Adventure Racing World Championship 2023 - Kouga

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Film Review: BEYOND - the story of SAFAT at ARWC 2023

Adam Rose / 04.05.2024See All Event Posts Follow Event
/ © Press release

Wow. Wow. I’m sitting at my PC, just finished watching BEYOND, a huge grin on my face, and soooo stoked for Swedish Armed Forces Adventure Team having taken the win at the Adventure Racing World Championships 2023 in South Africa. And it’s old news, now 6 months ago, but with the flood of memories of an incredible course comes a deeper insight into that strange, remote world at the sharp end of the spear.

There are many videos from that race, of many stories told, many tears, smiles, laughter, grimaces and frustrations. I think this one tops the lot.

For years, team Avaya were an unstoppable force, unassailable, getting victory after victory, that it was almost a foregone conclusion they would win whenever they stood on the start line. Sure, films were made of their journeys, of their own struggles and challenges, since the reality of winning the championship against the best teams in the world is never simple, but, to me, those films always held something of a mystery. I couldn’t see into Avaya, into their secret world. I watched video after video, but the subjects remained private, somehow.

BEYOND is special because the director really captures the vulnerability of the team, the tenuousness of success, how easily a single mistake can crush the dreams you’ve fought so long and hard to achieve. And the characters are fully formed – we get to see them training 6 weeks out from the race, their backstory, just as we do on the racecourse, and so when they ride with fierce joy on a dusty road, or suffer debilitating injury, or battle mind numbing cold, we see it against a broader canvas of emotion and journey. Credit must also be given to the team for allowing such access, for being so frank, and open about their fears.

We also see how hard teams must fight to succeed – have you ever put in 100hrs of research to make one better decision out in the field? And these decisions all add up, building tactic upon tactic, enabling the team to travel faster, lighter, more efficiently.

And you can bet all the top teams are doing the same, investing all their energies for that one chance to stand victorious. Already knowing the outcome, I still found myself catching my breath as they raced through transitions, trying to outwit each other, to apply pressure, to cause the other to falter.

ARWC 2023 was truly an epic, from the scale of the course, to the extreme weather conditions, to the stacked field. Filmmaker Emil Sergel has beautifully captured the hopes and passion behind this pursuit for gold, after years of SAFAT battling to top that podium and being so long denied.

Oh, and did I mention, the visuals are flipping glorious! :)

Watch it now on Vimeo at

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