finding it.
May 19, 2016 3:37 PM # 
Aye that was my point earlier. It was a Nav error.

On Route 2 matters - seems 24hMeals and Swiss Powerbar have different interpretations or perhaps it was as simple as pick up CP43 on your way to T15?
May 19, 2016 3:37 PM # 
Spoke to Team Featherbed a few hours ago. They mis-plotted the CP the first time which is why they were in the general vicinity but couldn't find it.
May 19, 2016 3:42 PM # 
That's one of the reasons I prefer pre-plotted maps for AR. I know some feel differently but I don't think that's a skill worth testing in our events. As an RD, for safety reasons, I would rather be sure that all teams have the correct info on their maps. Given that it *was* part of this race, a protest is still possible.

P.S. Stijn, you're back! How are you feeling?
May 19, 2016 3:44 PM # 
Lunar Chicks are already on a shortened course after skipping some of the bits before the canyon hiking leg. Maybe they've just decided to skip CP 46 and get on with finishing? Or their butts are sore from so many hours in the saddle?
May 19, 2016 3:48 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
Yes, those plank walks along those rock towers were fantastic! and great abseils! Love the "Jump Here" sign (in the video) and the jump into the pool. Some of the wading down the canyon reminds me of Tasmania...
May 19, 2016 3:48 PM # 
Yeah, back at the finish early unfortunately. Bailed after the first part of the canyon - my team mate was struggling with a leg injury. Had a great race up to that point, with the full course cut-offs looking just within reach. Such a spectacular route!
May 19, 2016 4:11 PM # 
Aw, bad luck. But it sounds like an amazing experience regardless. Congrats!
May 20, 2016 9:38 AM # 
Sorry to hear Stijn :-(

Cameltoes 15th! Great result after the challenge that was GZ :-)

I think I like the Route 1, 2, 3 layout of the Leaderboard.

DAR Dingle on the final paddle now, happy days.

This race is nailed to by bucket list
May 20, 2016 12:46 PM # 
Day 5 video including the ostriches that held up Merrell.
May 20, 2016 2:56 PM # 
DAR finished 19th position, standing & smiling at the finish line!
May 20, 2016 3:42 PM # 
Hmmm. Several official developments:

An official written complaint has been lodged by teams regarding Featherbed Painted Wolf collecting CP17. A meeting will take place at 20h00 this evening, where race director Stephan Muller, the top ten team captains that crossed the finish line and a jury will be present.
KeyHealth Jabbawock will not be present as Cobus van Zyl will form part of the jury.
More information to follow once a verdict has been made.

Expedition Africa Canyoneering Time Adjustments
Multiple teams negotiated the canyoneering section within the Expedition Africa route, taking different approaches to collect the relevant checkpoints within the canyon.
According to the official Expedition Africa race booklet, teams were to enter the canyon at CP 37 via an abseil, remain within the canyon and proceed through to CP 38. Teams then were required to exit the canyon and report to the AfriAbseil marshal at CP 39, completing the via ferrata and abseil back into the canyon all the way through to the exit at CP 40.
This route as prescribed by the Expedition Africa race booklet, was not followed by all the teams taking part in this year's 500km adventure race. Those teams that did not complete this section as prescribed benefited from their alternative route.
Due to the above, time adjustments for this section will be implemented for all teams that did not complete the canyoneering section as instructed.
Summary of the time adjustments:
• Teams that did not stay within the canyon from CP 37 to CP38 will receive no time adjustment.
• Teams that did not complete the via ferrata and abseil (CP 39) will receive a 1 hour time adjustment to their final race time.
• Teams that did not complete the canyon section from the top of the abseil (CP 39) continuing through the confines of the canyon towards the exit (CP 40), will receive a 6 hour time adjustment to their final race time.
• Teams that did not complete the canyon section from the bottom of the abseil (CP 39) through the confines of the canyon towards the exit; but re-entered the canyon to collect (CP 40) will receive a 4 hour time adjustment to their final race time.
May 20, 2016 5:28 PM # 
Only one team left on course: Tumbleweeds, moving along on Route 3, whatever that is. The did not take the detour mid-long bike to get to the finish paddle. If they can keep moving they have about 4 hours left to get to the line.

It looks like they are one of the teams that will be assessed the canyon section time penalties for not staying in the canyon during that leg. They also skipped the entire Robberg trek, which may be what Route 3 refers to.
May 20, 2016 5:46 PM # 
Gung Ho bypassed the points on the Robberg trek (trekking the road, I think). They are still listed as being in the first group. I hence am not sure how much of what we are seeing is accurate in regards to the actual leaderboard and finish order, and I don't know that this is what Route 3 means. Don't Route 2 and 3 refer to short course options? Gung Ho (I believe) traveled the whole course, but they hit the roads for that one section and dropped the CPs.
May 20, 2016 5:52 PM # 
I guess I should've stated that Tumbleweeds walked around via the road during the Robberg trek leg, bypassing all the CPs. So, either they earned a slew of time penalties (now irrelevant) or are on some version of alternate route.

