Catching up with Clinton Mackintosh - 2018 XTRAIL Altay Expedition Race

Catching up with Clinton Mackintosh - 2018 XTRAIL Altay Expedition Race

  • 24 May 2018
  • |
  • First Ascent

First Ascent Sponsored Athlete, Clinton Mackintosh and Nicholas Mulder from one of SA’s Top Adventure Racing teams, Cyanosis Adventure Racing who are powered by First Ascent, will be teaming up with Swedish team, USWE Adventure at the 2018 XTRAIL Altay Expedition Race taking place in China from the 2nd – 7th June 2018.

Tell us a bit more about the upcoming 2018 XTRAIL Atlay Expedition? (Duration, length, what the event entails, the area/landscape which the race will be taking place in etc)

The 2018 edition of Xtrail Atlay Expedition will be held in the northern Xinjiang region, in northwest China that borders with Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The Xtrail is an unsupported 600km Expedition style Adventure Race where mixed teams of 4 (3 male 1 female) will self-navigate on an unmarked route using only a map and compass. Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China, is a vast region of deserts and mountains. It's home to many ethnic minority groups, including the Turkic Uyghur people. The ancient Silk Road trade route linking China and the Middle East passed through Xinjiang. We are expecting to see a lot of the high mountains and the desert conditions during the race.

Two athletes from SA and two athletes from Sweden, how was the team formed?

USWE’s team captain contacted me towards the end of last year to race with them in the US. However the timing didn’t work and I said I would be keen to race another race if the opportunity arose again and so here we are getting ready to race in China. Cyanosis have raced a lot on the ARWS circuit and we have crossed paths with USWE at a number of these races, some of which we have had some good racing to the finish line, Raid Spain ARWS 2017 being one of those races.

First Ascent - Clinton Mackintosh

Competing with a different team must come with its challenges? What are some of the challenges and how do you overcome them?

It will be very strange for me personally as I haven’t raced under another team name in almost 15 years. Fortunately I have Nicholas with me in the USWE team so it’s really only a name change if you think about it. The fortunate thing is that we are all like-minded competitive individuals and the team dynamic (albeit it a mix of two nations) should be very good, we are all heading to China Xtrail with the same mindset and objectives and that’s so important. I believe the biggest challenge we will face, is not necessarily team dynamics but the race course itself.

As a team do you train together prior to the event commencing?

Unfortunately we have not had the opportunity to train together for this race as Nic and I are based in different provinces and time hasn’t allowed it, but we have all kept a good training log between the 4 of us. After all this is a team sport, so effectively your training effort and conditioning benefits and affects the collective.

What is it like for you to go and compete in different places around the world, do you find it challenging or exhilarating?

We have been traveling and racing around the world for some years now and one would expect it to get easier but every race has its own challenges. The logistics of getting all our gear in and out of country is always a juggling act that requires careful planning. For China, as it is so remote we have had to change in-land flights to accommodate an airport that has moved its opening dates to later in the season. A flight change and a 6 hour bus trip to race HQ is now on the cards.

The excitement comes from experiencing new areas and new locations that are typically not seen by most people including a lot of locals, I believe in 2016 the race traversed areas that had never seen westerners, so that feeling of being in a place that is that remote is certainly exhilarating. We want to test our limits mentally and physically, and racing in different countries and areas with extreme wilderness, enhances the experience that we are looking forward to. I believe that China will be challenging no doubt.

First Ascent - Nicholas Mulder

Do you as a team have a set goal for the race or are you going over for the experience?

We certainly have set team goals for the race and are not heading to China for a holiday. We have been racing at the sharp end of the ARWS for many years and intend on remaining as competitive as we can be for as long as we can.

What First Ascent gear will you be taking with to the race? 

We are required to carry mandatory safety gear with us at all times during these Adventure Races. This mandatory gear is in the AR World Series rules and hefty time penalties are given if you don’t have any of them with you during the race. We make full use of this gear and consider it there for our safety. We have performance tested all the First Ascent gear we make use of in a race and are at ease in any weather conditions.


Shell layer Top = Men's X-Trail Jacket

Baselayer Top = Polypropylene Long Sleeve Baselayer 

Baselayer Tights = Derma-Tec Long Johns Baselayer 

Baselayer Head = Men's S200 Beanie 

Mid Layer Top = Men's Piranha II Fleece Pullover 

Shell Bottom Waterproof = Men's Flash Flood Pants 

Sleeping Bag = Amplify Down Light Sleeping Bag

First Ascent - 2018 XTRAIL ALTAY EXPEDITION RACE