Two New (ish) Teams For ITERA
Adventure racing teams are more flexible than most sports teams, and two teams at ITERA have brought together racers who didn’t previously know each other, but for very different reasons.
The name ‘Team Endurancelife Development Team’ explains what is going on with team number 27, lead by Phil Scarf. The captain is one of the most experienced races in the UK, with numerous expedition races on this racing CV, but as he explained, two of the team are new to such a long race. “I wanted to try and help bring more younger racers in adventure racing,“ he said, “so looked for new racers to bring onto the team with the right outdoor experience.”
He added, “I did consider having 3 novice races but thought better of it because of the paddling stages.” Jeff Powell Davies is the other team member and has competed numerous big races, including ITERA before.
The two who took the chance to join the team are Tim Martin and Bess Robson, who have mountain running and biking backgrounds respectively, but both are new to adventure racing and to non-stop multi-day races.
Martin told me, “I don’t have much experience of paddling and have only done it a couple of times, but neither of those was on the ocean. I am coming back from an injury too, so have not done as much running as I’d like. When Phil asked I thought it was a good idea, but now we are here it is a lot to take in and a long way to go.”
No other sport gives competitors such a huge amount of information and planning to do just before the start, so it’s a natural reaction to all the briefings, course plotting and gear preparation that fills the two days before the race start.
“We are completing all of the packing first and then looking at the maps as a team tonight,” said Scarf. “Otherwise it is just too much to take in and deal with all at once. I think the hardest thing for me will be stepping back and letting them get on with it. I want Tim to be the main navigator ... so I can’t just take the map off him.”
Robson said, “I’ve done multi-day bike races before, but never anything where you race through the night so I am nervous about how I’ll handle the lack of sleep. I did some paddling a long time ago, but nothing on the ocean, so that will be new as well. I am looking forward to that most and most worried about the long trek I think. Maybe it’s best not to think too much and to take it one stage at a time.”
The team’s only aim is to get to the finish using short course options, and Scarf is already planning for that, so if you watch the trackers you might see them taking alternate routes quite early in the race.
The other ‘new’ team are one of the best known names in the sport, Columbia Vidaraid! The team is led by Jon Ander Arambalza (a regular on the team which has been at #2 in the world rankings in the past), but the other names are not so familiar to those who follow Vidaraid. They are Caroline Bullard, Craig Tweedie and Mark Chryssanthou, all from the UK ... which is why Vidaraid are racing under the UK flag here. (They’ve also raced as Spanish, Brazilian and American in the past so are more like an international club than a team!)
The 3 British racers have all been brought in within the last month to fill gaps due to regular team members being injured or unable to come, and they’ve never raced together before apart from Chryssanthou and Bullard, and that was 10 years ago. All are experience racers, Bullard finished the Patagonian Expedition Race with DAR Dingle last year, Chryssanthou has completed lots of long British races and Tweedie has raced in New Zealand, including GODZone.
He is also a paddle and mountain bike guide on the west coast of Scotland, and said, “I know some of the areas on the course well, though not the checkpoints, so maybe that will help a bit.” He will be navigating with Chryssanthou, Arambalza is the ‘team leader and packhorse’ and Bullard will be “the one who keeps talking and keeps us awake.”
Bullard was enthusiastic about the opportunity but a little nervous racing under the Columbia Vidaraid name. “You normally see them race away and think how amazingly fast they are,” she said. Now I am on am on the team so feel the pressure a bit.“ Arambalza said they didn’t consider themselves among the favourites as it was a ‘whole new team’, but don’t be surprised if you still see the Columbia Vidaraid name among the leaders – flying the British flag.