Nonetheless, they are carrying the Lantern Rouge, having spent the most time en route. Hence they are probably pretty wiped out at this point. It does seem to me that their current trekking pace is very slow, perhaps nursing some injured feet or something.
May 20, 2016 6:17 PM # 
Seems odd that having missed a CP and proceeding to the next that a team could pick it up out of sequence?

Is there a rule that allows that? And how would you prove that it was accidental and not strategic? By this I mean, for example, a nighttime CP you can't find but come by in daylight and lift it as you pass then.
May 20, 2016 6:49 PM # 
Sean: I suggest going back to my message from 17 May about 2-3 down from the broken paddle photo you posted. From there you can read through the previous discussion on this subject (sorry can't link directly to it for some odd reason).

We should have the jury's input before too long. That meeting was to start about 50 min ago.
May 20, 2016 9:27 PM # 
This is exactly why I prefer a leading board that shows real time which controls have been punched/dibbed

It's a fair enquiry though. If I had spent 4hrs circling an area close to a CP only to give up and move on, knowing the lead team got away with missing one and had an option what to do about it, I'd be miffed. These rules or even conditional rules should be documented and available to all.

Sure course changes are necessary during a race and that's understandable. But rule changes about CPs during a race where most teams will be oblivious will leave a sour taste

I though it was extremely fortunate that CP17 missed by Featherbed was probably the handiest one to retrieve as the course practically doubled back on it.

I'm sure Route 2 teams who missed one CP to be labelled a Route 2 team will have grounds to query this. I believe in ITERA this August as soon as you miss a CP you are short course. You even have to change one of the team bibs to reflect that.

I guess all races like this will have enquiries as teams only learn about stuff in bits out there or all together at the finish.

I quite enjoyed tracking this race . The coverage and map were great. The day recap videos were awesome. Tge messages reel was great. The Muellers deserve great kudos. It was just hard to know what teams were where. The leaderboard was hard to follow after day 1 and useless from day 2.
May 20, 2016 10:16 PM # 
Final decision made:
May 20, 2016 10:35 PM # 
They are very deserving winners but I think it was a good idea to review the decision. As a racer, I would still expect to be unranked in future if I misplotted a CP and reported it missing rather than checking whether I'd made an error. But they raced well and are worthy champions.
May 20, 2016 11:39 PM # 
Seems like the Tumbleweeds are either held by race officials for pick up or sleeping at TA 12. They must be totally smoked and probably low on food, even in their transition boxes. Never mind that it's midnight.

Either that, or they have chosen to make these last stages of their race a sort of personal holiday where they move at a leisurely pace while still being smelly, dirty, and butt-dragging tired.
May 21, 2016 6:56 PM # 
Big stuff happening at prize giving.... A few big shifts in the leaderboard due to the canyon section...
May 21, 2016 8:34 PM # 
And I think there may be even more shifts as the appeals roll on in. Many racers not happy at the moment... eg Cyanosis relegated from 4th to 24th after being told by marshall to skip via feratta section due to safety reasons. Earlier FB post mentioned a 1h penalty if that section was skipped, which seems fair.
May 21, 2016 9:05 PM # 
4th to 24th??!!!
May 22, 2016 5:00 AM # 
From the Kinetic Events Africa FB page:

Expedition Africa 2016 Race Results amended,

It came to the race directors attention during the final scrutinising of the race results that 5 top end teams deliberately avoided entering the canyon on the night of 17 May 2016. This gave them an unfair advantage over teams that did enter the canyon. Teams do claim that the rope official instructed them to do so. At no stage did the staff from AfriCanyon instructed the teams that the canyon is officially closed. All teams arriving between 20h17 and 24h00 on Tuesday 17 May did not enter the canyon, all the other 39 teams that did not miss this section due to being cut off on Tuesday did enter the canyon (30 teams entered the canyon the following day in daylight)
With the water temperature being cold and it being dark, teams who arrived at this time should have slept and waited for a time that they felt that they could endure this section. This was not a safety issue, the teams clearly did not want to endure the cold and the dark but was not willing to give up their advantage to the following teams. All the canyon leg procedures were clearly outlined in the race book and at race briefing. 13 slower teams missed the bottom part of the canyon to ensure that they made the Thursday morning cut of

The race director Stephan Muller takes this blatant "bending" of the rules too gain an advantage over other teams in a serious light. All teams who circumvented the two sections of the canyon and the via ferrata and abseil will be deemed to have missed these three Control Points.

