When Team Gymcity (Poland) and Team Nordisk (Denmark) crossed the finish line at the Adventure Racing World Championship in Paraguay they placed 9th and 10th after 5 and a half days of tough racing.
With their finishes the ARWC 2022 top 10 was made up of 9 different countries; New Zealand, Sweden (x2), Brazil, Estonia, Czech Republic, USA, South Africa, Poland and Denmark, and the teams represented the North and South America, Europe, Africa and Oceania ARWS regions.
This year was also the first time Regional Champions had taken their places at the World Championship, with Brazil Multisport representing South America and Merrell Songlines racing as winners of the Africa Series. (Next year in South Africa all of the regions will be represented.)
For Brazil Multisport it was great result, finishing 3rd, which is the highest a South American team has ever placed in the AR World Championship. As multiple winners of Expedicion Guarani and this year’s AR Panama, their result was no surprise, but the 8th place taken by Merrell Songlines may have surprised those who have not followed their progress in Africa.
The team are into their second year of racing, and quickly started to dominate the ARWS Africa series, beating some well established international teams in the process. It’s rare for a new team to have such an impact so quickly, but 120km races are different to expedition length races, especially a World Championship. The team had the experienced John Collins with them as navigator. He is a veteran of the first Eco-Challenge, though he said he made a “rookie mistake” taking the skin off his feet on the first trek and “the team paid for that the rest of the race, so I’ll have to make it up to them.”
For Kelvin Trautman it was a first expedition race finish and he said, “That was amazing, and the big take away for me is spending quality time with these quality people. The hardest thing was the lack of sleep as I’ve never done a race this length.
Lance Kime said, “I was just blown away by the beauty of Paraguay. Every single trek was in a new incredible area of mountains and rivers. Incredible place, incredible people!” At the next AR World Championship in Africa they will be a team to watch out for.
Quest AR /Bend Racing finished in 7th and were the only full course finishers with 2 female racers, Chelsey Magness and Emily Caseria. Magness said, “I was really impressed with the course Urtzi designed. It was a true adventure and every stage was different and challenging, it was my kind of course. Urtzi must have put a ton of work into it, especially with all the work on updating the maps, and as a racer himself he really understands what racers want. That showed in the organisation and support, the food at the TA’s was great, because it was the kind of food we wanted to eat.”
Ahead of them in the rankings were the Swedish team USWE, and with the Greener Adventure Team finishing 15th as well, Sweden are the most successful nation at the World Championship (as they often are). The Nordisk Team from Denmark took 10th place and Laura Knudsen said, “It as an amazing course, every day it was a new adventure and we saw something new of Paraguay on every stage. Someone in our team was struggling almost all the time, and we managed as a team to support each other and keep going, that’s what AR is all about really.”
Perhaps the most remarkable finish in the top 10 was the 9th place of Gymcity AR who arrived in Paraguay with only two team members after visa problems. A third team member was able to fly in by a different route after a fundraiser to buy a new air ticket and Brazilian racer Fredy Guerra, who was supporting Brazil Multisport, made up their team, racing with borrowed gear.
Guerra is part of the Brazil Multisport squad but this was his first expedition race and a team of strangers was relying on him. He didn’t speak much English either so there was little communication beyond a shared commitment to complete the race. For Maciej Dubaj, who arrived the day before the race, there was the added pressure of being the sole team team navigator. “Our team mate who couldn’t come was my back up navigator,” he said, “so I started tired from travelling and knew all the navigation was on me.” In such difficult circumstances a top 10 finish was an incredible result for them.
The multinational nature of the finishers continued beyond the top 10, with teams from Uruguay, Spain and Ecuador in the next three places, and it’s a reflection of the strength of international and World Series Adventure Racing that this World Championship is a truly global affair.