For some, the Mascarene Islands, consisting of Mauritius and Reunion, represent a tropical vacation paradise. For the hundreds of athletes preparing to take part in the Expedition Africa competition, however, they represent a grueling challenge of physical endurance.
The competition is made up of a 320km adventure race divided into 29 legs and will involve tasks, such as swimming between islands, snorkeling to collect underwater points, sailing with the help of locals and multiple rope work challenges such as zip-lining.
“The big ‘boogey-man’ spiders, Stonefish and limited beer selections are challenges that we are preparing to face at 2019’this year’s Expedition Africa, as well as some night swimming in the ocean after the first 24 hours could present challenges for weary, sleep-deprived racers,” said Spirit Canada team member Dave Hitchon.
The 60 teams taking part will all be provided with a 6.5m long fibreglass boat which they will need to carry their team bicycles, race gear and other crucial supplies.
However, the teams will have to provide their own sail/kite system which is sure to add yet another challenge to an increasingly difficult list.
“Our team did an awesome training session where we did some rock-clambering on the coast, swam out to a rock outcrop, got onto that and then got ourselves back in the sea – all in full gear. This was then followed by wading through rock pools and then a stand-up paddle (SUP) board. We are very comfortable with the ocean,” said Mountain Mammoth AR team member Helen Kernohan.
XPD Holland member Ren Rijnbeek said his team has undergone a similarly tough training regimen.
“Since walking and mountain biking are already disciplines we are strong at, the focus of our preps was already everything that has to do with water.Once the race concept was revealed, we started testing equipment, procedures and techniques. Every time lessons were learnt, they were shared and have adjusted our race methods, resulting in many tryouts and a huge amount of equipment in our storage room.”
“Expedition Africa 2019 will be unique. With more than over 100 checkpoints scattered all over the islands, it will require each team’s constant concentration to choose the shortest route at all times.” Nowhere will the route over the same area twice.
The route is one continuous leg, with 30 map transitions, where new leg maps will be issued as the race proceeds,” . Teams will have to bring their A-Game in navigation and decision making,” said course designer and race director Stephan Muller.
Expedition Africa kicks off on Sunday.