Swedish Armed Forces and Avaya Head to Head at the Adventure Racing World Championship

The team captains of Avaya and SAFAT

Day 3 at the Adventure Racing World Championship began with a bang.  Thunder heralded big electrical storms, which lit up the night skies, and soon torrential rain was falling.  It continued all through the night and much of the day, with frequent intense downpours drenching the racers, raising the river level and turning the hardpack roads to mud.

The weather change had been forecast, but there was no sign of it at dusk on day 2 as the leaders arrived at TA1 and prepared to set off down the Tebicuary River, which had a gentle flow when they started, and a much bigger volume when they finished.  For the teams following during the day it was an easier paddle, with a few small rapids to negotiate, but the water levels dropped again by the afternoon.

As teams stopped to sleep during the night time paddle, the lead positions changed overnight, with Avaya stopping for around 4 hours and being passed, though we don’t know if they found shelter in storms.  By the morning they were back in front and arrived at the take out at CP33 paddling together with SAFAT.  The teams had to take out their kayaks, and walked together up into the town to the transition, which was set up in a sports hall once again.

The original plan had been to have a smaller transition by the waterside, but with the intense rain it was fortunate the teams had some shelter.  So far all the transitions have been in big, open sports halls, which every town seems to have, and they are ideal for the race, offering lots of space, dry conditions and toilets. The transitions have a lot of staff, including some who are preparing hot food for the racers, which is very welcome.

The lead teams were stiff and a bit cold after the long kayak, so the walk to the TA together and some warm food helped  warm them up.  The temperature had dropped with the arrival of the rain, and through the day it stayed overcast, so there wasn’t the intense heat of the first two days.

A faster river and cooler conditions were good, but the downside of the rains was the deterioration in the road conditions for riding, which the lead teams would be doing for most of day 3.   The second bike stage began by returning to the kayak take out point as teams needed to cross the river.  It was possible to wade across and carry the bikes, but there were the kayaks there to be used as well and some teams opted to load their bikes onto them.

The ride included some gentle hills and roads through an area with big plantations, and two of the checkpoints were at waterfalls.  At the first of these, Salto Cristal, Nick Gracie, from the Brazil Multisport team said, “The mud on the roads has not been as bad as we thought it might be.”  He added, “We are going OK, and there are still a couple of days to go, so there is time for us to catch up.”   The Brazilian team were there at the same time as Merrell Songlines, and not far behind Life Adventure Imptek, with SAFAT and AVAYA ahead.

Towards the end of the ride the conditions did deteriorate and all of the lead teams slowed down to a walking pace, carrying their bikes through the sticky and dense red clay at times.  With no further rain overnight conditions will improve a little for the teams reaching the ride on day 4.

The checkpoint at Salto Cristal had an extra twist.  After descending some steps they followed a narrow and slippery riverside path to reach the beautiful cascade and find the checkpoint, which was beside the pool at the foot of the falls.  From there, one racer had to swim across the pool to the base of the falls and retrieve a medallion from under the water to show at the next TA. (The medallions are not quite up to Eco-Challenge production standards, but it’s a small tribute to that race.)

From TA3 the leaders faced another, tough, overnight trek and SAFAT set off just ahead of AVAYA, with Estonia ACE Adventure La Sportiva 1 hour and 20 minutes behind them.

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