The Adventure Racing World Series (AR World Series) was created 22 years ago to unite expedition-length adventure races into a global event series which culminates in a final World Championship (ARWC) event. The race hosts change each year, adding variety with different countries, continents, and climates. Expedition Africa, now in its 11th edition, is the 2023 AR World Championship host, and the race is the first African ARWC.
Expedition Africa is organised by the dynamic South Africa duo of Heidi and Stephan Muller. Passionate participants-turned-organisers, they have been presenting adventure races of varying distances for 15 years. Heidi is also the CEO of the Adventure Racing World Series.
“I am immensely proud to be hosting the AR World Championship here in South Africa this year,” says Heidi. “Expedition Africa has been part of the AR World Series since 2012. Over the years, we have gained the experience to get to this point, where we were ready to host the World Championship. Being the Champs, every aspect is another level up – from the route and distance to host venue arrangements, logistics and all the extras surrounding the event.”
Between now and the start of this 800-kilometer, expedition-length adventure race, teams will put in final training camps and sessions, practice transitions for discipline changes, and finalise their equipment and race nutrition. They will also need to rest ahead of their travel to the race and the race itself.
Adventure Tourism in Eastern Cape
With an abundance of sun and a long summer season, a huge variety in terrain, and an array of trails, activities and events, South Africa is an attractive destination for adventure-seeking visitors. Tourists benefit from the favourable exchange rate for the Rand and European travellers benefit from little, if any, time-zone change.
“When we first thought about hosting the World Championship, we knew that the Kouga region would be perfect as it offers everything we needed in terms of infrastructure – with a nearby airport and an ideal host venue - and vast expanses of wilderness. Without the support of the Kouga Municipality and the Cape St Francis Resort, and of our wonderful sponsors Merrell, this event would not be possible,” Heidi explains.
"We are so excited to have these world-class athletes in town. It is a huge privilege and responsibility to host the Adventure Racing World Championship. We urge residents and supporters to get out and support this amazing event," says Mayor Hattingh Bornman from the Kouga Municipality.
Course distances of this magnitude present an incredible opportunity to showcase the adventure, nature and diversity of terrain of the Kouga and greater Sara Baartman Districts of the Eastern Cape.
Route highlights include the Kouga and Baviaans Mountains, the latter a World Heritage Site with steep mountain passes, narrow gorges, diversity of plant species and unspoilt wilderness. This region is sought after by mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and 4x4 enthusiasts.
Out on the course, teams can expect to traverse wetlands, fynbos vegetation, dune fields, game and nature reserves, mountain vistas, rivers and private farms. They will revel in the wilderness and the abundance of the open space that is the Eastern Cape Karoo and coastal areas.
Follow the Race Online with Live GPS Tracking and Social Media Updates
Each team carries a SPOT tracking unit that transmits a signal giving the team’s position. This is displayed for family, friends and supporters to follow on a live tracking website page. Follow the progress of the teams as they locate checkpoints and change disciplines at each transition area.
Conditions during the race will be tough. Teams navigate by map-and-compass, making decisions on too little sleep, with physical and mental fatigue, as they keep going through day and night. Compare the routes that teams take and watch their tracking dots in real-time as teams search for checkpoints.
Keep an eye on social media updates, primarily on the AR World Series Facebook and Instagram pages for highlights as the race progresses, including special features about the route, the challenges teams face, the terrain and navigational choices. There will be updates, articles, photographs, and videos documenting this extraordinary event.
Watch the Flag Parade and Opening Ceremony
Spectators are invited to visit Cape St. Francis to watch the Flag Parade and Opening Ceremony at the St. Francis Links. There will be dancers, a choir and a local marimba band for an hour of entertainment.
This celebration starts at 14h00 on Tuesday, 17 October 2023. These festivities will be streamed live but locals are encouraged to attend. A press conference and race briefing follow the Opening Ceremony.
High 5 the Teams at the Finish
Approaching the finish at the Cape St. Francis Resort, teams will be relieved to catch sight of the historic Seal Point Lighthouse. Built in the 1870s, the lighthouse was first lit on 4 July 1878 to warn ships away from of the danger of the local reefs. For the teams, the 28-meter-tall lighthouse will be a welcoming beacon, shepherding them home, that signals the end of an incredible journey.
