On November 29th all the team gottogether in San José, Costa Rica, for one more adventure. This time it would bethe Adventure Racing World Championship 2013, the most important race of theyear for us and all adventure racing teams. Me, Urtzi, Marco and Jon Ander wereready for one more chapter in our book of adventures!Race preparation was exhaustive as always butwe managed to put everything together on time and be ready to leave for thestart line at 4 am on Dec. 2nd. It was a long bus ride until wearrived on the border with Panama, where the adventure began… Beside us we hadall the best teams in the world, willing to give their best to get a goodposition or a world title. And ahead of us we had over 800 km of challengingcourse until we reached the finish line.
We started in a 100 km mountain bike with achallenging uphill in which we had to carry our bikes in a very muddy trail… We had a slow begginning, we broke a chain, but managed to finish this section inthe 7th position. Then we got into our kayaks to paddle nearly 65 kmthrough rivers, finishing the section in the 5th position togetherwith teams Tecnu and Quasarlontra. We packed our kayaks and ran with all ourkayak gear for 27 km until the next transition, where we would get our kayakagain and do a 10 km portage until the next river. And that’s when thingsstarted getting wrong…
We thought we had a good portage car for thekayak, but the truth is that we did not try it before with these specific kayaks…So, of course, it did not work well and we lost nearly 3 hours on that. We alsogot very stressed and the team was not getting along and it took us a longwhile to find a solution. But fortunately we managed to finish this stage andluckily we met team Silva getting out of a wrong trail at the end of the 10 km,so we got into the river with them and team Merrell. None of us knew exactlywhere the checkpoint was, but we all looked for it together and managed to findit. It was a very good team work. The only problem is that we were supposed toget water for the entire paddling section in this river, but we did not andended up paddling for over 10 hours without water…
So we kept paddling and paddling and entered into a channel where we found team Seagate that had been lost for a couple ofhours. We then decided to look for the checkpoint in a different channel andended up loosing other couple of hours until we finally decided to go back andsearch for another channel, which fortunately was there, and so was thecheckpoint. At this point the tide was almost as low as it could get and webattled against it to get to one other checkpoint, after which we had to stopfor three hours to wait for the high tide to get through a short cut and save12 km of paddling in the heat without water.
After a good 3-hour sleep we continued thepaddling and met many teams that had been way behind us. We finally found ahouse where we got some water and just before the night came we decided to do a4-km portage to save 6 km of paddling. It seemed a good idea at first but itwas a very bad idea at the end… There we were again with our deficient portagecar and again arguing to find a solution. It ended up we had to struggle to notsave any time at all. But we forgot this and managed to do a good transitionand get on the mountain bike as fast as we could to go to the superman, a 120km/h tyroline that we really enjoyed. On the way there we passed many teams andarrived there in 5th place, where we received the news that teamSilva was out. After the superman, we continued on the mountain bike leg andbattled to finish this long section within a very good time, being 15 minbehind the 3rd team. The finish was the so dreamed 4-hour mandatorystop.
We ate well and slept for a little over 2 hoursand got ready for the 95 km trekking leg that we were really looking forward todo. We began climbing up to over 3,600 m where we had to run for many hoursuntil we arrived in the Refugio,passing team Tecnu on the way there. Once we passed Chirripo peak a very strongwind and rain began as another obstacle on our way as we followed a trail thatappeared and disappeared on the ridge. When we finally arrived at the Refugio we got together with teams Seagateand Thule. That had been a tough night and everybody was very tired. We restedfor almost two hours and then left to do the 2000-m downhill back into thejungle. The trails were really muddy and progress was really slow, but wepushed hard to try to keep up with the first two teams ahead of us. In thevalley we had a really hard time to find the right trail due to the poorinformation provided by the map. The end of this long section was in a medicalstation where we were examined in order to be approved or not to continue onthe race, and we also got some medication for feet and any other thing that wasdisturbing us. At this point we were only 1 hour after team Seagate and 40minutes after Thule.
We then did the transition to the mountain bikeleg that would take us to the rafting section. We were happy to be on time topass the dark zone, but we unfortunately had problems with a bike chain andlost 2 hours trying to fix it. But we managed to get there and we were then inthe Pacuare River enjoying the beautiful river and the fast rapids. The rapidsfinished in a transition to a 90 km kayaking section in rivers full ofcrocodiles. So we rested for a couple of hours before getting in this section,which we did mostly at night. We were really tired and we had the tide againstus for a long while. So we decided to tie the kayaks and sleep for a couple ofhours, so the tide would go up and we could avoid it for a while. It ended upthat we slept and continued paddling against the tide, but at least we rested alittle… We continued paddling really sleepy, it was a very long night, so wetried to sing to help us get through it. The day came and we were in an endlesschannel that we never saw the end. We paddled, paddled and seemed not to movemuch forward. After many hours we reached the checkpoint in the hotel, where westopped for some minutes to have some juice, take a shower to remove the saltywater and get some energy to finish this endless and painful kayaking section.We saw team Seagate and it seemed that they were going to withdraw from therace, due to a foot infection…
After reaching the end of the kayaking section,we did a fast trekking towards our bikes. We were in the second position andhad team Thule many hours ahead of us, but in adventure racing anything can happen,so we had to keep fighting. We did a slow transition and slept for an hourbefore leaving for the 156 km mountain bike up to the border with Nicaragua. Wedid a good start but lost almost two hours to get the first checkpoint, whichthankfully we found after a while… We then started sleeping and falling off ourbikes, it was very hard to keep riding. Our progress was very slow, but we hadto keep moving. We stopped once for 20 minutes for a nap and then continueduntil the sun came up and we found a small market where we rested for anotherhour, drank coffee, bought some food and continued. This section was veryboring because the roads were horrible and there was nothing speciallybeautiful in it. We just had to get over it but we were definitely not havingfun.After almost 16 hours we finished this hugemountain bike leg and arrived to the last two sections of the race: a funcanopy and the last rafting section towards the finish line. We took forever inthis last rafting as we were very sleepy and did not have hands strong enoughto hold the paddles. We then found out that we had to carry the rafts out ofthe river up the street, as a last non sense effort before crossing the finishline.
We finally ran with our good feet (thanks DArn Tough Socks) to the finishline and were for the first time in our livessubcampeones del mundo!!! This 2nd place was the best position that team has achieved, so far… We are very proud of ouraccomplishment and thank very much our sponsors, family and friends forsupporting us. Special thanks to Columbia Sportswear, Skins USA, Giant, Nutrisport,Spiuk, Zirauna, Darn Tough Vermont, Sea to Summit, Seland, Nordenmark, EvasionRunning Mallorca, Camelbak, Light & Motion Bike Lights. Also big thanks to Juliana Povoacao for the great pictures, Wladimir Togumi and Amaia Moreda. THANK YOU!!
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