One Step At aTime
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 with the pack raft and trying to reach TA2. They’ve already been through an amazing adventure and still have a long way to go.
I caught up with two teams who had decided to retire at TA2 this morning. They’d given their all and could go no further.
The first was Saferbo Seti from Colombia. Gustavo Arango was being treated by the medic for a bad knee and infected feet and they told me they’d been collected off the course by the race. I asked Lina Vargas what she thought of Reunion and she wrinkled her face and gave me a quizzical look. “The island is beautiful ,”she said, “ but the trek was brutal, then the pack raft was brutal . It was too much for us.”
The team were still in good spirits, and are now waiting for ride back to the event HQ. Three of this team are behind the new AR World Series demonstration race in Colombia, called PC12 and taking place in September.
Team 58 were also on the football field, sorting out their gear and coming to terms with the disappointment of withdrawing. They were a bit more beaten up by the stages they had completed. Cecile Ciman had a bandage on her forehead and a badly bruised face where she had 5 stitches and a broken nose from a fall in the pack raft section. Stephane Pineau also suffered from a leg injury on the trek and it was mainly due to this becoming too painful that the team pulled out.
I spoke to the Captain Julien Leborgne and he said, “It is a big disappointment. There is so much hard work and training that goes into a race like this and it was my main goal of the year so it’s hard to come to terms with.” Then he shrugged and added, “There is always another race and I am looking at ITERA in Scotland next year as it will be a beautiful place to race.”
Through the morning more teams have arrived, crossing the football field which is now in use with hundreds of school children having PE lessons in small groups. The reactions of the two teams I spoke to are reflected among the teams pressing on. The Uruguay Natural US team arrived and Ruben Mandure just said, “We are here, one step at a time. We had two dark zones on the pack raft, so almost 8 hours stopping each time but its good, we can continue. I have not thought about the rest of the course, only the next thing in front of us, it’s the only way on this crazy course.”
When I asked if he had enjoyed it he said, “Some of the time, but some I think is dangerous. The rope down into the canyon we just finished was hard to understand – almost 400m of ropes on cliffs while we carry packs with paddles and rafts. Just crazy.”
His team and most others still on the stage had beaten the cut-off at K12 (between the two canyons) at 07.00 this morning. The cut-offs have been generous so far and there are more to come as the race wants to offer every team the chance to finish, but to do so they will have to keep up their race speed.
The cut off is not until the top of the Volcano at TA5 (22.00 on Nov. 14th) and Race Director Pascal Bahuaud has told me he will wait and see how things go today and my introduce a cut before that so the back teams don’t have to climb the volcano. He does not want them to miss it of course, but the question is whether they will be able to do it.
There is still plenty of time as the course is open for 8 days (closing Friday morning) and the teams need to follow Reuben Mandure’s manta of one step at a time and keep putting on foot in front of the other for as long as they are able.