Expedition Ozark co-race Director Jason Bettis is about to lead Team Ozark at the 2023 Adventure Racing World Championship.
The 800km, non-stop race will be hosted by Expedition Africa and takes place in Kouga, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Team Ozark will be amongst 109 teams from 30 countries who will gather at Cape St. Francis and prepare for the race start on October 19th.
From there teams will have 9 days to complete the course, trekking, mountain biking, and paddling through wilderness terrain, racing day and night, carrying their supplies, and depending on each other for support.
An experienced racer, Bettis took on the role as one of the Race Directors at the first Expedition Ozark in April this year and hosted teams from around the world in Northwest Arkansas. In the upcoming race, he will be racing against many of those teams himself. (The top 6 teams from Expedition Ozark; from the US, Estonia, Ecuador, Spain, Brazil, and France, will all be racing in South Africa.)
Expedition Ozark is part of the Adventure Racing World Series and since April Bettis has competed with Team Ozark at ARWS races in Ecuador and British Columbia. Now it’s time to take on the biggest race of them all – the AR World Championship.
The team for the race is a combination of experienced US and Canadian endurance athletes.
Mike Kuschner from Atlanta, Georgia is a former competitive paddler, now a coach, and raced with Bettis in British Columbia. (He had previously raced with the other Expedition Ozark co-race Director, Danny Collins, who is unavailable for the trip to South Africa.) Apart from his endurance and technical skills, Bettis said Kuschner is the team race planner and logistics expert – which is an important skill in complex, multi-day races.
The two Canadian racers both bring expertise and experience from many expedition races to the team. Ashlie Ferguson completed the first Expedition Ozark with the Tower Racing team and has previously been on the podium team at Expedition Oregon. In her last race, she was in the first-ever all-female team to complete the Expedition Course at the Wilderness Traverse in Canada.
James Galipeau was a late addition to the team and is the most experienced of the 4 racers. James too was at the first Expedition Ozark (in Team Warrior) and has completed an astonishing 24 ARWS Expedition races since 2011, racing all over the world. His last big race was the Nordic Islands Adventure Race in the Faroe Islands in August.
Bettis commented, “We are all strong and experienced expedition racers and know the importance of good communication with each other. There will be a lot of highs and lows on such a long race and we all need to say when we need help and be prepared to support the others on the team.
“Good teamwork and looking after each other gives us the best chance to achieve our goal of reaching all of the checkpoints and completing the World Championship course. We’re not focused on a ranking as we know if we work together and enjoy the amazing experiences of the African culture, terrain, and wildlife, then we’ll get the best result we can.”
There will be updates about the progress of Team Ozark in South Africa on the Expedition Ozark Facebook and Instagram pages (@expeditionozark) and you can follow the race live on www.arworldseries.com/live and www.expafrica.live.
If you missed the story of the 2023 Expedition Ozark race, get caught up on our four-part series written by competitor, Rachel Furman.