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Discussion: 2024 Expedition Ozark

in: Adventure Racing; General

Feb 27, 2024 7:50 PM # 
The field is set (and it's strong):

Orange Lederhosen - (4P) USA
Perfect Strangers - (4P) USA
Old Shoes - (2P) USA
Dark Zone Podcast / NYARA - (4P) USA
Vertical Bay AR - (4P) Australia
One80 - (4P) USA
Nebraska Unplugged - (4P) USA
Tanz Navigation - (4P) USA
Strong Machine AR - (4P) USA
Adventure Enablers/Enabled Tracking - (3P) USA
Misguided - (4P) USA
Trendsetting Models - (2P) USA
Food 1st Fitness - (4P) USA
R2R - (4P) USA
Estonian ACE Adventure - (4P) Estonia
Kawri Altiplano - (2P) Ecuador
Kansas Mountain Rescue - (3P) USA
Travelers - (4P) USA
Andes Racing Ecuador - (4P) Ecuador
Brazil Multisport - (4P) Brazil
Silent Ribwhackers - (4P) USA
Dutchables Duo - (2P) Holland
SAFAT - (4P) Sweden
Bones USA - (4P) USA
Bones Canada - (4P) Canada
Team BOR DHT - (2P) USA
Hard Fast and From Behind - (2P) USA
Team Natural State - (4P) USA
Fear Youth - (4P) New Zealand
Bend Racing - (4P) USA
Feb 28, 2024 2:53 PM # 
Feb 28, 2024 3:07 PM # 
Best team name: Silent Ribwhackers.
Feb 28, 2024 7:34 PM # 
Is there a competitor list for each team somewhere?
Apr 4, 2024 10:21 PM # 
Link to the schematic:

Getting caught up on all things EO to prep for dot watching. What a field!
Apr 4, 2024 10:23 PM # 
This tracking link has all the teams and the competitors on each team:
Apr 5, 2024 2:30 AM # 
Thanks, W4J!
Apr 8, 2024 1:25 PM # 
I have several contacts on the ground at EO if anyone is looking for any specific info during the race. Should be a good one! It starts right after a viewing party for the total eclipse, which actually caused some issues for race logistics. the RDs were concerned about traffic getting to the start so the buses left at 6 a.m. this morning, despite the start not expected until 3 p.m. And the length of the first leg was dictated by concerns about traffic caused by the thousands of visitors expected in Arkansas for the event.
Apr 8, 2024 2:22 PM # 
Teams boarded buses to the mystery start line at 6am this morning. They had no idea where the race began as neither the race maps nor the race book had been supplied. There is only one thing that they could be certain of: it was going to be a start like no other.

Why, you ask?

Because it's been precisely scheduled to coincide with the totality eclipse of the sun, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for some. We all know how the hardest part of any expedition race is getting to the start line; trying to schedule it precisely with a global astronomical event is next level!

Fortunately, or could that be 'unfortunately', everyone within driving distance has had the same idea: get to the best place (which happens to be Arkansas) for a viewing. This has led the state governor to issue a State of Emergency(!) due to the massive influx of tourists, news agencies warning of food shortages and major traffic jams, and a few doomsayers thrown in for good measure!

Fortunately the RDs planned ahead, leaving plenty of time to get to the start, and surprisingly, the roads are NOT congested en route. This will leave the teams with a few hours to pour over the race book and maps (for the opening trek - maps will be supplied stage by stage), with an expected blowing of the horn at approximately 2:15pm local time, as the eclipse wanes.

