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Plotting Australia’s biggest adventure race

While adventure-racing athletes will converge on Townsville from all over the world in August for XPD – Australia’s own expedition-length adventure race – there is plenty of work that needs to be done behind the scenes between now and then. And who better to enlist than local Goers Linda Davis and Adrian Garnett: Doing their fair share of adventure sport, including six of the seven XPD races, this active couple are crucial to the plotting of the top-secret 700km course.

“After seven to 10 days of hardcore adventure racing, the finish line gives you goose bumps – even if it’s 1am and there are just a few officials there to see it, it’s the best feeling… the pizza, tub of ice-cream and champagne help too!”


The West Coast Trek in the first Tasmanian XPD race.

“Our house is a mess at the moment,” tells Linda over a banana smoothie at Zeek on Gregory Street. “We have maps everywhere and the computer screens are permanently displaying Google Earth,” she adds with a laugh.


The Mount Wellington Organ Pipe Abseil (Linda right at the top) – not for the faint-hearted!

Over the Christmas break while many were relaxing or escaping the heat, Linda and Adrian were roaming the Townsville region’s wilderness – up to 400km away. The information they’re continuing to gather on these remote missions will be instrumental in deciding what course the 700km 10-day race takes, and it all must remain top secret till 24-hours before the 50 teams set-off in early August.


Linda with Sam Stedman navigating the Arthur River in Tasmania.

“We have completed several 12-hour paddling trips, and another trip took us eight hours to cover 50km on the bike where the vegetation was so thick,” Linda pauses to show some of the scratches still on her upper arms from the wait-a-whiles. “Adrian has been investigating some options by using the trips as training runs for an upcoming trail race… I pick him up at the end. It’s been so much fun exploring and – while we are from this area and know it pretty well – we didn’t realise things were looking as good as what they are.”


Who knows what obstacles you’ll encounter in XPD – sand dunes?

Linda and Adrian are recceing a number of course options, which will get narrowed down tothe final choice just before the event takes place. In their current plans, several alternatives don’t start from Townsville. “It’s been funny watching the people around us trying to work out where we are going and what we are doing to get the inside information,” Linda says. “We have been throwing out some decoys just to keep people guessing… we’ve heard of a few unnecessary trips up certain rivers (laughs).”


You could say this was in a challenging mountain bike ride…

While the couple can’t take part in this race for obvious reasons, XPD is something that has always drawn Linda with her strong orienteering, mountain biking and paddling background; despite the pain and discomfort that the teams of four endure during the epic race.

“We’ve done New Zealand, Broken Hill, two in Tasmania, the Australian Alps, the Whitsundays and Cairns,” she tells. “Your feet end up twice as big, you’ve got festering cuts, you’ve lost heaps of weight, and you spend days afterwards cleaning out storage containers of rotting food, but it’s all about crossing that finish line.

“After seven to 10 days of hardcore adventure racing, the finish line gives you goose bumps – even if it’s 1am and there are just a few officials there to see it, it’s the best feeling… the pizza, tub of ice-cream and champagne help too!”

While most of us won’t be competing in the race, Linda says there are plenty of other ways to get involved, including volunteering at checkpoints (even the remotest ones), billeting visiting international teams, escorting media and helping to upload data on the website for people monitoring results from all over the world.

Aust Alps - Last CP Kossie Summit (Linda, Adrian, Greg, Sharman - Team Box Jellyfish) copy

XPD Australian Alps – the last checkpoint at Mount Kosciuszko summit.

“There are jobs for everyone, even for people who think they can’t be useful,” she says. “It’s just something that’s really exciting to be involved in. Essentially, when was the last time we had an adventure racing World Series event here in Townsville?”

XPD Expedition Race is from August 3-14. Read our article XPD SETS SCENE FOR TOWNSVILLE ADVENTURE to find out more about the challenge.

To get involved in volunteering, see here:

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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