500 kilometre non-stop race on KZN's South Coast
Adventure racing is a bit Survivor does Amazing Race; but no-one gets voted off the island, competitors participate in teams of four and they don't get to travel on planes or in cars. Feet, mountain bikes and kayaks will transport these rugged competitors over 500 kilometres of South Africa's South Coast during the 2014 edition of Expedition Africa, which starts on Sunday, 25 May 2014.
Adventure racing is an outdoor sport that sees teams navigating by means of map-and-compass to defined checkpoints and transition areas. It's incorporates multiple sports where each transition area marks a discipline change, say from trekking to mountain biking or paddling. These are the sport's three main disciplines; there's usually a rope section too where participants go up, down, or across a steep and challenging section.
In the build-up to this gruelling endurance event, adventure racing journalist Lisa de Speville delights in telling people about the event. Her conversations with people go something like this:
"There's this really incredible adventure race happening on the South Coast soon," she begins. "There are 40 teams and participants from 17 countries. They'll have to hike, bike and paddle around 500 kilometres from start to finish."
"500 kilometres? For real?" the person asks.
It's the distance that always catches attention. People gasp at the kilometres rather than the fact that there are people from 17 countries coming to South Africa to play on Kwa-Zulu Natal's magnificent South Coast. Lisa answers the question anyway.
"500 kilometres isn't really as bad as it sounds. The total distance is split into legs and between the different sporting disciplines so there could be say 40 kilometres of hiking and then 80 kilometres of mountain biking and then 30 kilometres of paddling... that's already 150 kilometres. The crunch is that the legs follow one after the next... And it's a race. So the teams just keep going from one leg to the next and the next and the next and the next. OK, so 500 kilometres is sort of as bad as it sounds."
"How long is that going to take? A month?"
"No," she says laughing. "The front teams will be done within four days and the slower teams have like eight days to get to the finish."
"Four days? You've got to be kidding me! I take it that they stop at night to sleep?" the person responds.
"Nah, they don't. Well, not really," she replies. "When the race starts on the Sunday morning, the teams shoot off. They've got to find checkpoints and pass through transition stations and when they get to the finish they can stop. It may be four, five, six or eight days after the start... They do sleep but not very much. Two hours here, four hours there. It's really quite incredible what one can do on very little sleep."
For the rest of Lisa’s charming responses, see:
Follow online: Live tracking, team information, feeds, leader board, photographs, daily videos: www.kineticgear.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kineticgear #expafrica
Event Organisers: Stephan and Heidi Muller. Kinetic. www.kineticgear.co.za.
Adventure Racing World Series: www.arworldseries.com