Raid Gallaecia - The 2021 Adventure Racing World Championship

  • Spain (ESP)
  • Off-Road Running
  • Off-Road Cycling
  • Paddling
  • Navigation

The Night of the Navigators – Eastern Europe Leads the Way

Rob Howard / 03.10.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
Taking a ride to the top of the mountain
Taking a ride to the top of the mountain / © Rob Howard

The Manzaneda ski resort is the setting for the first transition at ARWC and it took the fastest teams nearly 23 hours to arrive. The length of the trek, the tricky navigation and the bad weather put them a couple of hours behind the predicted fastest time, and it was the Estonia ACE Adventure – La Sportiva team who were first to arrive.

They were clearly surprised to be first as the lead has swapped a few times overnight, and the early leaders, 400team Naturex have fallen back to 10th place after a difficult night. The Estonian team arrived at 10.56 and, not surprisingly, said they’d been extremely wet.  Rain Eensaar said, “When it rained it was really hard!  Timmo (Tammemae) is doing most of the navigating as I am getting older and his eyes are better for all the detail on the map. We lost some time as there were danger areas on the map so we were cautious and went round, but I think others went directly and we lost about half an hour.”

They were only 5 minutes ahead of the Blizzard team (Russia), who were a bit quicker and more focussed in transition and able to leave first. Semen Yakimov seemed quite happy with their navigation overnight.  “It wasn’t too bad and I don’t think we lost much time,” he said.

Between them these two teams have quite a few rogaining World champions and the Eastern European strength at navigation (and at coping with the weather) was further reinforced when the third team to arrive were Red Fox, also of Russia. (Their tracker had not been working.)  The Swedish Armed Forces team arrived just after them and all the top 4 teams were into transition within 21 minutes.

Their bike boxes were in a big sports hall on the ski complex, which is where most of the race staff were staying for the first night, so there was a big crowd to see the teams arrive.  Once the bikes were assembled the teams rode around to foot of a chair lift and split into two pairs.  One pair took the lift up to the mountain top, where there were reports of a few snowflakes, and then rode a downhill track back.  They had to get a checkpoint on the way down and the Blizzard pair had not taken their route book to punch, but the referee accepted they’d not been told to take it. 

They arrived back at the chair lift station at the same time as the two who did the zip line, which started from a tower close by. The line ran down to the main complex, about 350m and it was a swift ride down to another tower.  The way off of this was to hook onto a controlled abseil line which lowered you gently to the ground, but Natalia Manzhay-Zimina couldn’t step off the platform, even after her team mate showed her how to do it. In the end she clipped on and climbed down a ladder.

Both activities were quite an adrenalin rush after the long, slow, overnight trek, but neither warmed teams up much!  There were reports of temperatures of 2C at the top, which is only 1700m, but is exposed to the chill and damp maritime climate here.  Gallaecia is beautiful, but you don’t come here for Spanish sunshine. The terrain too was quite a change from that at the start of the first stage. It was now sub-alpine, with open pine forest and purple crocus dotted on the grassy slopes.

While the Swedish Armed Forces team took the chair lift the Orbital AR team were trekking into transition and looked across to see what was going on.  Bjorn Rydvall was carrying Mari Chandler’s pack and the team were noticeably more exhausted than the lead group when they arrived in transition. Robert Linberg collapsed on a step and shut his eyes, and Rydvall quietly said, “I am really suffering.”   And they are the #3 ranked team in the world …


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