The start location is high up on the top of Mt Buffalo, across the border in the Victorian High Country. XPD 2008 started mid afternoon Wednesday 19th November 2008. Teams were transported to the start on buses.
- leg 1 – trek 30km, the first trek will involve visits to scenic and historical locations on the Mt Buffalo Plateau. It is an incredibly beautiful park so hopefully teams will take the time to appreciate their surroundings!
- leg 2 – mountain bike 60km, the race will take teams to the historic gold mining Buckland Valley to CP3 in the vicinity of the old town site. A climb then descent will take teams out of the Buckland and down into the neighboring Ovens Valley.
- leg 3 – trek 85km, this is the longest trek teams will complete in the 4th Edition of XPD. It is strenuous and involves significant altitude gain and loss. Teams will spend much of the trek in the Alpine Zone and be exposed to rapidly changing weather. There are many highlights in this leg. Teams will ascend Mt Feathertop and traverse a section of the legendary razorback. Teams will travel across the Bogong High Plains which are a significant feature of the Australian Alps. Mid trek teams will pass through the welcome haven of Falls Creek Alpine Resort. Finally teams will ascend the highest mountain in Victoria, Mt Bogong at 1984m before descending into the scenic Kiewa Valley.
- leg 4 – kayak 32km, after the first three legs, teams will welcome some time off their feet and in the kayaks. The Kiewa River is a beautiful section of moving water and should be very enjoyable. There are enough rapids to keep teams concentrating and hopefully a smile on their face!
- leg 5 – mountain bike 210km, this massive ride is the biggest ever attempted by competitors at an XPD. It is the longest, has the most altitude gain/loss, and is navigationally difficult. There are many many route choices. It is an expedition within an expedition. Teams should be well prepared before departing on this leg. There is a dark zone at the end of this leg for the next paddle on the Murray River.
- leg 6 – kayak 55km, teams will paddle a section on the Upper Murray, an enjoyable and scenic journey down moving water with small rapids. Dark Zone and Other Restrictions – teams may be on the water between the hours of 0600-2000hrs ONLY. Outside these times teams have the option to either camp on the bank and wait for the dark zone to lift, or portage their kayaks along the road towards the end of the leg.
- Mid Camp, teams will then arrive at mid camp. This point is located in terms of distance, just over half way. While they have some big, grueling legs to come, they have completed the longest and hardest trekking, mountain biking and kayaking legs. At mid-camp teams are treated to a hot meal and have the option to charge batteries.
- leg 7 – mountain bike 65km, this mountain bike takes teams through some scenic farming country in the Upper Murray and Riverina Region before climbing up to the Maragle State Forest. Once in the forest look out for the hundreds of wild brumbies who make the forest their home.
- leg 8 – orienteering 25km, this leg is navigationally intensive and will allow teams with strong skills in this area to gain advantage. Teams will receive the locations of the checkpoints and instructions when they reach this CP. Once again look out for the wild brumbies running through the forest!
- leg 9 – mountain bike 35km, while this leg is short in distance the altitude gain/loss will ensure teams don’t take this too lightly. An “adventure swim” near CP16 will see two team members braving the frigid waters of the Tumut River to help get their team across this obstacle.
- leg 10 – trek 25km, this leg is a great high country trek with some spectacular scenery. Straightforward trekking initially is followed by more challenging navigation as teams trek over Tantangara Mountain. The mountain is remote with no roads and is covered by snow in the winter.
- leg 11 – kayak 30km, this leg is a predominately flat water paddle on the massive expanse of Lake Eucumbene. Due to low water levels in the lake, navigation will be important.
- leg 12 – mountain bike 65km, this is the last mountain bike leg of the race. It will take teams South of Lake Eucumbene through the Kosciuszko National Park, past the ski resort of Perisher and on to Charlotte Pass.
- leg 13 – trek 22km, the final trek and the final leg of the 4th Edition of XPD will take teams along the main range and over the highest mountain in the country. Talk about finishing on a high! This leg will be a final taste of the Australian Alps and hopefully a great final memory of their 800km journey through the Australian High Country. There should still be many snow-drifts throughout this leg and they can expect to be trekking on snow for parts.
XPD in the high country of Victoria and New South Wales means hills, hills and more hills… It is so beautiful up there, an awesome spot for a race, but hard work due to the numerous ascents on foot and with the bikes.
The Yogi Bears (Nick, Tenno, Si and Jude) start the 800km non-stop expedition race on Mt Buffalo in Victoria with a 30km trek. This is followed by a 60km bike ride which includes quite a bit of hike-a-bike… We then start the 85km trek, but when we reach the hut near the top of Mt Feathertop, the weather is coming in and we take shelter for a bit. As we are waiting in the hut more and more teams pile in for shelter and eventually Blake and the other official that were on top of Mt Feathertop also seek shelter in the hut. We decide to skip the next 3 CP’s (although we end up going to the location of the first CP anyway to get out of here – but the CP is gone…) and go straight down the mountain as we don’t have the gear for this weather, the first CP is already gone and we need to try to make the cut-off for the kayak.
