TWO Mount Eliza men are taking adventure racing to a new level as competitors in XPD events.
XPD is expedition-style adventure racing in which international teams of four hike, mountain bike, and kayak for three to six days over all types of terrain, usually far from medical assistance.
Racing day and night over a 500 kilometre course they push themselves to the limits of their endurance – just for the thrill of competing.
Under race rules all team members must complete all sections of the course and they must never be more than 100 metres apart. Courses are inspired by the local terrain and kept secret up until hours before the start. Teams then receive their maps and race books pointing out the various checkpoints they must navigate to on their journey.
David Leggo, 48, and Lucas Matthews, 42, last month won the all-male category of their race at Palm Cove, Queensland, called XPD Australia 2020 after the event was postponed last year due to COVID-19.
About 35 teams competed, with five teams of four contesting the all-male category. Their “trophies” were rocks taken from the course with small plaques inlaid on them.
Leggo, married with two boys, is a civil engineer at Melbourne Water. He started competing in adventure racing in 2007 and has tackled various styles of events at least annually. His main role is to navigate the team around the course with a compass and maps.
Matthews, married with three boys and a girl, is a manager at BOC Gases. He was “dragged” into adventure racing by Leggo a few years ago and has gone straight into competing in events.
“We enjoy the challenge,” Leggo said. “Also, we get to go places where people normally wouldn’t be allowed, such as large cattle stations of hundreds of square kilometres with gorges and rivers … lots of cool places.”
The mind-numbing sensation of sleep deprivation is common in all the longer races. “I’ve done five big events over five-10 days over the time and the lack of sleep for days on end can cause you to hallucinate and become disoriented,” Leggo said. This was problematic as the teams must carefully navigate their own courses using maps, with the aim of choosing the most precise route, similar to orienteering.
Leggo and Matthews train hard, often heading out at 4am to run along the cliffs at Mount Eliza and Mornington and finishing off with multiple laps of Moorooduc quarry reserve. They train for the mountain bike sections at Two Bays track and up steep bike trails at Red Hill and paddle their kayaks from the beach at Mount Eliza.
To simulate race requirements, they load their packs with 20kg of weights.
Leggo said most competitors were in the 40-50 age range because equipment, such as bikes and kayaks, could be expensive and time off for younger people was often hard to come by.
When events finish they like to take a few days to recuperate. After driving to a race at Townsville while his family flew up, Leggo said they then spent three weeks driving home down the coast.
Two other team members Jarrod Mitchell and Andy Turner live in the inner suburbs. They are all looking forward to their next challenge.