The Course/ Logistic Overview for XPD 10th edition in the Bay of Fires Tasmania, Australia has now been released.
In just one week teams from Australia and overseas will be arriving at the HQ town of St Helens in preparation for this 541km journey on the North East Coast of Tasmania.
The course will feature 14 adventure racing legs including 4 trekking, 5 mountain biking and 5 kayaking as follows:
Leg 1 - Kayak - 11km
Leg 2 - Trek - 16km
Leg 3 - Kayak - 11km
Leg 4 - Mountain Bike - 22km
Leg 5 - Kayak - 13km
Leg 6 - Mountain Bike - 63km
Leg 7 - Kayak - 38km
Leg 8 - Trek - 43km
Leg 9 - Mountain Bike - 115km
Leg 10 - Trek - 25km
Leg 11 - Mountain Bike - 100km
Leg 12 - Trek - 38km
Leg 13 - Kayak - 11km
Leg 14 - Mountain Bike - 35km
The winning team is expected to take 3.5 days to complete the course and remaining teams have 6.5 days to finish.
While the actual course and race maps remain secret until the Lock down just 3 hours before the start, the Course/ Logistic Outline gives teams the chance to start preparing their equipment and food prior to leaving home.
XPD is the second Qualifier race of 2018 for the ARWS - Adventure Racing World Series . Follow teams live from the 18th March at www.xpd.com.au
So looking a little deeper into the competitors (in ARWS races only):
- Rootstock: Ranked #60 with 2 of the 4 racers the same from ARWC 17 and Itera (however Eric and Ryan, #101 with DART, will be strong). First race in Aus for the entire group. - Hard Day's Night: #131 with 2 of the 4 (Andre #190 on Cameltoes) ARWC 2016 and Exp. Africa - Aussie Battlers: #167 with 3 of 4 returning from Xtrail last year - Juggernaut: #206 with 2 of 4 returning from ARWC 2016 - Goldfish: #229 with 3 of 4 returning from ARWC 2016 - Dash: #285 with Andy in Exp. Africa - Muppets: #300 from Godzone 2016 - Tri Adventure: #313 from ARWC 2016
As expected, many of the teams competed in the 2016 WC edition of the race and have significant experience racing on the east coast of Australia. Should be a fun race to follow!
We're excited to race XPD for the first time (though I know our teammate Ryan has raced there at least once before).
For what those ARWC rankings are worth....The Tri team has two multiple time XPD champs on it. So, I suspect they will be gunning for the win, rightfully so. And the Nordic team is interesting as well: two top level Swedish racers (Staffan and Marika) with two great athletes but newbies to AR. And I expect there will be some strong locals who don't pop up in the ARWS race scene much if ever.
As for us: Eric is excited to take pictures of every animal we see. I'm looking to capture a Tasmanian Devil for release in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (Jersey Devil for those who don't know our east coast folklore; Eric will take pictures), Ryan sold all of his gear when he moved to Hong King, so he is racing naked, and Abby impaled her foot last night on a brake pad spring. Literally. So, we're going for the experience;)
In Tasmania, it’s 15 hours later than Toronto/New York.
Race checkin is Saturday in St. Helens.
Maps distributed Sunday morning 7:30 am with lockdown.
Race starts Sunday at noon, i.e. 9 pm Saturday in Rootstock’s home time zone.
Winners expected to finish on Wednesday.
Course closes Saturday at noon after 6 days.
There are many “short” legs by expedition racing standards so efficient TAs will be key. This may make it challenging for spectators to keep up so I hope we’ve got a few different time zones represented in this forum. We’ll need a night shift!
Reading the schematic required me to go sit down for awhile. I think I just got a spontaneous blister out of sympathy. Good luck to all, but especially @Broots as he attempts to catch and contain his new wombat, Fuzzy.
ARWS will be covering the race too. From FB:
Anticipation is building as teams start arriving in St Helens, Tasmania for XPD 10th edition in the Bay of Fires. XPD, the 2nd qualifier in 2018 in the Adventure Racing World Series, will see Australian and international teams competing to win and secure a berth in the World Adventure Racing Championship in Reunion Island November 2018.