It is unfortunate that the great event that was Expedition Africa 2016 was marred by these few teams actions. The race directors personally believes that these teams and their team captions are to seriously do some self reflection on the damage they caused to Expedition Africa and Adventure Racing in general.

We do thank all other teams who had the integrity to adhere to the regulations as set out and abide by the severe penalties that was enforced by their actions.
May 22, 2016 5:03 AM # 
So by missing the 1h Via Feratta section, Cyanosis (amongst others who missed other sections of the canyon) have been deemed to have missed checkpoints, hence explaining the huge effect on their result as tthey would have been ranked behind all teams that collected all checkpoints.
May 22, 2016 5:04 AM # 
It's a real pity that this has come up now as it's all everybody is talking about here, rather than celebrating what was truly a fantastic and memorable race.. I feel for the RDs.
May 22, 2016 5:15 AM # 
Sad for everyone. So all teams arriving within a particular time period skipped a section and said that a race official instructed them to do so? Doesn't it seem unlikely that a bunch of top teams arriving a few hours apart would make up the same story? I've certainly been steered in the wrong direction by a well-meaning race official. Is anyone able to explain this more clearly than the official announcement? Did the race official suggest that they wait instead of entering the canyon in the cold and darkness, and the teams decided not to?
May 22, 2016 6:11 AM # 
I've seen similar situations to this in other races: a contractor or other organization representative (eg: raft guide, rope segment safety person, medical crew, etc.) who is not a race official, but could be mistaken by racers to be one, is giving advice to racers or telling what they "should" be doing. Such a difficult situation.

Racers should know that ONLY the RD and the written rules of travel are the official sources about what they should be doing to stay the course. However things can move into a "grey-area" of sorts quickly...what about race volunteers/marshals at CPs and their input "official"? Typically, it is assumed to be golden, but I think the real golden rule is always do what the written rules say, followed by any info direct from the RD, and the buck stops there. However, it is apparently easy for sleep-deprived racers to stumble into the trap that other seemingly-official folks who are clearly trying to be helpful (they always are) must have the official word.

I see this sort of mix up leading to RDs setting up their races without using outside contractors to avoid confusion or having to be very very clear with the racers pre-race (don't listen to "non-officials") and with those contractors that they are not to provide any race guidance to the team aside from what is required to support their specific tasks at the event.

May 22, 2016 7:18 AM # 
We got adjusted to 11th from what we felt was about an 18/20 worthy place. We did every f@§{} inch of the course, but are now ahead of teams that were way faster.

I want to stress two things, firstly there was the commercial part of the canyon, the top section that was marshalled. I could see this being dangerous at night, both from cold and injury in the waterfall chutes that you abseil down (they have had a fatality here). The Vf/abseil was after this section and then you had the long open part of the canyon. This part was not particularly dangerous, but very slow going at night as you had to pick s route and negotiate slippery rocks. We went from about 3km/h to 1km/ once it got dark. It was cold, but with wetsuit, sealskinz socks and neoprene gloves we were toasty in between the swims every 30 minutes or so. Every one should really have had sufficient equipment to handle this, but there were people in 2mm wetsuit, shorties and long johns who would have suffered-really felt for them.

I have family in the area (and have done the part of seconds section before) and had huge reservations about doing the commercial section at night. How could there not be a dark zone I thought leading into it? I think where the RD erred here was in not being able to design the course around this, and failing that not anticipating the options that teams took.

It is a real pity that it has come to this, I just hope that it doesn't drag out and take the gloss off what was a spectacular event. Be prepared for some amazing media
May 22, 2016 3:14 PM # 
It's always difficult when things are changed in a race, part way through the course. What has worked well before in ARWS events (Itera being a case in point) is where the race director has announced at the briefing that any official changes to the course will be conveyed in writing to team captains, and that the team captains have to sign their receipt and acknowledgement of the instruction in return. No written instruction = no change to the course. This means that all teams get the same instructions, and the signature means that there is no saying later on "but we didn't get told that".
May 26, 2016 9:56 AM # 
Controversy at the sharp end aside, this was a brilliant race.

My first experience inside a Kinetic Events race, all the rumours of first-class race organisation were found to be true. There were times when I wondered how it could be possible that I would see my bicycle or our kayaks again at the next transition, especially with so many rapid-fire transitions in the early stages, but everything was always there on time. The marshalls were friendly and helpful, it was easy to find out where to get maps and what the next steps were even in a sleep-deprived state, there was tea/coffee/hot choc at many transitions, the list goes on. And Heidi and Stephan personally popped up all over the place, even finding time to have a quick chat to teams like us who were essentially the last full course team.

