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RESOURCES

NEWSLETTER 1

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WELCOME

Just over 12 months has passed since the final Godzone event in New Zealand not knowing it would be the last. I know most of you are missing the excitement that came every March when we had the chance to challenge ourselves against the best teams on truly memorable courses. Well rest assured that despite our new name, ExpeditionAR will follow the same philosophy of never compromising on keeping the sport challenging and to the highest standard possible. 

If you have jumped in the deep end and signed up for Chapter 2 already, then we thank you for your support. We have a large group or returning teams from Chapter 1 which is very pleasing and helps confirm we are on the right track to develop the event into a truly memorable experience. 

If you are still considering your options, then let us remind you there is no time like today to sign up for your next adventure. We are often asked how much training you need to do to sign up for an Expedition Race, and the agreed answer amongst our team is ‘as much time as you want to put in”. Having the right attitude is more important than how many strava crowns or Training Peaks TSS points you accumulate. 

You do not need to have a full team roster to register. There is still plenty of time to create your team of champions (or champion team) after you have secured your entry. 

LOCATION AND EVENT CENTRE

All registration, pre-event administration, gear check, media interviews, official welcome and race briefings for both the Pure and Pursuit teams will take place on Sunday the 20th October 2024.

The event HQ is located at the Alpine Fitness Centre in Bright. 

This location is within easy biking distance from most accommodation locations in Bright. Please be warned that you will likely roll past the Brewery, a gin distillery, Ice cream shop and many bakeries so factor that into your time and much needed calorie consumption pre and post race. Bright has a large grocery store (Woolworths), outdoor shop and several bike shops. 

Boats and any other race equipment provided by the organisers will be available for testing and observation. Be prepared for an early start on Monday morning. More specific schedule information will follow in subsequent Newsletters. For a general overview of event timing please check out the Schedule.

Bright is no longer the hidden secret it once was, when events like the Bright Alpine Climb (another Thought Sports event) commenced in 1979, or when the Tour of Bright road cycling race started and highlighted the amazing riding potential of this location. Since then mountain biking has boomed in locations like Mystic Hill, and big events have been drawn to the region like the Spartan OCR with over 2000 participants. 

Another of the great reasons for choosing this location is we can take the course in any direction, there is just so much suitable terrain for Adventure Racing in the surrounding areas. Spend some time looking over the maps and I'm sure your appetite for adventure will be wet too. 

 

“I've been traveling to this region of Victoria since I was a junior orienteer in the ‘90’s attending national training camps near Beechworth and competitions in Falls Creek. Since then I've completed in a few AR’s in the region, including my one victory over Chris Forne in Stage 1 of the Keen Adventure Race in 2008. But this event is the first to be based in Bright and according to the local tourism staff is ‘well overdue’."

Rob Preston Race director

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ADVENTURE 1 SERIES

ExpeditionAR is proud to be part of the Adventure1 Series, and is the Oceania A1 World Cup for 2024. You can check out the other events on the A1 website. 

https://adventure1series.com/2024-world-cup/

 

Winners of the mixed premier category will be rewarded with the opportunity to represent Oceania with a free entry to the 2025 World Cup Final being hosted by Sud Raid in France - 16-22 August, 2025. France is one of the original Adventure Racing countries and Sud Raid has a reputation for technical and challenging races. 

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EARLY BIRD ENTRIES CLOSING SOON

We know that committing to a race is hard, especially when the blisters are still healing from your last event like Explore Gippsland, But the early bird runs out soon in fact it's really soon the 20th st of April to be precise. Make it this week's mission to lock in your crazy mates and jump on board.

Getting your entry in also helps us plan and coordinate ensuring the best event possible. 

GENERAL HOUSEKEEPING

None of us like admin and would rather be riding our bike, paddling or trekking in the bush but some things must be done so check out the general housekeeping items below. We encourage all teams (and in particular, team captains and/or administrators) to ‘action’ any items that require some form of input, in a timely fashion – it will help ensure that you have the best possible event experience.

 

COMPLETE YOUR FULL TEAM REGISTRATION

Your team entry has been secured by your captain via the Eventplus website.

