Patagonia Expedition Race 2012 – thoughts on this year's course

This race is insane. And that’s why are here to do it. This is probably the shortest way to sum up to the race and our motivation to do it.

In less than 7 hours we set off on a course, that was revealed less 24 hours ago.

The stages go like this:
MTB 75km
Kayak 85km with 10km portage
Trek 76km
MTB 140 km
Trek 142km
Kayak 47 km

The numbers would be no big deal, had it not been Patagonia. It is all there, all that we were looking forward to – crossing the Straits of Magellan on a kayak, trekking through National Park of Karukinka and biking until to the notorious Darwin Range. Crossing it and paddling the Beagle Channel to a spectacular finish at base of Monte Darwin. Well, a lot of lifetime opportunities, all packed together to one week.

However, it is going to be extremely hard. Winds in Patagonia are strong and unpredictable – a lesson, that racers and organizers learned during every past editions. In the middle of the Straits of Magellan, we shall have a short portage on Isla Dawson. This is also done for the first time, as Isla served as a military base and has been opened just for this occasion. (Hopefully I will not get arrested while portaging there 🙂 We might spend long bushwacking in Karukinka and then ride aginst a strong wind through Tierra del Fuego. All this can take up to three days. But this is literally just a foreplay for the plot that is going to come.
Or put it antoher way – after these four stages the race ends and expedition begins (Another version of description of the race is that, that after the first half day, we will be trekking for a week with a short biking intermission and kayak finale.

142km of trekking to cross the notorious Darwin Range. We will cross many mountain passes, some of them (according to the course setter) are „new“, meaning that have not been crossed before. We might and almost surely will find snow and reach the glacier. Well, patagonian summer…

After all this, we should emerge at the shores of Beagle Channel and paddle another 47km westward, highly likely against the wind, until we turn into Fiordo Pio and see the majestic Monte Darwin.

If we manage to finish it in less than 8 and half day, then we may call it a success. But it is still not over. We can be waiting at base of Monte Darwin due to conditions very likely two days for a ship to come and it is another 30 hours ship journey to Punta Arenas.

All this would not be possible, without people at the control points, literally in the middle of nowhere. At the captains briefing, we have been told, that some of them are already there. This means, that they departed several days ago, spend more than a day in ship, and trekked for three days. Then they will spend a week at the control points waiting for those who manage to reach that point, then it is another three days of trekking back and id they are lucky, they can catch the ship the same day. Or the other day…
If you do the maths, then it is obvious, how extreme race is.

You can follow the race here.

An you can also follow our team here.

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