The course itself was absolutely stunning - Stephan made great use of upriver paddle sections to get us inland into pristine areas from which to hike or bike out of. Highlights for me: the 20 hour big trek on the indigineous-forested Outeniqua trail, making the cutoff at the Plett Lagoon and being granted an hour's sleep and the best was discovering a little pub with a fireplace and pork fillet burgers on an icy night in the arid karoo on the long bike leg.

Our team was tested to the max, but we had a lots and lots of banter and laughter inbetween feeling sorry for ourselves and each other. We shared loads, shared clothes, shared mistakes, shared ridiculous thoughts and somehow made it to the spectacular finish arch complete with bonfire, bright lights, finisher's lounge, pizza, beer and hot chocolate!!!

In short, I can recommend this race!
May 26, 2016 7:51 PM # 
Sounds like FB's 5-star review. Glad you had such a great experience!
May 27, 2016 7:44 PM # 
The fact is I do not know Stephan and Heidi 'well', despite how it might appear with the amount of support I throw their way. I've done their EA race twice and had a few conversations with them.

You can learn a lot about race organizers very quickly and especially when the pressure is on. I was not at all surprised at how Stephan (and Heidi) handled the 'controversy' in this race and I would have been surprised and even disappointed if it had been handled any differently.

There are a number of good RD's and they all have their own personal agenda's and motivations. I think at the heart of it though, in order to be good at it year over year, you need to have both a love of the sport and an in depth knowledge of racing from both the racing AND organizing perspectives. Stephan and Heidi meet this criteria IMHO.

.... I'm not going to write a long piece here about all the crazy crap that has happened in the races over the years. That is simply the nature of our sport. Sometimes you are happy with the RD decisions and sometimes not.

An RD that has a clear vision of what his/her race is about and is able to execute that vision and make quick decisions without waffling is all I (we) can ask/hope for.
May 28, 2016 9:45 AM # 
Training log reports starting to come in with some great insight into what went down at the sharp end from nmulder (Cyanosis):

And my log from our experience in the midpack:
May 31, 2016 12:50 PM # 
Interesting read on nmulder's blog.
Jun 1, 2016 8:11 PM # 
Does anyone know the final results for EA 2016?
Jun 1, 2016 8:50 PM # 
Here are Stephan's final race notes, comments on penalties applied in the canyon and the final results released:

1. Expedition Africa (EA) 2016 route adjustments.
2. Team 39 Painted Wolf Featherbed complaint.
3. Canyon leg activities impact on leader board.
4. Apologies
5. Regrets
6. Final Results


Three routes were planned and formed part of the route for Expedition Africa 2016:
• Route 1 that was followed by the winning team and 31 other teams.
• Route 2 for teams who do not make cut off at T9
• Route 3 for teams who do not make cut off at T7
The winning time for Expedition Africa 2016 was predicted to be 74 hours, without sleep and 30 minute transitions.
Due to the water level being lower than anticipated on leg 10, and the canyon section proving to be slower than expected due to the cold. The race fell behind schedule by 11 hours to the predicted time schedule by the time teams arrived at T9.

Leg 16 and 17 were always planned, in case teams raced faster than predicted, however when we fell behind schedule at T9, Leg 16 and Leg 17 were removed for all the teams participating in EA 2016. The route was therefore shortened from 544 km to 490 km, which enabled the organisers to ensure all teams reached the finish line before Saturday sunrise, as originally planned.
Once we could calculate the real race time from T9 to finish we could extend the cut off at T9 (from 6h00 to 11h00) to ensure that a few more motivated teams could see more of the route.
We prepare a route that is flexible and changeable to be able to be adapted at any stage to ensure a successful event.

Expedition Africa is all about the positives in life. We do not use the words DID NOT FINISH, UNRANKED, SHORT COURSE, there is a space for all teams on our leader board, never mind the ability.

Expedition Africa route calculation is done with one principle in mind. A team that wants to get to the finish must have a reasonable chance to do so, so we use mathematical equations, that with the help of certain cut offs aids us to, via different routes redirect teams to the finish line.
These equations might be too complicated for some teams who would rather go back to the old days of AR were the majority of teams get cut at a certain point and are unable to finish the event. We will never go that way with Expedition Africa.

It is vital that a team’s average speed is sufficient to enable them to finish the intended route in the prescribed time. Cut offs placed at certain transition on route is an extremely important tool in regulating this average speed of movement and delivering a successful event.
A team who can’t make a cut off is moving to slow to finish the planned route. If we cut a team earlier their chances of crossing the finish line increases exponentially. Once we re-route a team, teams unfortunately are in a different race. So including making cut offs as part of your strategy is important for slower teams.

