Team Naturex from France have shown they have the speed to outpace any team at the race, but it has been their many navigational hiccups that have allowed team USA Bones to finally jump into the lead going into the third night of racing at the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in Belize.
After the cave swim section on day two, Naturex lead the jungle trek through the afternoon. They were seen making a number of small route errors but their superior speed kept them in front of USA Bones.
Sunset however saw the first critical navigation decision for Naturex – one that could make or break the race for them. Travelling South on Indian Creek Trail they were looking for the Blue Lake Trail heading off to the West to CP17 at Blue Lake. Not finding this trail, they backtracked for 30 mins searching. After spending another 60mins looking for the trail, they finally decided it must not have been there and they would take a much longer route to CP17, looping to the South and then back up to approach CP17 from the opposite direction, then retracing their steps to the Transition Area.
Naturex had left the area of the trail junction less than 15 minutes before Bones arrived. Bones had similar difficulties finding the trail and also spent 1:30hrs searching before they too decided to take the longer route to the South and looping back. Neither team would have known if they other team had found the trail and would have spend the next hours concerned that decision may have cost them the race.
It was around 11:30pm that Naturex was coming back from collecting CP17 when they crossed paths with Bones on their way out to CP17. The relief for both teams must have been enormous to find out that neither had found the elusive Blue Lake Trail and they had both chosen the long route around. Naturex arrived at the next TA around midnight and Bones approximately 2:30 hours behind them. Adge Raid Adventure came in third place approximately 9:30hrs behind Naturex. Only one team in the race, Tubaina Adventure Team from Brazil found the trail.
Naturex and Bones set off on the Leg 6 Mountain bike maintaining a 2:30hr gap and both teams having had 2 hours sleep. Again Naturex had navigational hiccups along the route. First just after CP18 losing over an hour, then again on the way to CP19 losing another hour. It wasn’t an easy section of the bike course and the organisers planned that teams pass through a mountain gap on minor orchard trails before finding local hunting trails and then more orchard trails before returning to gravel roads on the other side of the range. Their superior speed on the mountain bikes however saw Naturex finish the 120km leg in 14:30 hours even with these errors, and 4 hours ahead of the methodical team Bones.
In what may be the turning point of the race on night three, team Naturex have lost over 4 hours when they took a road heading North West after leaving CP23 when they should have been picking up a minor trail heading West. Without missing a step team Bones chose the correct route and have propelled themselves into the lead position of the race. Adge Raid Adventure are now closing in on CP23 and dot watchers will need to follow the live tracking to see if Naturex recovers their mistake to hold onto second or if they will drop further down into third place. https://yb.tl/mmac2018
Randy Ericksen is in Belize covering the race and updating the MMAC Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/MayaMountainAdventure/
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Released 28 Feb 2018 by Craig Bycroft, Adventure Racing World Series
Photo Randy Ericksen