So the teams will get twilight, followed by some hours of daylight, and then shortly back to real dusk. Epic.
Apr 8, 2024 5:30 PM # 
Racer Book is posted now:
Apr 8, 2024 5:59 PM # 
Headlamps on for route planning at 1:30 in the afternoon? Sure, that seems fine.
Apr 8, 2024 6:27 PM # 
Full eclipse should be about upon them now.
Apr 8, 2024 7:05 PM # 
They have started and dots are moving
Apr 8, 2024 10:58 PM # 
First stage maps are viewable on Sleep Monsters FB page
Apr 9, 2024 12:56 AM # 
So, here comes enduring darkness instead of that measly 4 min dark blip earlier. :)
Apr 10, 2024 7:31 PM # 
Pretty straightforward race so far. Anyone have any update on Silent Ribwhackers? They've gone noncompetitive.
Apr 10, 2024 8:01 PM # 
I've been wondering the same thing and trying to watch the live feed at TA3/4 to see who might still be racing or who might not be racing for them. Unfortunately, it's very hard to tell much. It SEEMS that Rachel is still busy with race tasks and wearing her kit. I think I saw Erik before they went out on the trek. Other than that, I'm not sure I've even seen Garrison or Kevin.
Apr 10, 2024 8:02 PM # 
Oh, and it's raining there again. Good time to have on your drysuit.
Apr 10, 2024 8:05 PM # 
I think the ribwhackers are the team on screen right now collecting their boats...and there are four of them.
Apr 10, 2024 8:07 PM # 
...but one of those is just in a rain coat and not really prepping to leave. Hmmm.
Apr 10, 2024 8:10 PM # 
Very hard to be sure, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Rachel and Garrison are still racing. Maybe it's Kevin who's pulled out? Just so hard to tell.
Apr 10, 2024 8:20 PM # 
Andes Racing has just jumped over both Bones and FEAR Youth during this trek section, I think, to claim 4th position and is already back on the water.

EDIT: They passed both of them during the prior bike leg.
Apr 10, 2024 9:05 PM # 
The two Bones teams will get a chance to high five in TA3/4 with one coming and the other going.
Apr 10, 2024 9:18 PM # 
Ribwhackers: Recently posted videos on FB or Instagram show a single paddler in a black tandem packraft in roughly the same footage as a boat that I'm pretty certain has Rachel and Garrison in it. Not clear who the single paddler is, though. So, I'm confident in saying that someone withdrew from the race and I hope that they are okay.
Apr 10, 2024 9:21 PM # 
Hmmm...Just noticed that Swedish Armed Forces (SAFAT) was expected at this race at some point. Wonder what happened with that?
Apr 10, 2024 10:15 PM # 
It's really dumping rain at TA 3/4 now...I'd be seriously considering keeping the drysuits on for the trek/ropes course if I arrived now.
Apr 11, 2024 12:28 AM # 
I wonder how long it takes for a heavy rain to increase the flow of the river and if later teams that are racing (paddling hard) will make better time on the river than earlier / lead teams both due the faster flow and due to higher water levels that reduce the need to pick clean lines to avoid bumping their butts over rocks in the shallows.
Apr 11, 2024 12:50 AM # 
Confirmed on FB via Adventure Enablers that Kevin is the Ribwhacker who dropped out overnight.
Apr 11, 2024 1:44 AM # 
Okay, glewis. Thanks for digging a bit. Would never have seen that myself since that post is so many hours old. Bummer for Kevin.
Apr 11, 2024 2:08 AM # 
FEAR Youth is closing the gap on Andes Racing on the paddle. Might be able to pass them before the TA.
Apr 11, 2024 2:31 AM # 
Geofencing just punched Estonian ACE at a CP on the next trek leg as they went by on bikes on the road above it. I'm sure it'll get fixed later, but this sort of geofencing mispunch is why the live leaderboard always needs to be examined with caution. It'll likely lead to dot-watching consternation / confusion with regard to later teams that have skipped some number of pro points, are physically close to one another on the course or take the route around the North side of the reservoir.
Apr 11, 2024 3:35 AM # 
Looks like Estonia is bagging a bit of sleep before setting out on the long and steep O' course.
Apr 11, 2024 4:42 AM # 
Brazil is just about to bomb down the last BIG hill into the TA where Estonia has been apparently sleeping and may still be sleeping. Of course, their sleep will be a powerful advantage for executing this O' course in the dark over the remainder of the night. Brazil might be a quite encouraged to see them, but that'll wear off, and they might struggle out there if they don't sleep themselves.
Apr 11, 2024 5:00 AM # 
Holy smokes, it looks like Brazil arrived only a few minutes after Estonia left the TA on foot. Or maybe Estonia bolted as soon as Brazil arrived?