 

This is our database to keep track of team members details, medical records, shirts sizes and the like. Please pass the details onto your team members so they can join your team and keep up to date. 

Please update the database with each team member's details. This will allow our staff to know exactly who is in your team, and prevent them from getting asked by other prospective teams sniffing around for a better navigator. 

TEAM FINDER PAGE

Did the packhorse of the team over commit to carrying heavy loads and rupture a disc, or has your navigator gotten lost and no one can find them. Do you simply not have enough friends that are as mad as you? We can help!

Submit an enquiry on the team mate finder form on our website here. If we can match you with our current contacts we will, or we will post on the site for others to read and be inspired to join your team.

VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers are a key part of putting the event on and we would love to hear from you if you are keen to come along. We will do our best to allocate a job to you that sits with your skills. If you are new to adventure racing, it's a great way to watch others and learn the tricks of the trade first hand. If you are keen you can indicate your interest here. 

RACE APPAREL

 To ensure you get the correct sized race top, please update your team member information (where you can select your size). Deadline for correct sizing selection is the 18th of August. Failure to meet the above order deadline means that we will not be able to guarantee a particular fitting.

SPONSORSHIP

Expedition AR  is always looking for sponsorship opportunities as well as media coverage. If you or you know someone who would like further information on our event please contact us by filling in the online form on the website here. 

ACCOMMODATION

Bright has plenty of accommodation options to suit the needs of your team, any family and supporters you wish to accompany you to the event. The event is now less than seven months away, which sounds like a long time, but please note that Bright is a popular location and it's best to lock in accommodation early. 

It is always difficult to predict when you will return to civilisation and require your accommodation again after the event. If you have family traveling with you for the event, then it probably makes sense for them to have accommodation booked for the entirety of the event. 

Teams will have an opportunity to store a small amount of personal belongings for the duration of the event at Race HQ.

TRAVEL

There are a variety of ways to get to the host venue, Bright. 

Bright is 3hrs20min drive from Melbourne, 1hr20 from Albury and 7hrs from Sydney.

International travelers would need to fly into a major airport. Melbourne is the closest for traveling by car or train to Bright, but there are no flight connections from Melbourne to Albury (closest airport to Bright). 

Sydney has flights to Albury, so flying internationally to Sydney and then to Albury is another option. 

Another option for competitors that is pretty relaxing and great for the environment is to catch a train from Melbourne to Albury which costs less than $10. 

 

Transfers

There will be one transfer from Albury at 5pm on Friday 18th of October for equipment and people. Bookings are essential and close with entries closing.

IMPORTANT

All international competitors must have a current passport, valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from Australia. Most visitors to Australia do not require visas unless they intend to work, study or seek employment. Please check with your local travel authority before traveling.

AWARDS CEREMONY

We know that most of our athletes aren’t doing the race for the accolades nor the opportunity to make a post-race speech, but awards ceremonies are a great opportunity to come together and share some stories with your fellow competitors. 

The presentation will be held Sunday 27th from 1pm following the course closure at the Bright Brewery.

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BIKE BOXES, GEAR BOXES, BAGS 

ExpeditionAR Pure 

For the Pure teams ExpeditionAR is an un-supported race. This means that teams are NOT required to bring a support crew to Chapter 2 Victorian Alps. Our event logistics crews will be responsible for transporting the team equipment around the course and to various transition areas. Therefore, Pure teams will need the following :

4 x bike boxes

A typical bike box style used on an airline is what is required - Max dimensions 140cm x 80cm x 30cm - don't be the guy who brings a massive bike box!. Corflute (Fluted plastic)or cardboard (we suggest wrapping the cardboard in plastic contact if you don't have a Corflute one in case it rains). No sharp edges or protruding buckles, fixings or wheels. Maximum weight 30kg

4 x 100L tubs 

These need to be sturdy and able to withstand transportation over the course of the event. We recommend the type below available at Supercheap auto. These boxes have a 25kg weight limit

 

1 x paddle bag

This can be a tubular bag 50cm diameter x 150cm long and max weight 25kg.

