|Not a member? Sign up now!|
On the evening of the first day of the Adventure Racing World Champs 2011 in Tasmania, Kiwi team Seagate lead the worlds best teams on the 700km expedition race by 39 minutes from Team Silva of Sweden. Seagate (Nathan Faavae, Sophie Hart, Marcel Hagener and Chris Forne) grabbed the lead in the first leg of the race, a 17km sea kayak "in Bass Strait" from Burnie to Penguin. 160 kayaks made an impressive display lined up on the beach at Burnie, and conditions for paddling were ideal, with a warm sunny day and calm seas. The start was frantic, then the teams fairly quickly settled into a long line, but with Seagate gradually paddling away at the front. They were the first to the beach at TA1, with Canadian Team Wilderness Traverse (including kiwis Gordon Blythen and Sarah Fairmaid) the next to arrive.
Teams then headed off on foot for a 20km trek, with a clay target shoot in the middle. The shooting didn't pose any problems for most teams, although reigning world champions Buff were forced to sit out a 10 minute penalty for missing all five shots.
By the end of the 2nd leg, Team Silva had worked their way back to 2nd, 16 minutes behind Seagate. Australian team Blackheart were close behind in 3rd, and South African team Merrell in 4th.
The 3rd leg had teams on to their Mountain Bikes, and riding to the Gunns Plains Cave, which included a non-racing section where teams travelled through a tourist cave then a more technical cave, before continuing on with the biking. The 50km biking section, initially on sealed roads, should have been fairly innocuous, apart from the MASSIVE hill they rode up after leaving the cave. They knew what to expect as they'd flew down it on the way in! It also includes some potentially tricky navigation after leaving the road section.
The MTB leads in to the first of the big trekking legs in the race, a 60km trek / abseil via Black Bluff and the Vale River. Black Bluff is the highest point on the course, and is followed by an ‘incredible abseil' down Reynolds Falls. This leads the teams into a canyon which will require some swimming on the way out.
So while Seagate gained some good ground in the first leg, the gap has increased slightly over the next few hours, so the chasing teams are showing that they don't intend to let the kiwis have it all their own way.
With the mid camp (a compulsory 6-hr stop at the end of leg 9) being followed by a 65km trek, a 150km MTB and a 75km kayak, each estimated to take over 20 hours, it could be said that the race won't even start until half way...
Times for the top teams at the end of the mountain bike stage :
Mountain Design 9:03
Wild Traverse 9:05
... then later ..
Nga Rakau in 10:30pm