The ninth edition of the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race® proved a dramatic and challenging contest as 14 international teams took on a challenging route through the dramatic landscapes of Torres del Paine, Bernard O’Higgins and Pali Aike National Parks.
British team adidasTERREX/Prunesco completed a hat-trick of victories in an event that saw persistent rain force a section of the course to be cancelled and swollen rivers saw three teams airlifted over an impassable part of the course.
The 2011 edition proved to be one of the most challenging and spectacular in the event’s history as weather conditions turned from sparkling sunshine in Torres del Paine to heavy rain in the western fjords – and the British team pushed hard to complete the 10-day course with two days to spare.
British team captain Bruce Duncan said: “To have won this race once is something special, to win it three times is simply amazing. This is the ultimate race and this one was a tough one. The weather really made a difference to the course, and I am both relieved and delighted to have reached the finish.”
Six teams completed the challenging course, with US team GearJunkie.com taking second place, despite chasing hard to catch the leaders. In third and fourth place, French team Vaucluse Adventure Evasions and Croatians Ad Natura – Karibu finished several hours behind the top placed teams, while teams East Wind from Japan, and Perdido en el Turbal, from the USA and UK, were the final finishers.
The race involved a total of 248km of mountain biking, 150km of trailless trekking and 105km of river and sea kayaking in the wilderness of Chilean Patagonia, from the tourist hub of Torres del Paine to the remote Pali Aike National Park between the towns of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. The teams passed through complete wilderness, navigating by map and compass alone, where they encountered unnamed glaciers, trekked through spectacular Avatar-style landscapes and paddled past icebergs in high-sided fjords.
The two trekking sections proved to be the most challenging parts, and the second was shortened by 114km after rain turned the forests into treacherous slippery obstacle courses, covered rock faces with endless waterfalls and, crucially, caused rivers to rise to the point where the course became un-navigable.
By the time adidasTERREX/Prunesco completed the course, ahead of second-placed GearJunkie.com from the US, eight of the 14 teams had pulled out of the race and three had been picked up by helicopter after being stuck at a fast-flowing river. Two of those teams continued on and reached the finish line.
“In the last two years the trekking has been hard and spectacular, but even more so in both cases this year,” said Duncan. “We did a lot of fighting through forests, we have a few sores, some bad feet and I had a fight with a tree early on. But the scenery we saw and experiences we had were amazing, absolutely beautiful – the best ever.”
The 2011 race field of competitors included a mix of international pro and semi-pro racers and everyday adventurers from the US, UK, Croatia, Japan, France, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan.
|Final Results – PER 2011|
|Position||Team Name||Finish Time||Country|
|1||1- Adidas Terrex / Prunesco||5 Days, 12 Hours, 36 Minutes|
|2||7- GearJunkie.com||6 Days, 4 Hours, 44 Minutes|
|3||4- Vaucluse Adventures||6 Days, 7 Hours, 44 Minutes|
|4||3- Ad Natura Karibu||6 Days, 13 Hours, 49 Minutes|
|5||2- Eastwind||7 Days, 0 Hours, 58 Minutes|
|6||6- Perdido en el turbal||7 Days, 2 Hours, 11 Minutes|
|7||15- RoadRunners Adventure||PC – 09|
|8||13- Dancing Pandas||PC – 08|
|9||9- Four Continents||PC – 06|
|10||12- Todo Aventura – La Segunda||PC – 06|
|11||10-Selva NKS Kailash||PC – 04|
|12||8- Joshiken||PC – 03|
|13||14- DAP Antarctica||PC – 03|
|14||15- Xingu||PC – 03|