Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team (SAFAT) have claimed a nail biting victory at the inaugural Nordic Islands Adventure Race. Team members Johan Hasselmark, Emil Dahlqvist, Malin Hjalmarsson and Samuel Clark crossed the finish line in Turku, Finland just before midnight on 15th August 2018.
However, at this critical juncture the team realised they had missed one of the Check Points (CPs) on the final trek and potentially the entire race. Permitted only a historical map of downtown Turku to navigate, they believed they visited the correct location of the CP and it was missing. While they were searching on the wrong hill, team Estonia Ace Adventure actually passed SAFAT and arrived at the finish line ahead of them. Remember though due to the necessary mass re-start after the leg 4 kayak was cancelled part way through, SAFAT had 1 hour 20 minutes credit up their sleeve to the Estonians (meaning Estonia Ace Adventure needed to beat SAFAT by more than 1 hour 20 minutes).
What followed was a nail biting wait – SAFAT had already used 19 minutes of their 1 hour 20 minutes in the confusion and had just 1 hour and 1 minute to run the 6.9km round trip to collect CP92 (which they were not able to locate earlier). Media and Staff paced the finish area glued to their phones watching the team’s dot on the live tracking to see if they would make it. One of the media asked Rain Eensaar of team Estonia how he would feel if his team won, to that he said “I wouldn’t want to win like this.”
So, after 84 hours and 35 minutes of racing, the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team officially crossed the finish line, with an adjusted time just 24 minutes ahead of team Estonian Ace Adventure in second place.
Sam Clark from SAFAT said “That is a good lesson right there, never ease off the gas”. Team Captain Johan Hasselmark said “That was a fantastic course, we have traveled to many races all over the world and seen many places but I think racing at home is the best”.
The Estonian team comprised brothers Silver Eensaar and Rain Eensaar, Timmo Tammemäe, and Reeda Tuula. Silver said “We were lucky the terrain and forests were familiar to us. The archipelago though was something special. Starting the paddle at night we were alone on the seas with no living soul nearby.”
The final podium place went to Swedish team Haglöfs Silva comprising Björn Rydvall, Robert Lindberg, Corrinne Smit and Rob Preston. Robert can often be seen undertaking the role of pack horse and carrying a large proportion of the team equipment. Crossing the finish line visibly exhausted but smiling he said “Where is the food!”. Corrinne said “The water on the swim run was actually quite warm. It was much colder out of the water in the cold air. I really enjoyed it. It was quite fun swimming in the dark like this.”
In most expedition races the winner is normally much clearer, being the first team across the finish line who completes the full course and collecting all of the checkpoints. While it is not common, sometimes when a situation occurs such as cancelling a leg part way through for safety reasons, and fairest way to adjudicate the winner is by the sum of each teams overall time excluding the leg that was cancelled. The quickest time being the winner, which may be different to the order they physically crossed the finish line.
The finish line is still the end of the race and it was apt to complete this epic viking adventure down a chute lined with flame pots and shadowed by the grand Turku Castle on the banks of the Aura River. This 13th century castle is the largest surviving medieval building in Finland. The viking theme did give way after crossing the line with teams being ferried by the organisers to a modern hotel to enjoy food, a hot shower and a warm bed.
The remaining 20 teams are still racing and are scheduled to be finished in Turku, Finland by midday Saturday 18th August. Follow them live at http://live.arworldseries.com/ Teams and race staff then catch an overnight ferry, complete with the presentation function onboard, arriving back to Stockholm the following morning to where their journey set forth on a most memorable adventure race.
You can also follow the NIAR social media feeds, https://www.facebook.com/nordicislandsadventurerace/ and @nordicislandsar on Instagram.
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Released 15 August 2018 written by Craig Bycroft, Adventure Racing World Series
Photo Nordic Islands Adventure Race