Posted on: 10 October 2023

Who will be the New Adventure Racing World Champions?


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Adventure Racing teams from around the world are now making their final preparations for the 2023 Adventure Racing World Championship, to be held in Kouga, in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

The race will be hosted by Expedition Africa (the 11th edition) and is the first AR World Championship to be held in Africa since the competition began in 2001. One hundred and nine teams will be arriving at the race HQ at Cape St. Francis Resort from October 14th, and over 600 participants are expected at the race, including teams, supporters, volunteers and media.

They are travelling from 38 different countries, making this the most international and representative AR World Championships ever held. The 800km, non-stop, race starts at an undisclosed location on October 19th and the winners are expected to finish in 4.5 days. The course remains open for 9 days, allowing teams the opportunity to complete a World Championship course, if they are strong enough.

That will be the objective of most teams, to reach the finish line having collected all 78 checkpoints, on foot, mountain bikes or in kayaks. The teams of 4 must also stay together and finish together to be ranked.

Estonia ACE in Paraguay

The race also promises to be one of the most competitive for many years. On the start list are the winners of 8 Adventure Racing World Series Qualifiers; expedition races which took place in Croatia, Canada, Colombia, Australia, the USA, Ecuador and Paraguay. They will be joined by the top teams from the ARWS Regional Championships in Africa, South America, Oceania and Europe. The top 8 teams in the ARWS world rankings are racing, and that includes some teams who are neither winners of qualifiers, or regional champions.

It’s going to be show down between the best endurance racing teams in the world, and the competition is all the more intense as the world title will be passed onto a new team.

For the past decade the New Zealand team Avaya (formerly Seagate) have been dominant and all but unbeatable. They won by a big margin at the last ARWC in Paraguay but, with the retirement of team captain Nathan Fa’avae and the end of their sponsorship deal, the defending champions are no longer competing. There is a vacancy at the top and many teams who want to take their chance to fill it.

The only other AR World Champions since 2011 are the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team (SAFAT), who won the title in Spain in 2021, a year when Avaya could not race due to Covid restrictions. SAFAT were second last year and must be the race favourites on form. They are the world #1 team and past winners of 6 ARWS Qualifiers.

Team SAFAT winners of Adventure Race Croatia

The team has the benefit that some of their working time in the Swedish military is set aside for training and they have military training and team management resources. They are always meticulously prepared and will have their sights set on winning a second world title. The team has one change since 2021, with Per Vestling included, who was on the winning ARWC team in 2011.

In third place in 2022 were team Brazil Multisport, who are 2 times ARWS South American Champions. They have risen up the rankings over the past two years with a series of wins and an unbeaten record in ARWS South America races. The team captain is Camila Nicolau (one of 22 female team captains) and this year the team is joined by Thai athlete Jay Jantaraboon. He is new to the team, but has raced with Nicolau and Guilherme Pahl before at races in China and the USA. Jantaraboon is part of the North Face Adventure Team and has not competed in a major adventure race for some time as he’s been concentrating on ultra trail running, so his inclusion is something of a wild card.

Last year Brazil Multisport raced with former World Champion (2009) Nick Gracie from the UK, and he has now teamed up with Team Andes Ecuador, who won the Huairasinchi race earlier this year. There are two other Ecuadorian teams in the top 20 of the World rankings, and San Juan Aventura of Argentina won the Expedicion Guarani qualifier in Paraguay this year. The competition from South America will be stronger than ever this year.

Fourth at the last ARWC were the Estonian ACE/La Sportiva team and they are a former World #1 ranked team, were second when SAFAT won the title in Spain, plus they are the defending Expedition Africa champions, having won in Lesotho last year.

Other qualifier winners include Vidaraid of Spain, the most experienced team in the race, with more ARWS wins in their record than any other (twelve between 2011 and 2023), but they’ve never yet added a world title to their honours list. Europe is represented among the qualifying teams by 400 Team (France) and Endurance (Spain), the USA by Team Bend Racing/Skin Doctor and Oceania by Team Chipesti and E Dog and the JJ’s.

Team Chipesti ARWS Oceania Champions

The other ARWS regional champions are Team Merrell Songlines, the ARWS Africa Champions. They’ve been the dominant team in Africa for the last two years and were 8th at the 2022 World Championship in Paraguay, which was their first expedition race finish as a team. They will lead a strong South African challenge from teams proud to race on home soil, including former Expedition Africa winners Team Merrell, leg by Graham Bird. (There are 33 South African teams racing.)

All of these teams will be racing for the top ten places and the title, and they will all regard a team new to the World Championship and with no world ranking as one of their main rivals. Team Tiki Tour are one of the top expedition racing teams within New Zealand, and they are coming to the World Championship with Chris Forne as a new teammate.

Forne was the Avaya/Seagate navigator over the past decade, when he was often the X-factor keeping them ahead of every other team. He holds 8 world titles, the first won in 2007, and is the only defending World Champion in the race. Any team he is in will be amongst the favourites and that means that, perhaps, the kiwis are still the team to beat.

Chris Forne (center) on his way to an 8th World Title

The 2023 Adventure Racing World Championship will have live satellite tracking and continuous reporting which can be found on www.expafrica.live and www.arworldseries.com

Follow all the action from the race on ARWS social media channels – Youtube, X, Instagram and Facebook and Tiktok. @arworldseries


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