Weather forces early finish to long trek in Patagonia race

After torrential rain made portions of the planned course impassable, teams were transferred to the last checkpoint to begin the final leg.

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See This is Chile’s coverage of the Patagonian Expedition Race over the weekend.

In planning a trip to the southern end of Chile you will undoubtedly hear tales of “four seasons in one day.” Though this truism can get tiresome, it is nevertheless accurate, with Patagonian days often ranging from brilliant sun to lashing rain, blinding snowfall to searing wind. Unpredictable weather patterns are part of the excitement of a visit to Patagonia, but they can also pose a serious obstacle, and in the case of the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race that obstacle can be a dangerous one.

Yesterday, facing torrential rain along the most remote and challenging portion of the course, teams were held at Checkpoints 10 and 11, while the Chilean police and naval forces assessed the weather conditions.

The four front-running teams—Adidas Terrex (UK), GearJunkie (US), Vaucluse Adventure Evasions (France) and Ad Natura Karibu (Croatia)—reached Checkpoint 11 yesterday, while the three remaining teams—East Winds (Japan), Roadrunners Adventure (Denmark) and Perdido en el Turbal (US, UK)—were airlifted to Checkpoint 10 after reaching a river made impassable by rain and rising tides.

Race coordinator Stjepan Pavicic said safety concerns were the primary reason for the change. “With the current conditions the teams have been slower and hypothermia is increasingly possible, while increased river levels could make some crossings in the section between PC11 and PC13 too difficult and dangerous to complete,” he said.

Ultimately, the decision was made to abbreviate the long trekking section of the course by cutting the last portion of the trek and bringing competitors directly to Checkpoint 13. Here they begin the final leg of the race, a mountain biking portion that will end in the volcanic landscape of Pali Aike National Park.

After the transfer to Checkpoint 13, racers re-started on the morning of Feb. 15 on the final 188 km leg of the race. Adidas Terrex has reclaimed its decisive lead as GearJunkie, previously just on their tail, received a ten hour time penalty for failing to sign in at Checkpoint Ten.