At the time of writing, 34 hours into the race, Columbia Vidaraid had just taken the lead from Australian team Peak Dynamite Adventure for the first time in this race. Right now the teams are only 250m apart, but nearly 100m in elevation difference as they push their bikes up a very steep trail in the mountains. It is gruelling. The gap to the next team, Fujin Raijin, is 5 hours.
The day began with both Columbia Vidaraid and Dynamite Peak Adventure arriving at the start of the raft, Leg 5 well before the 4am start time. Both teams managed to take some rest and have 1.5 hours of sleep. Dawn broke and both teams were on the water at exactly 4am which coincides with first light.
Teams were lulled into a false sense of security as the first part of the 43km raft down the Sai river was fast and fun with many small rapids. Halfway through, the river narrowed and teams had to portage around a dam. It was difficult and slow due to the weight of the rafts taking up to 2 hours
During this section teams passed the famous Kumeiji bridge. There are only 3 bridges over the Sai river and this one used to be a wooden suspension bridge that was dangerous for traffic. It is said to have a sad story of a father and daughter which is meant to be the origin of the popular Japanese saying, “the pheasant would not be shot but for its cries”.
After the portage section, the river was lower which required the teams to get in and out of the raft to carry it over shallow sections. Dynamite Peak Adventure managed to finish 20 minutes in front of the race favourites Columbia Vidaraid.
From here is was onto the infamous mountain bike that included and abseil, a mystery challenge and reportedly over 5000m of cumulative elevation gain. Teams began with a relatively flat ride to an abseil site. They left their bikes at the bottom of the abseil and hiked to the top. After descending the rope, teams were then required to complete a mystery challenge. This was is a short rogaine through the Omuro ancient tombs that date back to the 5th century.
From here, it was a quick ride across the city of Nagano and into the mountains. This is where Columbia Vidaraid have made their move and over taken Dynamite Peak Adventure. Both teams are currently close to the finish of this leg. From here it is a final 17km trek to the finish. We watch in anticipation.
Most teams in the mid to rear of the race will be diverted onto a series of short courses starting tomorrow morning.
A link to the live tracking is at http://adventureracejapan.jp/
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Released 14 June 2018 by Louise Foulkes, Adventure Racing World Series
Photo Adventure Race Japan