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ESSENTIAL EVENT INFORMATION 2024

Due to the scale and nature of Rat Race Events, changes to the event course, structure and timings sometimes need to be made right up until the date of the event. To ensure you have the latest information and are fully prepared for the challenge that lies ahead, please checkback on this EEI before travelling to the event.

This EEI was last updated on: 21/12/23 

WELCOME TO CENTRAL AMERICA. 
WELCOME TO PANAMA COAST TO COAST 2024.

 

Dear Intrepid Coast to Coaster… 

 

We hope the excitement is building to what is going to be a sensational adventure in the jungle next year.  

 

Please find our Essential Event Information Document, containing what we hope is a comprehensive outlook towards your journey later in March. If you have not done already, do ensure you are fully conversant with the website and then pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee (or something a little stronger!) and read on…. 

Abbi Naylor

Event Director, Rat Race Panama C2C

FILES AND DOWNLOADS:
KEY REMINDERS:

Make sure you’ve read this document thoroughly well ahead of your departure date to ensure there are no last minute panics or surprises, if you have any questions after reading this please reach out to us on events@ratrace.com

SKIP TO SECTION

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TIME ZONE

GMT  - 5 hours

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PHONE CODE

 (+507)

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LANGUAGE

Spanish

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CURRENCY

 USD $

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

  • INTERNAL FLIGHT TIMES: Internal flight departs Panama City Albrook Airport at 1400 on 16/3/2024. An RV is requested at the airport domestic departure check in area on the first floor at 1200. Don’t be late! NB: This flight time is still subject to change but will not be earlier than 1400. Please note that the airport for internal flight departure (and return) is ALBROOK (the domestic airport) and NOT Tocumen International. 

  • Event Participation Form MUST be submitted NO later 31st January 2024.

  • Medical declaration MUST be submitted NO later than 31st January 2024.

  • The Q & A webinar will take place on at 1730 UK time on 30th January 2024. The webinar will be recorded and sent out to all participants the following day so you can watch it back at your leisure if you are unable to make the date and time.

  • You will need 6 days’ worth of Exped meals for jungle and packraft phase PLUS one day of contingency – 7 days total. Discounts available for those who still need them with expeditionmeals.com. RatRace15 will give 15% off at check-out. See below for exact food quantity required and what you eat on which day during the trip. 

  • Please remember that GPS tracker service at all times is not a-given; you should particularly note this if sharing live links with supporters.  

  • Kit: You will need to pass final kit check before being able to complete our physical registration process on 17/3 at Las Olas. If your kit is not right the Event team will reserve the right to prevent you starting the Event. If in any doubt on kit, please do get in touch with us at expeditions@ratrace.com and we can help! 

  • Insurance: You need insurance.  You will need a medical repatriation and evacuation policy that has a minimum of $500 000 trip cover on it. You will submit this to us pre-event and we will ensure we have the correct number to call your insurer if we need to evacuate you or provide serious medical attention. We also highly recommend a policy that covers you for curtailment and non-attendance.

  • Live events decision-making: When we are in Panama, in all cases while on the event, the Event Director’s decision is final. They are at all times acting in the combined interest of the safety of the individual and of the group, as their paramount concern. 

KEY INFO

PERSONAL DOCUMENTATION 

Please use the following as a checklist on what you will require for this trip.

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PASSPORT

(at least 6 months remaining and enough pages for all the required stamps - minimum 2). Please also bring a photocopy of your passport.

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RETURN AIR TICKET

You should ensure you have purchased a return air ticket.   

TRAVEL INSURANCE

See insurance section or event FAQ.   

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PERSONAL MONEY

Money for alcoholic beverages, snacks, and meals outside of itinerary and tips for the restaurant staff. 

INTERNAL FLIGHTS AND DATE ADMIN 

The dates of the trip are fixed as 16– 27 March 2024. These are the dates on which our itinerary commences and finishes.  

Our service will commence with an RV at Albrook Airport for our internal flight to David, where we will take onward road transport to our hotel on the Pacific coast, which will be our base for the next 2 nights as we prep for the commencement of the adventure.  

Our outbound flight from Panama City is a scheduled flight with Air Panama and we will all travel together. Owing to ongoing scheduling issues with regional airlines in Panama, this time may change, although if it does, it is unlikely to be earlier. You should allow some flexibility in this – not everything runs to time in Central America and this could be no exception. Please also note that the departure is from ALBROOK AIRPORT and NOT Tocumen International. This is the same airport to which we will be returning on 27/3/24. We have found Air Panama to be a good and reliable outfit.  

On the return leg, we also take a scheduled flight with Air Panama at 1400 from Bocas Del Toro back at Albrook Airport (arriving Albrook circa 1530).  IF you intend to take an international flight late from Panama City on 27/3/24, this is possible. It is therefore possible to take onward international flights late on 27/3; but you should factor at least an hour + road transit between the airports back in Panama City and you should also plan for the eventuality that the Bocas flight could be delayed. It is not uncommon for weather to hold aircraft up at Bocas. Please understand that if our return flight is delayed and if you miss an international connection on 27/3, we cannot be held responsible for this and you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place to cover this eventuality and/ or a flexible ticket.  

So, the clear advice now, as previously, if it is possible for you, is that you should aim to try and arrive in Panama on 15/3/24 and depart on 38/3/24. This gives you the 24-hour window at each end of the trip that you may need if your plans (or ours) do change. There are plenty of very good hotels in Panama City in which to spend a day or two at either end of the trip, plus some cracking sights, not least the world-famous Panama Canal. 

If you do wish to fly on 27/3, please ensure you have suitable insurance policies in place, or flexible airline tickets, to accommodate any changes to schedules that may be required. Please also ensure you let us know this, in the self-fill form we are asking you to fill out – details later on in this document.  

KIT LIST HIGHLIGHTS 

We have prepared a handy at-a-glance checkbox kit list.  

The key items will be: 

  • Jungle boots 

  • Hammock set-up 

  • Decent rucksack 

  • Water filter 

If in doubt, email us at expeditions@ratrace.com and our in-house kit hoarder can assist.  

WEBINARS 

We will carry out a live Q and A webinar at 1730 UK local time on 30/1/24 where you can ask the event team questions. This will be recorded so if you cannot make it, you can watch on catch-up. However it is a great intro to the event and it thoroughly recommended. We will also be planning to feature a past participant at the Webinar so you can ask them questions also. 

VIRTUAL KIT SESSION 

Once we have carried out the webinar, we will follow this up in early March by getting together in small group of 4/5 folk at a time. This is not a ‘kit check’ per se – it is a 2-way opportunity for us to see what you have in the kit locker and for you to ask questions and seek advice for anything you may still need to get. These will take the form of video calls and we will be in touch to schedule your sessions. We will aim to do these in early evening local UK time and anyone who will struggle with that time due to international time zones can be scheduled at more convenient time. 

VACCINATION GUIDANCE 

You should in all cases seek guidance from your local travel clinic, however we do have a really experienced medical provider who also runs their own travel medicine clinic in Leicester, UK. Dr Patrick Musto and his team at Trail Med’ s details can be found in the medical section of this document. You can find Trail Med's Panama advice guide here.

