The AR World Series 2012 is underway, with the first two qualifying races taking place in South America and teams from Ecuador and New Zealand claiming their places at the World Championships in France in September.
Team Ecuador Nissan were the clear winners at Huairasinchi, racing on home territory in the 10th edition of a race which attracted a strong international entry. None were strong enough to beat the local team, who already have some international experience themselves, and who had the advantage of acclimatisation at the high altitudes on the course during the first half of the race. It was a tough race with a high point of 4771m (15,652ft) which only 3 of the 18 starting teams completed in full. Second were Tecnu (USA/Canada) and third were Lafuma Vibram of France, but Ecuador Nissan had a winning margin of more than 8 hours.
They commented; “The landscape, the changes of altitude, weather and everything makes this a really special race, and at the end we climbed more than 13000m.” They added; “We have now started to think that about the World Championship in France! About all the training and fun we are gonna have with this chance to represent our. As a team we have a lot of expectations for this race, we are really excited and want to put in our best effort … and the most important thing is to enjoy the race a lot! We are really excited to represent our country and to be racing in Europe against the strongest teams on the world.”
Race organizer Santiago Lopez said, “From my perspective Huairasinchi grew stronger with its tenth edition. When we were preparing the race we wanted it to be longer than past editions, adding many different landscapes and elevations. The outcome was better than we had hoped for. We had many very strong national and international teams on the start line, well acclimatized and in high spirits. All of them followed a route that showed the beautiful and hard terrain that the Andes offer and they had to push to their limits to continue in the race. We had a very hard and high race this year, but it also was fantastic, doable and enjoyable.
The near future comes with many challenges for us asorganizers. We are very happy being part of the community of the ARWS races and growing with this global organization. This means that we need to work together to organize each year better events, with higher standards in every aspect. We are working already on the 11th edition of Huairasinchi looking forward to a great race with a beautiful course and probably not so high. The World Championship is also an objective for 2014 and we would like to present the application after ARWC France 2012.”
The Tierra Viva race in Argentinean Patagonia proved to be just as difficult, with severe weather and difficult terrain ensuring only 7 of the 30 teams who started were able to complete the full course. Once again there were very clear winners, and it was no surprise that Team Seagate of New Zealand took the win and their place in ARWC 2012.
This race has a very different format, requiring teams to make strategic choices as to which order stages and checkpoints are completed in, but when a storm hit on the second night of the race they were more concerned with safety and survival. Many abandoned the race and some spent over 50 hours in the mountains.
As the race continued it was clear Seagate were so far ahead they would not be caught, and the remaining teams were racing for second place. This was taken by French team X-Bionic Xtreme, who gained many places in the final stages, ahead of last year’s winners, Team Cristagua.
Commenting on their lead over the rest of the field Nathan Fa’avae said; “We really didn’t know what was happening behind us because of all the options teams could take. We just focused on doing our race and moved through the course as fast as we could, and hoped it was enough to win the race.” And it was.
The same team of Fa’avae, Sophie Hart, Trevor Voyce and Chris Forne will race again at the Godzone event in New Zealand in April, and it sounds like their early season win will have prepared them well.
“We raced really well as a team,” said Fa’avae. Chris was on excellent form with the maps, the only time we got delayed was when a control was in the wrong place. Sophie is always fun to race with and is a good motivator, keeping things moving. Trevor did exceptionally for his debut expedition race, our pace through the difficult course provided some epic tests, especially carrying an injury after his bike stack. We made lots of good decisions I reckon, that’s what ultimately won us the race by the margin we did”
“The event was professionally run with ultra friendly people. The scenery in parts of the course was amazing, I guess that’s what Patagonia is famous for. We had a great trip, a solid race and overall a memorable experience.”
They will have some tougher opposition on home soil in New Zealand at the inaugural Godzone race, which takes place from April 7th-14th. There are 33 listed teams, including 3 ‘colt’ teams and a celebrity team, as the country which was the birth place of adventure racing rediscovers its love of expedition racing on home soil.
Among the favourites are the Subway team of Richard and Elina Ussher, Sam Clark and Braden Currie, Seagate, and three top Australian teams, Mountain Designs, Blackheart and City Bike Depot.
