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Straight Off The Track

Author : Rob Howard
Follow teams at http://live.arworldseries.com/arwc18/

Speaking before the start Nathan Fa’avae of defending champions Avaya, said, “It is strange not having the maps but Chris will pick our route to the first checkpoint and we’ll head straight off and try to catch those ahead of us. It’s up to him really!”  Asked about his return to a World Champs after retiring 2 years ago he said, “I’m very relaxed about it. I’ve kept myself active and wanted to come and race with the team and see Reunion so that’s the priority. If we don’t win it’s not a big deal. It certainly won’t make any difference to my life if we are beaten!  It would be good for the sport I think and I’ll be the first to congratulate anyone who beats us and say well done.”

By 6am everyone had their YB tracker and teams were ready to go, racing across the dew covered field to get their first 3 maps, then climbing up into the hills above the stadium. First to leave were ESP Columbia, as they won the prologue, and the remainder followed at 30 second intervals. Nick Gracie of Columbia said, “We did well in the prologue and thought it was worth pushing to get an early start, though I’d rather not have the pressure of being first and leading everyone.”

The first challenge for teams was to find 2 waterfall abseils in a series of canyons up among the cliffs on the edge of the Salazie crater, so they headed uphill on a trail which lead alongside the football pitch.

The race had been at pains to point out teams should stay on paths and not try to go cross-country, and then the first part of the course forced them to do just that! To get between the first and second checkpoints they followed a canyon and river bed which had no path and had to beat a way through the dense vegetation and bamboo thickets, scrambling among the boulders in the dry river bed. (I think many of the smaller rivers will be dry unless it is actually raining and the availability of water is something the teams need to plan for.)

The lead teams were in one big pack here and soon beat a visible path of downtrodden vegetation through the bush.  They said there were no holds up at the first ropes, which were a quick descent down a vegetation covered cliff. (Don’t expect to see any photos as the vegetation is dense!) However, with such a big lead pack there was something of a race on for the second ropes and its possible teams had a short wait there. (However many ropes there are its strictly one rope per team.)

Between the first two CP’s they passed by a small holding (I’let) with pens full of goats, chickens, rabbits, pigs and cows and they may encounter quite a few of these subsistence farms hacked into the steep hillsides and forests.

I saw Australian team Tri-Adventure Antelopes in here and they were adjusting their packs to lighten the load for Tom Chadbourne, who was feeling unwell.  He was apologetic but Elizabeth Dormon just said, “It’s much better to say and we can deal with it and get you right again.”

This off track section made for a slow start to the race, but as teams move into the calderas of Mafate and then Cilaos they will be on trails.  This should make the navigation fairly straightforward, though there is long way between checkpoints and could be some route choice options. They will be more concerned about the relentless ascent and descent on very steep trails, the heat and staying hydrated as they come to terms with the volcanic landscape and this first 106km trek.

[Article supplied by SleepMonsters.com, the adventure racing website. SleepMonsters are currently fund raising on Patreon so please give them your support]

How to watch the action at the AR World Championship 2018

  1. Live tracking at: http://live.arworldseries.com/arwc18/ will keep you up to date with exactly where teams are during the race.  The site also has extensive photos, videos, leaderboard and reports. Become a #dotwatcher !!!!
  2. Live Streaming Tune in on https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries for the start at on 8th November and the winners around the 12th November (disclaimer! it is a remote island in the Indian ocean and internet access could be challenging!)  Other live streaming throughout the race so keep checking back.
  3. Facebook coverage through https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries and https://www.facebook.com/raidinfranceofficial/ Lend your support and encourage teams on this epic journey.
  4. Instagram follow us on instagram https://www.instagram.com/arworldseries/ and https://www.instagram.com/raidinfrance/ Let us know if you love the grit and determination displayed by these world class athletes.
  5. News Stories AR World series news stories are released on https://arworldseries.com/  and http://www.raidinfrance.com/en/ A Great way to catch up on the overall progress of the race.
  6. Hashtags search for interesting news and stories with the following hashtags #arwc2018 and #arworlderies

Released 8 November 2018, Adventure Racing World Series

Photo Terence Vrugtman

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