PREPARATION FOR THE JUNGLE PHASE 

We have lined up a simply incredible crossing of the central American Isthmus. A major part of that crossing is the self-contained jungle phase, where you will be traversing the continental divide of the Americas on foot over a 5-day trekking stage in the middle of this event. This is ‘bookended’ by 2 days of road running and 2 days of packrafting. We have tried to ensure our literature and information through the website and other channels outline the context of this crossing and to make you fully aware of what you are signing up for here. Be under no illusions whatsoever that this is raw adventure.  

The ascent/descent is fierce and we are enter a UNESCO World Heritage tract of primary jungle and cloud forest – which is also a National Park. There are no roads and our only access in and out is via a network of animal droving routes and local tribal paths that connect informal villages inside the national park. Once we are embarked on this jungle phase, there is really only one option to get you out: You walk forwards, or someone carries you forward if you cannot walk. Clearly the latter is a major undertaking, and we want to avoid that at all costs. 

 

Whilst our evacuation plan will involve helicopter if available, the winds and general climactic conditions that cover this high mountain zone, plus the fact there are very limited places to land, mean it is not a-given that you will be evacuated quickly. ANY evacuation operation is a major undertaking – whether it be for a snake bite or for a sprained ankle. So that means we require you to be very, very ready indeed for total self-sufficiency and with a base fitness that will allow you to cover that ground (including 20 000 ft + of ascent over the 5 days) at a decent trekking pace. We will NOT be running in the jungle phase – it is too steep; packs will be too heavy and the terrain will simply not allow it. 

CUT-OFF FOR JUNGLE PHASE  

Based on the above facts, we cannot afford for you to get into a situation where your pace puts yourself or the rest of the group in jeopardy. At this point, it is therefore important for us to be very clear on the cut-off regime. If we deem that you do not have the requisite pace, kit admin or personal endurance by the end of the road run phase (days 1 and 2), we will not permit you to commence the jungle trek and you will be bussed round to the ‘other side’ of the Divide to re-join the group at the packraft put-in for the final 2 days of the adventure. If we do decide this is something we have to impose, please understand that this policy is for your own (and for everyone else’s) safety and is 150% non-negotiable. 

So, it is important for us to clarify what we mean by pace. We DO NOT mean you need to be a fast runner. Indeed we are not even talking about speed really. You need to be consistent at your own pace. 4kmh consistently for 2 days from sea level to 2000m over 100km is fine. You can walk the whole run phase if you want to. That is fine.  

It is not about speed. It is about consistency. If we think you will struggle to keep pace on the jungle trek, we will not start you on the jungle phase. Our opportunity to see you in action is in that road phase, so this is where we will draw the line if we feel you cannot make it at a decent pace in the jungle phase. The line has to be drawn before the jungle, as we cannot draw it once we are in there.   

And that is simply because once you are in there, you are only coming out on foot and only ever going forwards, not backwards. We are totally self-sufficient as a group, as explained above. We cannot in any way afford to get that dynamic wrong. 

 
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT GO INTO THE JUNGLE  

If the above happens and you do not go into the jungle (or if you need to withdraw from the event before the jungle phase due to injury or other factors) we do have a very good contingency lined up, this involves spending time at the spectacular Mount Tortumas Lodge high up in the cloud forest for 3 days, you will then move with crew around to Bocas Del Toro province to prepare to meet the jungle team emerging from the trekking phase. There is a further 1 night’s accommodation and then we will all be reunited at the Rio Changuinola for the river packrafting stage. We wish to be clear that if this does happen, this is a non-inclusive part of the itinerary, and a charge will be levied for the accommodation in the sum of $350 for the 4 night period. Meals will be paid for on top of that and all of the accommodation locations provide good, cost-effective meal solutions. Of course, you will have your jungle rations and stove available to you also if you wish to eat those supplies.  

 

STYLE OF JUNGLE TRAVEL 

Those wishing to open it up a bit on this phase are likely to be able to do so, at our discretion can do so. We are not planning to trek all of us, plus crew, at the very same pace. We will form an ‘envelope’ which will have our crew out front, who you will not go past. Then at the back, we will have our medics and other event crew who will provide support as required if they come upon casualties or incidents to deal with. We have you well covered and you will be able to ‘set your own pace’ within this envelope. What you won’t be able to do is to overtake the guys in front.  

However, for the 2024 event we are a small group. In our experience as a smaller group our pace is faster on average if we stay closer together, support each other and have breaks as a team. This means that the ‘envelope’ is smaller, and everyone has support throughout the trek.  

But in any case, we will make provision for a differential of pace, within the auspices of what the team deem reasonable and practical on the ground, and subject to participant’s own abilities. If we decide you are better to stay with a crew member at all times (or if you do) that is also a possibility and we will have plenty of crew travelling along the jungle trekking route to facilitate this.

This event takes the form of 3 distinct ‘phases’ laid out as follows:   

1.) ROAD RUN PHASE 

Days 1 and 2 – running or trekking on sealed and dirt roads.

 

2.) JUNGLE TREK PHASE  

Days 3,4,5,6,7,8(am) – trekking self-supported through jungle and cloud forest. 

3.) PACKRAFT PHASE  

Days 8 (pm) and 9 – rafting in solo rafts on the Rio Changuinola. 

The event is classified as ‘Event-supported’ for road run and ‘Self-supported’ for the jungle and packraft phases. For the Event-supported phase, this means that, whilst on the road each day, the Event team will support you with Pit Stop provisions, medical service, and general logistical services. For self-supported phases, the Event team will still support you with welfare and personnel, but you will carry all provisions necessary for food and drink intake, plus emergency gear and clothing.  

Registration for the event is split into a ‘pre-event’ Registration phase, where we will ask for particular information to be submitted online (See the bottom of this document for what and when). This will be followed up by a physical registration process upon arrival at Las Olas on 17/3/2024.  

We will provide you with a safety procedure to follow in case of Emergency while on each phase of the event. This may differ per phase and the safety and Emergency protocols will be made clear to you prior to the commencement of each phase.

 

We recommend that participants have insurance to cover damage, loss, theft, injury, and non-attendance. Rat Race cannot accept any responsibility for the loss of, theft, or damage to any participant property or the circumstances of participant non-attendance.  

We insist on insurance to cover repatriation, medical expenses, and evacuation. This will be required to be produced as digital copy for the organisers via the online form. We also require medical screening to be completed and an online waiver. Please see the actions list at the bottom of this document for details. 

TRANSPORT & ACCOMODATION

ARRIVALS: 16TH MARCH 

The initial RV for this event is Albrook Airport, Panama City at the time of 1200 on 16/3/2024. From there, the group will be met and welcomed by the event team and we will take an internal flight to David, Chiriqui province. If you wish to leave gear in Panama City prior to departure to David and beyond, we suggest you leave this in a hotel in Panama City to which you will return post-event. The event has no formal facility for you to leave gear in Panama City.  

Event participants and crew will then proceed to the AIR PANAMA check-in, whereupon we will commence the Event service with a flight to David at 1400 (approx. and could change), then onward with road travel to Las Olas Resort on the Pacific Coast in Chiriqui Province.  

The airline will impose a maximum weight for checked baggage, which (at the time of writing) is 20kg per person on this outbound flight. You are permitted to take excess baggage and a small surcharge will be incurred per kg in this instance. In order to facilitate smooth check-in procedures, we will note any excess baggage fares, pay it as one bill and re-bill these to individuals to nominated credit cards later on.   