If the TA staff have been coached as is typical in ARWS races, they are not allowed to say anything to Brazil about when Estonia arrived, left, etc. Aside from direct observation, the only source of info for them will be a written log where the marshals note arrival time and maybe, but not always, departure time of each team. Of course there may be other signs, like race media folks being around or, in particular for Estonia, Rain's wife Ethel, who is their team media guru, may still be lurking about...who knows what Brazil might infer from that if they didn't see Estonia directly.
Apr 11, 2024 2:36 PM # 
Conman - I imagine that Brazil has the info from the sign-in sheets in TA, which would give them a time stamp.
Apr 11, 2024 2:37 PM # 
Also, big news this morning on FB is that Andes is retired after a bike crash that required a trip to a doctor.
Apr 11, 2024 3:39 PM # 
Super bummed about this outcome for Felipe and team. Hope he's mostly okay and heals quickly.
Apr 11, 2024 4:06 PM # 
They finally posted PDFs of all the maps! : Map Link

The race for 3rd place is tightening up, going to be fun to watch.
Apr 11, 2024 4:06 PM # 
Whoa, first major Nav. headscratcher (for me) going on right now: Estonia has ridden off the roads up on to a plateau that overlooks the out-of-bounds highway from the South, bypassing (apparently) the only acceptable crossing point in the area. I can't even figure out what route they might be trying to piece together...this way involves LOTS of up and down without roads.
Apr 11, 2024 4:11 PM # 
Looking at the racer maps (#20), the area of the acceptable highway crossing is quite hard to see clearly (obscured by a weird yellow pac-man thing and an additional highway number marker) and I wonder if the abbreviated language used to describe things "Caution HWY Bike" is hard to understand for folks not from the US. What does this tell you if you don't understand that HWY is short for highway? And what if you interpret caution to mean "don't go here"?
Apr 11, 2024 4:20 PM # 
Fair points, the yellow blob makes it difficult to see that the road is continuous.

Estonia is back on track from their brief offroad adventure
Apr 11, 2024 4:34 PM # 
Yes, good to see they corrected. I wonder if the details of this intersection/crossing are even harder to see on the printed maps, which could be a bit blurry for small details compared to what we can see digitally.
Apr 11, 2024 4:39 PM # 
I guess the sleepmonsters are out in force around the Nebraska Unplugged has taken a wrong turn out onto a dead end overlooking their goal. Maybe they want photos? Maybe they intend to bushwhack down? Maybe they got blown that way by the strong winds?
Apr 11, 2024 5:33 PM # 
Looks like Sophie from FEAR Youth has wrecked feet. They just returned to TA7 on the live feed and she was without pack and hobbling pretty severely. I hope there's an option for some quality foot care before they head on out bikes so that her feet can do some healing during the pedal, followed by paddle and before they attempt (maybe they won't do it b/c of her feet?) the big portage on the paddle stage.
Apr 11, 2024 5:56 PM # 
From EO post just a few minutes ago: "Due to time constraints, the race directors have decided to pull CP7-02. While reasonable in light of the delays caused by the slow pace and inclement weather, it's still a pity as that CP would have challenged the teams with tough route choices."
Apr 11, 2024 6:21 PM # 
That's a bummer CP07-02 was pulled. Seemed like the last major navigation choice to potentially confuse the sleep deprived teams.

