The start of the 2022 AR World Championship in Paraguay. Photo Wladimir Togumi
How do you sum up a year of the Adventure Racing World Series? The diversity, scale and global span are hard to encompass as the Series grows each year. The numbers provide a starting point, but they don’t tell the whole story.
In 2022 there were 35 ARWS races, so the equivalent of one every 10 days. Each race had its own individual identity, defined by the style and ideas of the organisers, the location and the climate, and all were bound together as part of the AR World Series.
The winners of the Qualifier expedition races secured their place at the Adventure Racing World Championship and benefitted from the international referee programme, while each participating team scored world ranking points. Teams at the, shorter distance, Regional races scored ranking points too and the winners of the 4 regional Championships won World Championship places, while all of the races were covered by the internationally accepted ARWS rules.
The Expedition Races
This year there were 8 qualifiers (and one Demonstration race), with each expedition length race lasting up to 5 days. The terrain which the teams raced through could not have been more varied and included the coasts of Panama and Croatia, the wilds of Oregon and British Columbia, the French Alps, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the high altitude mountains of Lesotho and the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador.
The weather teams experienced was just as varied, and sometimes extreme. At ‘Expedition Oregon; America’s Toughest Race’ late winter storms challenged teams, who pushed bikes through deep snow and had to contend with exceptionally cold temperatures. Teams at Expedition Africa in Lesotho only just got out of the country ahead of unseasonal snow as well. In Panama and Croatia it was hot, there was torrential rain at Huairasinchi in Ecuador raising rivers to flood level and Katabatic winds caused the cancellation of a sea paddle in Croatia.
It is all a part of expedition adventure racing, where no two races are ever alike and there is always a new challenge to contend with. These were the 2022 races;
Pamana AR (Feb). This was a new race for the AR World Series, staged by the Raid Gallaecia team less than 5 months after their World Championship in Spain. Pablo Franco Lopez and Jorge Llanos were the Race Directors, setting up a course in a country which was new to Adventure Racing. The winners were Team Brazil Multisport, the ARWS South American champions.
Team Brazil Multisport celebrate their win at the Panama AR. Photo Enrique Blanco.
Expedition Africa – Lesotho (April). The mountain kingdom of Lesotho welcomed teams from 11 countries to the 10th anniversary Expedition Africa. Teams experienced rugged mountains, rough roads and a warm welcome in remote villages. The race was won by the Estonian ACE Adventure La Sportiva team, claiming their first win after a decade of ARWS racing.
Expedition Oregon; America’s Toughest Race (May). The Bend Racing team set a technical and very demanding course, as you’d expect from ‘America’s Toughest’ – then the weather made it much harder. Dot watchers have never been so gripped by such slow motion progress as teams experienced sub zero temperatures and deep snow. The Vidaraid Adventure Team (Spain/USA) held off a challenge from Team East Wind (Japan) to take the win.
Adventure Race Croatia (May). ARC always offers teams a fast paced race in stunning scenery and this year 48 teams took the opportunity to travel there and explore the islands and coastal hill ranges. The World Champions, the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team, were the runaway winners.
Expedition Canada (June); Canada returned to the ARWS after a decade away when Expedition Canada became a qualifier this year, after staging a Demonstration race last year. The course took teams into the Okanagan Range of BC and this was another race with late snow and cold conditions. The winners were Team Bend Racing (USA).
Endless Mountains (June); This new Demonstration Race, staged by the experienced Rootstock Racing organisers, took teams into the Pennsylvania Wilds on a course which offered lots of navigational challenge and many tactical choices. (Only 3 teams visited all the checkpoints and all but one of the 32 teams finished.) Bend Racing were the winners again, with a different team line up.
Raid in France (June/July); Raid in France was back for the first time since staging the World Champs on Reunion Island, with an Alpine course which offered some ‘mountain magic’ in the Savoie Mont-Blanc region. The winners (again) were 400team Naturex.
Huairasinchi (July); This year’s Huairasinchi was a unique edition, with a course set in the Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador. It took 3 years of planning to organise and Martín Sáenz of the winning Fairis Team said, “ It was a race, experience, and adventure that I’ll never forget!”
ITERA (August); The last qualifier of the year was ITERA in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. The course spanned several islands, some historic sites and took teams to the summit of Ben Nevis, the highest point in the UK. The lead changed several times, but it was the Racing Denmark team who crossed the line as winners.