It is vital that teams make the cut offs, it is unfortunately possible that teams who misses some CP’s before a cut off (to make that cut off) will be ranked higher than teams who visited more CP’s before not making the cut off.

At EA 2016 one team on Route 3 found themselves in this unfortunate position: (missing the first cut)
1. Team Ok let’s go
At EA 2016 six teams on Route 2 found themselves in this unfortunate position: (missing the second cut)
1. Team Power bar Swiss Explorers
2. Team Addicted2 Adventure
3. Team 24h Meals Adventure
4. Team BRPM G-Frogz
5. Team Never Stop Performing Sports
6. Team Black Diamond
These above mentioned teams might feel that teams ranked above them should not be there, but unfortunately not making the cut off, means that, at their speed of movement they would have great difficulty in reaching the finish line.

If I have lost you now with my summary and calculations. Please just focus on the paragraph below.

To summarise: teams who want to be ranked “correctly” needs to tick five boxes. Complete the whole course as prescribed, make all cut off times, visit each Checkpoint, don’t lose a team member and cross the finish line before awards ceremony.

If you can’t, we will devise a route for you so that you are able to reach the finish line. If this system works for you, you are most welcome to sign up for Expedition Africa where we will offer you an event that is do-able with still enough adventure and sense of accomplishment.

See column below for predicted times by Race Director compared to times achieved in real time.
Note the arrival time at T9. Prior to all teams’ arrival at T9 the route was redirected to make it work.


Team 39 arrived at T6 and informed the marshal that CP17 (between T5 and T6) was not placed at the correct position. The team searched for the CP for 30 minutes, took a photo of the area and proceeded to T6, completed their transition at T6 and then moved on with leg 9 towards T7. (This procedure was followed correctly as per ARWS and EA rules).

At that stage the race director could not physically visit that remote CP to confirm its position, and therefore awaited the second team arrival at T6 to verify the missing checkpoint and the live tracking site to verify following teams movements. The time gap at T6 was 70 minutes between the two leading teams.
During this time the race director received a medical emergency call from Team 38 – Team Lunar Chicks for a member evacuation. By chance this was in the exact vicinity of CP17, where the race director was then able to physically verify the CP position. At T6 all following teams had verified that CP17 was indeed at the correct place, where it then became clear that Team 39 has made an error.
Contact was made with team 39 only at T9 (150km from the error). The team showed the race director their map of CP 17 location and that the CP was copied down in the incorrect location from the master map by the team. (Image of below)

The team was indeed to be penalised for their error.
The race director decided that the team would be penalised for plotting incorrectly and not missing a CP. The accusation of missing a CP means that a team had no intention of visiting a CP or could not navigate themselves correctly to the CP. Team 39 did neither of the above and it is clear that the distance they travelled to their plotted CP, instead of to the correct are, is nearly equal. The team’s tracks and actions did not suggest that their intention was to create an advantage for themselves; also the team followed all the rules regarding a “missed CP”.

The return cycle to T11 ventured teams past the vicinity of CP17. The race director estimated that if team 39 had to collect CP17 on route it will take the team 90 minutes extra. After calculating the search time for the missing CP and the 90 minutes added to their race time in order to collect the checkpoint, the race director expected the team would add approximately two hours to their final race time. At T9, team 39 were 7 hours ahead of the second team.

Team 39 were given the option of either collecting CP 17 out of order, or receive a 6 hours penalty for plotting the checkpoint incorrectly.

The team chose to visit CP 17 and produced that proof on their passport as they crossed the Expedition Africa 2016 finish line.

On Friday afternoon; 20 May 2016 an official written complaint was received and a hearing took place at 20h00 that night. The jury decided to support the race directors ruling at T9, declaring team 39 Featherbed Painted Wolf the winners of Expedition Africa 2016.

The race director believes that by making the team work harder and by adding distance to their race was a fairer decision than any other option available to him. Other teams and team members might feel that the Race Director was too lenient towards Team 39. Many teams was adamant that Team 39 must be disqualified. I feel that my decision was the best for EA and AR in general and I understand and accept that the feeling is not mutual.


The canyon section notes as per race book:
• Follow marked path from CP36 to CP37. Report to Abseil marshal at CP37.
• Team have to stay in canyon from CP37 - Abseil till CP38 - footpath out of canyon.
• Report to marshal at CP39. Collect via Ferrata gear at CP39. Follow marshal instructions
• Team have to stay in canyon from bottom of last abseil at CP 39 to CP40 – footpath out of canyon.

There was no dark zone for the canyon leg and it was clearly stated at briefing that teams must plan their racing strategy to arrive at the canyon entrance at a time they wish to enter it.

