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International Teams Get Together to Explore Northern Portugal at NORCHA

Rob Howard / 22.09.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
Preparations for NORCHA in Braganca today
Preparations for NORCHA in Braganca today / © Rob Howard

A very international mix of teams has arrived in the city of Breganca for the NORCHA Race, which is taking place in the region of Terras de Trás-os-Montes in the mountains of the northeast of the country, close to the border with Spain. (Very close to where the AR World Champs will take place shortly.)

The race has previously taken place in 2016 (won by Raid Gallaecia Fridama of Spain) and in 2018 (won by Team Motueka of New Zealand). Like many others, it was postponed last year and although the original 30+ entries have not been able to make it, there is still a strong entry of 18 teams from around the world. Visiting teams flew into Porto before transferring to the city of Braganca, where the race will start tomorrow.

Uruguay Ultra Sports were the last team to arrive today, though one is still on the way.  This team is made up of 3 racers from Uruguay and Thiago Bonini from Brazil, who arrived yesterday, but with no baggage at all, and no team to meet up with! Today Rueben Mandure and Lali Moratomio did arrive, but Gonazalo Smaldone didn’t!  He was with the other two for a connection in the airport in Madrid, when security pulled him aside and he missed the flight.  Now he is driving from Madrid in a hire car!  So the team is still missing one set of race equipment and one racer!  Mandure said, “Maybe we could win this race, but the question is, can we start it?!”

                                Thiago Bonini has found at least two of his teammates

There were to be two US teams from Virtuality 360 racing as well, but a positive Covid test before getting on the plane stopped all of them but one coming. Katherine Welch had left to come to Portugal a few days early, and luckily she has managed to join up with the local team, Frontieros de Cheves..  They’ve found her a bike too, as hers was coming with the rest of the team.

For this particular race there are a lot of mixed nationality teams.  None more mixed, than the ‘Swiss’ team ‘Highroad Adventure’, who come from Australia, Scotland, Belgium and the UK!  (Three of them live in Switzerland.) Steph Gibbins from the UK only joined the 3 Swiss based racers a couple of weeks ago, and the Australian Michael Peberdy said he’d been training for an ironman race but switched to this. He added’ “We’re the novices here and will probably be racing at the back of the field.”

Another UK racer joining a team for her first race is Micah Mackay, who is with OMM Nordisk Germany.  The SUP instructor is with an experienced team, and she has been mentored by none other than Nathan Fa’aave. “I’ve been planning and training for NORCHA for 4 months now, helped by his advice, “she said.  “It involves a lot of emails, long ones from Nathan usually, and it is going to be interesting to see how my skills and endurance have adapted to adventure racing!”

The legendary French racer, Bruno Rey, is here racing as Team Alpha Dental, but his original team too fell through and he’s now with 3 members of the Hamilton Adventure team from Sweden.  He has at a couple of decades more racing experience than his team mates … so the team is a combination of the speed of youth and the wisdom of experience.

                                          Katherine Walsh with her new team for the race 

Two teams are definitely down to 3 racers. Team Mulamanca Almaventura have two Argentinean racers (living in Italy) and one from Brazil (who lives in Portugal), and team ‘Splink Your Life’ from Holland lost one team member just the day before the race. This team includes Arjen Van Der Berg, the Race Director of the new Adventure Race Holland, which takes place next year.

The remainder of the international teams in the field are made up of two Irish teams (Base Camp AR and Kinsale AR), Afterwork Athletes from the UK & Australia, Team Jakob from Sweden, team On-Sight from Poland, Team FAR (Flemish Adventure Racers) from Belgium, Dutchables (who are also still missing some gear boxes lost in transit), Vaucluse Aventure Evasion of France and the Spanish/Catalonian team Forsure-Indiketes.  There are also two other Portuguese teams; Orimarao Aventura and Exercito Portugues.

They’ve been preparing their gear boxes today in the centre of town and there will be an opening ceremony tonight in the town’s theatre.  The race briefing is not until just before the start tomorrow morning, when they will get at least the first map, for stage one of 18.

There will live tracking of the race on www.tracktherace.com 

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