Exploration and Magic – The Race Director' View
I took the opportunity to talk to Race Director Pascal Bahuaud this morning in the race office, while all around us the Raid in France staff we’re busy about their tasks in a buzzing race office. The day before a race it is rare to be able to speak to an RD at all, but he’s the most experienced RD of expedition races in the world and his team had everything in hand. This is the 10th anniversary Raid in France and his second World Championships, and he has a big team of experienced and loyal volunteers from mainland France.
I asked about these first and he told me, “We have brought 85 volunteers with us from France, including some experienced mountain guides and safety staff, and there are another 35 people on the island working with us.” It’s a formidable support team, much bigger than any other race, and in total there will be 19 manned checkpoints, with 2 volunteers at each. One I spoke to said his post on the later part of the course would be open for 4 and a half days.
I asked too about the shipping container the race sent here. “We sent it over 2 months ago so had to plan ahead and inside were 24 new kayaks as we didn’t have enough already. We will leave these on the island for the local sports clubs to use”, he said.
All in all it’s a formidable operation and the course planning has been just as challenging. “I spent a year and a half working on the course,” he said. “You can only move very slowly as it is so difficult, so it took a long time. We will use some new canyons never visited before and I think they will be a surprise to the teams. I really don’t think they are prepared for how slow they have to move here. It will be a shock to them.
“The course idea came early, but then we had to make a lot of changes for the National Park. It was difficult to agree with them and to make all the late changes but it is part of the job. Not my favourite part. We are in France here but we are an ‘outside’ organisation from the ‘Metropole’ and not Creole so it was not always easy to win trust and build working relationships.
“The big race here is the Diagonale Des Fous (Grand Raid) and it was hard to explain we are not a trail race, and what adventure racing is all about. Also, that we were not in competition with the race. We always want to go to new places so we have to teach people about adventure racing every time. I think now the island is realising we are a big international event and excited to have us here.”
I asked what he thought would surprise the teams about the island. “I think the diversity. On the East side it is so lush and wet, and this side it is very dry like a desert. And of course the volcano is quite amazing.”
He added, “For me the objective to show off my beautiful country and allow people to explore it. The race is a way to do that and I think the teams and volunteers will all be amazed by Reunion. . All the hard work and planning has been done to allow them to come here and see just how magic this place is.”
About The Author
More About ARWC 2018 - Raid in France
In 2016 I stepped away from top level adventure racing after winning the World Champs in Australia. The reasons were that I’d
The closing ceremonies for a remarkable 8 days of racing on Reunion Island took place at Village de Corail tonight. The beach
The last few days of bad weather on the Volcano have made the end of the race particularly hard for the teams at the back of the
The two Russian teams in the race approached the finish today, looking close together on the tracking map, but as they were both moving
More teams have been crossing the finish line of the AR World Championships this morning and I caught up with a couple of the teams with an
The 4th team to cross the finish line at this year’s AR World Champs was ‘Black Hill Salomon Opava Net’ from the Czech
The trek up and over the Piton de la Fournaise volcano is the centrepiece of this World Championship course and teams feel it’s the
You wouldn’t think it’s likely to have a sprint finish in an expedition adventure race, not after 5 days of brutal racing, on a
They said they were here to have fun and explore Reunion and that the result was secondary, that they had their doubts and were not
For the leading teams at ARWC 2018 on Reunion Island the end is almost in sight and the top five teams should finish sometime tomorrow
While the leaders paddle up the west coast towards an early morning finish tomorrow, a third of the teams in the race are still continuing
All of the action on day 4 took place on the East Coast of Reunion, but in some very different locations as the field spread out. The
This morning two teams, who camped out overnight on the River Marsouins, arrived at Transition two at the football field in Saint Benoit,
Teams slow down in the dark, but if it’s a Dark Zone they have to stop altogether as its deemed unsafe to continue. So beating
Losing mere minutes may have devastating consequences tomorrow. After an epic first leg of 106kms of mountain hiking and nearly 8000m of
Day two, and for all of the teams it was still about finishing the first leg of the race, the mighty 106km mountain trek. Most teams
On the morning of day 2 of the race I caught up with the Olympus Red Ants team from South Africa and briefly with the Merrell Adventure
Into the second day of the race the first stage continues as the teams travel through the 3 vast collapsed volcano craters which are such a
With teams running well ahead of the predicted fastest times the leaders arrived at CP4, at the swimming pool in the town of Cilaos before
Teams woke this morning to a fine morning at Hell Bourg, with daylight coming around 5.30am. Some said they’d been a little cold on
As teams approached the village of Hell Bourg, the venue for the stat and prologue they got their first real look at the vertiginous
As teams checked in for today’s race briefing they were given 3 sheets of paper with a course profile, a summary of the stages and a
The atmosphere at the race HQ for ARWC2018 is relaxed compared to most previous World Champs, but it would be hard to be anything else in
The team list for ARWC 2018-Reunion has 64 names on it. Some are there for the experience, some have won a place as a World Series race
SleepMonsters will be working with the ARWS on the live race coverage, and you can read all the stories and news from Rob Howard right here
In an expedition adventure race the competitors cram in so many intense experiences and emotions they lose track of time completely, the
Merrell Adventure Addicts will be lining up amongst the world’s finest Adventure Racing teams at the start inside an old volcano on
When Reunion Island was announced as the venue for the 2018 AR World Champs the response was most likely, ‘Where?’ followed by