On Sunday 18th March, teams in XPD Bay of Fires will paddle kayaks, mountain bike and trek 541kms in the scenic, pristine and remote areas of North East Tasmania over the course of a week. The expedition length adventure race will see top teams complete the course in 3.5 days and remaining teams 6.5 days.
“The most difficult challenge” says Race Director Louise Foulkes “has been working out what sections to leave out as there is too much to include in one race.”
First team to arrive at HQ was Goldfish, who have competed in every XPD since its inception. Mardi Barnes from the team says ‘We are excited the race is in Tasmania and we are looking forward to where we will be going. Craig and Louise always find special places.”
Team Aussie Battlers, the youngest team to race says “Our goal is to finish. We are looking forward to having a spin at Derby. The weather is concerning and we are not sure we are prepared for the rain.”
Rootstock Racing from USA says “We love the beautiful geography here and can’t wait to get into the aussie bush.”
The logistics commence tonight, as teams must prepare bikes and pack equipment and food to race. Tomorrow sees the teams register, complete compulsory competency tests and ‘pose’ for team photos.
Looks like they’re using Jared’s plastic surfskis. Not bad boats, we used them for 2016 ARWC. Certainly better than the 3 person sit-on-tops we also had to use. Surprised they cancelled the first two paddles, we took them thru some pretty rough water without much trouble.
Wild Yaks and Tri-Adventure Antelopes taking it out fast. Elizabeth Dornom of the Antelopes, fresh off an eighth-place finish in the Coast to Coast in New Zealand, talked about her team a little bit on this week's TA1.
"XPD Leg 2 - modified weather course: Teams hike, rock hop and raft their way for 16kms around the beautiful coast line of the Bay of Fires. They must navigate to collect 12 CPs in any order that are scattered amongst rocky outcrops, enormous dunes and coastal bushland. They must also battle the tide as they try to raft across Georges Bay."
It says elsewhere it's only 13 km. In any case, it may not be clear who's ahead of whom until the TA.
The Wild Yaks and the (Mountain Designs) Wild Women are taking a wild route to the east. They will need to backtrack now to get CP7.
Update a few minutes later: The Wild Women have turned toward the CP without losing much time. The Wild Yaks took longer to realize their mistake. Coming from the east may be a decent route choice but both teams missed the turn.
Hope there's a night shift to help us follow this race! Here's what's coming up after this bike leg:
Leg 5 - Teams kayak 13km up the beautiful Scamander River Estuary. It is a tidal river which means the direction of the tide will hinder or help them. All teams will be undertaking this paddle on the first night of the race and in the dark. The final stretch of the river is shallow and may require some carrying over sand banks.
Leg 6 - The race starts to get more difficult as teams leave the coast and climb up to the midlands. Teams must find their way through a maze of forest trails on their bikes from Scamander to Fingal. Some trails are wide and others are ancient and almost closed over with vegetation. (63 km)
Leg 7 - This 38km paddle is on a section of the longest river in Tasmania, the South Esk. Water is moving with small rapids and gravel races. Teams speed will be dictated by recent rainfall which will impact the river levels.
Leg 7 updated description from Geocentric: Leg 7 - This 38km paddle is on a section of the longest river in Tasmania, the South Esk. Water is moving with small rapids and gravel races. There are also a number of log jams teams will need to use team work to get through. The river is low - so organisers have moved team kayaks to CP15 as the first 5 kms of the river was too difficult to get through. Teams now hike with paddle gear across farm land to access their kayaks from cp 14. It will be a slow leg with leaders expected to take 8 to 9 hours to finish.
Wow, check out the breadcrumbs for the Wild Yaks, one of the teams taking the alternate route to CP13, which the top 5 teams seemingly found with no trouble. They tried to get there on the red line before turning back.
The other two teams on this alternate route to CP13 - Wild Women and Nordic Islands - also tried the Red Line route first before returning to Sandy Marsh and heading south. It looks like the teams all turned around close to the same time. Maybe the sight of headlamps going the opposite direction influenced one or two of them.