Barring any major issues, looks like Estonia has 1st in the bag.
Apr 11, 2024 7:16 PM # 
The Dutchables Duo is the first team to choose the route around the North side of the lake on their bikes, saving a fairly large amount of vert in exchange for considerable increase in distance.
Apr 11, 2024 8:35 PM # 
Does anyone know is the Estonian team has slept at all yet? seems like that would have had to but I havent noticed it if they did (as of 4/11 3:30 central time)
Apr 11, 2024 8:48 PM # 
I think I've figured out what was going on for Estonia on their little bobble on the stage 8 bike just after CP 6-03:

When they came to the road intersection at "Drake's Creek" in the real world, it may have appeared that they had reached the next intersection of Route 295 and AR-74. This is especially easy to do if their map was not rotated correctly or they were sleepy and didn't very carefully observe all the small road changes between the CP and the intersection where they were. If this error (let's call it an "orthogonal feature error") were not noticed, one would proceed to turn right, go a few hundred meters and then begin looking left for a road that continues the planned route. If not paying attention to a compass you'd miss that looking left at that point is actually East, when you want to be heading North off the road you think you are on. When you find a road or path of some sort in that direction, you could easily fall into the trap of believing that you've found the route you wanted to find (confirmation error) and proceed in that direction without much further thought...until you start to think that maybe the features your were expecting to find along the route aren't there and maybe you're just not paying enough attention. So you trudge on trying to be more attentive while still believing you're probably going the right way. This kind of over-confidence sometimes leads to lack of trust in the compass or the quality of the map (or both) and can lead you quite a ways astray until eventually, your better self wakes up and rings a bell inside your head to tell you that you've messed up and need to stop to analyze and relocate. Everyone who wears the navigator hat has these moments, it's just that folks like Timmo make them much less often than the rest of us mortals.

They are fortunate this happened in daylight. At night, the relocation process can be maddeningly difficult.
Apr 11, 2024 8:50 PM # 
Can't say for sure about their sleep quantity, but I think there have been a couple different sleeps including one of an hour or so during the last trek / O' course. Maybe they have about 3-4 hours total so far?
Apr 11, 2024 8:52 PM # 
Thanks Conman. Wondering if thats enough to keep them going. I imagine they are starting to smell the finish line
Apr 11, 2024 9:09 PM # 
Here's Silver at TA8 with a very lucid account of the last day including, right at the end, their sleep at TA6:
Apr 12, 2024 2:34 AM # 
Estonia went for the portage on the last paddle but now they seem to be doubling back to the river. Wondering what’s going on there. That move puts Brazil only ~2 hours behind them now!
Apr 12, 2024 2:42 AM # 
It looks like they took the wrong leg of the "loop" trail the comes down to the creek. Not yet clear if they are going to discover the other leg that heads up closer to the road.
Apr 12, 2024 2:59 AM # 
I can hear them in my head: "Screw this!" (in Estonian)
Apr 12, 2024 4:43 PM # 
Top four have finished:

1. Estonian ACE (Estonia)
2. Brazil Multisport (Brazil)
3T. Bend Racing (USA)
3T. FEAR Youth (New Zealand)

Many other teams are still out there pushing to the finish line, but it'll be a few hours before any others reach it.

Of note just now is that Strong Machine has opted to stay the full course and is headed to TA8 even though time is winding down (25+ hours of racing remain) and several other teams in their vicinity have opted to skip TA8 & TA9 and are headed to the finish directly from TA7.
Apr 12, 2024 6:06 PM # 
@Conman and others...

Can anyone find documentation about how those who finish the last paddle rank vs those who do not? We've noticed that Strong Machine will have less points than TanZ (and I believe Natural State), but will have done an extra leg.
Apr 12, 2024 6:19 PM # 
Team bones has clearly stopped at the take-out for the short-cut portage that only FEAR Youth has been able to pull off so far. Probably either considering if it's worth it, scouting it, or deflating and packing up to give it a go.
Apr 12, 2024 6:32 PM # 
There is nothing that I've seen from EO that lays out the ranking priority. I suspect they will fall back on the usual ARWS generic rule set and work with Wayne Leek (referee for this race) to determine the rankings. My belief is that process will put any team that punches all mandatories (non-PRO points) ahead of those who don't. For those with all mandatories, ranking is usually by total points, then time.

