Skip Navigation

Mixed Emotions on the Finish Line

Rob Howard / 14.11.2018

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 international mix of racers as they relaxed in the sun.

Team Columbia finished the race in 11th place and Nick Gracie told me. “It’s probably one of my favourite World Champs courses, you know with Raid in France it’s going to be tough and technical and this was definitely that. You almost felt that on any stage you could die, eaten by sharks, drowned in a canyon, falling off a cliff. It was a course which pushed the limits that’s for sure, which is what adventure racing should be all about.

Monica Aguilera liked the course but not the rules. “It wasn’t really a race much of the time because of the dark zones and the 12 hours sleep. If you were with another team you didn’t feel you were racing with them because you had different tactics and plans. Much of the time we didn’t push hard because we knew it was better to go slow and then sleep. It was strange and I didn’t like it.” 

It’s now a familiar refrain from the finishing teams, dark zones are always difficult to manage and with 3 in this race plus the complexities of the ‘sleep card’ they’ve been confused and felt the rules got in the way of the racing.

However, despite having a lot of sleep the team struggled to finish the race and Monica fell asleep and crashed on her bike on the final ride. “I don’t remember anything and I was on the ground with my face in the dirt,” she said.  Nick said they struggled for 3 hours to find one of the ride checkpoints and added, “and that ride was so steep, even in the towns the roads are crazy steep.”

Finishing behind them were The North Face Adventure Team, flying the flag of Hong Kong and the only Asian based team here, though they did have two Brazilian racers with them.

Guilherme Pahl told me, “We had an up and down race, in every way. Good times, bad times, physical and emotionally, with our race position going up and down.  Now we are here at the finish with a good result and we are all OK, any damage that is done to our minds and bodies will pass quickly enough and we’ll remember the good times and experiences.

“For me one of the highlights was on the first stage, when just for a little while we were in front of Avaya. We could see they were having some problems with the heat and thought ‘shall we try to pass them’, and we did. I know it was only for a while, but I will remember this moment.

“We love the pack rafting, it opens up so many possibilities for adventure racing and they really are so portable and are good boats. This was the most difficult river I have been on, and the boat was perfect for it. Others would not have been so good. And they give teams the choice when to use them and when to carry – again more possibilities.”

After the pack raft the team reached their high point in the race (4th place) and Ryan Blair told me, “After that we took a gamble and pushed on, when maybe we should have stopped, so the next few stages were our worst and we slipped back in the rankings.”

Guilherme told me about their crossing of the volcano. “Going up was tough and very wet and we were cold, and I think maybe if we were not so committed we could have given up. It was our lowest point, but then we reached the top at dawn and there was no rain, clear views and amazing scenery of the volcano. It was like we were starting again, a fresh dawn revived us.”

They were kept going too by a memory of a lost team mate. Former Navy Seal and diver Saman Kunan died in the rescue of school children from a flooded cave in Thailand, and was part of the North Face Adventure Team for 5 years.  Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana raced many times with him and carried his picture though out this race, in which he was the first Thai racer ever to race an AR World Champs.

The team pushed on to finish in 11th place and their supporters had cooked up a big fish stew with rice for them at the finish, which they were busy tucking into as they chatted with racing friends from Cyanosis (who had just finished) and from the Columbia team.

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue offering Adventure Race reporting then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign.]

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue reporting on Adventure Racing then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign or make a donation via PayPal.]

About The Author

Rob Howard
Rob is Editor of SleepMonsters.com. He's traveled the world reporting on and photographing adventure races and day-to-day he keeps his finger on the pulse of AR to ensure SleepMonsters is the heartbeat of the sport.

More About ARWC 2018 - Raid in France

Le Tour de Volcano; Team AVAYA Captain's Report


The 2018 AR World Championships on Reunion Island Comes to a Close


All Roads Lead to the Finish


The Russians Are Coming –Slowly


Czech Republic and Estonia Take 4th and 5th


On The Volcano With Team 20


A Sprint Finish After 120 Hours of Racing


Avaya - Champions Again!


The Denoument


One Step At aTime


Lost in the Land of the Volcano


Conflict at TA2


Chasing Shadows in the Canyons


All To Play For On Day 3


Through the Forests To TA1


The South African View


The Circle of the Cirques


Night Stop at The Pool


Straight Off The Track


Hot Wheels and High Fives – The Prologue


Exploration and Magic – The Race Director' View


Lots To Think About After The Race Briefing


Village Life


Champions And Contenders For The World Title


How To Follow ARWC 2018


’l’île Intense’ Welcomes The Adventure Racing World Championships


Merrell Prepare For UPHILL Challenge at Champs


The ARWC Guide to Reunion Island


Our Patrons

Adventure Race Croatia

Adventure Race Georgia

Danish AR Union

Open Adventure

Rootstock Racing

TanzNavigation

SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you to all our

adventure racing

patrons


Adventure Race Croatia

Adventure Race Georgia

Danish AR Union

Open Adventure

Rootstock Racing

Tanz Navigation

-- -- --

Brian Gatens

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Chipp Dodd

Celia Nash

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Fiona McBryde

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Josh Hayman

Strong Machine AR

-- -- --

Adrian Crane

Barbara Campbell

Dejna Odvody

Ivan Park

Klaus Mygind

Lars Bukkehave

Marco Ponteri

Nigel Davison

Rob Horton

Semyon Yakimov