Three Teams Battle for the Adventure Racing World Title

Team Avaya arrive at TA

Transitions 4 and 5 at the Adventure Racing World Championships are in the same place, at the ‘La Rosada Museum’, which is beside the remains of an iron foundry that plays a significant role in the history of Paraguay.

It’s a place that may play a significant role in this World Championship too.  Those watching the tracking around the world saw the leading teams had arrived last night to set off on the stage 4 trek through the night.  Yet Avaya’s tracker didn’t move, and it soon became clear the most likely explanation was they’d left it behind.  Through the night it pinged in the transition, but until the team returned from the trek this morning nothing could be confirmed (and there was no internet connection at the transition either).

SAFAT walked into transition first, passing the monumental statues near the entrance and went over to side of the museum, where the transition tents were set up.  There are fewer facilities at this transition, so no hot food, but there is a bike mechanic which team’s can use, and a medical tent.  The bikes are left to the side of the tents under the palms.

SAFAT said their navigation hadn’t been perfect, but “you can’t complain if you are winning.”  They didn’t say if they’d slept at all and John Karlsson was clearly uncomfortable on his sore feet as he moved around the transition.  The team got on with their transition tasks, including showing their checkpoint photos to the race officials, checking their bikes and attending to their feet.

Estonian ACE Adventure La Sportiva arrived soon after and Timmo Tammemäe said they had a good trek.  “We caught Avaya about half way,” he said, “and the navigation in the night was not so bad, but there are so many little trails and a lot of them disappear into nothing.”

It wasn’t long before Avaya came in, looking quite relaxed and moving well, and the other two teams were still in transition.  The referee carried out a gear check and asked for the tracker, and it was Stu Lynch who emptied out his bag and began to search for it.  There are a lot of bags inside an adventure racers pack, and lot of pockets as well, and as he worked through them he slowly started to realise he didn’t have the tracker, which must have been a horrible feeling.

Unfortunately, it was a process that had to be gone through, as the team had to acknowledge they’d not got the tracker.  Then Nathan Fa’avae headed over the gear box, and there it was in a plastic bag with some first aid supplies.  Lynch was still over by the officials, coming to terms with what had happened, and in his understated way Chris Forne said, “That’s disappointing.”

Referee Adrian Crane told Fa’avae the penalty would be two hours for not having a piece of mandatory equipment and he said, “Fair enough, it was a our mistake.”  (It’s a yellow penalty in the rules, and 2 hours is the minimum penalty that can be applied.  Six is the maximum.)

That was all that was said, and the team got on with their transition, with no blame or recrimination.  They now had a harder task ahead of them to win the race, but they think they can do it.  As he left, Fa’avae made a point of saying, “We had a really good 3 hour sleep last night, and 3 hours beside the river in a shelter the night before.”

The teams left in the order they’d arrived and are still racing closely together. Avaya will serve the penalty at the final transition, and to win they will need to open up at least a 2 hour lead in the next 23 hours (the predicted time for the next 3 stages), then stay ahead on the final 4.5 hour trek to the finish line.

The Estonian and Swedish teams need to make sure that does not happen, keep Avaya in sight if they can, and probably not sleep any more before the finish line.  The fact they are racing each other head to head will favour them, and for all 3 teams the pressure is on and the World Championship at stake.

Follow the live tracking at: https://raceplay.se/event?eventid=86 and regular updates on https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries and https://www.instagram.com/arworldseries/

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