450 kilometres of non-stop adventure racing in Swaziland

In a few days, 24 teams will set off from the start of Africa’s toughest multi-discipline event, the 450-kilometre Expedition Africa adventure race.

Hosted in the Kingdom of Swaziland, Expedition Africa will challenge the fitness, skills, mental strength, endurance and navigation of all participants.

Expedition Africa is an international event on the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) calendar and this year it welcomes 24 four-person teams, representing 11 countries together with journalists from Australia, Portugal, Spain and South Africa.

“This is the fifth expedition-length adventure race that we’re presenting,” says Race Director Stephan Muller.

“Expedition Africa brings the world’s top endurance athletes to our continent to experience some of the best outdoor environments that Southern Africa has to offer.”

Muller created the event after competing for more than a decade of in local and international adventure races.

“This year is extra special in that we have been given unparalleled and unrestricted access to Swaziland. There are no land-access restrictions, which mean that teams can navigate any route they choose to reach checkpoints. We expect the race to be fast, strategic and technically challenging.”

At the heart of this unprecedented access is the involvement of Swaziland Tourism Authority. They have made this ‘free pass’ available to the athletes who will trek, mountain bike, canoe, canyoneer, climb and white-water raft over Swaziland’s high peaks and big rivers.

“Adventure racing really is the ultimate test of endurance, skill and mental strength. Because you have to navigate – by map and compass – to find your way across wild, remote countryside, you cannot just be fit. You have to be competent across disciplines, be able to work in a team and stay alert,” says Muller.

Expedition Africa benefits from support given to the event by local businesses and communities in this small, landlocked country. The world-famous social enterprise Ngwenya Glass has created hand-blown glass awards for the top-three teams. Sun International’s Lugogo Sun is the heart of race headquarters and the Royal Swazi Hotel is host to the opening and closing ceremonies.  Keeping an eye on athletes through the white water, canyoneering, caving and canoeing sections is adventure sports company Swazi Trails. Technical-apparel Company First Ascent is providing both the volunteer teams as well as racers with specialist cold-weather gear.

“This race represents the best of adventuring – great partnerships, excellent product support, exposure to wonderful, wild, seldom-seen places and an opportunity to experience all that Swaziland’s countryside and people offer,” says Muller.

“We are really excited to welcome so many international teams to Expedition Africa 2015,” he adds.

Team Peak Performance (Sweden), who became an internet sensation after adopting Arthur the dog at the Adventure Racing World Championships (ARWC) in Ecuador last year, will be racing hard for a win and free entry to the next World Championships in Brazil in November. Other visiting teams hail from Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Israel, New Caledonia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

Foreigners will face a field of competitive South African athletes. Teams Cyanosis, Jabberwock, Merrell Adventure Addicts and Sugar Monsters will challenge to fill the podium positions. 

International teams arrive in South Africa from this Wednesday ahead of the race start on Sunday, 7 June 2015. The winning team is predicted to take approximately 72 hours to complete the 450-kilometre race course, finishing by Wednesday morning, 10 June 2015. Follow the teams online with live GPS tracking on www.kineticgear.org 

Photograph by Bruce Viaene from Expedition Africa 2014

Quick summary

·         Event: Expedition Africa (5th annual event)

·         Date: 5-14 June 2015

·         Start Date: Sunday, 7 June 2015

·         Winning time: approx. 72 hours (three days of racing to finish on Wednesday morning, 10 June 2015)

·         Last teams: approx. six days

·         Location: Swaziland

·         Number of four-person teams: 24

·         Countries represented: Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Israel, New Caledonia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

·         Distance: 450 kilometres, non-stop

·         Sporting disciplines: trekking, mountain biking, canoeing, canyoning, climbing and white-water rafting, navigation

·         Live GPS tracking and news feeds: kineticgear.org

·         Race reporting: AR.co.za

·         Event information: kineticgear.co.za

·         Facebook: facebook.com/Kineticgear

·         Twitter: @kineticgear #ExpAfrica

About Expedition Africa

2015 marks the 5th edition of this race. Expedition Africa has visited the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Drakensberg and South Africa’s Wild Coast. This year the race crosses South Africa’s border to send teams on an adventure through the Kingdom of Swaziland. Expedition Africa is organised by Stephan and Heidi Muller from Kinetic.

About Swaziland and the race course

The Kingdom of Swaziland is a small country with diverse terrain and ability to accommodate many sporting disciplines.

Course highlights include a spectacular one-kilometre canyoning section, a one-kilometre caving section and an exhilarating white-water rafting section. As teams will trek and bike through Swaziland’s many National Parks, they will be in for a wildlife and game-spotting adventure too.

Navigation will be in true African style with no out-of-bounds areas. There are also numerous wildlife and cattle tracks connecting the road networks. The course takes teams through rural homesteads, where teams will experience first-hand the warmth and hospitality of the Swazi people.