We go down razorback ridge with Little Miss Sunshine as they didn’t have the overview map needed for the shortcut (which isn’t really a shortcut in km…) and we have a sleep along the road. The next morning we reach the TA for the kayak after a long slog on a tarmac road and are keen to get off our feet. Unfortunately due to all the rain we now have to walk an extra 8km to get to the next bridge as the first section is now considered too dangerous… 2 hrs later we can finally get off our feet and into the kayaks. Sun is shining and the paddle is awesome! Tenno and Si manage to get stuck under a tree and lose a paddle. Luckily we find it again more than a km down stream, floating under some trees!! We thought we had lost it forever…
At the end of the kayak we get ready for the longest mountainbike ride ever: 210km, crossing 5 major hills… The first hill is another long hike-a-bike and thanks to Tenno and his towing system I get to the top many hours later in the pouring rain. We decide to push on, despite not having any maps of this section as we seem to have misplaced the first 2 maps… Lots of teams decide to stop on the mountain and pitch tents, we ride on and find care-bear Mary in Eskdale. What an amazing woman! She invites us into her house (another 2 teams enjoyed the same luxury) , lets us sleep in her guest beds (mine has an electric blanket!), feeds us freshly baked chocolate croissants and other delicacies, gives us hot chocolate milk to drink and dries all our wet gear! She even moves her car out of the carport so our bikes can be under cover!! It is definitely tough to get going after this, but we finally leave as the sun is shining, ready for the next hill!
Unfortunately we don’t get to the next hill as we are still riding through the valley with the wind in our backs as an XPD van pulls up next to us and tells us the race has been stopped for 24hrs as the weather is so extreme it isn’t save to let teams continue into the higher altitudes of the course. We are allowed to ride on until Mitta Mitta, a small village only a few km up the road, where Little Miss Sunshine is already enjoying a lovely breakfast and hot chocolates.
Midcamp is rather surreal as all teams pile in at once. Caffeinated have organised dinner in the pub that night and the Yogi’s spend some time fixing and cleaning bikes, feet and ourselves. That night we enjoy the pub, have a few beers and sing the Yogi Bear song for all present in the pub (including the x-rated version a few hours later…).
The next day around 6pm we are all outside ready to go again. As the second kayak was cancelled, we now continue as if we would have normally after midcamp with a 60km bike ride. The Yogi’s are feeling excellent and we blitz the ride (and allow everybody to catch up whilst spending hours in transition ;-). It is an awesome ride and the sun with threatening clouds makes it look even better! Next is a rogaine on foot. We make an error trying to get to the next CP and end up spending a bit of time getting back on track. When we get to the last CP’s of the trek we are hiking through the snow that was dumped here whilst we were sitting in midcamp! Amazing!
Back on the bikes again for a very fast downhill, followed by a crossing with a kayak. And then another enormous hill. I was fed up with hike-a-bike so decided to ride it all (with some breathers of course). Man, that hill went on for ever and ever! And eventually we ended up in the snow again!
The next trek is cancelled again due to the weather conditions and the amount of snow that is up in the high country, so we go straight into the boats again. This time it’s a lake paddle with a surprise – we start with flowing water all the way to the lake. No idea where that came from, but it’s fun and fast for the first 15km (?) or so. Then we get into the trees and have to stop as navigation is becoming impossible. We have a sleep with all 4 of us piled into the Hubba Bubba. Hmmm, I must have been tired as I actually managed to get some zzz’s this time! The next morning nav is much easier and we find the TA easily – a lot faster then expected! A nasty hill climb with the boats until we reach the TA and then we can get ready for our last bike section. I thought I was really getting tired on this ride, but luckily discovered half way through the ride that my brakes were rubbing badly and Si was able to fix it for me (and again).
Then disaster struck… Si came off the bike and landed badly. Dislocated his shoulder, it popped back in again, but in the process broke (turned out later) his humerus. The ambulance came quickly and all we could do was wave good-bye to drop-bear… Booooh! So close to finish with the 4 of us! We continued the ride (Nick on Si’s bike), dropped off Nick’s bike with Craig who met us at the locked gate, and finished in the dark at Charlotte’s Pass (the resort). We had a super quick transition (don’t know times but it was quick for us!) and continued on foot for our last section – straight to the finish.
As another CP had been cancelled, we could walk straight along the summit walk to Mt Kusciuzsko. Most of this walk was on snow / ice and it was pretty cold. I was wearing all layers including a beanie and a buff! It was just warm enough as long as you kept moving, but just don’t stop! At 4AM we reached the path to the summit of Mt Kusciuzsko and got to the top as the moon came up, followed shortly afterwards by the sun. What a truely spectacular sight!! Soooo beautiful! I tried to take some photos, but it’s hard to capture such beauty with a little camera…
We punched the last CP and started chasing Little Miss Sunshine who’s path we crossed as we were about to hike the final path to the top (they were just on their way down). The metal walkway caused a few more drop-bears, but nothing dent apart from a bit of pride maybe. We were extremely disappointed the chair lift didn’t work as this meant we had to hike down 😉
We followed the ski slopes down, crossed the stream as we didn’t want to do the detour over the bridge (which BTW was no longer the little cute ankle-deep stream as we remembered from gear check, but a fast flowing creek that came up to my bum!) and crossed the finish line!! Bubbly, pizza and of course drop-bear (Si) were all waiting there for us! And also team Little Miss Sunshine and lots of others (Bean team etc).
What else can I say? Great course, awesome team mates…
When is the next one…? 😉