Premier South African team Merrell Adventure Addicts is currently chasing down the Australian leaders, Peak Adventure in an epic 650 km non-stop, unsupported, multi-discipline race across the outback, rainforests, canyons, islands and oceans of Townsville, Queensland.
Merrell had a tough night navigating through the rainforests at the top of a mountain, finding 7 checkpoints in an orienteering maze. The 50km trek section took them about ten hours longer than anticipated but they emerged in good spirits and are steadily closing the gap once again after two cycle and canyon legs.
They have been warned of many local dangers to avoid; stinging trees, man-eating salt water crocodiles, snakes and spiders, (not to mention a competing team who took their kayaks) but coming up in the next leg are two more. On the relatively quick 53km outback ride which they should start around midnight local time, they will probably encounter the infamous ‘Road Trains’. Competitors must get off the road, dismount bikes, and stop until these huge trucks have passed before they may continue racing. Another significant riding hazard at night is posed by the wildlife as they could well have kangaroos leaping towards their bright lights.
SA paddling legend Graham ‘Tweet’ Bird captains the team. “Although we have completed many of these amazing races, each one is a journey into the unknown, both physically and mentally. We get to experience parts of a country that most tourists and even locals do not have access to.”
Robyn Kime, also a top female canoeist, and experienced racers Grant Ross and Hanno Smit make up the strong team and they will hope to use their advantage in the upcoming long river paddle. For reference, the Duzi canoe marathon is a staged 118km event held over 3 days. XPD racers’ 70km kayak trip will be just Leg 8 of 12, all completed in a single stage over what looks likely to be 6 days for the top teams, up to 9 days for the rest of the 35 competing teams.
Not normally a spectator sport due to the extreme conditions under which they race, Expedition Adventure Racing has been made accessible to office bound adventure seekers with a live tracking site, which has got supporters developing what is now referred to as Obsessive Compulsive Dot Watch Disorder.
Photographers travel into the field where it is accessible and images and updates of the team are posted to the Merrell Adventure Addicts facebook page.
The team is hugely supported and driven to OUT.PERFORM by Merrell. They ride Giant bicycles and use Black Diamond head torches and trekking poles and are proud to also be using South African products in the land down under; PVM, Squirt Lube, ButtaNutt, Llama Bars, Extreme Lights and Island Tribe all contribute to their incredible and inspirational successes.