If we maintain the schedule above, arrival at Las Olas should be circa 1700 on 16/3/2024. You should take some snacks for the journey if you require or eat lunch before. There are some basic food outlets in the airport although they are not always open. There is a café too, which does seem to be open most of the time. A warm dinner will await us that evening after check-in and some settling in time to your rooms. 

RETURN TO PANAMA CITY: 27TH MARCH

The return internal scheduled flights will leave Bocas Del Toro for Panama City Albrook Airport at both 1400 (approx. and subject to schedule changes), securing our arrival back at Panama City Albrook airport by 1530 local time. Breakfast will be served at our hotel in Bocas and then transfer will be provided to take us for the return to Albrook airport. The airport is extremely close to the hotel in Bocas (<5km) so this is a very short transfer. Our advice remains that, if you can, fly out of Panama on 28/3. 

ACCOMMODATION 

LAS OLAS RESORT: PRE-START

For the first 2 nights prior to the route commencing, you will be roomed in Las Olas Resort on the Pacific Coast. You will be roomed in doubles or twins based on your preferences. These are modern hotel rooms with all amenities, close to the beach. We will eat all meals in this ‘admin phase’ at the hotel. 

END OF ROAD RUN DAY 1 - VOLCAN 

Participants will be roomed in twin, triple or single rooms in the Dos Rios Hotel, Volcan. This is located some 20km from the end of day 1’s run stage, and you will be transported to and from the a/c for the finish of day 1/start of day 2. Rooming will be made to work based on the allocation available across single, twin, and triple rooms. It is a delightful little boutique property set on the edge of the town of Volcan. 

We will eat together in the evening in a local restaurant and enjoy some traditional Panamanian Rice and Beans. 

END OF ROAD RUN DAY 2 - LAS TOTUMAS 

Our destination today is a little piece of paradise called Las Totumas mountain lodge. The accommodation is also the end of the run stage. This is a ‘total takeover’ affair and we have selected Las Totumas as 1.) it is awesome and 2.) it is where we enter the jungle of La Amistad National Park. You will be astounded by the sheer ‘Jurassic Park’- like quality of the place. We will accommodate over single, twin, and triple rooms. We will be looked after by Jeffrey, his wonderful wife and team – who will provide home-cooked meals for us while we are there and – a total highlight – fresh coffee grown and roasted right there at the lodge. For those of you into birding and jungle wildlife – this is a place of utter utopia. 

JUNGLE CAMPS

From here on in, it’s you, your hammock, and the sounds of the jungle. Some crew will remain out-side of the jungle phase & will enjoy 3 more very pleasant nights at Las Totumas, before moving around to a hotel near the town of Changuinola in Bocas province.  

 

CACOA FARM – RIVER CAMP 

Our last night swinging in the hammocks will be amongst the trees of a cacao farm close to Changuinola town. All crew and participants will camp together. 

 

TROPICAL SUITES – ISLA COLON, BOCAS DEL TORO  

The final night of our itinerary will be at the wonderful Playa Tortuga Resort in Bocas Town, Isla Colon, Bocas Del Toro. We will all arrive at the hotel by boat from our finish line at the mouth of the Rio Changuinola on the Caribbean Coast (some crew will go in advance by road and water taxi).  We will all eat nearby at one of the fantastic local Caribbean beachside restaurants, or at the hotel itself. A stunning end to a stunning adventure. 

FOOD AND DRINKS 

All meals will be provided whilst in ‘roofed’ accommodation – that is Las Olas, Volcan, Las Totumas and Playa Tortuga. For the days on the road run phase, you will be supported by Rat Race Pit Stops (3 per day, approx. every 15 - 17km), featuring water, small grab and go snacks and other treats. You should look to augment these Pit Stops with your own snack supplies and you should very definitely provide your own hydration, electrolyte, and sports nutrition supplies. This will be important throughout your adventure, but definitely for the heat of the road run stage.

 

For the remote camps in the jungle, we will provide as much pre-filtered water as we can, but you have your own filters also and you will provide your own freeze-dried expedition meals plus stoves. This is a very self-contained and self-sufficient portion of the event, as you are by now very well aware! 

To be 100% forensic on the freeze-dried meals, this is what is required and recommended for participants and crew who will go…  

ONTO THE JUNGLE TREK PHASE: 
  • 20/3/24: Breakfast provided by us at Las Totumas. You require snacking items plus freeze-dried ration pack for dinner. 

  • 21/3/24: You require snacking items plus freeze-dried ration packs for breakfast and dinner. 

  • 22/3/24: You require snacking items plus freeze-dried ration packs for breakfast and dinner. 

  • 23/3/24: You require snacking items plus freeze-dried ration packs for breakfast and dinner. 

  • 24/3/24: You require snacking items plus freeze-dried rations packs for breakfast and dinner.  

  • 25/3/24:You require snacking items plus freeze-dried ration packs for breakfast (Re-supply available prior to raft phase so you do not need to take dinner in your rucksack for the jungle trek) and dinner. 

  • 26/3/24: You require snacking items plus 1 x freeze-dried ration pack for breakfast. We will provide dinner in Bocas Del Toro. 

ONE DAY OF CONTINGENCY RATION PACKS (2 MEALS PLUS SNACKS) TO BE ADDED FOR CARRYING INTO JUNGLE TREK STAGE.  

This is non-negotiable and you should not aim to ‘bring and then discard’ after the road run stage. Having spare food for the jungle trek is an important part of our safety management systems.  

In terms of total number of meals therefore, you are looking at: 

  • 6 X BREAKFAST  

plus 1 contingency – 7 total 

  • 6 X MAIN MEALS  

plus 1 contingency – 7 total 

  • 7 X SNACKING AND LUNCH ITEMS  

plus 1 contingency – 8 total 

 

An example daily meal breakdown would be something like the following suggested 3000 kcal meal plan: 

  • Breakfast: 1000 calorie dehydrated ration pack* (or 800kcal) 

  • Snacking items/lunch (these are examples, please bring your own selections suited to your tastes): 

i.  50g biltong 

ii. 100g trailmix 

iii. 1 portion snacking cheese 

iv. 2 flatbreads/wraps 

v. 1 tuna sachets 

vi. 2 Cereal/protein bars 

vii. 2 morale boosts (favourite items each day) 

viii. Sweets 

(Add a ‘wet’ expedition meal if you wish (or baby food pouches) on some days, but weight is a factor of course) 

  • Dinner: 1000 calorie dehydrated ration pack* (or 800kcal) 

  • Other: Tea/coffee/hot chocolate/isotonic tablets or sachets/ salt tablets 

 

*Quote RatRace15 at checkout on expeditonfoods.com for a 15% discount on these meals! They are tasty and have many dietary options for GF, dairy-free and Vegan, too. 

PIT STOPS ON ROAD RUN STAGE 

Our provision will be made to you approximately every 10km – 15km while on the run; and we will provide 3 Pit Stop locations each day. Each Pit Stop will feature a vehicle, staff, comms and of course, some food and drink. Expect the odd cameo local snack appearance, some baked goods from time to time, plenty of sweets and salty snacks and fruit. We recommend the watermelon – great for electrolytes and very refreshing! There will be plenty of water. You should plan for your own electrolyte intake from your own supplies, which we will tell you now – will be immense. Do not go slim on electrolytes. Take more than you think you will need – as you will most definitely need them on this event.  

