The ITERA expedition adventure race is preparing to welcome teams from around the world to the city of Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. Thirty seven teams of 4, from 12 nations and 4 continents, will be on the start line on August 12th. However, until the day before the start the racers will not know where that start line is.
The teams will gather in Inverness from August 10th to prepare for a race of 565km to be completed over 5 days of non-stop racing. They can sleep when they wish but most will take only a few hours sleep each night as they move around the course, always staying together and carrying all they need with them.
The route includes 13,100m of climbing in remote and uninhabited mountain ranges, 120km of trekking, 340km on mountain bikes and 105km of ocean and river kayaking. Along the way there will be some unique challenges, which could include climbing and abseiling, canyons or coasteering or even local sports (caber tossing anyone) … but these too won’t be revealed to teams until the day before they start.
The race is known for visiting iconic and quirky locations as the organisers, Open Adventure, want to give teams a unique experience of the race location and culture. The Course Planner is Tom Gibbs, a member of the only UK team to win the Adventure Racing World Championships, and the Race Director is Paul McGreal who has organised several international outdoor events in Scotland including the Orienteering World Championships and the Celtman Extreme Triathlon.
The race is part of the Adventure Racing World Series, and is round 7 of this year’s series. The event will take place under ARWS rules and they have appointed Adrian Crane as an independent referee to oversee the competition.
The secrecy about the course means teams are speculating where they might go within a 565km range from a start line near Inverness. (Though it has been known for adventure races to bus teams a very long way to a start line!)
Inverness is north of the Cairngorms National Park and 100km along The Great Glen and Loch Ness is Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak. It is 100km cross country to the West Coast, and 200km to the UK mainland’s most northerly point, John O’Groats.
There is plenty of scope for climatic challenges as well in the northern, maritime and mountainous conditions. The latitude of Inverness is north of Moscow and only intercepts the USA in Alaska, yet the west coast is influenced by the Gulf Stream and has palm trees along its pristine and isolated beaches, while the sheltered east coast near Inverness is one of the sunniest locations in the UK.
The teams will experience this variable weather and terrain and will be in a true wilderness, with few paths and almost no inhabitants. Northern Scotland is one of Europe’s great wilderness regions.
The teams taking on this adventure come from all over Europe, USA and Canada, Brazil and South Africa. The main objective of most is to complete the full course, but there are some short course options to allow teams of all abilities and speeds to complete the most memorable sections of the course and cross the finish line, which will be in Inverness. Teams are expected to finish though the day on Friday 16th.
All of the teams are experienced adventure racers, and many are returning after racing previous editions of ITERA, which have taken place in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Many have raced in exotic wilderness locations all over the world and two teams are ranked in the top 10 of the Adventure Racing World Series rankings.
Team Columbia Vidaraid are ranked #6 and will be lead by Jon Ander Aramalza Valverde of Spain, who was on the winning team at a World Series race in Ecuador earlier this year. This time there is a very different team line up and he is competing with 3 British racers who are new to the Vidaraid team.
Lozere Team2Raid of France are ranked number 8 in the world, and are lead by Nicolas Rambier. They have previously won Raid in France and finished 6th in the last World Championships, however they too have a changed line up with XTERRA racer Camille Defer joining the team.
Despite its remote location it will be possible to follow the ITERA Expedition Adventure Race as all of the teams will carry trackers from Open Tracking to show their positions, and there will be a live leaderboard, daily news reports, photo galleries and video edits.
To follow the race (from August 12th) go to; http://live.opentracking.co.uk/itera19/
You can find out more about the race at https://www.itera.co.uk/
The AR World Series features 9 expedition adventure races across 4 continents. More information is available at https://arworldseries.com