As part of the new Adventure1 series, I’ve been asked to come on board and take a look at the contenders for each of the races in the series – below is the transcript of my blog post for the first race in the series, X-Marathon.
X-marathon makes a return in 2017 with an official expansion to a 48 hour race. Born in 2011, early iterations of X-marathon were as a 24 hour race which rapidly earned a reputation for being one of the toughest 24 hour races in the country. I remember the first (and only) X-marathon I’ve raced back in 2013 saw only five teams finish the full course in the 24 hour time cut off. The hills were brutal, but that just made the views all the more rewarding. The seamless unsupported event logistics, excellent course flow, beautiful terrain and navigational challenge made this grass-routes race one to add to the bucket list.
Obviously, race organisers Serge and Maria have a penchant for massive courses with the race expanded to a 36 hour event in 2016. Even then, eventual race winners Through Sports/Shotz Nutrition were out on course for over 30 hours. X-marathon was probably the most competitive adventure race on the Australian domestic scene in 2016, with the nation’s top teams tussling for a podium position. Fast forward to 2017 and with an expanded cut-off of 48 hours for its sixth edition, X-marathon is likely to see a higher full-course completion rate but with the battle for the win no less competitive.
So let’s cast an eye over the entry list to look at the contenders for the title. For those in the know there are many familiar names there. This author’s pick for the win lies with Thunderbolt AR: a squad made up of highly experienced athletes with wins at all levels of racing right through to GeoQuest and XPD. Navigator Hugh Stodart is one of the best in the business and this team will be looking for a strong performance in their build up to Expedition Africa later in May.
Pushing them all the way will be Peak Adventure, another experienced squad with plenty of speed to boot. There are not many races in Australia captain Jarad Kohlar hasn’t won and I expect these two teams to trade blows all the way thorough the course. Rounding out the podium predictions are team CBRAR who are fielding a number of very experienced athletes with a ton of navigational depth (including Peter Preston, brother to Adventure1 ambassador Rob Preston).
Aside from these top three predictions, there are a number of other teams capable of knocking them off their perch, most notably Dynamite Adventure. Dynamite Adventure edged out team Peak Adventure for third place in last year’s X-marathon and were the fifth highest ranked Australian mixed team at the recent XPD AR World Championships. Interestingly, however, they have split their squad across two teams, shedding some local knowledge to team Dynamite-East Gipsland, so it will be curious to see how both of these teams perform. Tim Boote, captain of Dynamite-East Gipsland, is claiming this as a social race, but don’t be surprised to see this team running in the front half of the field.
All the above teams are based primarily in Victoria, however another notable stalwart team on the Australian adventure racing circuit are the BMX Bandits, hailing from interstate. The BMX Bandits are a strong top five pick and I have it on good authority they will be chasing the other races in the Adventure1 series. A final look through the team list reveals almost half the teams sporting the Tiger Adventure name – a common theme for most adventure races in Australia these days – including the only all female team (Cubs) and masters team (Shackleton) in the race.
How this race plays out will have important implications for the newly minted Adventure1 Series and it will be interesting to see which of these teams will push on to chase this title. With all four races in the series counting towards the points system, these teams are set to get a jump on a number of other strong interstate teams not making the trip down to X-marathon.
Best of luck to all the teams racing. A snapshot of the course logistics and general location looks like they are set for a tough but spectacular race regardless of their competitive aspirations.