World Class Racing And Cold Beers For Everyone!
Adventure Race Croatia 2019 is officially finished. 35 of the 41 teams that started from island of Pag reached the beach at Pine Beach Resort Pakoštane (mostly) within the time limit, with the Swedish USWE Adventure Team well ahead of the rest. And what a race it was! Even some DNF teams actually went through the course just for the kick of it, unfortunately with an unlucky member of two out of the race. Don't worry, everybody's fine, and more than a few are probably still celebrating.
USWE Adventure Team - Helen Westerberg, Jacob Westerberg, Magnus Woxholtt-Jensen and Felix Breitschädel - managed to navigate 500 kilometers of ARC 2019 in a little bit over 73 hours. But it wasn't easy. Still hyped by the win at the finish line Jacob was more than excited about the race. "It's a beautiful but very, very, very tough race. Many parts we passed in the night and they were beautiful, next year they should move the start by, say, twelve hours so we can see them!"
Well, that's not going to happen, Jacob. ARC 2020 is going to be totally different beast but more about that later... USWE team's navigator Felix Breitschädel had a shorter comment: "Intense!"
And it was intense right from the start! Before the race the obvious favourites were probably the Czech team Black Hill Salomon and French Team 400, who are fourth and second in the ARWS world ranking. Along with several super strong French teams like Hoka Hoka One, Raidsaventure.fr Absoluraid, Absoluraid Occitanie and Finnish Multisport, they were the guarantee that there will be some serious racing. The length and complexity of the course, however, meant that the teams were supposed to play it safe and conserve energy as much as possible. That went out of the window right at the beginning of the first leg.
The tempo was brutal form the first paddle stroke of the sea kayak section and later in the race it picked up even more. Before the middle of the race five teams were in the lead at some point. USWE was in the mix as well and it was obvious they are more than capable of navigating the treacherous Velebit mountain.
This was especially so during in the night, since each morning they ended up in the lead! Including, to repeat, the morning on the finish line at Pakoštane. The fight for the lead was very much on right until the last three legs. USWE managed to extend their lead - wait for it - in the last night of the race. Courtesy of Felix Breitschädel, one of the best navigators in adventure racing.
Congrats also to French teams Hoka Hoka One and Raidsadventure.fr Absoulraid who came to the finish together. However, their intentional photo-finish was decided without photography. The stern (but just!) organizer Igor Dorotić promptly gave a 15 minutes penalty to Raidsadventure.fr and the podium places were decided. Black Hill Salomon, Team 400 and both Multisports all proved class and finished in the top ten, and the most pleasant surprises (or not really surprises any more) were strong teams from Poland and Slovenia. In short, it turns out every single participant had something to be cheerful about.
Including the organizers who, now it's obvious, did a great job. Again. Supported by numeorus volunteers and professionals from the Croatian mountain rescue service the ARC 2019 went smootly, and was relaxed and very friendly. This also might be the trademark of Igor Dorotić and Ana Rumiha's approach to adventure racing.
Summed up it goes something like: "Yes, you're getting your *ss kicked by the course, other teams and your unpreparedness but look how gorgeous this place is! Here, have a cold beer!" Unofficially.
Officially, Ana was more than pleased. "It has not been easy, but we have the greatest crew in the world and they made it possible. And it seems that our secret plan worked as well, we wanted the teams to want to come back again and, what do you know, they seem like they want to come back! That's fantastic ..."
Race director Igor Dorotić was more reserved. "There is always room for improvement. We're pleased with what we've done but I know that we can do even better." It maybe sounds too serious but, coming from a guy they call Wolf, it's a high (self)praise. Asked to comment on the winners he said: "I expected them to finish in 72 hours. It took them (USWE team) 73. They were slacking!" He was joking. We think.
The most important thing now is to remember the 15th of october! That's when ARC 2020 entries are opening! Last time around it took just several days to fill the roster. This time, we suspect, it's going to be a race by itself.
The actual race will be completely new, in a different area and with more surprises for the racers. Exploring Croatia Ana and Igor's way so far has been sensational so expect more of the same. Just totally different. Also, this time it'll be a spring race from 18th to 24th of May so no winter slacking!
For full results and all additional info about the race visit the official web page www.adventurerececroatia.com or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/pg/adventureracecroatia but be warned, some pictures and videos may include (but are not limited to) very, very happy people!
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