Paddles may be transported separately if securely bundled together and labeled.

 

ExpeditionAR Pursuit

For the Pursuit teams ExpeditionAR is a supported race. This means that all teams are required to bring a support crew to Chapter 2 Victorian Alps. The support crews will be responsible for transporting the majority of team equipment around the course and to various transition areas. Therefore, bike boxes and gearboxes are not a mandatory requirement for Pursuit teams (though your support crew may still wish to use them to keep things safe and organised). 

As with all items of your race equipment and surplus luggage, we do not provide insurance cover for items that go missing or that break so if you are in any doubt, do not bring the item or arrange suitable personal insurance. At the very least, encourage your support crew not to be clumsy.

For a more comprehensive discussion about support crews, please visit the Support Crew page.

Important: the information below is provided as a preliminary guide only, but is a good start point for planning:

• Support crews are responsible for transporting team bikes. Given that your support crew has access to bikes throughout the race, we recommend that they have some knowledge on how to service, clean and fix them

• Support crews are responsible for transporting team clothing, food, water and supplies

• Support crews are responsible for removing team waste and recycling from transition areas

• Support crews are responsible for transporting other team equipment

A logistics planner, that outlines the stage character, length and different disciplines, will be released to team captains one week before the race starts for Pursuit teams. This will allow teams and support crews an opportunity to get their heads around the adventure and begin equipment planning. It will not reveal the location of checkpoints, transition areas, start or finish line. These will be kept secret until right up until the last moment.

Support crews will be given the opportunity to be closely involved with race staff and volunteers to allow you to enjoy the experience, rather than just be a slave to four grumpy racers wondering why you handed them a flat white instead of a latte.

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A BRIEF RACE UPDATE

We have condensed the schedule a fraction for Chapter 2 to fit the event into one working week. The Pure course is still 500km and will need a quality performance to meet the 4 day winning time. The Pursuit course is 400km and we also expect the first team to finish sometime on Friday, so a bit over 4 days racing time. 

We won’t reveal anything too specific about the Chapter 2 course until the final moments. Probably not until we hand over the course maps, in fact, on Sunday the 20th October. However, we can share some snippets of information that might help you plan your training, or at the very least get you speculating wildly about where we are going and what you will be doing:

Navigation - The course setter for Chapter 1 Coffs Coast did not think the navigation was particularly difficult - but maybe he spend to much time jumping in an out of a Ford Ranger and not enough time in the ‘monkey forest’.  Several teams lost a lot of time due to navigational errors and these mistakes compound as the race progresses. Chapter 2 will be no less challenging and we actually have more off-track options at our disposal to really challenge the navigators. Make sure your team spends some time brushing up on navigation at rogaines, orienteering events or Adventure Races in the lead up. 

The trekking and packrafting stages can be long and they will travel through difficult terrain. Full leg cover is highly recommended.

Mountain biking will be hilly, though we don’t expect you will get as hot and thirsty as the epic stage experienced by Chapter 1 athletes in the unusually warm conditions. 

Given the fact that most teams will be on the course in excess of 5 days, sleep management and strategy will be critical to success. There are different views on the optimal amounts of sleep for a race this long. Too much and you might struggle to make it in time. Too little and it gets very hard to concentrate and you often move a lot slower than you think when your head is all fuzzy from lack of zzzzz’s. If you’re unsure about what to aim for, reach out to more experienced racers and see how they approach it. All we would say is that for every 1 team that crosses the line that says they slept too much, there are another 10 who wished they’d slept a bit more.

As always, water will play a significant part in the event and we urge every competitor to get the skills/qualifications to turn river sections into a fun experience, rather than a terror-inspired rollercoaster of emotion. If you’re unsure of the requirements, take a look at the Certification page which outlines the basics required. The better you are, the more you’ll enjoy it. The river paddling will be up to Grade III level, but like many rivers in Australia, strainers/overhanging willow trees are often more dangerous than the rocky sections, particularly if the river is flowing swiftly. 