Also, the breadcrumbs show that MMI had trouble after CP13, even hitting a dead end and turning back. They will soon reach the Red Line in 4th place and will not be far behind Rootstock and Hard Day's Night.
The Antelopes are leading on the Slow, Dark Paddle - Leg 7.
Weirdly, the teams that were taking the alternate route to CP13 (Wild Yaks, Wild Women and Nordic Islands) never got within 6 km of the CP as marked on the race map and tracking map - and they aren't the only ones. I'm wondering if CP13 was in a different location from what is marked; I've asked on the race FB page. At this point, the Wild Yaks are tied for 2nd with Rootstock, assuming they got CP13. They're shown as a full course team after TA7, as are the others.
MMI had a real adventure around CP13 (the one marked on the map).
Info and maps for the Leg 8 Trek:
"This gruelling 43km trek, expected to take 14 to 28hrs, is the hardest and also one of the most beautiful legs of the race. Most of the leg has no defined trail and teams must navigate to find the easiest route. Teams will hike up Australia’s largest scree / boulder slope and over of one of the most pristine and exposed alpine areas in Tasmania, the Ben Lomond Plateau. The plateau averages around 1400m, one of the highest areas in Tasmania and is fully exposed to the elements."
It looks like Rootstock had an efficient TA and headed out to paddle Leg 7. The team they'd been battling for 2nd place on the bike, Hard Day's Night, arrived at TA7 21 minutes later and seem to have stopped for a couple hours of sleep. The sun is up now (it rises just after 7 am) and Rootstock has moved 1 km ahead of the Wild Yaks on the paddle. The Antelopes are 4+ hrs ahead, approaching the end of the paddle and will have plenty of daylight left as they start the challenging trek.
Summary video of Day 1. It features a clip of a serious-looking Broots gazing into the distance with a map in his hand. I expect he often looks this way when he is commenting on our discussions here. ;)
The Antelopes started the Leg 8 trek around 9:30 a.m. Meanwhile back in the mangroves, the Wild Yaks snuck past Rootstock on the paddle but the teams are still less than a km apart. It took the Antelopes about 3 hrs to reach TA8 from the current position of Yaks/Rootstock.
That makes sense. They’ll have the benefit of daylight for a good portion of it. It’s kind f early to sleep anyways (26 hrs in). Teams a little further back will have a tougher decision as they’ll end up in Ben Lomond Natl Park (1400m) at night.
The Wild Yaks and Rootstock have started the Big Trek. Rootstock gained some time with their TA and are now 15-20 minutes behind the Yaks. The Antelopes are 4.5 hrs ahead of the Yaks and are not at the halfway point yet. It's 3:15 p.m. so the teams only have 4 more hours of daylight.
Bash, I should assume night shift living in Western Australia at the moment... busy day in the office.
Antelopes continue to move well on the Trek. Yaks and RS are neck and neck but RS appears to be moving a little fast on foot and passed Yaks on the climb to CP18. Changi has opened a little bit of a gap for the fourth position en route to CP17.
Looks like Wild Yaks just caught up to them mid-nap. Not sure if they've rested yet or not. But now I want RS to wake up and move again! :) Also seems The Antelopes may be get a wee sleepy and sloppy on their nav. Nothing extreme, but a little.
Yay! They stopped just under 4 hours so hopefully they had a good rest. The area where everyone is stopping is a former mining area that still has a small number of residents and an outdoor centre. I'm guessing it's a staffed CP since this would be one of the few places to evacuate injured racers by road. Also, racers are required to clean their feet here prior to entering the "pristine alpine area between CP20 and CP22".
By the way, it's great to see some new people contributing. So nice to check in quickly and get news without diving into the details. :)
Antelopes don't appear to have slept yet and are making a few minor errors, occasionally taking the wrong road and quickly correcting themselves. Should be interesting to see what the chasing teams speed through the same section.
Since JBrown reminded me of the existence of those wild Antelopes, they arrived at CP20 almost 6 hours before Rootstock but didn't stop, as per their plan. They got to TA9 about 5 hours before sunrise, which is pretty much perfect for them.
