Adventure racers from all over the USA and the world are now arriving in the towns of Fayetteville and Bentonville, Northwest Arkansas, for the inaugural Expedition Ozark.
The new race is part of the Adventure Racing World Series and has attracted teams from elite status to local teams trying adventure racing for the first time. They will race a 360 mile/580km course, which takes them into the Ozark mountains, passing through several State and National parks.
The course includes 172miles/277km of mountain biking, taking in gravel roads and some of the world renowned singletrack trails in the area, one of the big attractions to many of the visiting teams. There will be 108 miles/174km of trekking through the hills and forests, and the terrain navigation and route choice on these stages will be challenging. Finally, there will be 80 miles of packrafting on the rivers and lakes in the Ozarks, and in spring conditions teams will have to cope with fast flowing water and some rapids. The course includes caving and rappelling sections as well.
The two Race Directors are Danny Collins and Jason Bettis, who have raced together for many years, and the Ozark Outdoor Foundation is staging the new race. The opening ceremonies will take place in Fayetteville on Saturday April 1st and the race finishes in Bentonville on April 7/8th.
Athletes from 13 different countries are taking part, and the top teams will share a $20,000 prize pool, including a $2000 prize for the first international team to finish.
Among the race favourites is Team Brazil Multisport, who recently retained their ARWS South American championship title and finished 3rd at the last AR World Championships. The Vidaraidteam from Spain and Brazil is one of the most experienced in the race, and a former world #1 ranked team, and they are racing with Mari Chandler, the most successful US racer of recent years.
Team Racing Denmark are the current ARWS Europe Champions and won the ITERA Expedition Race in Scotland last year. Bend Racing also won an ARWS Qualifier last year at Expedition Canada and their team was 7th in the last World Championship. There are also some strong multinational teams such as the Estonian ACE Tactical Foodpack team, which has two strong Estonian racers and two strong Ecuadorian racers, though all four have never raced together before. The Expenature.fr Sudraid team has racers from France, Ireland and South Africa, who are experienced and elite racers, but have not met before.
The race will also see a gathering of ARWS Race Directors as 4 will be taking part, Urtzi Iglesias of Vidaraid (Expedicion Guarani), Chelsey Magness of Bend Racing/Skin Doctor (Expedition Oregon), Nathalie Long of Visit Penticton/BC Wild (Expedition Canada) and Santiago Lopez of Huairasinchi (Packraft Ecuador).
The race opening ceremonies and registration take place over the weekend and 34 teams will be on the start line at 7am on Monday April 3rd, though as yet they don’t know where that will be.
The race will have extensive media coverage on the Expedition Ozark Facebook and Instagram accounts, and there will live tracking at https://live.enabledtracking.com/ozark2023/
The second ARWS South American Regional Championship is set to begin this weekend in Paraguay, with 19 elite mixed quartets from 6 countries racing in LA GESTA on a 200km course. This highly competitive event will feature teams from 6 of the 9 South American nations, including the reigning champions, Brazil Multisport. Other top teams to watch include Menetue Ejercito from Chile, Uruguay Ultra Sports, and San Juan Aventura from Argentina.
The Malacara race in Brazil marks the return of the Adventure Racing World Series to Brazil after six years. The race, organized by Leo and Benito Borba, promises to be one of the most beautiful and challenging events in the history of Brazil with 26 teams from 10 nations competing in a 500km course covering 8 sections with over 13000mts of altitude. This demonstration race for the ARWS will test the endurance and skills of the mixed teams of 4.
Sixty-eight teams with racers from 15 countries will be in the Netherlands next weekend for the Raid Lowlands, the second race in the Adventure Racing World Series calendar in Europe this year.