“COLD. It’s very cold here!”

The Merrell Adventure Addicts have packed their bags with the warmest of everything and headed off to the very south of Chile, landing on Friday in Punta Arenas for the start of the Patagonia Expedition Race 2016. The organisers of what is labelled The Last Wild Race put out a message saying “This goes beyond ‘the road less travelled’. Welcome to ‘the road never travelled before.”

Details, as always are vague. Part of the draw of adventure racing is going into the unknown and living what unfolds. The official plan will be revealed on Sunday night, detailing the route which will traverse hundreds of kilometres of truly wild countryside. The team will then need to decide how to pack the bags that will be dropped for them at transition points during the race, ensuring there is enough food and the right equipment necessary for the next leg, which could be trekking, climbing, mountain biking or paddling through the icy region. All 18 teams of four will depart on Monday at midnight on a bus journey to start on Tuesday 16 February at 6am local time which is 11am South African time. The predicted weather shows zero degree temperature with snow and rain.

Merrell, ranked Number 7 in the Adventure Racing World Series, competed in the wetlands of Brazil in forty degree suffocating heat just three months ago. They are eager for this new challenge which holds so many more firsts for them; drysuits to kayak in, crampons to wear on the ice, icebergs themselves.

Zooming in on a satellite map to the south of the Andes range that runs 7000km along the west coast of South America, one comes across a baffling archipelagic maze that terminates in Chile’s southern extremity, marked by Cape Horn, a treacherous headland surrounded by almost continuously storm-tossed seas. Photographs posted on the organisation Instagram account @PatagonianRace have already got the adventure world buzzing.

This could prove to be the toughest and most spectacular expedition race yet, and a visual feast for spectators. Updates and photographs will be posted to the teams Facebook account.

The team took a Spot Gen3 tracker with them provided by Spot Africa, which got the Dot Watchers warmed up as they followed them on the journey from Cape Town to Punta Arenas. The official race tracking page is yet to be announced.

With thanks always to our main sponsor Merrell and also PVM Nutrition, Black Diamond, Ocean Eyewear, Llama Bars, ButtaNutt Spreads, Extreme Lights, SquirtLube and Giant Bicycles.

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