As the sun set on day 3 of Expedition Africa, clouds rolled in, threatening to storm over a very dry Namaqua West Coast. Temperatures have dropped throughout the day and are expected to continue throughout the night, reaching a chilly 14°C tomorrow. The region has experienced months of drought and with predicted storms taking place further up the coast, flash floods have become a concern for race organisers; Heidi and Stephan Muller.
Team Omjakon of Finland are currently leading the pack of 52 teams, after reaching TA 5 first this afternoon. “This is anyone’s race, I don’t think we have ever had such a competitive race, with so many potential winners in a top 10, which is incredibly exciting” shares Heidi Muller. According to sources the Finnish team moved quickly through transition in order to keep their lead, however are closely followed by Agde Raid Aventure of France.
Due to the wintery weather setting in, the 198km cycle leg(4) became a bit of a misty bike push near the end for teams. The leaders of Expedition Africa are currently running 10 hours behind schedule as a result of the misty conditions within the region, and according to race organisers, the most difficult leg of the 560km adventure race is still to come.
Teams are expected to filter through TA 4 and 5 throughout the course of the night, completing their 198km cycle leg and 47km trek through the Cederberg. A 92km (6) cycle will then follow, leading teams to TA 6, where they will then tackle the daunting 59km trekking leg (7) and finish off the 560km course with a final 57km cycle(8).
The 59km trekking leg (7) will navigate teams through the beautiful Zandspruit Nature Reserve, home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world. Quiver trees, massive granite outcrops, and quartz patches are amongst the small Namaqualand wonders teams can expect to come across. According to Heidi Muller, this will be the most difficult leg of the entire course. Front runners will navigate their way through the night, which will be slow moving; climbing over boulders and searching for animals paths that will help guide them forward. eventually reaching the 100m abseil. The Africanyon crew are ready and waiting upon the first teams arrival, where a ‘first to arrive, first to abseil’ rule will be enforced featuring two lines for teams to descend with.
“The front teams have also endured minimal sleep throughout the race thus far and with the finish nearing, the question is: will these teams have the stamina to push through?” poses Heidi Muller
The Doringrivier snakes its way through the Zandspruit Nature Reserve, a river that teams will be expected to cross during leg 7. The possibility of a flash flood, particularly upon the Doringrivier has become a growing concern for Heidi and Stephan Muller as the source of the river is found further up country where heavy rains are falling. According the adventure photographer; Bruce Viaene, the water level had risen 30cm within a 2 hour time frame, when crossing the river this afternoon.
Organisers and Marshalls are all hands on deck, preparing the final three Transition Areas for teams. Whilst TA 6 marshals are prepped and ready for a busy night ahead, Letsatsi Lodge are tending to their final touches at the finish line, with the anticipation of the winning team completing this year’s Expedition Africa course tomorrow.
The main question remains – who will finish first? With such an exciting finish anticipated by dot watchers and supporters alike, and all-nighter in front of flickering screens is expected from many. All 52 teams can be tracked via www.expafrica.live, showcasing their route choice, check in times at check points and transition areas, team information and so much more.
Don’t miss out on the excitement by tracking each team via the live tracking of the race at http://live.arworldseries.com/africa18/
The Expedition Africa Facebook page has up to the minute coverage at https://www.facebook.com/kineticeventsafrica/ Follow their Instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/expafrica/
For more information on the AR World Series:
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries/
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Released 23 May 2018 by Trystan Viaene, Kinetic Events
Photo Bruce Viaene