26 international and 2 Chinese teams came to the far North Western Provence of Xinjiang for an expedition race of a lifetime. It was the first AR World Series race in Asia and the fulfilment of Race Director Wei Jun’s lifelong dream of organising a non-stop expedition race in his country.
Thule Adventure Team were the winners of the 300km course in an incredible 36 hours and 16 minutes. It was a nail biting fight to the end with Redbull leading the last leg then falling to a spectacular navigation mistake opening the way for the Haglofs Silva. They too made a heartbreaking navigational error just 30 minutes from the finish line. Thule Adventure Team powered past in the dark not sure of their position and it was only confirmed on the finish line by the officials after Sam Clark asked “Have we won?”. Adventure Medical Kits finished second just 14 minutes behind and Haglofs Silva 4 minutes after them.
The Chinese home favourites teams Koosa and Xin Jiang were both undertaking their first non-stop expedition race. They became local Chinese celebrities as they travelled the course and were cheered throughout. Both teams finished within 30 minutes of each other and were greeted at the finish line at 1am by a huge and excited crowd.
Qiaoping Li from team Koosa said “This is the most important moment in my 10 years as an athlete, to hold my national flag at the finish makes me so proud.” Her team mate Qiaoping Li was in tears standing under the finish banner. He said “It was difficult for me to navigate but my team stood behind my decisions and gave me the strength I needed”.
The race took teams from the start line in the amazing picture perfect Lake Kanas through to the finish line in the regional capital of Altay. Jody Willet of team Suncity Travel said “I couldn’t have been to a more beautiful place in the world, and i have been to a lot!”. Her team mate David Slosh remarked at the end of leg 3 “It felt like we travelled through Switzerland, the French Alps and Canada all in one leg”.
AR World Series Director Craig Bycroft declared “This Development race in China has been a resounding success and I welcome the XTrail Expedition as a full Qualifier in 2017”. The race organisers will again welcome international and national teams to the region next year for an expedition race not to be missed.
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