Race number two in the 2015 Adventure Racing World Series was Tierra Viva (literally ‘Living Earth’), one of the longest standing members of the series which takes teams to remote and challenging places around the world. This time Patagonia was the setting for teams to explore new locations and the limits of their endurance, and it was European teams who dominated the race.
Past races were held in Argentina, but this time Tierra Viva crossed the border to Chile and was based in the adventure sports and tourist town of Pucon. Nineteen teams from 10 nations assembled in the lakeside town which is overlooked by the active Villarica volcano, one of the few in the world with a permanent lava lake.
The teams knew a 687km course of trekking, paddling and mountain biking lay ahead, but they were only given the first two maps on the start line, and the others as they moved around the course. All teams had cameras to record their arrival at the marked checkpoints and there were only a few of these on each stage, but they were hard to find and to get to!
Expedition Adventure racing often includes special disciplines particular to the location and the first stage put teams into the local rowing boats used on the lake. The race favourites quickly showed that whatever the challenge they will rise to the challenge, and it was the two Swedish teams who lead out.
These teams, Peak Performance and the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team (SAFAT) lead for much of the 7 day race and were challenged by the French team Agde Raid Aventure.
The race progressed with cycling stages on lakeside and forest tracks and a rafting stage on another of the many lakes in the area, but it was the big trekking stages on the volcanoes which were the greatest challenge to the teams and the crux of the race. (The 4 mountain treks were 30% of the course, but they took 66% of the winners’ total time.)
Teams had been warned about the prospect of changeable and bad weather in the mountains, which may have seemed a distant prospect in the sunshine on the lake at the start, but it was very real on the treks. They faced high winds, snow and hail, fog and heavy rain at times, and even expert navigators found locating the checkpoints hard.
The fastest on all the trekking stages were Agde Raid Aventure, who proved the quickest on foot and the surest navigators. On each trek they made up time on their Swedish rivals, but they also made costly mistakes elsewhere. They paddled 5km past one checkpoint and having marked up their map incorrectly cycled an extra 100km to find a transition point!
Even so they took the lead at the end of the final trek. This had proved the hardest as by then teams were fatigued and sleep deprived and SAFAT who were leading returned to the start point after some 10 hours, having failed to find a checkpoint. They chose to return to rest and get more food before setting out again as did Spanish team theraidstore.com.
At the final transition Agde Raid Adventure were ahead, but they had to sleep and SAFAT passed them again and went on to complete the final 130km ride and win the race in a total time of 4 days 18 hours 42 minutes. The team of John Karlsson, Malin Hjalmarsson, Emil Dahlqvist and Johan Hasselmark are the second team to qualify as race winners for the AR World Championships in Brazil, to be held in November in the Pantanal region. (Seagate of New Zealand were the first.)
The excitement and racing was not over for Agde Raid Aventure as they were now chased down by Peak Performance, who caught them at the final checkpoint and won a ‘sprint’ finish after nearly 5 days of racing to take second place!
Agde Raid Aventure were just 7 minutes behind them in 3rd place and it was another French team, Arverne Outdoor who were 4th. The top South American team were Ansilta Viento Andino (Argentina) in 5th and by the close of the race 12 of the 19 starters had completed the course.
You can find out more about Tierra Viva and see the full results at www. http://tierravivarace.com
The next race in the AR World Series is Raid Gallaecia, which takes place in Spain between May 10th-17th.
For more information on the AR World Series, please visit http://www.arworldseries.com
Photos credit Photos 1,2,3 Diego Constantini Ph, Photo 4 Jonathan Berger