Despite Australia having the reputation of being a hot country, the paddling sections could be quite cold. In fact, the event is being held in Spring, and sections of the course climb over 1900m elevation and could still be quite cold. Be prepared to keep yourself warm, especially on any longer paddles and at night and in the early hours of the morning. At least one section of water will be dark zoned, meaning that paddling will be forbidden at night. Trekking with packrafts at night will be possible in most situations so it is recommended that you have adequate backpacks capable of carrying all your gear. 

All ExpeditionAR teams should take their packraft training seriously. There is a lot of packrafting. Those little rafts will be your best friends at some points of the race. If you don’t optimise your use of them, learn how to pack them up and down quickly and efficiently, making sure you have ample carrying capacity between the four of you, you are going to have the odd relationship breakdown. Get out in those rafts and use the backpack (probably 60-80L) you intend to use during the event for moving it about. Time spent preparing for packrafting will not be wasted.

More information about what to expect from the course will be released in forthcoming Newsletters 2 & 3. Don’t panic. Just be meticulous and plan properly. 

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MANDATORY GEAR UPDATE

At this time, there are no changes to the Mandatory Gear List. However, we draw your attention to the following key bits of information:

• Packrafting equipment has been separated out from canoeing and kayaking to give you a clearer picture of what needs to be carried on packrafting stages.

• We frequently get questions about the wetsuit requirement. Some competitors prefer to use ‘sharkskin’-style tops and bottoms as an alternative for better heat performance. However, teams should understand that the wetsuit requirement is not just about warmth. Wetsuits provide good warmth but also better protection against impacts, abrasion and they also assist with buoyancy. For these reasons, ALL teams must bring a wetsuit or Drysuit to Chapter 2 (farmer john-style is a great option). Teams are welcome to bring sharkskin-style clothing for use when the wetsuit is not a mandatory requirement. Wearing a wetsuit and sharkskin might not be a bad idea at times.

PACKRAFTING  (PURE TEAMS ONLY)

In the past we have received a fair number of questions about packrafts and related equipment. Most teams seem to have got their heads around what types are good for adventure racing and the quality and quantity of available rafts continues to expand. For those new to Expedition AR, Please feel free to reach out and ask questions. Thought Sports are big fans of the MRS brand we have tested them over many years of racing and weekend trips. They are fast on the water and extremely reliable. Check out the range of MRS packrafts sold by our event partners Thought Sports here

From our perspective, we’re not particularly interested in how fast/light your new raft is and how the sunlight seems to dazzle seductively off its custom paint job. What we care about is that teams are safe and that you all know how to use the rafts correctly. The following is a brief outline of things to consider when looking at packrafts. However, the number 1 piece of advice we’d give to newbies is to go and get some instruction first. 

The reality is that the optimal packraft for this event may not be the best one for your personal travels, the next Chapter of ExpeditionAR, or any other race you may do around the globe. If you are going to buy a packraft then we would advise that you get the best quality that you can afford and one that is good for most water conditions, rather than a rather ‘specialist’ version. 

Packrafts with sprayskirts have some advantages in terms of water ingress and warmth. Those advantages are offset by cost and weight. A sprayskirt or cover is not a mandatory requirement but if it is cold, you may be thankful for having one. 

There are pros and cons of single versus double packrafts. The latter can be lighter overall for a team of four and possibly a bit quicker. However, those benefits are offset by the reduced flexibility of the rafts afterwards – in the sense that 4 singles could go home with 4 different people. 

Teams should definitely ensure that their rafts are big enough to carry not only people but plenty of equipment too. Equipment needs to be stored on the rafts in a way that it does not impede access out of the raft in the case of a capsize. 

Backpacks should not be worn whilst rafting. They must be in the raft. Rafts need to be capable of coping with white water up to Grade III.

Like most things at ExpeditionAR, skills go a long way to ensuring a safe and enjoyable adventure. We thoroughly recommend that teams spend a good deal of time in their rafts prior to the race to understand their strengths and, more importantly, their limitations. Teams wishing to skill-up or expedite their learning should definitely look into some of the training courses on offer.