Here is the info on the upcoming Leg 9 on mountain bikes:
Leg 9 - This 115km ride from Carr Villa on the slopes of Ben Lomond to the famous MTB haven of Weldborough is the most difficult ride in the race. It is named the Tin Trail as it traverses through many once thriving mining towns hidden in the forest that are now ghost towns. The ride finishes down the iconic Blue Tier MTB trail, recognised by many as Australia’s best piece of single track.
After 1.5+ hrs of climbing, Rootstock is crossing the cliff line near the top. Looks amazing on the map! In case anyone hasn't noticed, the "stack of pages" icon on the upper right of the tracking map lets you look at different types of maps.
MMI left CP20 around 4:30 am. They arrived 4 hours after Rootstock in 4th place but departed about 2 hrs 15 mins after RS in 3rd place. Will the Wild Yaks start moving soon?
RS had a long rest but I wonder if it will be helpful later. The fastest estimated time from TA9 (where the Antelopes are resting) is 35 hours. Maybe RS is hoping to get through the race with just this one big sleep and a few cat naps along the trail?
Looks like the Wild Yaks are moving around and ready to start the climb up the bluff in 4th place. They arrived in 3rd with a 1.5 hr lead.
MMI is in the boulder field on the last part of the climb to the plateau. It will be interesting to see their route choice compared to the top two teams. Rootstock is only half a km from rejoining the Green Line route but they seem to be moving slowly in what looks like very rocky terrain.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the direct route paid off. The Antelopes took about an hour from the top of the cliffs to the place where RS will join the Green Line. It will take RS about 1.5 hours. Good gamble though!
The Antelopes haven't started the 115 km Leg 9 bike ride yet but Geocentric has just posted a photo and maps of the Leg 10 trek.
Leg 10 - Teams traverse the magical Rattler Range on this 25km hike. Nick-named “Lord of the Rings territory”, they will navigate their way under a thick canopy past enormous trees hidden in Gondwana rainforest.
Has anyone else noted that the tracks for teams are more detailed than the breadcrumbs alone would indicate? It seems like the trackers are pinging more frequently than every 10-15 minutes which appears to be the typical time gap between each crumb. For example, see the track for Rootstock around the SE side of the knoll just after timestamp 5:25 Mar 20. One breadcrumb at each end of that segment, but several other inflections in the track between. Never mind the big left-turn looking inflection with no crumb just after that.
The Antelopes and Rootstock stopped for 3 hrs 50-ish mins at TA9 and CP20 respectively so they've had a chance to be equally "rested". RS is currently at the place on the plateau where the Antelopes were a little more than 10 hrs ago. However, RS will probably take less than 1 hour at TA9 so the real gap is around 7 hours.
MMI is about 2 hrs behind Rootstock in 3rd after stopping for 2 hrs to rest at CP20.
The Wild Yaks and Changi are a few hundred metres apart about 1.5 hrs behind MMI. Both teams have rested more than MMI. The Yaks stopped for 5 hrs at CP20 and Changi stopped for 4.5 hrs in the small village of Rossarden.
Rootstock is within 2 hours of TA9 at 9:30 a.m. so they'll enjoy daylight for most of the Leg 10 bike. This may provide a significant nutrition advantage, according to the route book:
"‣ There is a pub and tiny shop in Mathinna (CP24)- both with intermittent opening hours
‣ There is a famous “Pub in a Paddock” with meals past CP 25. Open 10:30am-10pm
‣ There is a famous cheese factory with food/ coffee at Pyengana Open 9am-5pm
‣ When you arrive at CP26, you are at the trail head of the famous Blue Tier Single Track trail. It is compulsory to follow this trail to the TA (CP27). It is well marked, enjoy!
‣ The TA at the end of the leg is located at the famous Weldborough Pub. Meal times are 11:30am to 2pm and 6pm to 8pm. Coffee, drinks and snacks are available when the pub is open - from 11:30am to late."
Wow, lots of food options, Bash. Makes me hungry thinking about it. If it were me, I would definitely be turning this race into a culinary tour of Tasmania.