Team Sweco of Sweden racing at ITERA in the Scottish Highlands. PHoto Rob Howard.
Expedicion Guarani (September); The 2022 World Championship was hosted in Paraguay by Expedicion Guarani. This had been the organising team’s goal since the race was established and they welcomed teams from around the world to show them the beauty and variety of the scenery in Paraguay. The race has many twists and turns, but in the end it was a comfortable victory for the returning Avaya team (NZ), who took the Adventure Racing World Title for the 7th time.
Regional Racing Around the World
Interwoven between the expedition races the ARWS regional races and championships were taking place throughout the year. This calendar of races is growing every year, offering teams on each continent the chance to compete at shorter, more accessible races (mostly around 120km in length or 24 hours). Some of those racing are new to adventure racing and others use them as training and preparation for expedition racing.
The year began with a spectacular course in Chile at the Vulcania AR, which hosted the ARWS South America Championship, and throughout the year there were regional races in countries in Asia, India, Europe, Africa and Oceania.
Some were from established race organisers and others were new races, supported by the ARWS with advice and publicity, and in some cases by Race Directors from other ARWS events travelling to their races. The winners of the Championship races in each region claimed a place at the World Championship.
In 2022 these were;
South America (Vulancia AR) – Team Brazil Multisport
Europe (Raid Gallaecia) – Team FMR
Oceania (Oceania Championship) – Team Chipesti
Africa – (Africa Championship) – Team Merrell Songlines
In 2023 there will be Asia, Middle East and North American series and champions to complete the ARWS regional series around the world.
You can see all of the regional calendars and news at www.arworldseries.com
Team Merrell Songlines – 2023 ARWS Africa Champions. Photo Rob Howard.
World and Regional Rankings
Every team taking part in the Adventure Racing World Series scores ranking points for their regional and global ranking, which are updated every 4 months.
The rankings form a comprehensive database of results and achievements in adventure racing, for all the teams and individuals taking part, and the rolling totals span two years of competition. The teams racing more often, more successfully, and in both Qualifier and Regional races are those higher up the rankings. (Some teams in the top 10 of the world rankings have significant points from their success in the regional races.)
Each revision this year has seen a change in the world #1 team. The Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team started the year on top, were knocked down to the #2 by Estonian ACE Adventure La Sportiva, and then, in the latest update, moved back into the #1 position. At present there are 335 teams in the World Rankings and there are 9 different nationalities in the top 10 places.
Regional rankings are updated at the same time as world rankings and the current #1 teams in their region are;
South America – Brazil Multipsort
Europe – Racing Denmark
Africa – Merrell Songlines
Asia – The Skyrunners
Oceania – Thunderbolt AR
You can see the full rankings at https://arworldseries.com/rankings/
Team Thunderbolt AR, ARWS Oceania #1 ranked team. Photo Murilo Mattos.
Behind the Scenes
Supporting consistent, successful and professional races is a year-round task for the ARWS, and it’s not just about sharing experience and enthusiasm within the ARWS family of races.
The rules are reviewed and updated under the leadership of Head Referee Adrian Crane, and new referees are trained and advised. Publicity is a continuous process, with regular updates and press releases, each region has their own social media pages and the main ARWS social media channels had a reach in excess of 5 million viewers across the year.
Marketing is ongoing as well and many of next year’s races are already full. This includes the 2023 World Championship and the year review would not be complete without mentioning the incredible reaction to entries opening for Expedition Africa/ARWC 2023, to be held in Kouga in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
The response was overwhelming and the entry list currently stands at 155 teams from 33 countries.
2022 has been a phenomenal year for the ARWS, especially considering races were bouncing back after the Covid emergency, and next year will be even bigger, with many more races joining the series, and the biggest Adventure Racing World Championship ever held set to take place at the end of the year.
Looking back at the year, and forward to 2023, ARWS CEO Heidi Muller said, “We thank all of the Adventure Racing community for their support and believe in our Race Directors, who have been so strong together during a difficult time after Covid. Now we can look forward with confidence and we wish all adventure racers and events a fantastic 2023. Let’s enjoy our racing, set our goals high and reach for the stars. Let’s live the life of adventure and do it together!”
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