Adventure Race Croatia is back as an ARWS Qualifier this year, with the defending champions returning, a new location and a few innovations to add to the race.
Thirty-two teams will be on the start line, with racers representing France, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Finland, UK, Israel, Sweden and Estonia. Four teams have travelled from the USA, there are 5 from France and 4 from Belgium!
The defending champions from last year, the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Racing team (#25), are back to defend their title. Captain John Karlsson leads regular team members Malin Hjalmarsson and navigator Oskar Svard and they are joined by Per Vestling (who was on the winning Thule Adventure Racing team at the AR World Champs in Tasmania in 2011).
They will be looking to claim a free place at the World Championship in South Africa in October, to try and regain the world title they won in 2021. They will face strong competition from Raid in France champions, 400Team Givaudan, Team Black Hill from the Czech Republic, Checkpoint Zero from the USA and two strong Estonian teams (Onnevalem & Estonian ACE Tactical Foodpack).
World #15 Team Merrell Songlines from RSA were due to race as well, but sadly had to pull out due to visa difficulties.
Race Director Igor Dorotic says “Adventure Race Croatia is somewhat different from most of the races in ARWS as we prefer to have shorter stages and more of them.
“A lot of stages means a lot of transitions, so you can think of transitions as a separate discipline because you can lose a lot of time in them if you are not organized, prepared and efficient. So don’t forget to train transitions too.”
Many of the teams are returning to the race, so will know what to expect, and hopefully those new to the race will have done their homework and transition training.
This year the race is 503km with 11,000m of elevation gain, and there are 13 stages, so not quite as many transitions as usual. The expectation is for the course to be fast, with a 58 hour winning time, and give all of the teams a good chance to reach the finish line. However, the weather might affect those estimates, and has already affected the course.
Every year the race visits a new region, and this year it is in the regions Gorski Kotar and Istria. There are many rivers, streams and waterfalls and the rainfall in the days before the race has been exceptional. One planned river paddle is almost 3 times higher than the safe level and has been cut from the course. And the rain is not forecast to stop, so it could be a very wet race!
Two innovations he has introduced this year are optional checkpoints and a dark zone. “The optional CP’s are really to allow all teams the most chance to finish the course,” he said. “Teams who drop an optional CP will be ranked as short coursed and we expect the faster teams to get them all easily.” There are optional CP’s on 5 stages of the race, and teams can use them to race strategically to meet the race cut-offs.
“I really don’t like dark zones,” Dorotic added, “but this year it was necessary for one river.” However, he has designed a unique strategic option into his course to help teams avoid the dark zone.
There is a trek and bike ride either side of the paddle and the course is designed so teams can choose which to do first, so they can better control their arrival time at the river. It will be interesting to watch the race trackers on legs 7, 8 and 9! The race also has its longest bike stage ever, at 115km.
Teams will gather at the race HQ, the beachside Lanterna Premium Camping Resort in Tar, Istria from Saturday. Each team will have their own spacious bungalow and all the race HQ facilities will be nearby. The race formalities and briefings take place on Saturday and Sunday, and then teams have a 4am start on Monday. They will board busses and be driven to the start line, which is at an undisclosed location. The race starts at 8am.
There will be extensive media coverage on the race social media channels, including in-depth analysis by fellow ARWS Race Director Jason Magness (Bend Racing & Expedition Oregon).
There will also be news and analysis on the ARWS pages and live tracking from Track the Race, so you’ll be able to follow the race closely from start to finish.
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