Patagonia Expedition Race: Weather Delays, Alters Race

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As I mentioned last week, one of the toughest adventure races around is currently underway in Chile, where the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race is near its conclusion. With the top teams currently on their bikes, and racing towards the finish line, it seems that this year’s event lived up to its billing and has been challenging the athletes at every turn.

This year’s course was more focused on the northern regions of Patagonia, with the start taking place in the shadow of the Torres del Paine mountains, not far from the Southern Continental Ice Field. As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion however, it isn’t just the terrain that teams must deal with in this race, as the legendary Patagonia weather can bring its own form of punishment. That has proven to be the case once again this year, as the weather got so bad at one point that the race had to be suspended, something that rarely happens in adventure racing. Heavy rains in the area also forced the cancellation of a trekking leg as well.

As of this writing, the defending champions of AdidasTERREX/Prunesco (UK) continue to lead the race, with Team in second place and racing hard. On the leaderboard it says the teams are just a half-hour apart, although it seems that GearJunkie failed to sign into one of the checkpoints and as a result they’ve been assessed a 10 hour penalty which will surely break their hearts in the end. Team Vaucluse Adventure Evasions of France is the third place team, and the only other one out of the PC13 at this point.

The final leg, which the teams are currently on, is a 188km (116.8 mile) mountain bike ride. That should keep them occupied for the better part of the day, but expect the first teams to cross the finish line later today. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone catching the leaders, but this is adventure racing after all, and anything can happen.

Kraig Becker