The Adventure Racing World Series made the first of two stops in North America when the Untamed New England Expedition Race took place in the Highlands of Maine last week. The race covered over 350+ km of rugged terrain including Moosehead Lake, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s 160 km Wilderness, the historic town of Greenville, and the Kennebec and Dead Rivers.It was a challenge accepted by 39 teams from around the world. Columbia Vidaraid who are third in the AR World Series rankings, and one new teams made up of world class performers, Team France (Members from Thule adventure racing). We were presented with an old-school race, packed with a mix of complex navigation, tactical choices, sheer bloody-minded endurance and exceptional teamwork – all the essential ingredients of classic expedition racing.The race began with a short orienteering prologue, followed by Canadian canoeing on Moosehead Lake, with stops to climb Little Kineo Mountain and rappel 100 meters down the far side, and then for a 6.5 km run around Kineo Island.
Stage 2 was on mountain bikes, but again it was broken up, this time by an orienteering relay, where each team member had to complete a section of the run with map and compass. (As teams usually have one or two specialist navigators this section tested the skills of those who don’t normally carry the map and compass themselves.)
In the early stages of the race the we and the French teams were fighting head to head, but we could pass on the canoeing and increase our lead, but the crux of the race was still to come, the 58 km trekking and pack-rafting stage through the Abenaki Lost World. The race promised, and delivered, the toughest trekking we ever been too. The dense forest really gave us a fight. 10 h without water and mentally broken down each step counted. After almost 24 h out on stege 3 we finally broke out and didn’t know our position. At TA we were in 2nd place, 35 min behind Colombia who past us that same morning in the trees.
Apparently Pack-rafting is an occasional feature of North American racing and was a new challenge to us. We had to carry small, inflatable pack-rafts so we could paddle across the many lakes in the ‘Lost World Trek’. If we wanted to. This stage was divided in to small sections of paddling and hiking, inflate and deflate the raft, pack it on to our backpacks and continue. For the rest of the race the two boats had to be carried.
The dark zone came after more biking, trekking and some urban orienteering at Greenville. Stage 5 was called the ‘The Whitewater Wilderness’ and included a guided raft down the Kennbec River followed by another pack-raft down the white water rapids of the Dead River. After that it was only a short bike ride to the finish. I will explain the expresson “dark zone”. Dark zone exist due to safety on rapids and white water rafting in the AR world series. So when night falls teams are not allowed on the water and forces them to rest until dawn. All of us leading teams where caught by the dark zone and got some sleeping before the rafting restarted in daylight the next morning.
Last day become a mini China sprint race to the finish between Colombia, Team France and us. They started us with 5 min intervalls in the rafts, and we could catch and make time on Colombia. Behind us Team France where chasing, 30 minutes to gain on us. Last Pack Raft section we really lost time, as many other, looking for a check point by the river. That’s where we lost both the victory and our 2nd place. After all we are really happy about our race, our first race together as a new team. We could stand up and fight against the best teams in the world.
The next race for us is the Swedish Championship, August 30-31th. As next race in the AR world series, Gold Rush, CA in September. More Pictures on www.teampeakperformance.se