This year’s Adventure Racing World Series calendar falls neatly into two halves, and with the first 4 races of the year completed the AR World Team Rankings have been revised, with some interesting results.
Race Winners Move Up
The headliners are Team Seagate of New Zealand, who move into the number one position, following up their World Championship win in France last year with a win on home soil at the Godzone Adventure Race. This was a title they were defending, and against strong opposition Seagate put in the latest of a string of convincing performances to lead from start to finish, completing the 514km course in just 75 hours 35 minutes.
The team they take the top position from are Thule Adventure, and they too were racing at Godzone, but with contrasting fortunes. After co-opting two kiwi racers to join their French team members (Myriam Guillot and Jacky Boisset) they withdrew early in the race, failing to score any ranking points. As a result they have fallen to 3rd place.
The team moving into second place are Team Haglofs Silva, who recently won Expedition Africa, in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa. This team have been one of the most consistent performers over the last decade and went into Expedition Africa as favourites, taking the lead from a very strong field half way through the race … only for the outcome to be in doubt a few kilometres from the finish. The team couldn’t find a safe way down off the mountains in poor weather and spent 16 hours searching, eventually pitching their tent to camp and wait for daylight. When they eventually made it to the finish they were amazed to find they had still won! All the other chasing teams had suffered similar frustrations.
The other race winners this year so far are adidas Terrex Prunesco (UK) and Ecuador Explorer. The British team won at Tierra Viva in Argentinean Patagonia with a team which included U.S. racer Jari Kirkland for the first time. (This was a second World Series win for the team, who were the 2009 World Champions.) The result has moved them up from 7th to 6th place in the rankings. Ecuador Explorer retained their title comfortably at Huairasinchi in February on a course where high altitude gave them some home advantage, but their ranking still dropped from 8th to 10th.
It is not all about winning of course, consistency and regular competition are reflected in the rankings. The top 10 teams in each race score points (the top 20 in the World Champs), and teams can count up to 4 races, going back over the previous 6 ranking cycles (approximately 2 years).
Columbia Vidaraid (Spain) took second place at Tierra Viva to maintain their high scoring record, and with 3 previous race wins to their credit they moved up to 4th in the revised rankings. Tecnu (U.S.A./Canada) moved up a place too, into 5th after their second place at Expedition Africa, where they had a great battle with Raidlight. The French team jumped from 11th to 8th after finishing 3rd, and the 3 teams who finished behind them in South Africa, Cyanosis (RSA), Omjakon (Finland) and SWECO (Sweden) all moved into the top 20. In terms of World Series rankings the results at Expedition Africa have proved very significant.
Of all the ranked teams (a total of 140), only 5 have so far managed to record 4 scoring races, a reflection of how difficult and demanding it is to sustain and finance an expedition adventure racing team. It is after all a sport which takes teams to the far corners of the world, to extreme environments, and tests them to their limits.
Of the top 5 teams only Thule Adventure does not have 4 scoring results. Their retirement at Godzone cost them heavily in terms of the rankings, though it’s impressive that they maintain 3rd place with only 3 scoring races. (Had they finished second in Godzone they would have kept their No.1 position, and anywhere in the top 9 would have kept them in second ahead of Haglofs Silva – but it was not to be.)
Who is in the Squad?
There is another reason for teams not recording 4 scores, and that is the limitation of 7 for the number of racers allowed per team. Some teams have recorded scores which do not count as they’ve exceeded this squad size, and this is a factor which will become increasingly significant as the revisions roll forward, and which may lead to more consistent teams.
The highest ranked team to be affected in this way are adidas TERREX Purnesco, who count 3 three scores, but their win at the adidas TERREX Expedition Race last year can’t be counted as it would take their team roster above 7 racers. (They would be 4th rather than 6th if those points were allowable.) Ecuador Explorer have also been affected in a similar way.
As teams place more racers on their roster they may face some difficult decisions, and could sometimes find they are not racing for ranking points. Those who have used the least racers have more flexibility should a regular team member be injured or unavailable, and it’s noticeable that the top 3 teams in the ranking have used only 4 or 5 racers to get there. (Consistent teams definitely seem to perform best.)
Further down the ranks both Tecnu and Raidlight have listed all 7 of their racers, so should they need to pull in anyone else they will not be adding to the ranking score.
One (more) unique aspect of adventure racing is that racers can change teams, and frequently do. As a result some racers feature several times in the rankings in different teams and the clear winners of the ‘most often ranked racers’ have to be Tecnu.
Their team at Expedition Africa were Kyle Peter, Karen Lundgren, Bob Miller and Garret Bean. Peter and Miller appear in the rankings in two teams, while Lundgren and Bean appear in three different teams. They sure get around! If they have now found their home at Tecnu (which it appears they have) then they have a powerhouse of race experience to draw on and will be a team to watch at the World Champs in Costa Rica at the end of the year. It’s a race they know well as they are the defending title holders.
The second half of the 2013 series will resume in August with Ecomotion Pro in Brazil, followed by a busy September which includes Bimbache Etrem in Spain, the XPD Expedition Race in Australia, and the Gold Rush Mother Lode in the USA.
Those who have a place on the start line of the World Championships will then have a little time to recover and prepare before heading for Costa Rica at the end of November.
The next rankings revision will be made at the end of September (after Gold Rush Mother Lode) and then again after the World Championships, where the ranking points are multiplied by a factor of 2.5 to reflect the increased competition and difficulty.
For full details and the complete revised ranking list see http://www.arworldseries.com/rankings.htm.
South African teams Merrell Adventure Addicts and Cyanosis are in 13th and 19th place respectively. Red Ants make it into the Top 25 by placing 23rd.
MEDIA RELEASE by Rob Howard for AR World Series