|By Fredrik Ölmqvist|
Stomach bugs, freezing cold water sections, impenetrable rainforests, wombats, venomous snakes and scary sleepmonsters – as predicted the Adventure Racing World Championship held in Tasmania November 2-11 became an epic struggle between the best multi-sport teams in the world. Following their successful performances in 2011, Thule Adventure Team managed to stick to their hardcore strategy and claimed the victory after 5 days,10 hours and 57 minutes.
The Winning Strategy
By staying focused, taking minimum sleep, keeping a fast pace and making few mistakes the Thule Adventure Team crossed the finish line of the 2011 World Championships in Burnie one hour ahead of Team Silva, another part-Swedish team, followed by Team Seagate (NZL), just minutes behind.
“We were very focused. Everyone in the team was prepared to do their utmost, which we knew we had done when we crossed the finish line,” says the team captain Martin Flinta, who has learned the hard way that adventure racing is all about avoiding mistakes, or at least minimizing the mistakes.
“You need to be prepared on all kinds of things that can happen during a long race; very little, just an hour or so, separates the top teams even after five days of racing. To win a race like this you have to be focused, not only during the race but also before the event.”
As an example of Thule Team’s thoroughness Myriam Guillot and Jacky Boisset, the couple from French Pyrenées, spent several weeks prior the race in Tasmania. The team were prepared for the unusual climate with its warm days and cold nights, and the challenging terrain. It seems that the Thule Team best of all teams managed the various difficulties that emerged during the race.
“Just like many other teams we were affected by stomach bugs, which slowed us down for a while, but we learnt from experience always to bring anti-bacterial medicine and Imodium pills. Everyone who races on this level ought to know that. During the whole race we also spent a lot of time checking and double checking our mandatory gear. It is very easy to forget details and make simple mistakes when you are in a hurry. But we chose to spend that extra time to minimize the chance of mistakes.”
From experience the Thule team also chose durable rather than lightweight bike gear, knowing that mechanical problems cost time and energy, which you cannot afford if you want to win a tight race. More than rigorous preparation and substantial race experience, the team has a very high level of fitness and technical skills.
“We all shared the ambition and the determination it takes to win, to really push ourselves. Being both mentally and physically prepared enabled us to follow our strategy in keeping a fast pace. We had agreed on running instead of walking wherever that was possible. Bringing out the most of the team also meant pulling the slowest with a cord whenever possible or necessary. To win you have to leave your comfort zone: if it feels good you’re not pushing hard enough.”