The Rootstockers, while tougher and much faster than myself, aren't above stopping into eateries that happen to be conveniently located along their route. I literally bumped into Abby and Brent as they stepped out of a pub during the last trekking section of ITERA Ireland in 2016.
I hope they weren't out too late drinking green beer the night before the race!
As expected, Rootstock spent less than an hour at TA9. They're now 6 hrs 20 mins behind the Antelopes on the Leg 10 bike.
As a reminder, here's what Rootstock's Broots had to say about the Antelopes before the race: "[The team has] two multiple time XPD champs on it. So, I suspect they will be gunning for the win, rightfully so."
It's AR and anything can happen!
Only the top two teams have finished the trek so far. MMI is 1 km ahead of the Wild Yaks about 45 minutes from TA9. Changi and DASH are about an hour behind them. There's a 1-1.5 hr gap from those two teams to the next group consisting of the Aussie Battlers, Wild Women and Hard Day's Night. After that, it's a big gap.
Meanwhile back in the mangroves, the Wolfpack is still finishing the paddle and Checkpoint 26 is playing the harmonica at the paddle/trek TA8.
Bad news for the Antelopes. At 2:30 pm, they're on the final stretch of single track with about 8 km to go to TA10. However they've missed the 11:30-2 lunch at the famous Weldborough Pub and they'll be way too early for the 6-8 pm dinner.
It's not looking good for Rootstock making it in time for dinner either. But there will still be snacks, coffee and drinks.
I was going to comment that MMI has had less sleep than the other three teams at TA9 (Wild Yaks, DASH and Changi) but I just noticed that they took a 2 hr 43 min break at TA7 after the bike leg where they had nav issues and lost 2 hours to Rootstock. So they're not that far behind on sleep compared to the others.
Back a little farther in the race, it appears the Bulk Nutrients may have elected to skip CP18 heading out to the road (but they did double back and grab CP19). Wine & Cheese grabbed CP18 but are also electing for the longer but easier navigational route on the road to CP19.
Rootstock still holds a 2.5hr lead over Wild Yaks as they hit CP26 and enter the night time single track riding. They are about 1 hr 45 min from the TA and may have to settle for the late night snack options much to Bash's disappointment.
It took the Antelopes 8:30 hrs to complete leg 10, close to the slow estimate, over half of that time was in daylight. RS will be in a similar situation as its about 12:30am Wednesday there now assuming they leave soon.
From the Antelopes current position its just under 24 hours to the finish if they travel close to the fastest estimates or 36 hours if on the slower side so plenty of racing left.
Leg 11 - Teams mount their bikes for a 100km ride that will take them from the subalpine region, through rolling countryside and right up into the forgotten corner of Tasmania, the far North East. The going is relatively easy as over half is on sealed road.
Rootsotck has otped for rest in the back of a truck at TA 10. Seems they had some debate about where/when to rest a bit while warming up around the campfire, but opted to hunker down in the back of a truck there for a bit. Looks like Wild Yaks may catch up with them at this point. Lots of racing left!
They've been in that area for about 90 minutes - yikes! The photo shows dense forest and the sun is just rising now. It's hard to tell from dots but it looks like the Antelopes may have found CP28 a little north of its position marked on the tracking map. [Edit: Looking at the race map, I think that was just when they tracked on their way to the CP.] Rootstock seems to be looking a little south of the CP on the tracking map. Here's hoping it becomes more clear in daylight! The Yaks are less than an hour behind now.
Looking at the map, it appears RS has gone a little too far south on the trail and is looking on the wrong spur - very easy to do in the dark and may be related to the fact that the trail bend at their current location on the map is drawn with a much larger angle than the Green Line indicates. They need to descend about 100' in a northerly direction.
The other possibility is that they *did* find the CP and have moved away from it to stop for some other reason. Their dots have been on or near the trail and the distances between tracks are small.
Looking back at the Leg 9 bike, the Wild Women, Changi and MMI are all on the Blue Tier single track now and will reach TA10 in that order in 6th-8th.
Meanwhile back in the mangroves, Checkpoint 26 is nearing the end of the climb from CP20 to the Ben Lomond plateau. They've moved ahead of a couple of teams over the past day so their harmonica playing must be working!