The third race in this year’s Adventure Racing World Series, ‘America’s Toughest Race – Expedition Oregon’, starts on May 9th and the race has already lived up to its title for the Race Director and staff.
Just two weeks ago, Central Oregon got hit with a huge snowstorm, blanketing half of the course with over 35 inches of fresh snow. While the crew was excited by this, they were equally filled with a bit of anxiety and stress. After a week and a half of re-vetting, getting trucks stuck out in the middle of nowhere and other exciting events, Jason Magness said that he is even more thrilled about this course. “The beauty, challenge and diversity that it has is like no other course I have designed.” He went on to say that there will be lots of different styles of navigation as well. Big mountaineering sections will offer lots of different route choices while some of the other legs will offer some interesting micro navigation.
“Every leg will be different and will play to some teams’ strengths and others weaknesses.” Chelsey Magness added, “Just because one team takes the lead from the beginning, does not necessarily mean they will have it the whole time. This course has it all: technical white water, technical snow travel, challenging navigation and a ton of climbing and descending on the bike.”
“We have a lot of really experienced teams this year,” said Assistant Race Director Darren Steinbech. We are hoping/predicting that between 5-10 teams will finish the whole course and we have a pretty good idea of who we think those teams will be. We fully expect to be proved wrong with our podium picks as there are so many teams with top five aspirations and the skill to back it up.
World Ranked #2 Team Vidaraid is a clear favorite, and the champions of last year’s Expedition Oregon. Mari Chandler will again race with the team along with Marco Anselem, Urtzi Iglesias and Jon Ander Arambalza. However, historically, snowy mountainous races have not always favored their strengths.
Team BendRacing/Canada, is coming back to EO for the third time. They have the same team as 2019, when they got 3rd place. The entire team is very experienced in the mountains and Lars Bukkehave is also a very accomplished white water rafter. They have their eyes on a top spot as well.
Equally experienced is Team East Wind from Japan. Masato Tanaka is a legend in the sport and has been racing longer than nearly anyone else in the sport! They race efficiently and smart and somehow seem to overcome all obstacles with ease.
These three teams shared the podium in the most recent edition of the (in)famous Patagonian Expedition Race, with Bend Racing on top. In fact, in their long history racing each other, Bend Racing has only bested Vidaraid in events with significant snow and mountaineering, so it should be interesting to watch these three teams battle it out.
Other teams that have a good shot at a coveted top 5 spot are Team Rootstock from the East Coast, they have had a great season so far and have won multiple 24 hour races as well as being two time National Champions. Team Peak Pursuit is from British Columbia (Canada) and did well at Expedition Canada and they have a really good chance of finishing the full course. They will feel right at home in the conditions in Oregon. It will likely even feel like a warm, pleasant spring for them, while other teams deal with being immersed back into winter!
The locals of Team BlueJay are also a team to watch. This team includes Lebn LoveJoy, a natural AR savant who only started racing 16 months ago and has won more than half the races he’s competed in. He captained his team to 7th place in Expedition Oregon last year and his longest race before that was 6 hours. This year he is joined again by professional mountain athlete Marissa Krawczac, World-record highliner Ari Delashmutt, and local legend mountain-biker and physiotherapist Tim Evens.
MRC Parkman Foundation, Team Orienteering Utah, Norcal, NYARA, and Checkpoint Zero round out the list of uber-experienced USA teams, who all have what it takes to finish this course. Most notable perhaps is CP Zero, who were 4th last year and are obviously hungry to step up onto that podium. They are joined this year by local racer Chris Paterson, who is normally a member of Team Bend Racing.
The race will cover a distance of 300 miles through the mountains of Oregon, with 36,800 feet of climbing, and includes 8 stages in total.
Race updates will be on America’s Toughest Race: Expedition Oregon and BendRacing Facebook pages and @americastoughestraces and @bendracing Instagram accounts, as well as on the pages of the Adventure Racing World Series and SleepMonsters.com.