EA Rodrigues Will Feed Your Need For Speed
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future……and it looks mighty fine for teams competing in Expedition Africa Rodrigues! There was a media meeting this week, 6 weeks out, and we have some juicy titbits for you:
The race will feature 27 transitions. Yes, you read that right. Has there ever been an expedition race of such intensity-in-ten-cities? I think not. Imagine a paddle, then a hike, then a snorkel, followed by a cave, then a zipline, then another hike, into a swim. On the first day. (By the way, that is not literally the opening sequence, but it gives you the idea).
Due to the small size of the ‘playground’, Master Planner Stephan Muller has opted for variety to keep you on your toes, rather than lengthy stages, and this is going to be quite a change for many teams. What this means is it’s going to be both fast, and very mentally taxing. You won’t be able to let your mind rest as you grind out a 200km ride, just focusing on the next pedal stroke. Instead, teams are going to have to be constantly on their game, aware of upcoming disciplines, keeping all their gear sorted on their boats, not forgetting mandatory kit, plotting the next map as it appears, while trying to outdo other teams constantly on their heels. By TA 10, your mind will be a blur, and TA 23 a complete haze. Welcome to the twilight zone. Awesome!!
You’re probably quite worried by this revelation. Fear not, young padawan, Heidi and Stephan are keener than ever that you HAVE FUN on this race. An incredible tropical paradise, no mosquitos (it will be winter), warm breezes and warmer seas, you and your bestest on an incredible treasure hunt with a smorgasboard of challenges as you tame the ocean.
It will be a fast race. It will favour teams that can improvise well, and waste minimal energy on team friction. Moreover, teams that practice transitions at home will have a massive advantage. Get out and repeat them until you can do a Seagate. If you’re talking a lot in TA, you need to practice some more.
The expected winning time is 65hrs, BUT this excludes sleep and time in transition. At a super-fast 15 minutes per TA, that would add at least 6hrs 45, and with the mistakes induced by the pace, who knows? You could probably add 3-4hrs to that for an elite team, so without knowing the actual course, it seems likely to be 70-75hrs.
The kick-off is scheduled for midday Sunday, which means the winning team should cross the line roughly Wednesday morning, in the sunshine.
Here’s a couple of other nibbles:
- Not hot water. That makes sense because your boat is your TA. Teams will have to heat their own, but don’t worry, Heidi is currently organising a massive shipment of gas canisters from SA for teams, even exhausting the supplies on Mauritius. Contact her ASAP if you need some.
- No dark zones. Despite the watery location, there aren’t raging rivers, and the island is surrounded by a coral reef. As long as you don’t try to paddle the deep blue, you’ll be good.
- If you choose to sleep, you could easily be doing it on one of the outer islands. As picture perfect as you can dream – the question is just this: are you bringing a lightweight hammock for dem coconut trees?
The garden of Eden was a paradise, but there was danger a-lurking. What awaits you on Rodrigues?
The fiercest critter is the stone fish. They lie on the sea bottom, camouflaged against the reef, very hard to spy, and covered in seriously toxic venomous spines. You step on one, you’re being medevacked to the nearest hospital. Stat. They are no joke, so the absolute rule is footwear at all times.
Spiders will be awaiting. Not so bad. Specifically, red-legged golden orb-web spiders (Nephila Inaurata). No hospital necessary as they are non-venomous, though they be huge, and cluster in massive webs, capable of catching even small birds and bats. You won’t need medical help, but if you run face-first into a web at night, you might need psychological counselling. 😉
Infection on tropical islands is always a problem. Don’t let cuts fester. Smother any wound immediately in antibacterial gunk and bring a comprehensive medical kit. To give you an example, Stephan sustained an injury to his leg, while out on the month-long recce, and it only healed after he returned to SA. You are hereby advised.
Lastly, foot care is going to be a toughie. We know it’s always a priority in AR, but this is the first time you’re living on a boat during a race, and mixed with beach sand, salt and frequent immersion, it will be fun.
No, rabies is not a problem on Rodrigues. And the tortoises are not known to charge unless you get between them and fresh carrot.
EA Rodrigues will be a race like no other, and those teams who’ve managed to secure a slot are in for a treat. There will never be another expedition race on the island, the Muller Maestros have cooked up an amazing concept, and I can’t wait to Get. Out. There.
Note: A quick shout out to Hotel Cocotiers Rodrigues that will be hosting the HQ & media teams, and the 200 supporters from Rodrigues Government and Tourism, whose support has been instrumental in making the event possible.
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