Re-supply at Jungle Trek Exit – Rio Changuinola Camp 

The team will exit the jungle at the Rio Changuinola and at that point we will have your transition bags waiting for you, to resupply food and clothes for river stage. You will not need your backpack anymore for the route, so this now becomes your camp bag which will be transported by our team for you.  Instead, you will use your run day pack (which will be in your transition bag) for the river stage OR you can choose to use a small drybag for the river stage with your items for the day’s river activity in it.  

You will also receive your packraft and associated gear at the river put-in, so you don’t need to worry about carrying any of that kit on the jungle trek phase.  

So, to be clear, at the river camp, you will basically have your jungle rucksack, which you will discard before the river, you will have your daypack, which you will then use on the river and you will have your transition bag, which you will have access to when you arrive at river camp. See the bags section below for full explanation on what you need, where and when. 

ALCOHOLIC DRINKS AND ‘EXTRAS’ 

Where we provide meals as part of the general event service, we will not include alcoholic or soft drinks and these must be provided by yourselves. See more on local payments, below. 

There is no alcoholic or bar service in the jungle camps until we get to the Rio Changuinola. We will make available a supply of beer at that location and at the cacao farm, plus one or two on us! See local payments, below.  

ABLUTIONS AND HYGIENE 

At all roofed accommodation, normal toilet facilities and shower facilities are present.  

In the jungle and on the river, there are no facilities until we reach Playa Tortuga Resort. The firm advice is always to ensure you are ‘self-contained’ with toilet roll and with anti-bacterial handwash gel.  

There are no showers at all in the jungle – this may be obvious, but it is worth stating nonetheless. You should keep to a high level of personal hygiene by using wet wipes, washing with water in streams and rivers and keeping hands clean at all times. Check wounds and blisters regularly for infection and pack any used wet-wipe items out with you – a small bag for discarding such things is useful. You will discard of toilet roll by lighting it after use. You will not need to pack used toilet paper out. You will dispose of this with your trusty lighter. 

ROUTE

Our route will take a line from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast. It is an absolute belter and has been specifically designed for this event. The road run is on existing road and tracks, the river is, well, on a river but the jungle stage has been devised over 2 years of thorough recce and preparation before we got to the first edition. That is not to say however that things don’t change and throughout this whole process, you must remain open to the possibility that our plan may change due to unforeseen factors, weather, evacuation activity or otherwise.
 

ROUTEFINDING 

We will use very little waymarking. On the road run, we want to use NO waymarking arrows as we want to encourage you to use your GPS devices and get used to them – this is so by the time you hit the jungle you are well versed in the operation of your kit and are used to ‘following the line.’ The good news is that the route is very intuitive and there is little choice in terms of junctions. Where there are junctions, a quick check of GPS will bring you to the right conclusion very quickly and in some cases, we will have vehicles stationed. 

In general, this event is operated with GPS as the main method of route guidance. It is therefore imperative that you are well versed in the usage of your device and that you are confident in its battery life and its reliability. 

On the river, well, if you go wrong, it really has gone wrong! 

IS THE ROUTE LIKELY TO CHANGE?

The nature of an adventure is that sometimes, the uncertain becomes certain! That is all part of the adventure. Whilst we will always strive to pull off ‘Plan A,’ it may well be that for any one of a number of reasons, we cannot do so and we need to wheel out Plan B, C or D. We do line up contingencies for many eventualities of course. But it is worth knowing that the course may change if we deem it prudent for your safety or for other operational or weather-based reasons and we must always reserve the right to do so. Ultimately our skill and judgement in organising such events is part of why you are entering, so we must be able to exercise this on your behalf where we deem it necessary. If we do have to make a route change, we will strive to inform you in good time (if that is possible). Usually, these unforeseen changes simply add to the flavour of proceedings and provide for a good story to tell at the day’s end! 

 

GPS 

You will need a GPS watch for the event and as stated above, you will get to know your device intimately on this event. You will also be provided with GPX files to upload onto it. These will be provided in March shortly before the commencement of the event, once we are satisfied, we have the final version to share. Experience has shown that we will never share the route file with you until it is final, final, final version. Or else we end up with version control issues that are hard to resolve.  

We do have some GPS watches for rental (£50 rental fee and a £150 deposit) for use throughout the event if you wish. You can opt to rent one through the event details form, please note this is subject to availability on a first come first served basis.  These will also have the full route uploaded onto them and have extremely good battery life. They are Coros Apex Premium watches.  

We will also continue to make mandatory the carrying of a phone at all times on the trip, with the ability to charge it via portable battery pack. You will upload the route file to your phone also, to use as a handy back-up. Certainly again, on the run, a phone with the route showing on an App is a very good tool to run. 

If you are keen to practise using your phone to navigate, download a suitable App such as Garmin Explore (there are loads of great Apps but we use these a lot) and practice uploading GPX files to the phone and following them in the App. It really is easy once you know how to get the files into the App on the phone. If you want assistance, please email expeditions@ratrace.com and we will be happy to talk through any of the tech side of things for those who are not comfortable with it. 

In summary: 

  • You need a GPS watch.  

  • You need a phone with a nav App downloaded 

  • You will need a battery pack to keep your watch and phone in charge whilst on the Jungle trek 

TRACKING DEVICE 

Tracking can be monitored during the event by those not and will go live on the morning of 18/3/2024 at 0700 local time. As well as for those to monitor your progress from afar in this event, the device also forms a part of our safety system and will be monitored from our basecamp whilst you are in the jungle. The trackers will likely work well on the run stage and likely not work well at all in the jungle. 

There is a delay on tracking and the minimum reporting interval is 10 minutes, so those watching at home will sometimes not see your dot moving. If you are under dense jungle canopy and the device does not have a shot of the sky when it reports location, it will also not update the dot on the tracker map. It is important that you ensure anyone watching at home knows this, for their own peace of mine and for our own safety systems.  

 

VERY IMPORTANT 

As we have stated, the reliability and operation of the tracking devices in this environment is likely to not be 100%, 100% of the time. As far as our safety system is concerned, we know that and we have considered that as part of our other overarching plans and risk assessment.  

For those watching the tracking at home, it is important you explain that the trackers are not always going to give a fully accurate reflection of exact locations. What can happen, (if this is not communicated on the part of the participant to their supporters), is that where people see a tracker displaying erratic behaviour or not moving, this manifests in undue worry. Over a number of days, this worry can turn to panic and raising of unnecessary alarms, from the comfort of sofas in the internet-equipped watching World-at-large. We require you to ensure that, should you decide to share the tracking link, you are unequivocal in this explanation to your supporters. We cannot afford for an international incident to be commenced as someone sitting at home in front of their desktop has decided to contact the Emergency Services as they cannot see your dot moving. It is a deadly serious point we are making here. 

COURSE CUT OFFS & WITHDRAWALS 

Road Run Section:

This event is not about cut-offs. But, having a ‘cut-off’ and a ‘sweeping’ structure is an important part of our Event Management Plan and Risk Assessment processes. Cut off times are independent of any other factors that occur earlier in the course such as start time, injury, going the wrong way, time taken at Pit Stops, head winds; and whether it is your fault or not. We understand that missing cut offs can be tough to take but please remember this is not the crew member’s fault that breaks the news to you, should it happen to you. Please also remember that if this does happen to you, the Event team’s decision is final. You will be asked to board a vehicle and make your way to the overnight location if on the road run.  

