Endurance race - The other great trek: 500km of adventure

18 May 2016 - 10:20 By Emma Jordan

It's Friday night and the girls are packing their resupply boxes. Their bikes are boxed and they've got 48 hours until they begin the South African leg of the Adventure Racing World Series, Expedition Africa. Ranging from Knysna through Plett, the Crags and back around to Sedgefield, the race, a 500km endurance exercise, takes place over five days. There are over 260 participants with teams from all over the world."We're here because we'd like to experience adventure racing," said Malallah Reyad of Kuwait Extreme Team. The three Kuwaitees in the team may be triathletes but they've never taken part in an adventure race and they've never been to South Africa."Our highest elevation is 80m," joked team member Ahmad Almajed "but we're here to do our best."The Kuwaitees are joined by South African Isak Theron who says that the key to Adventure Racing is that it's a team sport and "it's not about winning, but having a great experience".Team Cameltoe is made up of an Australian, two New Zealanders and a Brit. They've raced together before, notably when they came together as a team in Alaska earlier in the year. That's how Steve Lock (New Zealand) and Polly Weston (the UK) met and they're now getting married. "I think you go through such extreme experiences you get to see the best and the worst in a person," said Weston.This new sport, a combination of cycling, hiking, kayaking and trekking in extreme environments is attracting adventure junkies and serious athletes from around the world.Set over a period of five days, routes are kept secret until the transition periods - stages where competitors fill up with food, water and in some cases sleep. Although Expedition Africa is set over a period of five days, organisers expect teams to come in as early as 72 hours. In other words, sleep is optional. But orienteering is as important as fitness levels as the ultimate goal is not only to finish first, but to find as many checkpoints along the route as possible.A highlight is the 2km Africanyon canyon, just outside Plettenberg Bay in the Crags.Contestants will be abseiling, swimming and climbing through the same gully traversed by Bear Grylls in the recent Mission Survive series.The next Adventure Race is in Paraguay in early July.See arworldseries.com

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