Not one team completed the full planned course of The World Championship Adventure Race 2015 in Brazil. New Zealand team Seagate dominated the field of the world’s best competitors and were undoubtedly and deservedly the winners, but even they would not have managed to come in before the final cut off time of 169hours (7 days and an hour) if they had followed the complete route.
Tough decisions were made by the organisers of the 700km nonstop, multi discipline event to shorten the course and shorten it again to ensure all made it home safely.
South African team Merrell Adventure Addicts had been in the lead group for four days, battling, like everyone with the relentless heat and brutal terrain and legs that were taking more than double the organisers fastest predicted times. Captain Graham Bird succumbed to a foot infection that had the team laying up at a transition for a few hours, during which time the organisers made the safety call to cut several stages. Five teams already in the swamp on a 56km packraft and trekking section were allowed to continue, the rest were flown out of the remote section in small Cessnas, skipping ahead to the start of the mountain bike. Those five teams were deemed to be on full course, and therefore ranked above all others, but four of those were then further redirected on the route.
This caused great confusion to supporters viewing the live tracking as the dots stopped and started and final rankings had to be decided afterwards. As per the rules, the Swamp Five took top positions, regardless of how they finished and even though two had received navigational assistance. Merrell was placed sixth of the 32 teams who entered.
“Disappointed,” Said Graham “as we felt we were definitely in with a chance of fulfilling our goal of a podium position. Our race is always stronger in the second half.“
“It was good to know the other teams also expected us to be up there. To be acknowledged by your peers in this crazy sport is worth more than an official ranking.” Said Tiny Don Sims.” But we’re all competitive..” he added.
Most return from this event exhausted – which is normal from an epic adventure race – and just glad to be finished – which is not. Top racers admit to enjoying endurance races so much that, although they race to the finish, they don’t want it to end. “This race was just about enduring and surviving. We missed the opportunity to fully enjoy the experience”. The Pantanal is a unique area, packed with wildlife and incredible scenery. The photographs and videos will highlight this and anyone given the opportunity should visit this remarkable place. Two team members will stay on independently to explore the region in a more relaxed manner.
Time to rest now for Merrell. Team members Graham Bird, Don Sims, Hanno Smit, Robyn Kime and Grant Ross have enjoyed a successful year representing South Africa, with a win at Expedition Africa and 2nd place in Australia’s XPD. “Merrell’s consistent sponsorship allows us to do our best out there and with support from all our other sponsors we will continue to Out. Perform. Thank you to them and everyone who shouts for us through the long nights. We’ll be back at World Champs in Australia next year.”
Merrell Adventure Addicts are also supported with quality products from Black Diamond, PVM Nutritional Science, Extreme Lights, Giant Bicycles, Squirt Bicycle Lube, Ocean Eyewear, Island Tribe Sunscreen, Llama bars and Buttanutt Spreads.