Teams arriving in the dark could sleep and then enter the canyon in daylight if they chose; however, the canyon was open at all times but would be extremely cold at night. The only way to collect a CP point, described as exit out of canyon, is to be in canyon. To collect CP 38 and CP40 (exit paths out canyon) teams had to be within the canyon.

To collect CP39 (via ferrata and abseil) teams had to abseil and via ferrata.
Teams can’t walk around top canyon, walk down the exit route in reverse direction and then visit CP38. They did not do the required work to lay claim to that CP.
Teams can’t collect CP39 without doing the abseil and Via Feratta. They did not do the required work to lay claim to that CP.
Teams can’t walk around bottom canyon, walk down the exit route in reverse direction and then visit CP40. They did not do the required work to lay claim to that CP.
This is especially true for teams who want to claim a top 10 position.

If any of the above should take place, teams would be gaining an extreme advantage over teams that followed the rules of the race booklet by completing the canyon section as instructed.

There is no mention of a time penalty in the race book, if teams avoided this section. This particular leg, as all other legs was compulsory. Should this particular leg be cancelled, the ropes and CP would have been removed. This was done so prior to Team 45 – Team Kuwait arrival (the first team to be redirected at the top canyon after it was officially closed and when access were not allowed)
Upon scrutinising the results, it became apparent that top teams missed important parts of the race course. CP 37 and CP 38 was then deducted from their passports because they did not do the work required to claim these CP’s

Top Teams who were severely affected by this:
• Team 37 – Team Cyanosis AR
• Team 21 – Team Naturex
• Team 26 – Team Averne Outdoor
• Team 40 – Team Sportson Skovde Adventure
• Team 7 – Team Issy Adventure
• Team 31 - Team Olympus

A. Canyon leg activities impact on leader board - sequence of events:
• Tuesday/Wednesday: Race director received messages from the canyon service provider, notifying him that some teams did not wish to do all sections of the canyon due to the cold or other reasons. The race director, being in a different area at the time and believing that these were the slower teams at the back, issued instructions for the service provider, that teams can’t be forced to do anything they do not wish to do, but to ensure detailed notes of all activities regarding the canyon section are taking, in case the race director need to work out penalties at a later stage in case of teams creating a benefit for themselves of them opting out on parts of the course.
• Friday: Race director receives canyon service provider report regarding the canyon section, showcasing each teams actions and times reaching the relevant sections. Unfortunately due to the race directors attendance and attention on the official complaint regarding team 39 and CP17, he was not able to scrutinise the below document until Saturday.

Friday: A press release was issued regarding the time penalties missed within the canyon section. These penalties was based on information before race director realised the actions of teams 37, 21, 26, 40, 7 and 31 will have on the race outcome (These penalties were later cancelled, when the race director realised the severity of some of the team’s actions and the number of complaints he received.)
• Friday: During the CP17 hearing, a complaint was raised regarding teams bypassing abseil CP39 and the top canyon section and gaining an advantage. This complaint was dismissed due to a different matter than what the hearing was called for. The complainant was instructed to lodge a written complaint regarding the matter if they still wished to do so after hearing.
• Saturday: The race director received three written complaints regarding team’s activities within the canyon section.
• Saturday: During the community project the race director received 10 verbal complaints regarding team’s activities within the canyon section.
• Saturday: The Race director studied the impact of the team activities within the canyon section, and the impact these teams had on the leader board. The race director came to the conclusion that the results as they stood, lacked integrity and therefore severe adjustments were made to the leader board. This process was only is completed 10 min prior to the awards ceremony. Due to such time restraints, a consultation was not possible between the race director and the affected teams.

B. General comments:

• There are no time bonuses to teams waiting for any rope work sections at any EA. Teams that race for a top ranking have to ensure that their racing strategy is sufficient, in order to arrive at such an activity before a rival team.
• 44 teams reported to the top canyon CP37, 39 teams entered the top canyon section. The five teams that did not enter the canyon arrived there at night. Instead of sleeping they walk around to avoid losing time on the leading teams. The canyon was closed before the 45th team arrived by removing CP37 and placing a marshal at CP36 to redirect teams
• The five affected teams are blaming the canyon service provider staff for redirecting them. However at no stage did this staff member cancel the canyon section. The abseil ropes were not removed, and was in clear sight to the teams arriving at this section. I was not present at this conversation, so I cannot determine what the sequence of this conversation was.
• Teams that received such instructions (which clearly contradict the stipulated rules and regulations in the race book) regarding race route change and wished to continue without any penalties should have contacted the race director, before bypassing the canyon section.
• 44 teams arrived at CP 39 – via-ferrata and abseil. Four top teams walked down because they did not want to be held up by team on via ferrata or other unknown reasons.
• 13 slower teams missed the abseil and bottom canyon to avoid being cut off at T9.
• The race director sadly noted however, that the captains representing most of the teams who avoided the top section of the canyon were the most vocal during the CP17 - Team Featherbed Painted Wolf saga. These captains tried to influence the race director to disqualify team CP39, while they themselves did not complete very important sections of the race course.
• it is not likely that a team who walked around the canyon section and not through, were unaware of their advantage.
• during daylight the top canyon section took teams an hour, therefore taking a team two hours or more at night. The physical strain of staying inside the canyon, compared to walking around is immense and can’t be calculated correctly.
• Re-entering the canyon in a reverse direction to collect a CP, and marks the completion of the canyon is not fair play and not the correct route choice. Study the diagram below and see for yourself the huge advantage a team would have, if they walk around and re-enter the canyon the visit CP 38

