The Patagonian Raid is the first AR World Series event of the year, taking place from the Argentinean mountain resort town of San Martin de los Andes. (The race was formerly called ‘Raid del Viento’ when it ran in 2018.)
It’s not a new venue for international adventure racing (the Raid World Champs was held there back in 2004), but it’s definitely an attractive one. The town nestles in the heart of the mountains on the shores of Lago Lacar and 30 international teams have made the long journey to Patagonia to race.
They come from a variety of countries including Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, New Zealand and Poland. There are 5 French teams and racers from several other countries too including Spain, the UK and Denmark.
These include some of the world’s top ranked teams, notably 400 Team Naturex from France (#2) and Columbia Vidaraid (#4). This time Vidaraid are under the Brazilian flag with Camila Nicolau and Guillerme Pahl racing with Jon Ander Arambalza and serial South American racer Nick Gracie. This will be a team comfortable and very experienced racing in Patagonia.
Those two teams will be the favourites no doubt, but there are a lot of experienced teams racing. All of the French teams have good international experience and the Argentinean teams will not want to let the visitors have it all their own way, most probably lead by Sportotal. Some of the Brazilian, Chilean and Uruguayan teams might feature too.
There are also a couple of visiting teams with younger racers who might push the established squads. Team Motueka have travelled all the way from New Zealand to race and have good finishes in GODZone behind them. Then there are Team Qualified Beatifness who have the experience of Lars Bukkehave (who raced the first Raid Del Viento) and Ecuadorian racer Daniela Costa, racing with Stephen Thompson and the 25 year old Simon Troelgaard. He is at the race with his brother Mads (acting as support) and they were both on the second placed team at the Yeti Adventure Challenge Silkeborg last year. Bukkehave commented, “The twins are the future of Danish AR and we want to pass on experience to them with this race.”
It might be that the course suits teams with the speed of a multisport background as it features ‘relatively’ short and fast stages ... for an ARWS race anyway! There are 9 stages on a 400km course, with 3 treks which are all out-and-back loops linked by cycle rides. There is 5500m of ascent on the treks which are 25, 30 and 35 kms, and on past experience these will be the crux of the race, with night time navigation playing a crucial part. (Sunrise is 07.30 and sunset 20.30.)
The longest of the rides is 120km and is in the middle part of the race, and the second stage is the only paddle – or what is described as ‘rowing a raft’. This is on the flat waters of Lago Lacar and initially had a fastest time estimate of 6-8 hours, though the furthest CP was subsequently cut.
This will be a long haul in a raft and sails have been allowed, but as it’s an out and back the Patagonian wind is bound to be unhelpful going one way or the other! At the end of the raft there are some special tasks with the raft, including a solo paddle, lifting it to a bridge, flipping it and swimming across a river towing it. The teams may be glad to see the back of those rafts and get back on their bikes!
The initial outline timings for the race gave a fastest time of only 45 hours, but they always looked much too quick and the lead teams are estimating much longer. Vidaraid calculated 60-72 hours ... which is wide margin and just shows how a very experienced team knows that anything can happen and much will depend on the trek timings.
The weather will certainly favour a fast race as it is for dry days and sunshine all the way – fantastic luck for the teams who have travelled so far to race and for the organisers who have managed to get the race on despite the severe economic difficulty Argentina has been suffering. Patagonian weather is not always so kind!