Remember, it is our job to lay on a great adventure race and make sure that it operates smoothly with plenty of information. It is your job to ensure you turn up with the requisite skills. It will only add to your enjoyment and piece of mind.

MAPS, HANDBOOK, ROUTE PLANNER & PASSPORT

Teams will use specially prepared maps that may vary from a scale of 1:10 000 to 1:50 000 (most will be standard 1:25 000). The magnetic declination in Victoria is roughly +12.7degrees.

Unfortunately Victoria does not have a great option for accessing free topographical maps. They can be downloaded from this website for $8.50 each, or you can use other sites that give some data but are not topographical maps

Another good resource is Open topo map - https://opentopomap.org/

All teams will be provided with two sets of topographical maps for the entire course. Both sets of maps are waterproof maps.
PURSUIT support crew will receive an additional set of maps. 

A summary of what each team will receive (at least in terms of course related documents) is outlined below:

• One week before the race starts an electronic Route Planner PDF will be emailed to team administrators that will provide a broad overview of the stages. This will be supplemented at Race Registration with:

• Two sets of waterproof maps available for use on the course. Yep, no need for contact or laminate or have the inevitable crease running through the hardest part of nav on course. 

•  An updated Route Planner in paper form that will give more details about stages, transition areas, other important locations, distances, approximate elevation gains and losses.

•   One Team Handbook, that will give detailed information about stages, rules, penalties, particular safety requirements over and above generic considerations, dark zones, time cut offs and route specifics (the do’s and dont’s of the course). The Team Handbook also contains a very specific table for each stage outlining what mandatory gear is required to be carried on that specific stage. If there is a small contradiction between what is outlined in the Team Handbook and what is on the Mandatory Gear List on the website, then the Team Handbook is the one to follow. 

The Mandatory Gear List on the website is just a generic catch all for the entire race and we will modify it to suit particular stages. For example, if you have a vanilla 2hr bike ride, we might remove some gear requirements such as carrying a tent and sleeping bags, as carrying them will not really make you any safer (which is really what mandatory gear is about – the bare necessity to survive, if you have to).

•        Please note that the Team Handbook must be carried by the team at all times during the race. This is to ensure you have all the important information to hand when out on the course – such as the next time cut off which you are in danger of missing. The Team Handbook is on waterproof paper, but you will still need to cherish and care for it to make it last 7 days. 

•    Every team will receive two Race CONTROL CARDS (looks like this, A6 size and the punch boxes look like this) which ARE made of waterproof paper. You will ‘punch’ your CONTROL CARD at each Checkpoint along the course and as you enter and again when you exit each Transition Area. You must submit one completed Control Card to officials at the finish. No completed Race Passport, no finish. We recommend that you ‘punch’ both Control Cards at all times and look after them carefully, using one as a back up. Some teams elect to have different people carry each passport to reduce the risk of loss or forgetting to punch. Your call.

Teams may also be issued wrist bands on the course that require each team member to punch their band, This is to ensure each team member goes to the control - Not that we don't trust you. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

OK, that’s a fair amount of information to digest. We acknowledge that sometimes, with such a large data download, it is easy to forget the really important things. For now, we would draw your focus back to these key items:

  • Get the skills (navigation, water and a sensible race strategy are a great place to start). If you’re not a seasoned pro in packrafts on moving water, we highly recommend that you use the time available to start upskilling. Check out the training courses on offer by the team at Thought Sports. 

  • Have a good chat with your team. Work out your relative strengths and weaknesses so that you can move as an efficient unit. For example, a very slow technical rider or someone who struggles to descend on foot in tricky terrain can seriously slow down three other people, no matter how strong you all are. Use the coming months to settle on an achievable and collective goal for the race

  • Sign up to a local race- we highly recommend the Adventure 1 events in Australia and New Zealand https://adventure1series.com/new-zealand/ (or any of the 20+ countries around the world now holding Adventure 1 events). 

  • Book your accommodation, sooner rather than later. 

  • Log into your team information page and fill in your details so we can release the team list

If you need any additional information or have any questions, no matter how small please reach out by emailing rob @thoughtsports.com.au

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