If you are cut off, there will be no option to re-start from where you were cut off the next day. (The event only ever moves forwards). You may however re-start the next day from the official re-start location; subje

ct to the discretion of the event team.  

There are a number of reasons why you may be cut-off or withdrawn from the event. These could be medical, pace, kit, personal or other factors. It is OK to retire and to be taken forward to the overnight camp. We’d rather you re-started the next day vs suffer meaninglessly and spoil it for yourself. The road run features 2 big days over long distance and high elevations – it is a big ask.  

As far as the time available goes to avoid a cut-off, there is no ‘set’ cut off time each day. (ie. Time limit or published time). Instead, we require all participants to be at the finish location before nightfall. If this is looking unlikely you will be ‘swept’ forward. That is the cut-off.  

Above all else, please remember, this event is not about cut-offs. It is about getting the most out of this magical environment. We will not cut you off and sweep you forward unless we really have to. And if we do, it is for your own safety. 

 

’BEDDING DOWN INTO THE COURSE’ 

It is probable that when you set off on the Challenge on day 1, the first hours of the first day may be a bit hit n’ miss. Pace, temperature regulation, kit selection, footwear niggles. All to be expected. Embrace that ‘bedding down into it’ phase and listen to your body and to your kit. Expect some unexpected phenomena (not UFOs, just unusual kit or run issues that you may not have quite been expecting). Use this time to just get used to the environment, the gear and the temperature. Go with it and relax. By Pit Stop 1 or 2, you’ll have worked out enough to be comfortable…same goes for the jungle stage. More on that below.  

 

JUNGLE

Cut-offs in the jungle are very difficult for us to manage. Hence why we really would prefer not to have to manage them from the outset. As such, we have already made clear in previous correspondence that our plan here is to ‘watch and learn’ during the road run about folks and how they are faring in the challenge. 

If you struggle or if we deem you to have some limiting issues in going into the jungle, we will not permit you to commence the jungle phase. This is an important safety management point that we will not compromise on and reflects our commitment to safety of you as an individual and of the safety of the group as a whole.  

After that, it is relentless forward progress. No turning back, no second chances. You move forward on foot and we all move together.  

For more on injury and evacuation, see below.  

PACKRAFT

There is no overt reason to impose cut-offs on the packraft as the ‘flotilla’ will be largely moving together. If you struggle, or do not want to continue, we can remove you from the rafts into one of the support dugout canoes. 

EVENT REGISTRATION

EVENT REGISTRATION AND PRE-EVENT ADMIN

Formal Registration for the event is completed in 3 phases:

1.) Online enrolment, payment – COMPLETE

2.) Submission of Event Participation Form and Medical Declaration (by 31st January) all pre-event.

  • Event Participant Form: HERE

  • Medical Declaration: HERE

3.) Physical registration at Las Olas on 17/3/2024. You will complete a final physical kit check with our event team (including setting up your hammock and using your stove), do a short final paperwork exercise, chat with one of our medical team members, present some ID and do a packraft familiarisation exercise. You will also receive your event bib, T-shirt, and other items. There will of course be some briefings. If you have rented a GPS watch, we will also hand these out.   

There will also be time (and palm trees!) to practise your hammock set-ups again. And again.  

ID 

By entering this event you agreed that you have entered in your own name (not nickname) and will bring photographic ID to event Registration at Las Olas to prove your identity. Clearly, having got on an aircraft in a seat booked in your own name, this should not be too difficult! It is however a requirement for us to know categorically know who at the event, hence the final physical ID check at Las Olas. 

EVENT REGISTRATION PAC

At Las Olas, there will be one event pack issued per person. Your Event Pack will contain:  

 

Personalised Race Bib: Surname and Number

 You must wear this over all clothing so that it is always visible. It is also essential for the photographer to see who you are if you are going with the photo service (See more on that below).

Numbered Bag Tags

For your overnight  and transition bag. These must be attached to your bag before handing them over to our crew to transport.

Event T-shirt & Rat Rag

 If you do not select your t-shirt size via the pre-event form in advance, you will automatically be allocated a Large.

Tracking Device

 We will issue the tracking device and demonstrate its use.

Packraft and Gear

You will practise with one of these on admin day, these will be identical to the ones you will use on the river and you will of course be issued with that when you get to the river later on in the trip. 

Alcohol for Stoves

Everyone is required to use an alcohol stove in the event for the jungle phase. We will issue this to folk immediately prior to the jungle phase at Mount Totumas, but we will take a payment for it at Registration and just double check you have a bottle to carry it.  

PACKRAFT PRACTICE SESSION  

We will ask everyone to get their raft out on 17/3/2023 at Las Olas and have a paddle in the outdoor pool there. This is for your own safety and for the safety of those around you and will provide you some orientation around the craft, as well as save us all valuable time when we get to the river, if you know your way around the gear and have prepped your own raft for action later in the trip. Our staff will be on hand to take you through it all.

LAS OLAS KIT CHECK 

We will have undertaken the kit check video call in advance at the start of March. However we will reserve the right to inspect some or all of your kit upon arrival at Las Olas. It is really important that you do not go into the jungle with too much weight, so we will also weight your set-up and advise if we think it is too heavy.  

As a minimum, we will be checking: 

  • Hammock and suspension system and how you rig it 

  • A working Headtorch 

  • Alcohol stove and operation 

  • A First Aid Kit containing the minimum mandatory items 

  • Suitable sunhat 

  • Suitable footwear for jungle phase 

  • Suitable water carrying method and filter system  

  • Your freeze-dried rations – check for suitability and quantity 

 

You may be asked to show any other items from the mandatory kit list. Clearly at this point, the die is somewhat cast in respect of where we are geographically. There is not instant access to sports shops and the ability to ‘fill in any gaps’ is therefore heavily reduced. If you do not have the appropriate kit with you when you register in Las Olas, you will not be allowed to participate. Hence, we are bringing an element of this exercise forward and that is one of the reasons we will do the kit video sessions, to aid you in your preparations. 

We have also broken down the kit list into a handy check-box list of items that you need (mandatory) and items that are not mandatory, but recommended. You can view the kit list here. 

The full mandatory kit list can be viewed in the accompanying check-box list and in more detail, with suggestions and commentary, on the website. If in any doubt, please check well in advance on kit. We have devised the mandatory kit list for your protection and safety and we will not be able to make any exceptions on required items. 

AVOIDING KIT CATASTROPHE IN TRANSIT 

It is not impossible that your gear may not arrive with you into Panama. In general, the longer you are in Panama, the easier this is to solve. Once you start travelling away from major airports, getting re-united with lost bags becomes harder. To avoid the chances of total catastrophe, we would recommend that you do travel with some key event clothing including footwear in your hand luggage.
 
Experience tells us that if you arrive wearing or physically carrying some of what you need, the likelihood of getting you on the start-line increases dramatically, vs those who entire event kit is in their hold baggage, making its way around a carousel in the wrong airport far, far away.  