With SM taking the TA8/9 route and assuming they have all the mandatories (do they?) they would seem to have an advantage in terms of being able to pick up PRO points that others, who must by rule head straight from TA7 to finish, will not. However, I guess it's possible that SM missed too many earlier PRO points and another team could out-rank them without taking the 8/9 route. Do you really see the latter scenario even being probable?
Apr 12, 2024 6:48 PM # 
I can't make a firm evaluation (too lazy to dig into the timing and tracking details), but it does seem that TanZ has bagged nearly all (maybe they missed one?) the PRO points up through TA7, whereas SM appears to have skipped all of them at the two foot O' courses (Byrd's and Fort Smith SP). There aren't enough additional points on the TA8/9 route to make up for those that SM skipped earlier in the race, so I think TanZ will earn a higher spot in the rankings. Natural State seems to have skipped fewer, but still too many, prior PRO points than SM to stay ahead of SM in the end.
Apr 12, 2024 7:18 PM # 
Not that the above evaluation is definitive, but it does make me think about if this is a fair ranking process. It's worth noting that teams know distances, climb, and number of CPs of both types on each stage of the entire race from the "racer book" that they all received with their first set of maps. They do not know the route details of the course beyond the stage they are currently on because maps are given out at each TA.

Given this info, I think that the usual ranking by total points, then time is unfair because teams do not have all of the details necessary to make informed choices about which PRO CPs to skip early in the race without all the maps that lay out how difficult those CP's might be for their team or others to collect. We'll see how it plays out, but that's my opinion.
Apr 12, 2024 7:21 PM # 
In other news, it seems Bones has successfully bush-bashed (off-trail) up to the road that will lead them back toward TA9. I wonder how hammered they are feeling after that effort though?
Apr 12, 2024 8:03 PM # 
Another wrinkle in the ranking discussion is that the Race Book says all CPs on the Mulberry Trek (O' / ropes course) are mandatory. If SM skipped a bunch of them, what does that mean for their placement?
Apr 12, 2024 9:52 PM # 
Glad I gave you something to think about! I'm getting the sense that someone could argue in favor of one team or another based on their allegiance, which is probably not the best way to handle ARWS rankings. Like you referenced a few posts up, I'm not a fan of teams needing to make decisions about dropping points without having seen all of the maps yet. It feels like it adds too much guesswork into the rankings.
Apr 12, 2024 10:50 PM # 
In a bold move, Bones Canada is now aiming to short-cut the paddle with a bit o' portage fun. I wonder which version of the portage experience they come up far there have three different results in three attempts.
Apr 12, 2024 11:00 PM # 
Oooh. Now the Ribwhackers (w/o the Silent...hope he's still doing okay) appear to be giving the portage a shot. This is most interesting b/c they have two tandem packrafts and three people, so the portage is a going to take a bit more oomph from each of them than for prior teams.
Apr 12, 2024 11:04 PM # 
Good to see StrongMachine on the water before dark. It's going to be a long night for them and I hope they have some loud tunes or something else to ward off the paddling lullaby monsters.
Apr 12, 2024 11:38 PM # 
Seems like Bones Canada has efficiently found the correct trail and ignored or didn't notice the incorrect one that the Estonian ACE team got stymied by.
Apr 12, 2024 11:47 PM # 
The false path seems to have momentarily lured in the Ribwhackers, but they are pausing to reconsider....
Apr 12, 2024 11:55 PM # 
Bones Canada has found the road and is off the hook, I suspect. Meanwhile, the Ribwhackers are showing pretty clear signs that they've found the same trail as Bones Canada (not Bones USA); just in time, too...can't have the Dutchables (who are just about to arrive) getting a whiff of them and solving the puzzle without the puzzle.
Apr 13, 2024 12:06 AM # 
The Dutchables have beached themselves and appear to be considering the portage. Not far behind them is Nebraska Unplugged. More entertainment!
Apr 13, 2024 12:23 AM # 
Ribwhackers have escaped onto the road. Dutchables and Nebraska are both packing up on the beach, presumably together.
Apr 13, 2024 12:33 AM # 
Uh oh, the Dutchables are moving, but went in off trail. The are heading roughly the right direction, but hey need to be on the spur, not in the reentrant.
Apr 13, 2024 12:44 AM # 
So, the Dutchables have chosen a new route in the same vein as Bones USA earlier...bushwhacking up a ravine, but a different one than Bones used.
Apr 13, 2024 12:54 AM # 
Bones USA just crossed the line in 5th position and looking strong.
Apr 13, 2024 12:55 AM # 
And...the Dutchables are still bashing their way up the streambed. Little do they know that there's a trail just above them on the adjacent spur. brutal to watch it happening live. The goal of taking the portage is to save energy and time...not sure this kind of portage is accomplishing either of those things.
Apr 13, 2024 1:03 AM # 
While that's still going on, Nebraska Unplugged has nailed the trail right off the beach and is heading up now. I wonder who will find the road first?
Apr 13, 2024 1:13 AM # 
The Dutchables have found the road and did it with perseverance. They took the hardest route yet, but at least they got through. Bones USA's route up the other ravine was perhaps a bit easier, but still hard. Estonia's route on the wrong trail was in the dark, so involved a different kind of difficulty that was more mentally than physically hard, I'm sure.
Apr 13, 2024 1:32 AM # 
Been trying to figure it out for several hours, and I still have no idea how the scoring works between Natural State, TanZ, and Strong Machine. I'm hoping at least the teams on the ground were aware of how the race would be scored, otherwise my buddies are doing a 12-hour overnight training paddle.
Apr 13, 2024 1:34 AM # 
Team Natural State has just finished. Their final ranking is not yet clear, but they were only missing about 13 CPs to clear the course.
Apr 13, 2024 1:44 AM # 
SM: I gave my two cents about the ranking a few hours ago, but I don't know how it's going to work out really. At worst, in my estimation your team might end up one place lower if they are ranked behind TanZ. If it's done the way I think is more fair given the circumstances they would rank ahead of TanZ.
Apr 13, 2024 1:51 AM # 
As expected, Nebraska found the road efficiently by following the trail up the whole way. Their total time from starting off the beach to the road was about 35 mins.

