A very chilly yet absolutely stunning canyon greeted the tired and the already cold this morning. Many teams raced through the night to reach Transition 5 late last night in order to tackle the dark zone leg at 04h00 this morning.
The top five teams reached Transition 6 with plenty of time to refuel and rest before their early start. Skylotec Adventure and East Wind were the first teams in the canyon this morning closely followed by Thunderbolt AR.
Team Nevarest Jabberwock have raced extremely well after yesterdays slight set back with CP 13. The team left Transition 5 and continued to race particularly well, moving from 9th place to 4th place by the time they reached Transition 6.
East Wind is currently doing their best to regain their placing after backtracking to collect CP 20. The team are currently racing the 97km cycle alongside Nevarest Jabberwock, both in pursuit of reaching the two leading teams; Thunderbolt AR and Skylotec.
More than half the field managed to race through the buffalo 'dark zone' before the zones shutdown commenced at 18h00 this evening. All teams between CP 17 and CP 21 must make camp at their exact spot, and are not allowed to move until 06h00 tomorrow morning.
The Merrell Mentored Adventure Racing team, lead by Donovan Sims had to unfortunately setup camp in the middle of the Buffalo area. According to their team media; Kirsten Oliver, the team were on the move to hopefully reach CP 21 before 18h00, however were unable to do so.
To ensure the safety of all teams racing Expedition Africa, race organiser; Stephan Muller created the dark zone as a safety precaution, as athletes racing at night will not be able to see the buffalo in the area, which could create an extremely hazardous situation.
Team Skylotec Adventure were charged by buffalo earlier today when passing through the same area. The marshals and ECPTA were roaming the area, and managed to intercept the chase with their vehicle, ensuring the safety of the team.
Marshals are on course patrolling the area, providing an element of safety to all teams within the zone. The team are in good hands however, with seven Expedition Africa's under his belt with the Merrell Adventure Addicts; Donovan Sims, team captain of the Merrell Mentors has the experience and training to lead this team out of any potential danger.
Michelle Powell, Troy Sims and Dean Findley have yet to race an expedition event until this very year. In preparation for Expedition Africa, the team have been training since last year, and have expressed that supporters will definitely hear their team before they are seen.
The remaining teams within the dark zone have camped out of dangers way and should have a fairly good night's rest despite the cold. "We wish all teams within the dark zone area the sweetest dreams and a good night's rest" shares co-race organiser Heidi Muller.
Images: Bruce Viaene & Andreas Strandh