US Teams Step Up For World Series Races For The 2019 Season
Cliff White / AR Cooperative / 22.02.2019
Two years after playing host to the Adventure Race World Championship, which took place in Wyoming in 2017, the United States is seeing a new slate of its teams move up into international competition.
At least six U.S. teams are planning to race internationally in the Adventure Race World Series in 2019, several of whom have not previously raced beyond the confines of the United States. The U.S. has confirmed entries in Expedition India, Huairasinchi, Nordic Island Adventure Race, ITERA Scotland, Expedition Africa Rodrigues, and Adventure Race Croatia.
Brian Gatens, of the New York Adventure Racing Association (NYARA), said his team decided this would be the year they would make the leap to racing abroad in the ARWS. They are registered for ITERA in August.
“We're friends with a fair amount of folks who have raced ITERA before and they raved about the race organization, the course and the overall challenge of the event,” Gatens said. “Alongside that, we have heard that racing internationally is a great experience to have and that Scotland would be a good place to get one's feet ino that aspect of AR.”
Team NYARA – Last Known Photo is composed of Gatens, Jim Mernin, Shari Hymes, and Doug von Bushberger. The team is based in the greater New York/New Jersey area. Gatens said the team’s goal is to “go hard but also keep in mind that this is ultimately a recreational activity and we want to have fun along that way.”
“When we enter into any race, we go in with the highest possible level of preparation - that's to honor the event and to not let our teammates down,” he said. “That being said, our goal is to race ITERA as quickly and efficiently as possible, push ourselves to the upper limits of our capacity and soak in all the excitement, sights, and experiences that such a pursuit enables us to have.”
Another team still getting its feet wet in the Adventure Race World Series is Team ThisABILITY, comprised of Chip Dodd, Andrea Anderson, and J.J. Potasiewicz. Last year, all three raced the Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge in Belize, and this year, they will be taking on Expedition Africa, taking place in August 2019 on the remote Rodrigues Island, in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius. Dodd said they chose the race because they were drawn in by coverage of last year’s Expedition Africa.
“While watching the race unfold, it became a bucket-list item and thus my girlfriend and I decided 2019 was the year to go for it,” he said.
The team is still looking for a fourth to join them – ideally, someone up for enjoying the adventure to the max, Dodd said.
“Being a team of over 45-year-olds, we will be trying to push as hard as we can, but not far enough to get injured,” he said. “We want to finish as a full team, even if it is the short course. Our strategy is to be efficient with flawless navigation and solid course strategy. We will allow time to smell the flowers and take photos and video to document the experience.”
Michelle Faucher, who will be competing with Paul Morris, and Michael Dickey as Adventure Addicts Racing at Adventure Race Croatia in September, said her team chose Croatia “because it looks like awesome terrain for a race.”
“We like the mountains and technical courses and they seem to have a lot of that,” said Faucher, who co-directs a number of races in Virginia. “We have also not been to the country or really spent much time in the Mediterranean/Adriatic, so that is a big draw. “Our team goals are, above all, [to] have fun and stay good friends at the finish line. But we want to finish the full course and push ourselves. We also have a strong navigator so feel confident on that end. We are the only U.S. team there so we will do our best to represent!”
Thus far, Chaos Machine/Lifestraw is the only U.S. team signed up for Nordic Islands Adventure Race, which will traverse Sweden and Norway in July. Kate White said the team had the goal of doing at least one ARWS race in 2019 and had picked NIAR “because of the appeal of the destination – wanting to explore a beautiful part of the world that has always had a draw for us.”
“We also were really excited by last year’s race, which looked epic and beautiful,” she said. “We’re excited to experience whatever they have in store for us this year.”
Among the higher-ranked U.S. teams in the global standings, 30th-ranked Rootstock Racing will be on the start line of Expedition India in March. Team captain Brent Freedland said he picked the race for logistical reasons – notwithstanding the fact that the race is on the other side of the world from the U.S.A.
“Scheduling is also a big concern for me personally, and this was the only race that fit my calendar for 2019. That said, once I started learning about the location, I was glad that this was the race. Heidi and Stephan from Kinetic Events also have a tremendous reputation, so I was excited to have the opportunity to race one of their events,” he said. “I am always looking for something different. The more unique the better, and considering the other ARWS races on the slate, I’m not sure any are as unique as the western Himalayas or as culturally rich as this diverse corner of India.”
Freedland will be joined by Mark Lattanzi and Jen and Ryan VanGorder – both Americans living in Hong Kong. Ryan and Brent were on the Rootstock team that took second place in XPD Tasmania in 2018.
“We are all excited to explore the mountains, shrines, rivers, and culturally rich towns and villages of Northern India!” Freedland said. “We haven’t really had a team powwow yet concerning goals, but I suspect we will all be on the same page: first and foremost, we want to have fun, enjoy a new location, and race well as a unit. While we all have significant amounts of experience and have raced together in combinations, we have never raced together as a unit, so team cohesion and enjoyment is my primary goal at least. The field is still evolving, but it looks to be a small but mighty one at this point, with elite level teams signed up from all corners of the AR world already. We also have no idea about the abilities of the local Indian teams, of which there are several. With that in mind, we’ll wish them the best and focus on our own race and end up where we end up, hopefully at least one place ahead of last!”
The 19th-ranked team in the world, MRC/MainNerve, has plans to travel to Ecuador to compete in Huairasinchi. Team captain Shane Hagerman said the team will be composed of himself, Dave Lamb, Jason Urckfitz, and Rachel Furman.
“I love racing in Ecuador,” he said. “This will be the third time I race in one of their events. Our goals are to do the best we can as a team, enjoy the incredible terrain, experience the culture of Ecuador and have fun.”
Eighteenth-ranked Team Bones has announced it will be on the line at Expedition Oregon – the only ARWS race in the U.S. this year – but has not yet announced any international travel.
Tenth-ranked Adventure Medical Kits and eleventh-ranked BendRacing/YogaSlackers have also not yet announced their 2019 racing schedules.