The following action was taken at the awards ceremony on all teams whom missed the relevant checkpoints within the canyon section:
• Teams who avoided to enter top canyon can’t claim CP38 – exit out of canyon.
• Teams who avoided completing via-feratta and abseil can’t claim CP39
• Teams who avoided entering the bottom canyon can’t claim CP40 – exit out of canyon.

After careful consideration and THE FACT THAT I WAS NOT PRESENT DURING THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE CANYON SERVICE PROVIDER STAFF MEMBER AND AFFECTED TEAMS, I have decided to enforce the following time adjustments. I do take full responsibility for all communication directed to teams by any course staff. If any miss-communication did occur, I failed in briefing the staff correctly.
1. Teams who did not enter the top canyon will still be awarded CP38, but 5 hours will be added to their finishing time to compensate the other teams who endured the physical and mental strain in the canyon.
2. Teams who did not do the via ferratta and abseil will still be awarded CP39, but 2 hours will be added to their finishing time to compensate the other teams who endured the physical and mental strain of the rope section.
3. Teams who did not enter the bottom canyon will not be awarded CP40, to compensate the other teams who endured the physical and mental strain in the canyon.

• Accusing teams and individual team members of cheating
• Not ensuring that all route officials were briefed correctly by me, to enable them in turn to brief teams to take the correct actions.

• Taking the attention away from the video and photo teams of all their hard work and what they achieved during the week during the video and photo productions at prize giving.
• Ending my co-director and wife superbly organised prize giving in a less than desired way by announcing the final positions of teams that led to an a controversial ending.


1. Featherbed
2. Merrell Adventure Addicts
3. Sweco Adventure
4. Raid Gallaecia Fridama
5. Cyanosis Adventure Racing
6. Naturex
7. Keyhealth Jabberwock
8. Sportson Skovde Adventure
9. Issy Aventure Absolu Raid 2
10. Arverne Outdoor
11. Olympus
12. Merrell Mentors
13. Pennypinchers AR
14. Namaqua
15. Checkpoint Zero
16. Wizards of Oz
17. Rustproof
18. Castle Lite
19. Sugar Monsters
20. Plett Adventure Racing
21. That's Cray
22. Dar Dingle
23. Gone Racing
24. Antimatter
25. After Work Athletes
26. Parallel
27. Cameltoes
28. Atlas
29. Gung Ho
30. Powerbar Swiss Explorers
32. 24H Meals Adventure
33. BRPM G-Frogz
34. Never Stop Performing Sports
35. Black Diamond
36. DashxRSS
37. Kokoro 20X
38. Psychosis
39. Kuwait Extreme Team
40. Bloed en Omo
41. 3 Dutchmen and a Lady
42. Khombisa Crawlers
43. OK Let's Go
44. Tumbleweeds
45. Lunar Chicks
46. Royal Air Force
47. Lickety Split
48. Ride2Nowhere
49. Even Lions Pray
50. Charnas
51. San Juan Aventura
52. XS
53. Head over Hills
Jun 2, 2016 1:04 PM # 
Wow. I feel sorry for the RDs, who worked really hard on a spectacular event. There is no perfect way to resolve this, now that it's happened. There are changes they could make to prevent some of these problems in the future.

For those interested in the canyon issue, check out Nmulder's report. Amongst other things, Cyanosis went to the RD post-race to report their time advantage due to skipping part of the canyon.
Jun 2, 2016 3:11 PM # 
Wow x 2! I give full credit to the RDs for taking so much time to make their position clear - love it or hate it. We should all be so lucky to do events where this much passion and care is put in. No wonder FB has such praise of Exp. Africa race organizers.

Armchair comments:

1) Minimize / eliminate remote or unmanned CPs. These always seem to be the ones which cause the problems and many times, are not even necessary in my opinion. Admittedly, I'm biased towards racecourses with less CPs overall to allow for more route creativity.

