After six days of racing, and a navigating the notorious ‘Maze’, Team Mountain Designs have won XPD 8th Edition.
A difficult and technical 48km trek in the Harveys Ranges, lived up to expectations, shaking up the leaderboard and delivering teams a navigational head-ache in the final stages of the race.
The trek explored some inaccessible private stations in the Harveys Ranges. The first section started in an area described by Race Director, Craig Bycroft as «The Maze».
«This is followed by a canyon trek up the Reid River and finishing with a view to the finish line from an escarpment», he says.
«This is a crucial stage of the race. After days of racing and little sleep» says Bycroft, «this is where the race can be won or lost.»
In the lead for most of the race, Peak Adventure commenced the trek at midday, in valuable daylight hours. An rule infringement at the start of the trek, saw the team possibly incurring another four hour penalty.
Mountain Designs, gained a lot of ground to hit the lead, with a fast mountain bike leg and a quicker time on the historical rogaine in Ravenswood to start the trek at 4.30pm.
Technically, there was only eighteen minutes between these two teams, taking into account the four hour penalty to be imposed on Peak Adventure from an earlier trekking leg.
After a serious navigational error, Mountain Designs lost hours, and Peak Adventure was back in the lead as they attempted to collect their last Control Point (CP), CP 40. Once they located this CP, they would travel to the next TA for the final 50km mountain bike leg to the finish line in Townsville.
Heading too far west and overshooting the CP by a couple of kilometres to the north, the team struggled to find the control. Trying to relocate, the team continued to circle around the hilly terrain.
Race Director, Louise Foulkes says, «You could not predict this, Peak Adventure cannot find the last CP in the trek and have been looking for it for 3 hours. Mean while, team Mountain Designs is storming home.»
Unaware, that Peak Adventures had not located the CP, Mountain Designs collected the final CP and headed to the final bike leg to claim the win.
As the daylight hours faded, Peak Adventure, unable to find the final CP, retired from the race. Exhausted, hungry and team member Emma Weitnaeur injured, the team called the Race Headquarters to withdraw.
Team Merrell navigated their way into third position with little error, whilst Bivouac Inov-8 also struggling to find the final CP, dropped to fourth position.
As Mountain Designs crossed the finish line first, Raidlight was attempting to hold off That’s Cray for fifth position, as they continue to navigate the trek through the night.
Dave Schloss from the winning team Mountain Designs, said «Our goal of the race was to get to the finish. It was low key. We were just happy to be here to defend our title»
Damon Goerke and Kathryn Preston, joined the Mountain Designs team, at the last minute, due to injury.
Team Captain, Gary Sutherland said, «Damon and I have been arch rivals in adventure racing for many years, always racing on different teams. It’s awesome to come together in an international race, that puts Australia on the map.»