The Weather Wreaks Havoc On The Best Laid Plans
The weather on this edition of the Yeti Adventure Challenge Silkeborg (YACS) has had a major impact on the racers, the organizers and the volunteers. It has rained steadily since the race started so teams have been soaked and unable to dry off at any point and the dedicated team of volunteers have been chilled to the bone.
During the first day of racing team Yeti established a strong lead through the first 65km mountain biking section, named ‘Chasing Wolves’ in the roadbook. It was a tricky section; speaking afterwards about it, a member of team Salomon Denmark DK said that they’d had to carefully navigate to each CP as the race director had carefully planned their location and they were difficult to find.
The lashing rain combined with nighttime navigation made it difficult to collect all of the 16 CPs on this section. Some teams further back in the pack were already choosing to skip certain ones in order to remain in the race timings.
Team Yeti maintained their lead on the 35kms of running on section 2; ‘Wild West Coast’ but team Racing Denmark were hot on their heels and a wise navigational choice on this section allowed them close the gap with the lead team by a half an hour.
The international teams were already showing signs of struggling with the navigation during these first two sections and a couple of silly mistakes were made such as leaving necessary maps in the wrong drop bag.
A ‘special task’ awaited teams at TA3. An abseil had been set up on top of a towering grain silo and two team members were expected to descend the imposing structure.
TA3 was also the location where team would do a ‘sit down penalty’, before they were allowed to enter the transition area and access their drop bags. The time penalty was calculated according to how far behind the winning team each of the other teams completed the prologue.
All of the teams arriving at TA3 showed clear signs of the suffering they’d endured because of the weather during the first two stages. One of the last teams to arrive was the Irish team Kinsale and as they straggled in one of them muttered, “We are so over this rain!”
Team Salomon Adventure DK was the first team to withdraw from the race, dropping out at TA3 after less than 24 hours of racing. Explaining their decision, Jacques Dehnbostel said that they were lacking motivation as they knew that they weren’t racing for a place on the podium since one of their team members was at home waiting for the birth of his first child.
Jacques added that they’d been cold and wet for the previous ten hours and that their preparation for the race had been too “light”. He explained that they’d only packed one set of waterproofs and suggested that perhaps as they were racing on their home turf it was easier to withdraw from the race. They'd also had to deal with an endless series of tire punctures.
The eight remaining teams carried; the ones that had made the time cut-off entered the kayaks for a rough section buffeted by strong waves, relentless winds and continuing rain.
It was on this section that a stunning upset took place; team Yeti withdrew from the race.
According to the race director, they took this difficult decision to relinquish their title of reigning champions due to the exhaustion of one of their team members. The RD Simon Grimstrup added, “When Yeti pulls the plug, it’s hard weather!”
Based on the information Yeti had provided about the kayaking conditions, the RD decided to move the location of TA4 which caused a bit of logistical mayhem but the valiant volunteers rallied.
The New Zealand team Roving Tukies also withdrew during the first night.
Race timings have been much slower than expected due to the weather and the RD took the decision at 03:30 to cancel section 8 as well as several CPs. Race volunteers have been sent out to inform the three lead teams of the changes; playing leapfrog as they dash to reach the CPs on section 7 before the teams.
Teams that are further back in the pack have been informed of the changes at TA 6, before the 17km running of ‘Moors and Lakes’ section.
At the time of this writing there are only two teams that are on full course; Racing Denmark and Masanga Racing. Team Racing Denamark has been plagued with tire punctures. But they have raced hard and raced smart, and as the finish line approaches, their strategy appears to be paying off. However, this is adventure racing and as we all know, anything can happen and it ain’t over until a team has crossed the finish line!
More CP cancellations are a possibility as the organizers are keen to have the first teams finish within the 45 hours of racing initially announced. It’s been an intense race and several competitors have commented that it feels like they’ve been racing a week already.
The course has been well planned, the navigation challenging, and the conditions brutal. The Masters distance of YACS19 race has been delivering!