MANDATORY KIT

The full mandatory kit list can be found HERE

Some of the kit listed is to help you have a safe experience and have the best chance of finishing. Some of this kit is to ensure that if you are unable to continue without our assistance then we can be confident of you having the level of equipment required to keep you as comfortable as possible whilst you wait for that assistance. Some of it is simply to keep you perishing. It is serious. We know everyone knows this, but we ask that you please do work with us on this.  

KIT SPECIFICS RELATING TO EACH STAGE 

Road Run: Carry what you wish in your pack for the road run days. You must always have some food and also some water when you leave each Pit Stop. You must also carry your tracker at all times, which we will give to you. All other items will be carried by the event team while you are on the road and your belongings will be taken forward each day to the end of stage location. You should use your rucksack as your primary bag on the road run and you will be self-contained with it for the day.  

We may insist that you do not leave the final Pit Stop (Pit Stop 3) each day on the Road Run without a headtorch if there is a risk of you finishing close to sundown.  

We have covered GPS in the section above but to summarise, you will need a GPS watch. You will also require a phone with a portable charging pack.  

 

Jungle: Carry everything you need for the 5-day self-contained trek stage. PLUS one day’s food contingency. Ensure you have enough dry bags to keep kit within your pack dry and protected from the elements. 

 

Packraft: You will be permitted access to a transition bag at the river put in, where you may swap out jungle gear for river gear, replenish food and other supplies and you will at this point DISCARD your jungle backpack. The transition bag is, in effect, any bag you left with us before you went into the jungle. 

The transition bag will be moved forward for you to the cacoa farm camp location and will contain your sleeping gear and rations for that night. You will therefore raft with a day pack (or a dry bag if you prefer) and safety gear. 

Safety gear is designated as helmet, paddle and buoyancy aid (personal flotation device – PFD). All of these items we will provide.  

You are asked to bring 2m of paracord with you to provide a decking rigging line, in case you wish to attach your daypack to the prow of the raft. The paracord is already part of the MANDATORY KIT LIST so it is not an extra item. 

BAGS 

There are 3 bags you need for this event: 

1.) DAY PACK FOR ROAD RUN STAGE  (can also be used on packraft stage) 

You will use this bag to carry food, water and other supplies during the road run AND the packraft stages. It must be able to fit into your transition bag so you have it available at the river camp at the end of the jungle stage. You DO NOT NEED to use your day pack on the packraft stage however and some folk may simply wish to use a small drybag on the river, to carry emergency kit, snacks and water.  

2.) JUNGLE RUCKSACK (doubling as your ‘main’ bag in transit, most likely) 

This is the bag you will carry into the jungle trek stage and as such, will contain all of that jungle gear. We would advise that this is also your ‘main’ bag for airline travel. For the days you are on the road run, we will carry this forward each night. For the packraft stage, you will have access to this bag at the overnight camp and it will then be taken to,  the Bocas Del Toro finish line hotel at Playa Tortuga.  

3.) BAG TO LEAVE WITH US WHEN YOU GO INTO THE JUNGLE STAGE 

This should be a cabin-bag sized piece of luggage (hint: It can be your hand luggage bag) and be capable of stowing any gear you wish to leave with us while you go into the jungle.  

This transition bag will be left with our event team whilst you are in the jungle and will then be accessible when you emerge at the river camp. At the river, you will therefore have access to all of your gear, total. You DO NOT have to travel in your raft with this bag however, as it will be moved by road for you to that camp. (You will use your daypack for in-raft snacks, water and other supplies, or a small drybag if you wish - your choice). 

MEDICAL OPERATION & PARTICIPANT SAFETY 

Our team is there for you in case you have an incident with which you require assistance. The team will shadow the progress of the Challenge each day in vehicles(on the run); on foot (in the jungle), in support boats (on the packraft) before establishing a med centre each afternoon at the hotel/camp location to which we are heading. Whilst the medics are there for ‘what ifs,’ they are also a great source of preventative advice; so please do use them to ask questions and check best practice, particularly in suspected foot injury or issues such as blisters or heat management issues. 

MEDICAL SCREENING 

At this stage we are inviting you to have a medical screening process, which can be completed via the link below. Please complete this as soon as possible – and certainly please, no later than 31st January. If you do have any condition that you feel we should know about, however small you feel it may be, please do share this with our Medics. Experience has shown that early pre-screening can assist both us and you greatly in enabling the care you need pre and during the trip. If you do not share information on conditions which are likely to affect your participation or decide to share them very late in the process, we are all under pressure and we will always reserve the right to cancel your participation if we feel there is a medical issue that may affect yours, or others’ safety. So please, do share anything and everything you feel our team should know about, at the earliest opportunity.   

 IMPORTANT NOTE ON SUBMISSION OF DOCUMENTS AND MEDICAL INFORMATION:

We are very fortunate to have an excellent Medical Director providing oversight, planning and screening on all of our international trips, who in turn engages seriously professional and qualified staff to join you on the trip. Rat Race also conforms and has been audited to the rigorous BS8848 standard of expedition management. This means our approach to all things safety and medical is extremely thorough and it is designed throughout with your best interest at heart. 

Your medical screening details will be sent direct to our medical team and under medical confidentiality rules, this will only be shared with our medics and no-one else. If they decide this is info that is in the best interests of everyone for us as organisers to be privy to, they will seek and gain your consent before doing so. It is therefore important you complete the link to the medical survey only which can be found HERE. Do not send Rat Race medical information direct. If you have any queries at all on the medical side of things in relation to this event, you can email our Medical Director, Dr Patrick Musto confidentially on office@trailmed.com and he and his team will assist. 

 

TRAVEL MEDICINE ADVICE

Our excellent medical providers Trailmed will be providing medics to accompany us on the trip, plus they will carry out medical screening in advance of departure. They also have a very good travel medicine clinic in Leicester, for those UK-based participants who may wish to get vaccinations done there. 

If you cannot get to Leicester, our advice is and remains always to seek guidance from your local travel clinic in respect of applicable vaccinations, however Dr Musto and his team are of course a go-to resource and can also assist, if you have direct questions.  

To view some handy vaccination info we have prepared in relation to the destination, please view HERE

 

INSURANCE FOR YOU AND YOUR EQUIPMENT 

We have asked that you have in place Travel Insurance cover and specified Evacuation cover to last for a minimum period of the event duration for the days you are with us on the published itinerary. Evacuation and medical expenses cover should total no less than $500 000. A copy of this cover/covers (if separate policies) is required to be received by us alongside the other admin actions. We also recommend that participants have insurance to cover damage, loss, theft, injury and non-attendance. Rat Race cannot accept any responsibility for the loss of, theft, or damage to any Participant property or the circumstances of Participant non-attendance. Rat Race and its agents, staff and sub-contractors cannot be held responsible to any damage to personal equipment of bikes whether we are transporting them or otherwise; so it is important that you select a level of cover that you are comfortable with. You should submit copies of your insurance via the Event Details Form. Alongside this, we ask that medical screening is completed, plus an online waiver. Please see the actions list at the bottom of this document for details. 

Some suggested providers are as follows: 

For UK and Channel Island residents Rat Race’s own insurer brokers have a brand-new product: 

https://www.mannbroadbent.co.uk/sports-travel-insurance/. 

