Teams are finalizing their preparations for the Expedicion Gaurani, a 500km adventure race in Parauguay. The host town is San Bernadino, a lakeside holiday town about 40km east of the capital Asunción.
About 21 teams are lined up in the full expedition category that will feature 7 long stages, starting off with a 55km paddle, presumably across the lake and down a river system towards Asunción and the Paraguay River. The full race course will only be revealed 2 hours before the race start, which will happen at 8am local time on Monday. There will be 2 notable trekking legs of 34km and 55km where teams are expected to only progress at 3km per hour. The mountain biking won’t be much faster, with the expected times for the top teams set at 11km per hour! There are 3 of these legs in the 70-100km distance range. The other notable leg to watch will be a 90km river paddle towards the end of the race. The top teams are expected to cover the paddle in 15 hours. There is a strong possibility that this paddle will take place through the third and final night of the race for the eventual winners, so expect some BIG sleepmonsters for these teams.
Team Columbia Vidaraid (from Spain, but with Kiwi, Birish and Brazilian racers as well) are the defending champions and the clear favorites in the race given their 2nd place in the World Series rankings. There are two other teams in the Top 20 taking part, Team DSN74 from France and Team Ansilta Viento from Argentina. They will be challenged by Team Cyanosis from South Africa. The team hasn’t raced outside Africa since 2012, so will be extremely eager to put some good series points to their name and pull their ranking back up and beyond their highest ranking of 11th.
The teams having been living in the lap of luxury in San Bernadino for the last few days in waterfront villas organized by the event directors. The local Paraguayans have been extremely friendly and easy going. The race is expected to cover mostly rural regions and expose racers to the true culture and natural environment of Paraguay. The teams however will find things a lot tougher from Monday. The region is extremely tropical, with high temperatures (in the mid to high 30’s)!and high humidity. There have been a couple of short, quick torrential downpours over the last couple of days that leave roads temporarily waterlogged and very muddy. It will be extremely tough going in these conditions with both racers and equipment suffering.
Cyanosis team captain Clinton Mackintosh expects the navigation on the trekking legs to be extremely tough, particularly at night. “I expect the 55km trek and the 90km paddle to be the deciding points in the race”. “This race is also going to be all about the weather. The humidity and the heat are big factors. The team who best manages these will stand a good chance of winning the race”.
The outcome of the race should be known by Thursday evening, that’s if the weather doesn’t slow the race winning time past the organizers expectations. But with a Saturday noon final cutoff, just completing the full race course will be a monumental achievement for many teams.