3rd March 2016
GODZONE ADVENTURE TEAM WINS SIXTH
PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE (March 3, 2016) — At 8:00AM, February 16th, 18 teams lined up at Faro Dungenes– the east entrance of the Strait of Magellan, a passage that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans –for the start of the 2016 Patagonian Expedition Race (PER). Eight days later, only four teams would cross the finish line. Confirming its reputation as one of the world’s toughest adventure races, PER 2016 featured long treks through virgin peat bog, dense forests and steppes, kayak sections along the shores of glacier outfalls, and a 272 kilometer bike ride into heavy, Patagonian winds.
The return of PER after a 2 year hiatus saw the homecoming of three veteran teams: YogaSlackers and East Wind, who began competing in 2010, and GODZone Adventure, who began in 2009. All three of these teams struggled with illness or injury at certain stages in the 2016 edition. Team captain of YogaSlackers, Jason Magness, suffered from severe hip pain throughout the race–causing them to lose ground on the trekking sections, and to retire from the race at check point 13 (PC13). Masato Tanaka, East Wind’s Captain, suffered from a bike injury after PC8; his wounds required medical attention, and he was taken to a nearby hospital. Although the team lost their lead after 21 hours of necessary rest, Masato returned to the competition with a neck brace while sustaining a fractured nose bone. Within GODZone Adventure team, the reigning PER champions, members took turn falling sick, after one of them, Chris Hope, first picked up the bug before the race even began.
In spite of their setbacks, East Wind took second place, making it their third consecutive second-place finish, with an overall race time of 6 days: 13hrs: 26 mins. GODZone Adventure, in turn, retained their winning streak with a race time of 5 days: 22 hrs: 25 mins–making it the team’s sixth, and captain Nick Gracie’s fourth, PER title.
This year’s PER also featured a strong showing from new racers. Merrell Adventure Addicts, the first all-South African team to win a podium spot, took third place– coming in less than thirty minutes shy of East Wind in 6 days: 13hrs: 52 mins. M.O.B (Mind Over Body), a Canadian team, finished in fourth position with a time of 7 days: 10hrs: 4 mins, proving as well, that newcomers can be serious competitors in ‘The Last Wild Race.’
Injury and exhaustion, coupled with the unrelenting Patagonian weather, cut the remaining 14 teams’ races short. By Day 6, two groups required helicopter assistance– unable to complete the trek between PC6 and 7. Kaweskar, from Chile, and Team Sherpa, from the U.S.A., were both evacuated by the Chilean Air Force.
In light of these struggles and triumphs, race director Stjepan Pavicic reflected on what makes Patagonian Expedition Race so magnetic. “Why are we here time and again? What invisible force attracts all of us here?” he asked during the 2016 closing ceremony held in Puerto Natales on February 26th–addressing the race’s participants, partners, and staff. The answer: “The Place, the Challenge, and the Human Endurance experience…sometimes we need to return to our original home in the wild, to reconnect with where we’ve come from.”
The success of this year’s PER is largely indebted to its supporting partners. Turismo 21 de Mayo, a tour agency specialising in nautical excursions, provided logistical support through the fjords. DeLorme, a leading manufacturer for GPS-tracking devices, provided tracking and technical support, which allowed headquarters and race followers to monitor teams’ movements. Recasur was the official car rental partner, and the Chilean Army and Airforce were invaluable in providing maritime and aerial support.
No date has been set for the next edition. More information about future races will be announced on PER’s Facebook and official website.
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