2) Mimic James Thurlow's protocol of submitting course changes in writing to teams, requiring a signature of reception and comprehension. This works to create more clarity for foreign language teams, too, as 'no written submission = no course change'.

3) Pre-Plot the racecourse CPs and TAs on the maps the competitors receive. I know that it isn't always possible but this eliminates so many problems that can happen. UTM point plotting just adds to the pre-race stresses and allows teams to focus on more important things.
Jun 2, 2016 4:08 PM # 
Thanks for the info Stijn! It looked like an absolutely spectacular course. I too however share the sympathies for the Muller's. Some really tricky decisions to have to make with, by the sounds of it, very little time to do it in!
Jun 2, 2016 9:30 PM # 
Wow great write up thanks!

Painted Wolf were very very fortunate to have a RD with the inclusive approach for all teams. And I commend the approach of route 1,2,3 etc..

Still the penalty was a bit lame IMO for a top team making a schoolboy error. It was sheer luck that it was CP17 and 'easily' accessible as the course doubled back on it. I'm sure some of the short course teams were not as lucky and understandably a complaint was raised.

Kudos for sorting it out though!
Jun 2, 2016 10:53 PM # 
One thing I'm not keen on... According to the RD above, if you skip a few CPs to make a cut-off, you're allowed to continue on Route 1 and be ranked ahead of teams who visited all the CPs but missed the cut-off to stay on Route 1. With a system like that, ranking seems a little random. @Racers who were there: In a situation like that, is there a fixed time penalty for each missed CP?
Jun 3, 2016 12:25 AM # 
My experience has been that there are penalties for missed CP's. We had to drop a couple of CP's last year in Swaziland because there was some new immigration rule between SA and Swazi and we were afraid my daughter would be 'stuck' in Swazi!!

We dropped 2 of last 4 cp's so I could make the consulate before closing (that was a $hitty 2 hours sitting in a wait room!!) and were pushed back behind teams that finished a day later.... No qualms here.

IMHO (again I don't know Stephan (& Heidi) well) s/he is motivated by a love of the sport... if they feel your motives are 'true' they will work with you as best they can... if they feel you have played something to your advantage and your motives are "false" there will be little sympathy. Also due to the way EA hands out maps... it is quite possible that when P.W. missed the CP they did not even have the maps showing the latter part of the course.... lucky indeed that the course went back so close to it?!
Jun 3, 2016 2:51 AM # 
Thanks, FB. Your situation sounds more like what I would expect. If I miss mandatory CPs, I expect to be ranked behind teams that visit them, all else being equal.

You're right - when PW missed CP17, they did not yet have the map for the leg where they made the detour to pick up the CP. Even if they had the map, it wouldn't have been advantageous to plan to pick up the CP later.
Jun 3, 2016 4:29 AM # 
I respect the process and I respect the RD's. That's not to say that if I were on Merrell I would not have had something to say about P.W's missed cp, or maybe made a complaint. It's a $hitty situation. It may have been Merrell who registered a grievance, I have no idea? I have not seen anything negative from Merrell with respect to this issue (but I have not been looking) and I have great respect for that.
Even if Merrell did file a grievance (which would be legit), they appear to have accepted the result and again, I commend that.

.. perhaps, aside from a handful of AP'ers, it's already forgotten ;-)
Jun 3, 2016 5:20 AM # 
We *had* forgotten it until Stephan released that lengthy post-race statement yesterday!

Merrell didn't file the protest; it came from other top teams. As the second place team, Merrell still won guaranteed entry to ARWC but they didn't get their entry fee paid. Depending on their sponsorship deal, maybe the fee doesn't matter to them. I expect the bigger reason they didn't protest was their friendship with the RDs and Painted Wolf.

EDIT: I thought I'd read which team lodged the official complaint but I can't find it now so maybe Merrell was part of it.
Jun 3, 2016 5:43 AM # 
I commend Stephan's approach to ensuring that all teams get the best possible experience out of their expedition races and it's been part of the way they do things for some time now. Essentially, they are the reason the sport has grown so much in SA over the last few years and it's all because of touches like this to encourage teams rather than force them off the course after day 1.

However, the purist in me would still like to see the teams that fought tooth and nail to cover every inch of the full course to be given recognition of that fact. As it stands, only 12 of the 29 teams originally listed under course 1 managed to do this. The remainder missed some sections, from the sections Stephan has already dealt with to the 10 teams that bypassed the entire bottom section of the canyon (6-8h of cold which took a significant toll on those teams that did it). Yes, the canyon had been officially closed when most of them got there, but then they shouldn't be claiming a full course finish. It cheapens the achievement. Ultimately, I suppose it's up to individual teams and what they claim about their race over and above how the RD puts together the ranking.

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