British team Adidas Terrex won its third consecutive victory in the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race at 4:22 pm on February 15 when they crossed the finish line at Pali Aike National Park two days head of schedule.
The early finish of the race came after inclement weather forced a planned 191 km trek through virtually uncharted Patagonian wilderness to be cut short. Race organizers decided that torrential rains on the course would make river crossings too dangerous and the already difficult maneuvering through dense forests nearly impossible.
GearJunkie, the American team that spent much of the ten day race right on the tail of the front-running team, finished second despite a 10-hour time penalty for missing Checkpoint 10 and one team member finishing on foot due to technical problems with his bike. After missing the final turn off for the finish line, the team went a full kilometer out of its way, at which point team member Stephen Regenold’s bike chain malfunctioned. They decided not to waste time fixing it and ran the last stretch.
«We were very evenly matched physically and mentally with the Adidas Terrex team, but they made better decisions,” says Regenold. Even with the time penalty, risk of hypothermia (thanks to a shortcut that took them through a freezing river) and the last minute detour, GearJunkie handily secured its second place finish with third-place team Vaucluse Adventure Evasions crossing the finish five hours behind.
According to race organizers this year’s race was the most challenging yet. Teams battled through 150 km of trailless hiking, 248 km of mountain biking and 105 km of kayaking along rivers and on the open water of inland fjords. The course took the teams through the absolute wilderness along the bottom of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, through lush rainforests and across the flat, lunar expanse of the Patagonian pampa leading to the finish line at Pali Aike National Park.
Home to the endangered Huemul deer, this rugged and forbidding region is among the world’s great remaining wildernesses. “So few people are able to go to the places we went to,” said Adidas Terrex team captain Bruce Duncan at the finish line, “and I hope they never do.”