With live online tracking, it is possible to see where the teams are and to anticipate their arrival. Spectators are invited to come to Cape St Francis to clap, cheer and High 5 the racers en route and at the finish at the Cape St Francis Resort.
The first teams are expected to finish on Monday, 23 October 2023 before dark. Thereafter, teams will head to the finish at all times of day and night until the morning of Saturday, 28 October 2023.
First International Adventure Racing Conference
After the race, on Saturday 28 October 2023, the first International Adventure Racing Conference (IARC) will be hosted at the Cape St. Francis Resort. As host of the Adventure Racing World Championship, Expedition Africa brings together the biggest diversity of national representatives and the most active people in the sport of Adventure Racing.
Conference participants, those present in person and on Zoom, will participate in vibrant and engaging discussions on topics that are relevant to the sport. These include conversations around rule technicalities, event organising policies, doping and youth competition.
Attendance is free and registration of attendance can be done online at www.internationalarconference.com. Registered participants will receive a link to watch an uploaded video of the conference later; this is useful for those in time zones significantly behind or ahead of South Africa.
The Adventure Racing World Championship is a celebration of competition, excellence and participation. It brings together not only the winning teams from other events in the AR World Series, but also unites teams from adventure racing nations. They will compete against each other, and they work with each other. They will experience disappointments and enjoy triumphs, and they will share the common goal of making their way through the racecourse to reach the finish line, where a new World Champion will celebrated. This will be the legacy of the 2023 Adventure Racing World Championship.
About the Adventure Racing World Series & World Championship
The Adventure Racing World Series brings together the world's top endurance athletes in the best adventure races around the globe. The series includes 3-10 day Qualifier expeditions leading up to an annual World Championship, as well as 12-36 hour Regional races that provide an accessible pathway into the sport.
• Event: Expedition Africa, host of the 2023 Adventure Racing World Championship
• Type of event: Expedition-length, multi-day, adventure race
• Location: Kouga and greater Sarah Baartman district, Eastern Cape, South Africa
• Host resort: Cape St Francis Resort, Cape St Francis, Eastern Cape
• Team format: four-person mixed gender teams
• Race distance: 800km
• Sporting disciplines: trekking/hiking/running (25%), mountain biking (65%), paddling (10%), navigation, ropework
• Legs & transitions: 10 legs and 9 transitions
• Flag Parade and Opening Ceremony: Tuesday, 17 October 2023 at 14h00, St Francis Links
• Race start: Thursday, 19 October 2023 at 11h00 (GMT +2)
• Expected winning time: >four days (100-110 hours)
• First team expected: Monday, 23 October 2023 (4+ days), Cape St Francis Resort
• Last team expected: Friday, 27 October 2023 (8 days)
• Live GPS tracking: www.expafrica.live
• Event website: expafrica.net
• AR World Series: www.arworldseries.com
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/arworldseries
• Instagram: www.instagram.com/arworldseries
• YouTube: www.youtube.com/arworldseries
• Social media tags: @expafrica @arworldseries
• Hashtags: #arwc2023 #expafrica #arworldseries #adventureracing
• International Adventure Racing Conference: Saturday, 28 October 2023, Cape St Francis Resort www.internationalarconference.com
Expedition Africa in numbers:
• Number of teams: 109
• Number of South African teams: 35
• Number of Foreign teams: 74
• Teams representing countries: 30
• Participant nationalities: 36
• Number of volunteers: 40
• Number of medics: 7
• Abseil and canyon crew: 9
• Permissions from private landowners for trekking sections: 53
• Registered media following the teams: 75
• ARWS media: 15
• Bicycle boxes to be transported: 440
• Kayaks to be transported: 120
• Kayak bags: 109
• Resupply boxes: 218
• Number of Men: 312
• Number of Women: 124
• Youngest participant:16 (racing with his dad)
• Oldest participant: 76
• Average age of participants: 42
• Team with the highest average age: Bloem en Omo (South Africa) at 67.6
• Team with the lowest average age: FEAR (New Zealand) at 18.3