Team Talk Ahead of the Race

Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team
Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team

John Karlsson – Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team – Captain

Coming as title defenders feels special and is a task of pride and responsibility. We have had a good year behind us and a warm summer in Sweden.

Of course we feel the pressure and are nervous.  We have always felt like the underdogs before, but not this year, as we are the defending champions.

We want to run our own race and know we have the speed to win if we do that.

It’s always a pleasure to have a Race Director with so much experience, who is a great navigator.  Previous races have been navigation heavy, so I think good navigation will be absolutely crucial, especially making the right choice of route if it rains and becomes a mudfest!

We all have a military background and our own jobs and take everything one step further.  Malin is in charge of logistics and keeps everything organised, and Oscar is the navigator, while I am tactics.

We are very organised, but we know a plan is only good up to the point something goes wrong and we expect heatstroke and puking, carrying each other’s packs and all those things!

Nick Gracie – Team Brazil Multisport

We had a bad race at the last ARWC.  We had a late replacement racer who was not quite race fit, some injuries and we were too conservative and rested too much.  We’ve learned from that and have had a great year since, with the wins in Chile (ARWS South America) and in Panama, which was an almost perfect race for us.

We know this country and all about racing here, it is almost like to home to us.  We know the landscape and the maps.

Avaya will be incredibly hard to beat, but we will try and may have a chance.  I don’t think the fact they don’t speak Spanish will be a big deal.  It is an advantage for us, but you don’t ask for directions, and it’s easy enough to be understood if you want food in a local shop.

Team Brazil Multisport

Silver Eensaar – Team Estonian ACE Adventure – La Sportiva.

We have done some shorter races as a build up to ARWC and those have shown that the team is in good shape.

We have never done this race, but have only heard good things about it. Looking at videos of previous races it could be either cold (2016) or hot (2017) weather. There are no big mountains, but still plenty of hills that far exceed our Estonian knolls.

There are some similarities with Pantanal, where we raced in 2015, but we hope the maps will provide more detail this time and we don’t get lost in a swamp for days!

We have a feeling that this race is not going to be a pure test of physical strength, but will also test tactics. Our aim is to race with minimal mistakes – and that may mean holding back in speed to conserve strength for the really tricky parts. It will be a great adventure for sure!

Nathan Fa’avae – Team Avaya – Captain

It hasn’t been a smooth build up for us, hence why we entered so late. The winter in New Zealand has been very wet so it has made training challenging, plus there have been illnesses with covid and the flu, along with some injuries.

Sophie had to withdraw from the team in late August with an injury, while Chris is still recovering from injury.  Luckily, Simone Maier is race fit, so we’re grateful to her for stepping in so close to the event.

None of us have raced in Paraguay before so that is a huge appeal, to travel and explore somewhere new. The 2016 ARWC in Pantanal was an incredible experience, and with Paraguay being close by, it has always been tempting to travel here. We know also that Urtzi will design an excellent course.

The last time we raced ARWC was 2018, but I believe we can still be competitive. You never really know what your chances are until you see the course and determine if it plays to your strengths or not, but I think with our experience and team culture we should be able to adapt to most things.

Our goal will be to race the best we can and be proud of our effort. There’s nothing more frustrating than finishing a race and knowing it wasn’t your best performance, so that’s always our driving goal, and that’s not measured by the placing in the race, that’s purely on how we function on course. We hope to win another ARWC, but there is a competitive field and the racing will be exciting.

I think as the years go by, our motivations and goals have changed. I’m 50-years old now, I still love to race, but I’m more engaged by the experience, the scenery, culture and wildlife. Looking back on my career, those are the things I remember from the different countries I have been lucky to visit and travel through, the special moments that happen on the trip, and on the course.

It’s nice to reconnect with the international racing community. As the only New Zealand team lining up, we know we will have many Kiwis following the race and expecting us to go well, representing our country proudly is something we place value on.

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