Note: This is Rat Race’s UK-based insurance broker, specialising in the leisure insurance market. This is a specialist sports travel cover product; however Rat Race is neither an insurance broker or underwriter. We can recommend Mann Broadbent wholeheartedly as good people to deal with, but please remember that this is not a ‘Rat Race product’ and we have no say whatsoever on claims decisions made by the insurers, in the event that you raise such a claim via one of these policies. 

Other Providers: 

www.battleface.com 

www.bigcattravelinsurance.com 

www.internationalsos.com 

Note: We have no relationship with any of these providers, but previous customers have found them reasonable to deal with regarding some of our similar Bucket List challenges. 

Note: For all insurance, please remember that cover is offered based on several factors, (the nature of the event disciplines being one of them), but your own insurance profile, age, health and other details form a big part of this. As such, we are always happy to provide details to insurers in support of cover requests from customers, but we cannot influence their decisions as to whether to offer cover to individuals. 

BLISTER KIT

We have split the blister kit list into mandatory and recommended - you can view this and the full kit list HERE. 

 

PERSONAL MED KIT  

We have split the blister kit list into mandatory and recommended - you can also view this and the full kit list HERE.

 

POOR WEATHER CONTINGENCY 

The prevailing climate is hot and humid at sea level and lower elevations and warm, humid and (a bit) cool at night at higher elevations. That is not to say that, like anywhere else on Earth, we may not encounter unseasonal conditions. Particularly in this area, we may experience heavy rain or strong winds, particularly in the mountains and cloud forest. Or indeed any other climactic conditions. The event will proceed in many conditions, but if it is deemed unsafe to continue due to weather conditions, the event will be halted at the current camp (or destination camp), participants will be brought forward to that camp if required and the Event will await more favourable conditions to re-commence. This may result in some stages being cut short and participants being moved forward in vehicles in order to achieve daily mileages (on road run or packraft). In the jungle, it is relentless forward progress, day-in, day-out, unless weather prevents us. In all cases, the decision of the Event team is final in these matters. We will monitor weather throughout.  ​

EVACUATION PLANNING 

You have already been made aware that this is a serious undertaking in the remotest possible terrain. For the packraft and the road run stages, we have vehicles in support (cars and dugouts with engines, respectively). In the jungle, we have no such support. Whilst helicopter evacuation could be possible for the most serious of matters, it is not always a-given that a helicopter can fly (night, weather, wind, lack of landing spot). You need to be fully aware therefore that an evacuation from the jungle stage for any matter, large or small, is an extremely serious undertaking. In the event that such an undertaking is deemed to be required, it may be that YOU become part of the safety system. We will reserve the right at all times to call upon members of the Event, alongside crew, to assist in any evacuation activity whatsoever required in order to remedy the situation as quickly and decisively as possible. This may involve diverting off the route, assisting with casualty-bearing and load-carrying, or other duties.  

You should also know that, in the event that a helicopter cannot access a casualty’s location, the evacuation time at certain parts of the jungle course could be upwards of 24 hours and more; and could involve uncomfortable and strenuous manual evacuation techniques over very rough ground. In short, it’s very serious. The objective risk of sustaining serious injury, bites by poisonous wildlife or other such scenarios cannot be understated. Despite best efforts for evacuation, consequences could prove fatal. You need to understand that we cannot remove all risk from such an undertaking nor would we state such. You are entering an area where the remoteness of the undertaking and the slowness of possible evacuation could result in Death.  

Mitigation of such scenarios is our number one priority. Your ability to reduce the risk posed by trauma is key: Taking your time, using trekking poles, descending rough ground in a carefully controlled manner whilst under load is all part of the mitigation against injury. Your use of snake gaiters, good campcraft and common-sense approach plus vigilance to your surroundings will mitigate against the threat from wildlife. You must take your time, undertake the jungle phase very much with a clear understanding of the environment you are in and come to the table with a team mentality on this one. That way, we will stay safe and will mitigate and reduce the risks outlined above. 

 

EMERGENCY PROTOCOL  

In the event of a true emergency or serious incident you will be notified of protocols at the orientation on 17/3/2024. If you are with an injured party whilst on the route, stay with the casualty and await assistance. In the event of a non-emergency incident but for which action is requested from the organisers, then you should send a message forward to the next Pit Stop with another participant if possible and/or await an event crew member approaching via from behind. This might be medical, logistical or kit/ equipment breakdown as examples. We politely ask that you stop and help someone that is in difficulty – you will be the first person to find them – remember to take note of time, place (number of km, or minutes/ hours from last Pit Stop) and Event number at the incident site. Remember we are all in it together and are in effect one big team. 

 

LITTER  

We want to show that this event has exemplary control of littering. Please help us achieve that. Pack your litter into your pack, pockets or nearby bin bag at a vehicle. No exceptions. Especially in the jungle. 

 

MUSIC PLAYERS  

While these are allowed, please control their volume according to your environment. Use your judgment at all times when listening to music or audiobooks. Please also be aware that if you cannot hear general voice levels you might miss instructions from marshals, other participants or approaching vehicles. We suggest that you run the leads behind you so that persons or vehicles approaching from behind might be able to see that you are wired for sound. 

 

GENERAL SAFETY AROUND VEHICLES 

This event takes place on live roads in the road run phase. Traffic is generally light but it will not be used to sharing the roads with several runners. We do also have our own event vehicles operating and you may therefore come across our own vehicles or those of the driving public. You must courteously give way to other users whilst on the route, whether they are cars, motorbikes, or other vehicles. There are 2 busy stages where the route crosses the Pan American Highway and on the main road coming into Volcan. Vigilance must be taken at all times. 

 

ITINERARY

DAY ONE / SATURDAY 16TH MARCH

  • 1200 RV at Albrook Airport, Air Panama Departures area. Sort gear for internal flight TIME SUBJECT TO CHANGE 

  • 1400 Flight to David (Approx. time – may change BUT WILL NOT BE MUCH BEFORE THIS TIME IF IT DOES MOVE) 

  • 1500 Arrive David Airport. Transfer to road transit (bus) 

  • 1600 Depart David 

  • 1730 (Approx). Arrival Las Olas Resort, Pacific Coast. Allocation of accomm and personal admin time. 

  • 1930 Meal and Welcome Words from the Event Team. 

DAY TWO / SUNDAY 17TH MARCH
  • 0800 Breakfast 

  • 0930 Orientation by the Event team  

  • 1000 Registration activities, including kit check, packraft session, medical interviews and paper admin 

  • 1330 Lunch 

  • 1400 Downtime to practice hammock set-ups/ sort kit, enjoy the coast 

  • 1930 Dinner 

DAY THREE / MONDAY 18TH MARCH
  • 0700 Breakfast 

  • 0800 Panama Coast to Coast begins! 

  • 2000 Dinner in Volcan 

DAY FOUR / TUESDAY 19TH MARCH
  • 0700 Transfers back to Start point for road run day 2 

  • 2000 Dinner in Las Totumas 

DAY FIVE / WEDNESDAY 20TH MARCH

  • 0700 Breakfast 

  • 0800 Depart las Totumas for jungle phase 

DAY FIVE - TEN / WEDNESDAY 20TH - MONDAY 25TH MARCH 
  • In the jungle….early starts, late finishes.

