We all know the Huairasinchi Ecuador is a demanding race. Every year without exception. To claim victory here takes a special type of team. One that can carry on when they ache all over knowing that the hills will keep coming at them, the altitude will keep restricting strength and the weather can turn 10 times a day. But that’s why this victory is a celebration. A celebration for Terra Aventura – Finalin – a extremely young team in terms of adventure racing victories. And we all know they earned it. Capitan Joaquin Lopez had indicated the night the maps got handed out that they hoped to get a top five finish. Based on their start to finish boldness at or near the front its possible they secretly had other plans.
They commenced the last 24 hours gripped in a battle with the French team of Team Agde Raid Aventure from France.
They were minutes apart well into the now final bike leg. At the time though both teams would have been preparing for a difficult trek leg then and painstaking MTB of 70k to the finish line – all at altitude. Did either team make decisions based on completing the difficult finish. We will have to ask, however midway through the ride the trek leg was cancelled. Why? – sheer danger and difficulty to ensure the racers safety. Heavy rain had fallen and the experienced race directors took a decision that is always hard to think about, but always easy in the end. So then it was a race for the finish – all MTB.
At this stage it was a battle between these two teams but as adventure racing often does a twist emerged. As if spurred on by this change Fenix Multisport (Czech Rep.), Life Adventure Team (Ecuador) were on MTB fire. They started to make massive gains on the two lead teams before pulling back a bit to a more moderate pace in keeping with the leaders. It would appear that they put everything on the line to snatch a victory. Both teams had been hanging in the wings making good progress over the course but something had to happen to bring them into contention and it did. A change in the game – the trek was out and the MTB freight train was running hard.
Then another nail biting twist with a section of the course untrackable – the leading teams of Agde Raid Aventure and Terra Aventura – Finalin went into this twilight zone and “disappeared”.
Then waiting. Who would come out and when. All the while the two following teams pressed hard and had crossed paths with approx 85 k to go. They must have surely then been thinking they were fighting for 3rd place. But as all good adventure racers know. Run your own race.
Terra Aventura – Finalin were the first to pop out. They continued on to the finish to take hometown victory – no questions asked. Behind them though Agde Raid Aventure had run into trouble and stalled. Lost, needing sleep or a mechanical it’s not certain. But the following teams capitalized. Both following teams caught up to Agde Raid Aventure. Now a triple play fight for podium honors. A beautiful finish to such a tough race.
When all looked lost for Agde Raid Aventure they rallied. Restarted their engines and were in the fight. You have to remember this MTB is not flat. It is very hilly – Ecuadorian hilly. It’s different. Life Adventure Team (ECU) made their run for the line and they wanted it badly. Finishing strongly they took second and really pushed the last 30klm home ahead of Agde Raid Aventure then slightly behind Czech Fenix Multisport who had slowed their previous frenetic pace. Its easy to say altitude came into play to allow another local team to take second however all teams in this lead bunch showed they can handle both hills and altitude.
All the chasing teams had made their intentions clear that it was victory the wanted and put everything on the line – as it should be. It’s very apparent that the previous home ground advantage of altitude and hills is now not all the local teams way. A promising sign.
The remainder of the field continues to compete, take on the difficult MTB home and then enjoy the subsequent honour of finishing this event. It doesn’t get any easier in the middle or the back of the field. Its all hard and every hour on the course is another hour working towards the line. The same course – the same hills. Well done to all.
As for Terra Aventura – Finalin they will celebrate. Not just the win but also the rewards of self belief to push their limits and take a chance.
This win has propelled them up the ladder in adventure racing conversation – especially with the World Champs in Wyoming – also with some altitude. Four young racers who love exploring their home country, often seen on the peak of Cotopaxi but always enjoying what they do.