Rankings and Racers 2014.
The revised rankings for the Adventure Racing World Series have just been published, and at first sight it might seem not too much had changed. The 3 top ranked teams remain the same, Thule Adventure Team (Sweden), Seagate (New Zealand) and Columbia Vidaraid (Spain), all the with virtually the same points totals. Look a little deeper though and there is a lot going on.
World Champions on Top
Number one ranked Thule Adventure’s points have not changed even though they’ve not raced in the World Series so far this year, not since winning the last World Championship race in Costa Rica. With the 4 highest scores counting over a 2 year cycle they don’t need to do anything to maintain their position, for now…
Getting to the Top is as Hard as Staying There
Seagate’s points total is the same despite wins this year at Godzone Adventure and Expedition Africa. They are the form team right now but the points for those recent wins replaced points lost as the 2 year scoring cycle rolled on.
With the World Championship carrying 2.5 times the points value of the series races, its impressive Seagate have maintained their position after their DNF in Costa Rica. It is unlikely they will be able to improve their actual points total at this year’s World Champs in Ecuador, in fact they have to win just to keep their points score the same! That’s because they won at ARWC France in 2013, and those points will be dropped at the next ranking revision. Once teams are at the top of the rankings, they have to keep winning to stay there.
The same could be said for Columbia Vidaraid. Their total stayed the same despite a win at Untamed New England recently, but they could move up if they do well in Ecuador. If they perform better at this year’s World Championships than their 8th place in ARWC France 2 years ago their points score will increase.
The only significant change in top 5 is that Haglofs Silva of Sweden move into 4th, replacing Tecnu (USA) after their second place at Expedition Africa. adidas TERREX Prunesco (UK) stay 5th and they too will find they have to win their next race to keep their score up. They won the adidas TERREX Expedition Race in Scotland 2 years ago, scoring the maximum 100 points, and will be on the start line of the same race in Wales very shortly.
Lower down the ranks, which now include 183 teams from all over the globe, there are improvements for teams from nations hosting a World Series race. Having a race in their own country enables them to take part much more easily, and with points now scored for every team who finishes an AR World Series race, they can join or move up the ranks more easily.
Particularly noticeable are the number of strong up-and-coming New Zealand teams scoring points at Godzone Adventure. (The top 14 teams at that race were Kiwi and only 2 visiting international teams made the top 22 finishers.)
One of the many things which make expedition Adventure Racing such a unique sport is the balance of skills, personalities and sexes in a team, and also the frequency with which teams change. Teams scoring ranking points can do so from a squad of 7 and this limit to the pool of racers a team can use can be difficult to manage.
Teams of 4 in a World Series race must be mixed sex to be ranked, and this usually means a team has one female racer. At an elite level there are relatively few women racers who have the endurance and skill to sustain the pace of a world ranked team throughout an expedition race.
It can take some time for new members to establish themselves in a team, so it’s not surprising that the top teams are fairly consistent, particularly with their female racer. The top 4 all have only one female in their racer roster and in that respect the top teams are built around ‘girl power’.
Not surprisingly world class female adventure racers are in high demand, and sometimes race with a number of teams. Mari Chandler, who is now racing with Tecnu, is on the roster of 3 top 20 teams, and Karen Lundgren is on the roster of 4 ranked teams. She left Tecnu to join new Swedish team Peak Performance this year and they had their first World Series outing at Untamed New England recently, finishing 3rd to establish a foot hold in the rankings at 50th. They are ambitious and experienced and will be looking to move up from there rapidly.
adidas TERREX Prunesco are a bit more pick’n mix in this department, already having two female racers listed and using a third for the upcoming ITERA race in Wales. They’ve been joined by Sally Ozanne who raced the last 2 World Champs with Team Mountain Hardwear. 6th ranked Tecnu brought Mari Chandler back into their team with Lundgren leaving.
Fight of the Navigators
Both adidas TERREX Prunesco and Tecno have had to address problems with the other key position in the team – The Navigator. Adventure racing is a navigational sport unlike any other. Map scales can vary within a race, and their standard and layout change between countries – organises frequently throw in aerial photos and google maps for short stages too.
Navigating on the water, on bikes and on foot, in towns, country or wilderness all require some different skills and in an expedition race the navigator has to concentrate for days with almost no sleep. All the time they know one mistake can cost hours, and one missed checkpoint means the team are out of the race. It’s no wonder top class navigators are in demand and elite teams require one to stay out front.
In Tecnu’s recent successful seasons they’ve had Canadian navigator Bob Miller, but he’s taken time out the sport this season and they’ve brought in Rob Preston – all the way from Australia! The difficulties of intercontinental team organisation are secondary to the importance of getting the best navigator available. For the ITERA race adidas TERREX always knew they be without their navigator Tom Gibbs as he’s the race planner – and he’s also now recovering from a fractured knee. (He did his first race after recovering from a broken leg and finished 2nd … so his powers of recovery are pretty good.) Fortunately the former World Champions have been able to pull in another superb navigator in Kim Collison.
The Shakeup to Come
Perhaps the biggest shake up is yet to come. Newly formed Team France, including recently married Miriam Guillot and Jacky Boisset, have qualified for the World Championships in Ecuador. Guillot and Boisset have been the mainstays of the Thule Adventure Team over the last 3 AR World Championships. Their recent 2nd in Untamed New England shows their new team will be a force to be reckoned with later this year.
The next ranking cycle will include results from both Itera in Wales and Raid in France, so look to the european teams to be climbing the ladder. Particularly Haglofs Silva (Sweden) who has the chance in Wales to climb back into the world top 3. Also to watch is team Raidlight (France) who could for the first time join the ranks of the top 5.
While being race favourites for Itera in Wales, until Adidas Terrex Prunesco can form a consistent team line up, it is unlikely their ranking will climb much higher than their current 5th, with some of their results being excluded due to exceeding a 7 person team roster.
Sweco Adventure Team (Sweden) has been building solid results over the last 2 years and if things go their way in Wales they could be joining the ranks of the top 10.
Also to watch will be team R’ADYS Team Switzerland, AdventureTeam.dk/Salomon and Arverne Outdoor who will be hoping to break into the world top 20.
For more information visit http://www.arworldseries.com
Full list of detailed rankings can be found at http://www.arworldseries.com/AR_World_Ranking_Cycle12_Publish.pdf
Photo Credits: Photo 1 Ale Socci Green Pixel, Photo 2 Ale Socci Green Pixel.