After 4 days of continuous trekking, mountain biking and paddling teams at the Adventure Racing World Championships in Spain have pushed themselves to the limit, and beyond. On what will be their final night on the 610km course, the race leaders Estonian ACE Adventure – La Sportiva set off on a 65km mountain trek in good spirits and with a 44 minute lead on the Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team.
They had lead for most of the race and were pushing on towards the finish, but not thinking about the world title yet as there were still 3 stages of the race to go, and in adventure racing anything can happen. It did.
On a chilly and damp night in the mountains their navigator Timo Tammemae became cold and disoriented. The team tried to keep moving and warm him up, but to little effect and as they slowed down the lead was lost to SAFAT, but the Estonians were just concentrating on their team mate and finishing the stage.
Adventure Racing is all about team work and the team pulled together, using all their skill and resilience and made it into the transition in Betanzos. They immediately got Tammemae into dry, warm clothes, found food and hot drinks, and gradually their navigator recovered from his state of semi-collapse.
The race has been very tough on the navigators, who have made thousands of decisions and taken the responsibility of leading their teams. They’ve had little rest from that pressure and in those circumstances may not look after themselves quite as well as they should.
Tammemae said later, “I was just getting cold and really tired. I was ill and couldn’t keep any food down and was having some hallucinations. I recovered well once we were in transition. It’s amazing what 2 bananas and a can of coke can do. It’s not a miracle cure, but it helped a lot!”
The team captain, Silver Eensaar said, “After 4 days and more than 500km with less than 3 hours sleep, these things are written in the stars, they are going to happen.” He added, “We had regular stops for vomiting, for Reeda and Timo, but we kept going. Reeda has been ill for a while now as well.” He added that after they recovered, the next paddling stage was good fun as they had the tide with them, adding, “You win some, you lose some!” It was a statement which summed up their night really!
By this stage all the racers are exhausted and hurting. Strength of mind and their experience of racing at the absolute extremes of human endurance keeps them going, but it is a fine line they are treading. Last night the Estonians drifted over that line. They showed amazing skill and resilience to manage the situation and recover, but it has cost them their shot at the World Title.
The Swedish team are in the ‘pain cave’ too, but they will have a new surge of adrenaline to know they have taken the lead on the final stage. With the World Title in touching distance they won’t feel the pain so much.
They completed last night’s trek to arrive first for the 11km ocean paddle up the Betanzos estuary, which they did in quick time with the help of an outgoing tide. Now they are on the final stage, a 32km coastal trek which will take them to the finish line in A Coruna, and with several hours lead they look to have the race won.
The best estimate for their finish time is around 13.00 and you can follow the progress of all the teams on the live satellite tracking at
Photos: Adventure Sports Media