The 10th edition of the race brought together an amazing group of teams, with our highest percentage of finishers ever. For some it was an outright race, pushing the other teams in the fight to become champions, for some team, it was the completion of a long journey, which had taken many years. For the newcomers, it a was an adventure which will inspire them, make them stronger and more aware of the importance of good friends and team mate’s. We’re sure some will be back. The race had taken them from the heart of the regional capital, Punta Arenas to the remote and austere fjords of the Beagle Channel, taking in a long, hard section through the mountains of the Cordillera Darwin, which left even the most hardened adventure racers breathless with excitement as each new view unfolded. As always, the relentless Patagonian weather had an enormous influence on the race, which after starting in mainly sunny conditions deteriorated into heavy snow for some finishers, encouraging them to make radical route choices as they vied for the podium places. Severe weather in the Beagle Channel curtailed the final kayak stage for most teams, but for those that made it the ceremonial finish in Fiordo Pio, kayaking through small icebergs below the tip of the glacier was a unique life-experience.
During the closing ceremony, each team was applauded onto the stage to be presented with their finisher’s medals, their faces radiated their pride, yet all were tinged with sadness that the great adventure was coming to a close. An especially warm round of applause was given to the Dancing Panda’s; whos journey to the finishing line began 4 years ago, when Mark Lattanzi first attempted the race. Despite the pain in their feet, they still managed their famous celebratory ‘Panda Shuffle’.
Winners for the 4th year running, though with a very different line up to previous years, were the multi-national team of Adidas TERREX Prunesco, led by Sarah Fairmaid, along with Nick Gracie (GB) from last years winning team, Stuart Lynch (New Zealand) and Albert Rocca (Spain). From stage 5 onwards, the team had extended their lead, never seeming to be under pressure. We think Stuart summed up why so many come back to race here again and again ‘…amazing scenery, amazing country, one of the things that struck me was that we were racing in the Magellan Straits, the Darwin range, and the Beagle Channel that you read about in books. It’s quite a cool thing to come here and race at the end of the world’.
The history of this team is interesting in itself. They first raced in 2009, in a team led by Nicola MacLeod along with Bruce Duncan, Andy Wilson and Mark Humpfrey, and sponsored by Helly-Hansen and Chilean food distributor Prunesco. In a race charecterised by wet and windy conditions they took a great victory over pre-race favorites La Clusaz. Returning with the same team in 2010, they took an early lead and never looked back. In 2011, they were back as reigning world champions, with a new main sponsor, Adidas, and two new team members, Fiona Spotswood and one of Britains leading racers, Nick Gracie. Any early hopes that they’d come with a slower team after finishing 5th on the first stage were dashed as soon as the all-important kayak stages began. Led by Bruce Duncan, the team continously pushed hard, making clever use of dark zones to extend their lead and maximise resting time. This year’s line-up, though very different from previous years, was charecterised by the same use of speed, strategy and a very professional approach to racing. Will they return in 2013?
Second place was taken by team EastWind, led by Masato Tanaka, along with Yoki Tanaka, Fumihiro Kurata, and Kay Waki, all from Japan. This was their third year at the race, first finishing in 7th place, then 5th in 2011. Each year, we’ve seen the very experienced Masato refine his teams approach, equipment and preparation. This year, from their first moments in the technical checks, it was clear they were here to contest the overall win. Though very serious about competing, they’re great people to be around, radiating team spirit and good humour and their second place was very well deserved. No-one who was at the finish can forget the sheer joy and exhilaration they showed as they climbed out of the kayaks for the last time.
In third place were GearJunkie/Yogaslackers, led by Jason Magness, along with Chelsey Gribbon-Magness, Daniel Staudigel and Paul Cassedy. The team has a different approach to many others, making bold route choices to save time and always thinking ‘outside the box’. This years bold route option in the Darwin Range led them to be the first people to discover and cross a new pass through a very remote area. In honour of their achievement, the pass is now named on our maps as ‘Paso Yogaslackers’.
With such great performances filling the podium, it would be easy to overlook the challenges from the rest of the field. The next three positions were very hotly contested by Czech-led team Kauri, South African team Cynaosis and Danish team, CUVA. CUVA’s participation had been in doubt until a few days before the race after being hit by the loss of two leading team members and a strike by airline staff. It’s often said that biggest challenge in expedition racing is getting four people and their equipment to the start line. CUVA showed typical determination in overcoming these obstacles to be at the start.
Next to finish were Croatian team Ad Natura, who are always popular with the townsfolk of Punta Arenas, many of whom proudly trace their heritage back to Croatia. Next were Brazilian team Selva-Kailash, led by Carlos Fonseca and then the new Russian team, RedFox Goretex. Marya Playashechko from RedFox could always be relied on for her good-humoured quotes; the most memorable of which, after a particularly long section of trekking was ‘Kilometres in Patagonia aren’t like kilometres in Europe or somewhere else, they seem longer!’
In the end though, there are no real winners and losers in the Patagonian Expedition Race®. Each team arrives with its goals and expectations. Each team leaves transformed by the experience of racing in the Patagonian wilderness. Some will be back to test themselves in 2013, when the race returns to the mainland with a course that will take them into new and unexplored corners of this adventurer’s paradise.
|Final Classification – PER 2012|
|Position||Country||Team Name||Team Members||Finish Time|
|1||Adidas Terrex Prunesco||Nick Gracie
|6 Days, 3 Hours, 39 Minutes|
|2||East Wind||Masato Tanaka
|6 Days, 15 Hours, 25 Minutes|
|3||GearJunkie Yogaslakers||Jason Magness
|6 Days, 18 Hours, 31 Minutes|
|6 Days, 19 Hours, 45 Minutes|
|6 Days, 19 Hours, 59 Minutes|
Thea Storm Henriksen
|7 Days, 15 Hours, 13 Minutes|
|7||Ad Natura||Elvir Sulic
|7 Days, 15 Hours, 40 Minutes|
|7 Days, 17 Hours, 51 Minutes|
|9||RedFox Goretex||Pavel Demeshchik
|7 Days, 21 Hours, 44 Minutes|
|10||Dancing Pandas||Masha Glanville
|8 Days, 9 Hours, 15 Minutes|
|11||Vaucluse – Lafuma||Vincent Bouchut
|Retired PC 17|
|12||NorCal Adventure Racing||Tim Kuenster
|Retired PC 17|
|Retired PC 13|
|Retired PC 12|
|15||Four Continents||Tazman Lawrie
|Retired PC 12|
|16||Ulkoilun Maailma||Toumas Sovijarni
|Retired PC 8|
|17||Quasar Lontra Tapuia Master||Victor Texeira
|Retired PC 5|
|18||Discovery & Research||Julie Ardoin
|Retired PC 3|
|19||Go Crazy||Fernando Nazario
Felipe Augusto Fuentes
Leonardo Guerra Ribeiro
|Retired PC 2|