Late Wednesday evening, local time, saw the Merrell Adventure Addicts cross the finish line of Expedition Africa to take a convincing win and defend their title in South Africa’s only expedition length adventure race. Interestingly, the race result saw the continuation of a trend emerging from the world series qualifying races so far in 2012: that is, the winning team smashing the rest of the field. There has yet to be a close result in all five of the ARWS races this year in Argentina, Ecuador, New Zealand, Costa Rica or South Africa.
Lets’ have a quick look at the numbers.
- In the Tierra Viva AR, Argentina, Seagate finished in 3 days 5 hrs, beating second place team X-Bionic Extreme by 23 hours.
- In the Huairasinchi Race, Ecuador, Ecuador Nissan finished in 2 days 16 hrs, beating second placed team Tecnu in the closest result yet for the series by over 8 hours.
- In the Godzone AR, New Zealand, Seagate put in a repeat performance to finish in 3 days 15 hrs beating second placed team OSM by 15 hours.
- In the Costa Rica Adventure Race, runners up from Ecuador team Tecnu took the win in 4 days 6 hrs. They did an entire additional trek at the end of that race that no other team attempted, and accounting for the 12 hrs this took to complete they had an approximate advantage of 14 hours over second placed team Adventure Addicts Buff.
- In the Expedition Africa race, South Africa, the Merrell Adventure Addicts won in 2 days 16 hrs beating second place Red Ants by almost 11 hours.
Keep in mind too that these are only the time differences between first and second placed teams, which should give you an indication of how far ahead of the rest of field the winning teams have been in all instances.
Obviously there have been some strong performances taking place in the world series to date. No doubt these teams have entered with a determined focus on taking the win. In the case of the NZ, South African and Ecuadorian events, the race has been won by the strongest local team, with all the obvious advantages that racing locally entails. However, perhaps a more telling factor is that in each instance, the winning team generally has an extended history of racing together in the past, reflecting the importance that team work and experience plays in a top level result. I’m in awe of how quickly these teams manage to get through a course, making it look easy, when I can assure you these races certainly are not.
If anything, the strength of the winning teams at the ARWS qualifying races this year should make for an exciting race by the time the World Championship roles around in France in September. It will definately be a cracking race at the front of the pack. We have yet to see anything from the European teams so far. Thule, current world champions, have just finished with an overall win at the Taining Outdoor Challenge, a multi-day stage race in China. The next race in the AR World Series is the Alpine Expedition Race in Switzerland, with Swedish power house team Silva looking to defend their title against a strong European contingent. Certainly we are in for some very exciting racing in the second half of the year.