Down To The Wire
The weather today is deceptively benign here in Punta Arenas; clear blue skies, no wind and blazing sunshine. The office of the race organizer, a house on O’Higgins street, is a hive of activity as the opening ceremony is tonight at 20:00 in the Teatro Municipal.
In one room, volunteers are laminating the teams’ numbers and the race profiles. In another the social media team is working. A wooden set of stairs leads up to the race director's office on the first floor of the house and there are people constantly galloping up those stairs in search of the race director’s precious time.
Out in the backyard, the logistics team has been preparing the blue barrels of food that will be transported out to the different check points on the race route for the volunteers as well as verifying the kayaks and building the back drop for the opening ceremony.
There is a sign on the front gate saying that teams are not allowed in the offices but exceptions are made for those experiencing the inevitable logistical difficulties of transporting four people and all of their gear to the end of the world to race. And it wouldn’t be adventure racing, would it, if everything went according to plan, especially just getting to the race!
So in the front room of the office there is a lovely volunteer named Tarae Griffin, from the United States, who is trying to help those teams having logistical issues.
The team Bend Racing/YogaSlackers have all arrived, are safely ensconced in their favorite hostel and are in the enviable position to boast that the totality of their gear has arrived as well.
Terra de Gigantes/Selva hasn’t been so fortunate; the bag with all four of their drysuits hasn’t arrived and they’re looking for a Plan B.
Team East Wind from Japan spent over an hour this afternoon in the office with Tarae the intern. Not a single one of their bike boxes has arrived [cue in collective groan here-ouch!]. According to Tarae, their bikes are still in customs in Santiago; the reason is unclear.
Yasuhiro Takahama translated the communications between the team captain, Masato Tanaka and Tarae, who would then picked up the phone to try to sort the problem out in Spanish. Japanese, English and Spanish; a linguistic soup to solve a concrete problem.
There is now talk of one of the team members flying back up to Santiago to collect the bikes from customs. The timing is tight and the complexity of missing gear when racing at the end of the world cannot be stressed enough. One simply cannot pop out to the shops and pick up missing technical gear.
While some of the teams are attempting to sort out their gear issues, others are simply relieved that all members have arrived in Punta Arenas in time for the opening ceremony.
The US team Xtreme Operations Racing with be breathing a sigh of relief when their fourth team member lands this evening at 18:00. He is a neurosurgeon and had to delay his flight to attend to a complex case.
The rest of the teams are getting their gear ready and enjoying the unusually mild weather on this beautiful Saturday in Punta Arenas. Rendez-vous this evening at 20:00.