The race is staged by Raid in France, which has led the way in international adventure racing for two decades and staged two World Championships.
Normally, Race Director Pascal Bahuaud sets an expedition length course for Raid in France over 4 to 5 days, but for RIF Spirit the course will be shorter; 172km with an expected winning time of 21 hours.
This time the race will be part of the Adventure Racing World Series European calendar, which includes shorter, more accessible races, and the event will be host to both the ARWS European Championship and the French National Adventure Racing Championship. The crème de la crème of European adventure racing will be competing for two prestigious titles.
“During 2 days of adventure, Haute-Loire will amaze the teams with the authenticity of its landscapes, which are a perfect setting for the Raid in France, ‘Back to Nature’ philosophy.” Said Bahuaud.
“Gorges, hills and forests will be the environment for this exciting new edition, requiring the racers to show resourcefulness and a range of outdoor skills. With long trekking and MTB sections, navigation on lakes and rivers, a semi-aquatic hike, a ropes circuit, and the discovery of Lignon’s gorge, the route will definitely be as technical as Raid in France has a reputation for.
“When I create the route, I try to plan the race that I would have enjoyed racing in. I therefore spend a lot of time out there to find the best combination between nature and logistics. With, of course, a few twists to keep the adventure spicy!”
Teams will gather in Tence early on Saturday morning (Sept. 30th) to complete their preparations and the race will begin at 6am. The course includes 3600m of elevation gain and begins with a 3km prologue. In total there will be 79km of MTB, 30km of kayaking and 60km of trekking (including ropes and caving). Teams have been told it’s optional to use wet suits for the kayaking and also for a short swim section on the course.
All Raid in France courses are technical and challenging, testing navigation and teamwork and teams will be racing through the mountains at night. As usual at Raid in France, the aim is for every team to stay on the course as long as possible, and reach the finish line, and there are 5 short-cuts available to allow teams to meet the deadline to finish before 12.30pm on Sunday 1st October.
As you might expect, the competition will be intense. The winners of the ARWS Europe races this year in Denmark, Netherlands, France, Italy, UK, Spain and Estonia won a place at RIF Spirit, and of course the top French teams will be there competing for their national title as well.
The defending ARWS European Champions, and one of the top teams in France for many years, are Team FMR CSO and they will face tough competition to retain their title. They had a great battle with Team Euskal Raid of Spain in last year’s championship and the Spanish team will challenge again in Haute-Loire after their recent win at Raid Aran in the Pyrenees, where they beat FMR into second place.
The young Masanga Racing team from Denmark will be challengers and so will team Multisport.fi from Finland, winners of the Endurance Quest Espoo, where they beat the world #1, Swedish Armed Forces Adventure team. (They are concentrating on the AR World Championships in South Africa in 3 weeks time.) Eastern Europe will also be represented by the Estonian team Seiklushunt Honeypower, who have gained considerable international racing experience in recent years.
Of course, the French teams will not want to cede any advantage to the visitors in their own country and as the strongest adventure racing country in Europe (if not the world) many powerful teams will race for the podium. 400team, DSN74 and Absolu Raid will send more than one team, and BimBim Team, who took a memorable 3rd place at the last Raid in France, will be there too.
It is set to be a great weekend of adventure racing in Haute-Loire and there will be live tracking of the teams, which you can find from the race start on www.raidinfrance.com
You can also follow the race news on the Raid in France social media channels, the Fftriraids pages and on ARWS and ARWS Europe pages.
Who will be the new Adventure Racing Champions of Europe and of France? Follow RIF Spirit to find out this weekend!