Once again the Expedicion Guarani team lead by Urtzi Iglesias in Paraguay has delivered an exceptional adventure race. Their last race was the 2022 World Championship and last weekend they set up a shorter race, Raid Guarani, which is part of the ARWS South America regional series.
The inspired course design of the Race Director, the services, the spirit of the athletes and the kindness of the staff are the hallmarks of one of the most experienced organizations in adventure racing.
After a check-in on Friday night without major surprises, during which the ARWS referee Luis Bernal inspected the equipment, the RAID started on Saturday morning from Borja with an MTB leg. There ARWS category was the longest at 180km. The weather looked threatening and it did not take long for the rain to arrive, then it stayed with the athletes for most of the day.
Symbiosis and Tejú Guazú were the first to reach TA 1 before a classic trekking stage of the Urtzi Iglesias stamp, featuring canyoning, through jungle terrain, with navigation options, and that's where teams separated.
Tejú Guazú were lost finding a CP and it was Angiru (who were in 10th position at the end of the MTB) who were most successful with almost perfect navigation by Guille Medina. By CP 6 (the second of the trek) they were already in 2nd position.
The team led by Saul Jara is perhaps the one that has invested and grown the most within the enormous community of Paraguayan athletes. They are already registered for the World Championship in South Africa as the only Paraguayan team and had a great performance at the Malacara Race in Brazil in March.
"We were in the lead and the pressure made me make a mistake. I missed a trail and we lost positions, but we picked up again on the trek", Saul said.
Symbiosis came to the race "dodging all the adversities that we could have" but they continued to lead until Angiru took the lead at CP30 on the 2nd mountain bike stage, gaining an advantage that left them as the only team ahead the cut-off at the end of the kayak stage. So they knew that just by finishing from that point they would win.
“They (Symbiosis) still lead by 20 minutes in the transition but seeing them on the hill, all the regret for the mistakes at the beginning and the fatigue, turned into adrenaline" said the Angiru captain. He explained Rosalba is the newest of the team, with barely 4 races, but said he had been racing with Guille for 6 years so they have a strong understanding.
Symbiosis crossed the finish line first, but they had missed the last MTB cut-off and Angiru followed them to take the win by completing the full course.
A little further back, the battle for third place was epic. Mykure and Kavure'i had been together since the middle of the first trek! They had almost 20 hours of racing together.
"We are a great Paraguayan and Latin American AR community,” said the Kavure'i captain. “We are supportive and there is camaraderie, but this is a competition!"
Arriving at the paddle with a 2 minute lead, they thought Mykure would catch up (having a national team paddler) but they were able to break away and claim the third step of the podium.
Asked about the opportunity to measure his team against the best on the continent, Angiru's captain Saul commented: “We raced in Brazil in March and we know that the ARWS seal provides a commitment from the organizer to make a good event. So I have no doubt that the South American Final will be a great race and we will go to have fun”.
The third stage of the ARWS South American Circuit will be the Huairasichi Aventura race in July, where another team will qualify for the South American Final at the Malacara Race. (That race will soon open registration for a real battle and the chance to go as a guest of the ARWS to the 2024 World Championship in Ecuador!)
Expedicion Guarani is once again an ARWS Qualifier race this year and takes place from August 26th to September 1st on a 400km course.