Few adventure races anywhere in the world achieve this longevity and consistency, and the race is one of the keystones of Australian adventure racing. Over the years most of the greatest Australian adventure racers have taken part and the race has been an introduction to the sport for many.
The race was started in 2004, has had 3 different owners, and has taken place annually, even managing to avoid Covid cancellations. It has had the same headline sponsor for much of its history too and this year Mountain Designs will once again support the race.#
Hells Bells always takes place on the Sunshine Coast, and has been as far North as Rainbow Beach, and as far South as Bribie Island. This year Wild&Co will take the race back to Cotton Tree in the heart of the Sunshine Coast. It’s a town known for its relaxed atmosphere, easy access to the Maroochy River, pristine rivers and stunning sunsets – all of which racers will likely experience.
Chris Dixon, Wild & Co event director said: “We’re very excited to be heading back to Cotton Tree. It’s the perfect location to start and finish an Adventure Race and gives us access to some of the best trails and waterways the Sunshine Coast has to offer.
“We've got an exciting new course for Hells Bells 2023 and can't wait to show off trails Hells Bells has never been to before and to re-visit some of our favourites.”
Races have been promised big views and big hills, waterfalls and even a viewpoint where teams can get a sunset view of the whole course.
Dixon added, “What I love about this year’s location is that you within a few minutes and a few kilometres you can feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. We’ve got an incredibly beautiful swim/float/paddle to start and some CPs hidden away on Islands and rocky outcrops. Then come a combination of beaches and hinterland trails, some world class mountain biking, which will potentially feature in the 2032 Olympics, a CP on a small but brutal hill climb and for Hells Bells, an as yet unpaddled waterway that will be incredibly beautiful under a full moon with its narrow twists and turns.”
A Record Entry
This year the race has once again broken its record entry and with close to 300 racers is set to be the biggest 24 hour adventure race ever in Australia. The race starts will be split, with 4 waves of competitors leaving race HQ on Saturday morning between 11.00am and 12.30pm.
Dixon said, “It’s been exciting to see it grow from 64 people in 2016, when we first took it on, to 240 last year and well over 300 this year, I actually didn’t believe it was possible but it goes to show that with a great race concept and better execution each year we’ve really created something great.
“Every year the stats are the same; 70% of the racers are locals from the region, 20% are from interstate and about 10% are from overseas. It’s really exciting to have people like Vincent Chang from Hong Kong racing again as he first entered in 2020, but when the world shut down he couldn’t make it.
The race is open to pairs and teams of 4, and there are two categories, the full Hells Bells course which is around 120km and Fairy Bells, which is a 70km+ course which teams have the full 24 hours to complete. The Fairy Bells course uses some of the same ground as the Hells Bells course and is designed as a stepping stone to Hells Bells and longer races and is perfect for teams doing their first adventure race.
All members of the team complete the swim, paddle, trek and mountain bike stages, staying together from start to finish. Fairy Bells this year has 7 stages, and Hells Bells 9 stages and teams know both races will start with the swim/bodyboard stage.
Dixon says the races are wide open this year, and it’s a chance for some new names to appear in the Hells Bells Hall of Fame. After 20 years a new generation of racers are starting out in adventure racing at Hells Bells.
Follow the Race
The race will have live tracking so supporters and fans can follow their teams’ progress around the course.
To follow the race go to https://live.trackmelive.com.au/HB2023/ (live after the race start).
There will also be race updates, photos and videos posted to the Wild&Co Facebook and Instagram pages (@wldnco)
Hells Bells History
Hells Bells was started by Geocentric Outdoors (Craig Bycroft and Louise Foulkes) in 2004 and is Australia’s longest running 24 hour adventure race.
Each year the organisers choose a beautiful location somewhere on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. In the first year over 150 athletes started at the Dayboro Show Grounds catching the train into the CBD to begin the race with an urban rogaine before heading north.
For the first few years there was only a full course option with Fairy Bells being introduced in 2009. The race format hasn’t changed much with race distances and disciplines relatively consistent since the start.
In 2016 Chris Dixon from Wild & Co took over Hells Bells from Sunshine Coast Adventure Racing Legend, David Schloss. The race is now part of the Adventure Racing World Series Oceania region and race winners get a free place at the Oceania Championship in November.
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