DAY TEN /  MONDAY 25TH MARCH

  • 1100 Arrive Rio Changuinola camp. Re-unite with crew and access transition bags for raft stage 

  • 1200 Raft safety briefing and river orientation 

  • 1300 Depart for descent of Rio Changuinola 

DAY ELEVEN / TUESDAY 26TH MARCH

  • 0800 Breakfast 

  • 0930 Depart Cacao farm camp  

  • 1130 Approx – Arrive at Caribbean Coast: Journey’s End 

  • 1200 Beach beers on us;  

  • 1300 Boat transports to Bocas Town, Isla Colon 

  • 1400 Check into Hotel. Relax and unwind (and have a shower!) 

  • 1930 Dinner and Awards

DAY TWELVE / WEDNESDAY 27TH MARCH
  • 0800 Breakfast followed by transfers as required to connect with flights 

  • 1400 Departure on scheduled service back to Albrook Airport, Panama City. Arrive back in Panama City Albrook Airport. End of itinerary. 

 

OTHER ADMIN MATTERS

LOCAL PAYMENTS 

For drinks bills in restaurants and local incidentals, we propose that you have a small amount of cash (USD) in small denominations on your person. This way, you can pay for drinks at dinner and leave a contribution to a tip if relevant. In hotels, you may charge incidentals to your room. All room accounts must be settled prior to leaving the accommodation in each location. If hotel room bills remain unsettled Rat Race will reserve the right to charge your nominated card, plus a $20 admin charge per unpaid bill. 

 

EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY

The event is very lucky to have secured the services of James Appleton as official event photographer. James has worked on several of Rat Race’s events before, including Panama Coast to Coast. This means not only is he an excellent photographer but she also really ‘gets’ these types of events.  

For this Challenge, we are doing photography a little different than run-of-the-mill standard event photography. Instead of James shooting and you then you are selecting a number of photos post-event from a fairly unwieldy and piecemeal selection (leading to a lot of wastage in the shots and hours spent spreading the editing thinly across ‘anything and everything)’ we want the service to be as personal as possible. We think that something this epic deserves that.  

James will therefore be offering a one-price, advance purchase arrangement. He will shoot you in action and provide an amazingly varied series of shots of you out there doing your stuff; plus a selection of general event photos, provided as a digital album. He will also include individual portrait shots of yourself, working with him directly to create some really special shots.  

The price for this service is £150 with all proceeds going to James. If you would like to use this service, please tick the box in the form in the email and you will be sent an invoice. The service is available for participants and crew. The crux here is that he will ONLY shoot those who sign up to the service in advance, ensuring he is concentrating on those who have taken the plunge. This ensures that he can 100% focus on the job in hand for those who wish to purchase; and avoids the wastage of hundreds of shots on the edit-room floor. For clarity, James is doing this at his own risk and all proceeds of photo sales go to him. We believe this is an excellent service, at a very keen price, from a class photographer. It is of course not in any way compulsory.  

James will shoot on each of the road run, jungle and packraft stages.  

EVENT EXTENSION

Some of the Rat race team are heading to the Teribe river after the Coast 2 Coast Itinerary to visit the village and home of the Naso tribe. Members of this tribe have helped the successful and smooth running of this event since the test pilot. They have invited us to visit their home and their local river; the Teribe. For the past few years, they have been talking about the river and how great it would be to see tourists paddle on the river. Like the Rio Changuinola it has some rapids and is fast flowing in places. We plan to complete a mini test pilot of the river and visit the village.  

There is a limited number of spaces for the Coast 2 Coasters to extend their visit and join us on this test pilot. The extension would be for 3 days, the itinerary would include local guides, dug outs canoes and safety support, packrafts, a paddle instructor, and food; accommodation would be basic or using your hammock. The return flight from Bocas to Panama City would be on the 30th March. Suggested International return flight would be on the 31st March. 

The additional cost of this trip would be £395. 

If you are interested or have more questions, please email expeditions@ratrace.com 

EVENT ETHOS: ‘RACING’ AND OUR FINISH TIMES SERVICE 

Completing not competing. Rat Race’s ethos has always been about inspiring folk to undertake challenges in awesome outdoor locations. The Panama Coast to Coast is just that, taken to an epic level. This is not a formal race environment and there are no winners and losers. We do not award prizes for the fastest folk. There will be no splits for Pit Stop to Pit Stop times on the road run stages. Rat Race totally appreciate the incredible commitment of those taking on the challenges we lay down and each participant is as important as the next regardless of how fast you can cover the distance. In the jungle and on the packraft, this is far more an expeditionary undertaking than anything else. 

In delivering this unique challenge we prioritise factors such as safety, camaraderie and environmental concerns. Respecting the wishes of local stakeholders with our route management and litter policies is vital in being able to bring folk together for this unique experience. Safety above all else is paramount, as you will fully appreciate. To reasonably balance all these factors, we emphasise that the event is not a formal race environment, rather it is a challenge in the great outdoors where great folk come together with a common purpose. 

COMMS COVERAGE AND DATA

You will have good phone reception in Panama City, David and Las Olas, plus internet throughout. On much of the road run you will also have phone signal and data. Upon reaching Las Totumas, there is internet at Las Totumas but phone signal is patchy.  

 

In the jungle phase, it is unlikely you will have much regular mobile service. Once we start to descend to the Caribbean side of the mountains, there is some intermittent service and at the Rio Changuinola camp, there is also some service. The event will not be providing data or phone services in this period unless for EMERGENCY USE via satellite phone.  

 

On the River between 25/26 March, phone service is intermittent. In the vicinity of the town of Changuinola, it is good. 

At Playa Tortuga Resort on Isla Colon, Bocas Del Toro, reception and internet options are good. 

CONTACT DETAILS AND ACTIONS CHECK LIST

To facilitate the very best support for you whilst embarked on the event, we have prepared some contact information below that should assist you and loved ones throughout your Event experience. Please find a series of phone numbers and email addresses and instructions on which is to be used; and for what. 

Finally, we have included an action checklist so you may tick off the pre-event jobs arising from this Essential Event Information document.  

 

CONTACT DETAILS 

1. For ALL pre-event email correspondence prior to 16/3/2024: events@ratrace.com for admin-based questions / office@trailmed.co.uk for any medical-based advice or discussion on medical conditions in confidence.  expeditions@ratrace.com for challenge-based questions, kit, training, prep.

2. For specific arrivals and pre-trip issues in Panama City from 15/3 - 16/3/2024: Phone numbers will be issued nearer the time, and we will also set up a WhatsApp group to communicate important pre-departure information.

 

3. Emergency correspondence from people who need to get in touch with you (i.e. from those who need to contact you) IN EMERGENCY ONLY between 16/3/2024 and 27/3/2024:  events@ratrace.com

The originator should quote ‘Emergency correspondence for (your name)’ in the email title and they must provide a phone number for return comms. This will be patched through to our satellite messaging platform from our office and a satellite phone will be made available for you to return the comms to the originator. We would aim to provide a suitable response period of within 24 hrs for this service to the originator.  

Please, please, please do tell your family and supporters not to contact us about tracker Emergencies! 

FINAL CHECK LIST 

Submitted no later than the 31st January 2024.

Form HERE.

Submitted no later than the 31st January 2024.

Form HERE.

1730 UK time - 30th January 2024

That’s it. Pheeeww! 

See you in Panama…

Abbi and the Rat Race Team 

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