The first dates for the new European ARWS Regional Series have been announced for next year!
The circuit offers exciting new races and opportunities for travel within Europe for 2022, with shorter format events of 24 to 36 hours, designed to challenge the top teams, and to encourage new teams to start racing.
There is an intriguing mix of races lined up, some of them already well known names in the World Series, others new to the calendar, but with experienced ARWS racers behind the scenes.
The venues span the continent with a variety of terrain, and World Series points and ranking positions will be at stake, leading up to a European Championships to be held at Raid Gallaecia at the end of the year. Some dates and details are provisional at this stage, but teams can now begin to plan ahead for an exciting year of racing in Europe in 2022.
The Europe Series calendar will begin with a very familiar name – Raid in France! A new race called RIF Spirit 24 will take place from April 1-3rd with a course open for 24 hours. The venue hasn’t been announced yet, but Nancy Bahuaud from RIF commented, “For this new race we will put in as much of the ‘Raid in France spirit’ as we can. We want a challenging course, but one which is shorter and more accessible for less experienced teams. We have chosen a date close to winter with the aim of organising a race in the mountains and having a snowy environment.”
Pascal Bahuaud, Race Director of Raid in France, added, “Since the beginning of Raid in France in 2007, it’s been an absolute blast for me to build the courses for all races. I enjoy finding the best routes, epic scenery, and creating a real experience in France for our teams. This new race format is different, but very challenging. Indeed, it’s going to be our major goal to keep our “Back to Nature spirit”, by offering a real immersion in nature on a shorter course of 120km.”
Next on the calendar will be a new event in a very different environment at the Raid Lowlands in Holland, which will be organised by Team XPD Holland in late May. The Race Director will be Rens Rijnbeek and his team first got the expedition adventure racing bug at XPD in Australia in 2015. Since then the team has grown to 10 racers and they have raced in Australia, Germany, Rodrigues and in 2021 in both France and Spain.
The team will be at the heart of organising the new race and they are telling those who enter to be prepared for “a bad ass course with lots of attitude (yes, in the Netherlands!), non-stop racing, great nature, mental toughness, sleepmonsters and to cross 3 different countries!”
Rens added, “We think there are many people in mid-Europe who are ready to try adventure racing and we want to enthuse and motivate them to participate, so we will set up a race suitable for a wide range of abilities. We want the racers to have the experience of a lifetime, and just like us, to catch the adventure racing bug.”
In July it will be the turn of the Tactical Foodpack Expedition Estonia Race. This is another event with a well-known ARWS team behind it (Estonia ACE/La Sportiva), although this event is already well established. (Expedition Estonia has taken place for 5 years now, starting with 50 racers and growing to 180 this year.)
The race dates will be July 1-3rd and this event will be open for 36 hours on a 200km course which will start in Narva, on the border with Russia. Race Director Silver Eensaar says, “The start area has some big fortresses and industrial remnants of Soviet times. The course then moves through some very diverse terrain where pristine forests and bogs are contrasted with industrial and mining features. Although this is a shorter race, participants can expect an expedition feel and some long wilderness navigation legs.”
He added, “We hope this new series will help adventure racing grow again in Europe and although our race will be a traditional style adventure for co-ed 4 person teams, we will also have an OPEN class, where you can experience the course on your own terms. There is option to go solo and the Open class will not be a timed race (there are cut-offs) so you can use GPS for navigation.”
Estonia ACE/La Sportiva are renowned navigators with multiple rogaining World Champs, and Eensaar added, “We will have some serious navigation skill testing in between easier legs. There will be PRO CPs that teams racing for top positions will need to get. It might be looking for that one special bog lake in between hundreds, or finding the right depression in a maze left behind after the closure of open cast mining areas, for example.”
Next on the calendar, and another change of scenery and culture, will be the Nirvana Raid AR in Northern Italy, which will take place in August in Lombardy. The course will be set in the region of Lecco, which includes the beautiful Lake Como and the Grigne and Dolomite mountains, the training ground for many famous mountaineers.
Despite the difficult situation with Covid, adventure racing in Italy has grown in recent years, and this has largely been led by the Nirvana Adventure Team, who have international racing experience in many different outdoor sports. They organise races as Nirvana Verde and the Nirvana Raid has taken place since 2013. Race Director Marco Colombo says, “We are looking forward to offering teams in Italy the chance to race as part of the AR World Series, and to welcoming international teams to such a beautiful region in our country.”
The next venue will be a little higher in the Alps at the GRAAL Race which takes place in Switzerland. (The Swiss APEX Expedition Race was previously a full AR World Series member so this is a return to Switzerland for the ARWS, a country which also hosted the very first AR World Championships.)
Race Director Frank Kräuchi will be known to many racers as a member of the PowerBar Swiss Explorers team and the event will be a continuation of a well established race held in French speaking Switzerland near to Lake Geneva, and which always includes some unusual disciplines.
The race has a strong environmental ethos too, and Kräuchi explained, “Part of the DNA of the race is sustainability. We want a race with the smallest CO2 footprint possible so we have local food, local prices, reusable materials and local and sustainable sponsors.”
He added, “Our motivation is simple, we love adventure racing! Now, with the regional initiative by the ARWS, we have the opportunity to organise our event and to help develop our sport both locally and internationally. Personally, I know how motivating the ARWS races can be. It’s really a big family of people passionate about adventure and nature, and experiencing life. That will be the spirit of our new race.”
In all of these races points will count towards ARWS rankings and qualification for the regional series final, and where better to hold that than at Raid Gallaecia in Spain!
Next year’s European Championships will be held on a 160km course in early October, when Pablo López Franco and his dedicated team will follow up this year’s World Championships. It’s sure to be a fitting climax to a fantastic year of European Adventure Racing!
You can find all the available dates and details for the ARWS Europe Series at https://arworldseries.com/europe and these will be updated as new information becomes available and through ARWS media channels.