Avaya - Champions Again!
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 confident, and expected to be caught at any time by the good teams chasing them.
Yet, in the end, the result was the same as it has been for the past 4 years, Avaya are the Adventure Racing World Champions. Again. Nobody is the least bit surprised, they are so good it felt inevitable.
Unbeatable, unrivalled, flawless, legendary, you can take your pick of how to describe this team who have dominated Adventure Racing for so long. For the record this is their 5thconsecutive win, having won previously in the high altitude of Ecuador, the jungles of Brazil, the plains of Wyoming and the arid outback of Australia. It’s their 6th ARWC win as they won in 2012 as well, the last time Raid in France were hosts, Fleur Pawsey was new to the team, but the others now have 20 world titles between them, going back to 2005.
Nathan Fa’avae said before the start that he didn’t feel they were favourites given the strength of the field. As he was returning from retirement and hadn’t raced at this level for two years, and Fleur Pawsey came into the team as a late replacement some doubts would only be natural. But he said on the podium tonight that one of the reasons for their success was “that we are all committed to the objective, which is to win, and it’s incredible how much support we can give each other out there to achieve that.” Any doubts were put aside, they were here to win and still had the conviction they could do it. And they did.
Having completed the final cycle stage and then a short river pack-raft the team ran along the beach, back to the race HQ in St. Gilles les Bains where they managed a sprint across the line and were met by a spray of champagne from Race Director Pascal Bahuaud. They finished at 3.01 and their race time for the 460km course was 117 hours and one minute.
Chris Forne said on the finish line, “It wasn’t until we were on the final bike ride and going well that we thought we would win, until then we still expected someone to come up behind us.” He added, “I had a difficult start to the race suffering in the heat. Those two days of trekking in hot conditions were tough but it never got out of control and we kept moving. Still it left me feeling a bit beaten up for the whole race.” (It makes you wonder how fast the team would go if they all felt good!)
Nathan Fa’avae responded to the inevitable question, “What’s your secret to success?” He said, “I don’t think anything about how we race is secret really, it’s mainly down to the fundamentals of team work.” Asked if he was going to the next AR World’s in Sri Lanka he just laughed – but he didn’t say no.
After finishing the team were sat up on a stage with a deck chair each, flip flops provided so they could finally take off their race shoes, and of course beer and pizza. In the spotlights Fleur Pawsey didn’t look as relaxed as her team mates, they were old hands and had answered these questions many times before, but this was her first world title. She said, “It was a great opportunity for me to come and I guess I was just lucky I was the one who was free to step in. And I knew I couldn’t have better team mates to look after me.”
Stu Lynch, who has now won the last 6 World Titles in a row, commented on their experience of Reunion Island. “It is definitely a place which should be known about more widely. There isn’t anywhere else quite like it and the scenery is incredible. It was a real challenge every step of the way.”
With the finish in race HQ the team are now recovering in their chalet on the site, which is just a few steps away from the finish line and the race staff and media are preparing to receive the second placed team which will be 400 Team Naturex of France or Haglofs Silva (Sweden).
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