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Discussion: Expedition Africa 2017 - Cape St Francis - 14 to 21 May

in: Adventure Racing; General

Apr 28, 2017 11:42 AM # 
Starting at the coastal holiday town of Cape St Francis on the south coast of South Africa, the route takes teams into the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area. It's basically a huge inland mountainous reserve with only one road through the middle of a valley running East-West, suitable for 4x4 only.

Plenty of wildlife, no people in the reserve itself and very few on the surrounding farmland. Other than the thru-road, nobody ever ventures into that area. The coastline to the south of the reserve is very rugged and cliffy. A couple of rivers cut their way from the mountains to the sea.

Race director Stephan Muller has revealed very little of the route but we know the following:
500km+, approximately 10 transitions and <50 CP's.
Approx 300km cycling, 130 on foot and 70 kayak
A hike of approx 60km in there somewhere
A dark zone of 12 hours in an area where buffalo and other large wildlife roam - they don't want teams moving at night in that area.
An "airhorn" is a compulsory piece of team kit
More variety of terrain than any previous edition of EA
More remoteness, more wilderness - the most remote EA to date
There will be an entertaining piece of ropework

A decent field of 39 teams has entered
May 14, 2017 9:14 AM # 
Sea Kayak cancelled due to weather.
May 14, 2017 10:52 AM # 
Right lets be having this!! Best of luck to all racing and of course to our teammate Kate on loan to Raidlight Tumbleweeds at the moment.
May 14, 2017 11:40 AM # 
Some dark zone scenarios:

Lead teams are likely to reach the start of the dark zone trek (T5) at about 8 or 9pm tonight. From there it's a 9km trek to CP17, which they can only move past at 4am. So I'd expect them to take a good 5 or 6 hours of comfy sleep at T5 and get going again by 2am. So there will be a major compression of the field at T5, with probably the top half of the field "restarting" together at around 2am.

They then have until about 17:30 to cover 52-53km of rough trekking and get past CP21 before the dark zone is enforced again, which should be quite manageable for the front half of the field. However, with a best time estimate of 12 hours on this leg (say 10 to 11 hours to CP21), teams need to move it and can't afford any major nav errors if they want to avoid being darkzoned for a second time!

Slower teams that get through to T5 and CP17 after 4am won't be darkzoned tonight, but will likely struggle to get past CP21 before tomorrow night's dark zone so will spend a full 12 hours camping out in the Baviaanskloof wilderness, next to a roaring fire, I would hope :)
May 14, 2017 9:15 PM # 
Thanks Stijn. Hope they brought marshmallows then :-) You would imagine the top half of teams would have a good chance of making CP21 with a good sleep in the tank. Should be quick enough with the 2 bikes back down to the coast so there might be a tight finish to this one.

Glad to see Raidlight Tumbleweeds picking up a bit and gained a couple of places in the last 2 hours. I wonder if they will stop in the town for some food. I'd love to be out there with them. The other Irish Team (fully Irish) is DAR Dingle and they are motoring on the bike moving up to the top 10.

I always root for Japanese teams and I'm rooting for East Wind here.
May 15, 2017 1:26 PM # 
Skylotec Adventure where serenaded into Transition 6 and are now on their 97km cycle through to Transition 7. The team were chased by two buffalo, however a roaming vehicle intercepted the charge.

Thunderbolt, East Wind, Nevarest Jabberwock, Nantes Adventure and Olympus are all through the 'dark zone' and are making their way through to Transition 6.
May 15, 2017 1:30 PM # 
Top 6 teams have cleared the darkzone, Skylotec, EastWind, Thunderbolt, Jabberwock, Nantes & Olympus.

Then a big race for positions 7th all the way down to 20th to see who can make it. Super human effort required for any teams after that. Just on 2hrs left to go!
May 15, 2017 4:53 PM # 
I thought that one of the initial sleepmonsters articles did the field a bit of disservice. No, it's not as deep with top ARWC teams as some events are in the ARWS, but three teams in particular stand out to me (not including the strong local teams):

-East Wind: for obvious reasons
-Skylotec: it's a conglomeration of some of the best Swedish racers including athletes from Peak, which was up in the top 10 or so when active.
-Thunderbolt AR: these guys used to race as Adventurejunkies, one of the top teams in Australia. Finished 7th last year at ARWC.

I'd say that's some top-level talent! And maybe there's more I'm not all that familiar with. Should be fun watching these teams and Jabberwock battle it out. Looks like these four teams have broken free for now from the field.
May 16, 2017 9:52 AM # 
Wow Skylotec are chasing Thunderbolt hard on the water! East Wind not far behind. The lead could change again on the next beach trek or most likely on the next long bike. If any of the chase pack have gas in the tank for that bike it could make the race very interesting on the last trek to the finish.

Irish Interest
Good to see Raidlight Tumbleweed making good progress to CP21 and should be on the bike in a few hours. I know Kate will be loving running across that ridge in the sunshine. DAR Dingle seemed to have a problem with the river crossing but moving again
May 17, 2017 10:14 AM # 
If Thunderbolt are not careful here they could slip to 4th with East Wind and Jabberwock on their tail. From an Irish POV happy to see Misadventures on the last Bike, DAR Dingle practically at TA10 and Raidlight Tumbleweeds on the last Paddle... all looking good to complete the course
May 17, 2017 11:39 PM # 
I haven't been following this one too closely after the exhausting RG, but it sure looks like the wheels came off for East Wind:( Bummed for them!
May 18, 2017 3:31 AM # 
They went exploring. :(
May 18, 2017 4:19 AM # 
And more.
May 18, 2017 11:12 AM # 
Ouch EAST WIND finished 6th. That last trek must have been some sort of nightmare for them! Brill that they kept going! A good few teams on the dunes now to battle for the top 10. Irish team Misadventures currently 10th but have taken the same wrong turn many of the front teams took
May 24, 2017 5:37 AM # 
Wow, that was a great race. Heidi and Stephan have taken it to the next level in terms of racer enjoyment.
The course was brilliant, nicely balanced with each discipline getting the right amount of distance, difficulty and nav challenges.
The logistics was flawless, everything was where it needed to be in time.
The best for me was that the transitions were fully stocked with local produce, particularly citrus and dairy products. First Choice really came to the party with everything from custard to protein enriched milkshakes - yummy, I must have had 20 of those!
Highlights: the canyon, the hardcore second cycling leg, the abseil to downriver paddle under the moon, the long third cycle and the final coastal hike which turned into a "sprint" finish for most mid pack teams including us. Very exciting!
The after party lasted until 4am...
May 24, 2017 2:00 PM # 
Sounds wonderful. Congratulations! :)

This discussion thread is closed.