Orion Health are the title sponsors and the former captain of their World Championship winning team is back out of retirement to lead one of the most intriguing teams in the event. He is racing with Sarah and Sonya Clark, who both recently raced with adidas TERREX, and Lisa Godfrey, who also has close connections to the British team … she is married to team member Warren Bates, who is the joint Race Director of Godzone. (All three ladies are Kiwis, not Brits … better make that clear!)
Bates and Adam Fairmaid have high ambitions for their new race and have put a huge amount of work into its launch. Bates commented; “The races of yesteryear were often raw and wild, sometimes lacking in organisational prowess, but no less competitive for that fact. The modern generation of races have become more ‘race’ focused with physical difficulty and speed being the defining characteristics. We are aiming for the best of both worlds – in short, bring back the adventure, keep the attention to detail and let the competitors have highly competitive fun.”
There are a few international racers who have travelled across the world to buy into that concept and have fun in Queenstown, with teams from Belgium, the Far East and racers from the UK and Ireland taking part. The Irish contingent in ‘Team Get No Sleep’ are Finbar McGurren and Karen Duggan who will be competing in the race at the end of the honeymoon!
The other World Series race in April is in Central America – The Costa Rica Adventure Race. This is now a well established race and has attracted a very international entry with teams from Denmark, Italy, USA, Mexico, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain and Brazil. Team Tecnu are racing again and going for the win. They are joined this year by Canadian racer Bob Miller, one of the most experienced racers on the international circuit and will field the same team of Miller, Kyle Peter, Liza Pye and Marco Amselem who raced so well in Eduador.
The organisers are promising them another varied and tough event. “This year’s race will take teams to the unexplored areas of the Nicoya Gulf and the wildest side of the northern pacific. This is a land of contrasts where on one side of the mountain it will be lush, and green with many streams and on the other side it will be very dry with significantly less vegetation and temperatures rising up to the mid thirties.
“Coasteering, finding check points on deserted islands, dealing with via ferratas, ropes and cable courses, paddling on a raft through a river known for its crocodiles will be some of the challenges that the racers will have to face during this year’s course.
“Tides and currents in the ocean will play a key factor during the paddling sections. Steep climbs and technical descents will test mountain bike riding skills and the hiking sections will test mind and body while climbing up an active volcano or bushwhacking through dense forest.”
Any teams looking to race in either the Untamed New England or Endurance Quest Finland ARWS events have left it too late! Both quickly filled their entry lists.
However there are still some great events and locations still open to teams on the ARWS calendar this year. The APEX race in Switzerland has a very international mix on its entry list already, the Gold Rush Mother Lode recently opened entry to their event in the Sierra Nevada, and the adidas Terrex ‘Sting in Stirling’ sees expedition racing return to Scotland. (The Bimbache race in Spain will not now take place this year.)
Last, but definitely not least there is the new ARWS race in South Africa, Expedition Africa. This takes place from May 5th-13th in the Eastern Cape and is an event which has the enthusiastic backing of experienced South African racers.
Nicholas Mulder of the Cyanosis AR team commented; “One of the major attractions with Expedition Africa for Team Cyanosis is that the race is organised by adventure racers, for adventure racers. Heidi and Stefan have over 12 years of adventure racing experience at the top level of the sport, including international experience. As such, they have a very good understanding of what teams want and don’t want in a race. With a superb business model for race organisation, easy logistics for teams before, during and after the race and through providing help with hotels and airport transfers, the Expedition Africa is one of the most attractive races to participate in on the World Series.”
Graham Bird of Merrell Adventure Addicts added; “It is so awesome to be able to do a 500km expedition AR right here in SA. The area chosen for this year’s Expedition Africa is truly spectacular and the race offers unbelievable value for your entry, with all logistics and accommodation sorted out, together with a spectacular race course. It is time for Africa to get onto the Adventure Racing World Map and Expedition Africa is the way there! ”
To find out more about all these races and the Adventure Racing World Series visit http://www.arworldseries.com.
Author: Rob Howard, Sleepmonsters.com