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Thoughts About Day 3 from Race Director Jason Magness

Press Release / 15.05.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
La Jolla IVF/Vidaraid
La Jolla IVF/Vidaraid / © America's Toughest Race

I am sitting out here at the Prineville Reservoir on the last leg of expedition Oregon.

The leaders La Jolla IVF / Vidaraid are just getting onto the reservoir. They have started the final bike rafting leg and it is a beautiful, beautiful morning here with extremely still water and they are going to have an amazing paddle. I'm standing atop the cliffs for checkpoint 40 which is a little deep water solo where one of the members will have to climb out of their boat and scale a cliff about 15 or 20 ft high and then punch the checkpoint and decide whether to try to downclimb or to jump back into the water.

So it should be an exciting start to their final day and we expect them to finish sometime in the early afternoon.

The chase pack obviously stopped chasing about 24 hours ago in the wee hours of yesterday morning.   It was pretty obvious that La Jolla IVF / Vidaraid didn’t have much to worry about as 2nd through 5th place were in a fierce battle to protect or increase their placements within the top five.  Really no one was still challenging La Jolla IVF/Vidaraid as they had pushed through the night with much less sleep than any of the other teams and it created a significant gap which they are still holding.

They have slept for about two and a half hours total over the course of the event, in three little sleeps, while most of the teams behind them have had at least one bigger sleep of three or four hours.  They all also slept last night for several hours as well, as the orienteering got much more difficult on the trekking sections in the dark.

The back of the pack teams are spread out incredibly far and we are still waiting on one team, #32 Warriors Keep, at TA2 even as the top teams are all on their way to TA6, so it's quite a spread out course which has been extremely challenging logistically.  We did not expect this far of a spread, even though we always expected some gaps to form, but our crew is basically stretched from the very beginning of the race all the way to the very.

In the middle of the pack a lot of teams really struggled with the pack raft trek as in the last day or two it seems the water level has dropped significantly.  So teams at night were basically dragging their boats through much of that, and teams during the daytime look like they got at least some sections of paddling.  It was certainly far from the hour and a half paddle that we were expecting when we tested it 5 days before the race.

This stage was the one we thought was going to be the highlight of the race, paddling through this majestic whitewater canyon, but turned out to be one of the most brutal stages which I think has been taking its toll; but you know adventure racing is all about adaptability.

The one good side of that is the swim at the end of the final trek across the reservoir is now a little more than a wade.  Due to the drop in the river levels the lead team was able to go up river and ford it at only knee deep. The more competitive teams in the chase pack will likely not waste that time and ford straight across where it may be chest deep, but it certainly will not be a swim.

We have a myriad of teams rallying that were really struggling on day two that are now deep into the canyon or past it, and about 15 or 20 teams that are expected to finish the full course and about 7 or 8 of those still have a chance to finish the pro course and get every single point on the course, so that's exciting to watch.

There could be some really big mix-ups in the top 10 still.  Sleep strategy and fatigue are really coming into play.  One big note is we saw that #4 MRC had something happen on the first paddle and came in near the end, then they impressed us with their speed as they rallied back up to challenge for the top five.  And then they stopped cold at TA3 and we wondered what was happening. Turns out that they misplaced their rear skewer for one of their bikes at TA2 and didn't discover it until they were trying to build their bikes and realized that they had no skewer and no way to ride, so they have been able to borrow one of the staff's bikes and have continued on.

They will have a penalty assessed, but they are making up a significant amount of time and may have a chance to bounce back into the top five. This is even more probable because 4Regions Ecuador made an error on that bike and they rode an illegal route into private property, instead of the marked mandatory route that is listed.

We are still wondering what happened as they have one of the best navigators in the race and the maps and route directions are clearly marked, so somehow they ended up crossing over a gate with a big sign that said ‘don't come here’, and they rode a much faster and downhill route instead of the new route that follows the property boundary and is the legal access in and out of that area.

They have been informed of their penalty and they will have to sit out some time at the final checkpoint of the race at the bike rappel hoping that no team catches them and passes them that close to the finish line. But such is the way of adventure racing and either way, they've had a tremendous race and we will be excited to cheer them on at the finish line.

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