The Adventure Racing World Championships took place in the Brazilian region Pantanal. It was hot, it was long, it was hard and it was completely wonderful. The best of Adventures!
I don't think I'm gonna be able to explain what went down in Pantanal. How ever I'll give it a try. And you may then send me all of your questions that remains and I'll put them together as a follow up post here. Post questions here, on Facebook or throw me an email. This will be fun!
Pantanal is a wildlife paradise, so beautiful and unique. It's green with colorful birds and endless rivers running through. And far away mountains hidden in haze.
With this picture we started the grand race. A paddle start, witch always feels very safe for me. Up until now we had the best of preps, everything went just our way with traveling, gears and so on. But not far into the race we got our first hitch. One of our kayaks sank. Crazy but true. Probably affected by the swelter, it just like Titanic got filled with water and left us at the very very end of the field. With a new kayak and a eagerness to get back to the top we did a heroic paddle leg and transitioned to the first trekking in 7th place. The moral was truly high at this point and we kept passing teams.
In this long races moral is everything, at least from my point of view. As long as you can hold the moral and spirit of the team high, despite holdbacks of any kind, you'll also keep the speed up. What's truly hard on the motivation is stages that seems endless. And we got a lot of that.
Every stage turned out way longer than predicted and challenged us in so many ways. In the dawn of the second day we headed out on a pack rafting stage. Pack raft is an inflatable boat that you can paddle or pack away and carry. At this stage, after hours of paddling, when we started to make our way up a steep hill through dense jungle, the heat started to really hit us. At late afternoon, at a leeward mountainside we found ourselves trying to hide away from the sun under some small bushes, desperately whisking a leaf for some breezing. (Yeah, no it didn't help)
Prior to start it was all about the oppressive heat, how would we coop? We wouldn't! All teams had problems and suffered from time to time of heatstrokes.
The stages coming up wouldn't give us a break, not from the heat and not from the feeling that this race would go on forever and ever and ever and ever...
Two grand trekking sessions, first one in the mountains, with rough ground and no water at all and second one with crazy navigation and so much water the feet threw in the towel (not really a suitable expression here). Both of them more than dubble the predicted time. But we kept pushing, sticking to our plan and staying as fresh as possible. Knowing even more demanding stages were ahead of us. But this is were it all got messy.
Arriving at transition 6, happy to finally be there. Happy to get some new clothes and fill up with food, but also determined to head out and fight the next stage. The one stage that was gonna be the absolutely most challenging and most spectacular and we were confident. But the course was closed!
To be honest the first reaction was relief. But then an undefined feeling of emptiness, like someone tried to fool us. A lot of teams at the transition area. Some got disappointed, some got upset, some got really upset, the teams out there that automatically got into top 5 got really really happy I guess, and some other also got happy for sure. But whatever you would think of it, we all got transfered with small airplanes to another transition to mount or bikes and head to the finish line. So close now, but also so long to go.
At both the transition areas we were told by staff that we now had only 150k's to go. Oh sweet lord we're home! As the sun rised and we were biking and hiking trough the desert I took my head lamp of threw it deep down in the backpack and shouted to the team "Last day guys! We'll have dinner and a bed tonight!" I was going to eat these words later! But for now I was happily unknowing. Staffan on the other hand, looking at the maps, was fully aware but kind enough to keep quiet.
It's hard to believe but after 7 days and 1 hour we crossed the finish line, paddling a native canoe under the arch and closing the bigest adventure of adventure racing history. It feels so great to have been a part of this one of a kind race.
I'm so proud of my performance, I delivered to my own high expectations. I contributed to the team. I made some big efforts. I'd leveled up since last time and I'm clear about what I need to do to keep making progress. And I will, cause Adventure Racing is just so much fun.
I went to Brasil with golden dreams but also humbled by the big adventure awaiting us and the great athlets going up agains us. Pantanal gave us an even bigger adventure than we could ever have imagined and since I know what it took to get trough it I only wanna applaud the nine teams ahead of us. But hey, don't get comfy we're coming for you!
The biggest hand to all of you who followed, or tried to. I'm so amazed and moved by your patience and dedication it took to even understand a little of what we were up to. I've understand that it was true madness, and despite a lot of frustration you kept staring at our dot, sometimes not even moving at all, and sometimes flying cross the map. Thank you so much, means the world to me.
Don't forget to send me your questions.
Photos Ale Socci - Green Pixel