For comparison, the Dutchables took about 45 mins, but it surely felt like longer.
Apr 13, 2024 2:57 AM # 
TanZ just reached the finish line. A bit quieter at the line now that it's almost 10pm, but at least a dozen folks there to greet them.
Apr 13, 2024 3:45 AM # 
BOR Do Hard Things has just finished.
Apr 13, 2024 5:05 AM # 
StrongMachine appears to be pulling over for the portage. Hoping the darkness doesn't bugger their plans.

EDIT: Nope, they kept on paddling.
EDIT 2: Uhm...they stopped a little bit downstream of the correct "spot" for the portage. And they appear to be looking for a path in the wrong place...flirting with an OOB area
Apr 13, 2024 5:49 AM # 
Ugh...woe. SM is definitely in a drainage that is within on area marked as OOB. Does it count that they think they are in a drainage that's not OOB?
Apr 13, 2024 6:05 AM # 
SM has ascended the gully they found and now is on a road and seems to be heading N out of the OOB area. They might not recognize their error yet. If and when they do, there will probably be some grumpy people in that little group.
Apr 13, 2024 6:31 AM # 
Well, good news is that they appear to have it figured out now and are proceeding down to the lake along the intended short cut. Don't know if they'll be issued a penalty, but it's a bummer if they are and I sure hope they don't have to sit at TA9 to serve it.
Apr 15, 2024 12:49 AM # 
I'll let them chime in as they reenter civilization, but thanks as always for your coverage Conman. Always insightful and entertaining!
Apr 15, 2024 1:29 PM # 
Yes thanks Conman!

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