Team Nike Running in the Jebel Hafeet Mtns. Photo courtesy Mike Bitton, CheckpointZero.com
It appears that Team Nike pushed hard throughout the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, running up and over the rocky, technical Jebel Hafeet Mountains and traversing the rope sections with ease. They finished the stage with the second fastest time, just a minute behind the overall race winners, Team Desert Islands. However, in the end, Nike was unable to bridge the 26-minute gap to finish on the podium. The stage was just too short and there was no navigation to slow the teams down, so everyone was going flat out.
Sari and Chris Forne finishing
I know the team will be a disappointed with their fifth place finish but they have to be proud of the fact that they clawed their way all the way back from tenth place just two days earlier. The team will also split a nice check for $11,500, just in time for Christmas.
Sari and the rest of the team will be on a plane shortly and will be back stateside tomorrow morning. We’ve had a couple of feet of snow in the past few days…they’re in for a bit of a shock after spending a week in the desert. I’m sure Sari will be excited to shift gears and start the Rando Racing season.
Congratulations to Team Desert Islands and our boy from Colorado, Jay Henry. They had a flawless race against the world’s best. Full race results here.
And thanks to everyone for reading and for your continued support! Special thanks to Mike Bitton at CheckpointZero.com for all his terrific photography. Check out all his race galleries here.
The Desert Trek. All photos courtesy Mike Bitton.
Quick update on the race.
After 20 hours of trekking through the Arabian Desert, the top five teams all finished the stage together early yesterday morning. It sounds like Team Nike, Desert Islands, Team NZ, Wilsa Helly Hansen and Outdry/Vibram all raced through the night together, with Nike’s Chris Forne navigating for the whole group. Apparently it was really difficult for any team to truly break away in the desert dunes. More updates on the race website and CheckpointZero.com.
Team Nike resting in the shade of a Jeep on yesterday's trek.
Sari dumping the sand from her shoes. The team wore cycling time trial booties to try and keep the sand out.
With their strong effort on the trek, Team Nike has moved all the way from 10th into 5th place overall. There are 26 minutes separating Nike from both the third and fourth place teams. Leaderboard here. Tomorrow morning (tonight for us) the teams will start the final stage of the race with a 12km mountain bike into the mountains of Jebel Hafit, followed by 14km of rock scrambling and rope work and ending with a 27km bike sprint back through the streets of Abu Dhabi to the finish line.
I got a text from Mike Kloser this morning and he said that Chris has struggled a bit in the kayak but raced strong again on the trek. Sari and Micheal are hanging tough. They’re disappointed with their current standing but have not given up.
It will incredibly difficult for Nike to make up 26 minutes on this last stage, but the team was really fast on the ropes last year and I know they’ll be giving it their all to finish on the podium.
Thanks for your support! I’ll post one final update tomorrow morning.
Trekking through the desert in last year's race. Photo courtesy Dan Campbell.
Well, when I went to bed last night Team Nike was in 10th place after the 50-mile paddling leg. When I woke up this morning, they were 5th in the overall standings. Who knows!? Emily Kloser and I wonder if our crew continued to have trouble with one of the kayaks?
I just got an update that the teams are now in the midst of their 60-mile desert trek. Team Nike is once again racing strong, in a pack with the two race leaders, Team NZ and Desert Islands. Last year, it was incredibly difficult to make up time in the desert as the teams tend to fall into a single file line where there’s no advantage for accurate navigation. But, this year it looks like the pace is that much faster and some teams are suffering in the desert heat.
Right now, it’s the middle of the night in the Arabian desert and the teams are about halfway through the trek. It’s incredibly difficult to navigate in the dark, in a featureless desert, but now that temperatures have fallen the pace will likely only get faster. There’s also a mandatory 6-hour rest for all the teams on the trek, but each team gets to decide when and where they stop. It’s not clear if Team Nike or the Kiwi teams have used any of their rest period yet.
Anyway, it’s a huge relief to see Nike racing fast again. It sounds like they’re making a monumental effort to break back into podium contention. After the trek ends tomorrow morning, the teams have one final day of climbing and rope work, followed by a mtn bike sprint into the city. Nike made up a bunch of time here last year so there’s still a chance for them.
Keep sending your support their way!
(click on map to enlarge)
Yesterday, Team Nike returned to form as they raced around Sir Bani Yas island on their mountain bikes. From the race website description, it sounds like our team played a cat and mouse game with Richard and Elina Ussher’s Desert Islands team for about an hour before the two teams decided to work together and set a pace that would distance them from the rest of the group. The two teams finished the 45 km leg together in 1:37 minutes, a blistering pace that indicates it was probably fast, open road riding. Our friends from Team SOLE finished just 5 minutes later in third place.
After all 36 teams finished the bike leg, there was a mass start on the beach for another 27 km of sea kayaking out to Kurkum Island. There was a 12-knot wind that created a big swell and played havoc for many teams leaving the beach, swamping several boats and forcing at least one team to skip this paddle leg entirely and take a major time penalty.
It’s not clear what happened out in the big chop, but Team Nike had a rough paddle and hit the beach on Kurkum Island 16 minutes behind the leaders. This puts team Nike in seventh place overall, about 22 minutes back. Team Desert Islands has a commanding 10 minute lead over all the other teams, but everyone else is within a couple of minutes of one another. Team SOLE is kicking butt in fifth place.
All the teams are bivouacked on the island for the night (check it out out on Google Earth) preparing their own meals and sleeping in the sleeping bags they’ve stashed in their boats. Early tomorrow, the race resumes with brutally long 80km paddle that will test everyone’s stamina and navigation skills, and will likely be a decisive day in the overall race.
Keep sending our boys and girl positive thoughts!
Thanks for reading,
Forne about to fumble the paddle. Photo courtesy Mike Bitton
It’s pretty tough sitting thousands of miles away in front of a computer, wondering what’s happening in the race when your team is moving slower than they should.
Is someone hurt? Sick? Did they take a wrong turn? Was there an equipment failure?
Turns out, today’s somewhat disappointing 6th place finish in the prologue was due to a broken boat, followed immediately by a lost paddle.
Read the full account from Mike Bitton on CheckpointZero.com here, but essentially Team Nike lost 5-8 minutes in today’s stage when the rudder on Chris and Sari’s kayak broke and then Chris lost his paddle while trying to fix it. Sari had to turn the boat around all by herself to go and retrieve it.
Six minutes in a six day race isn’t that big a deal, so hopefully they can make up the time no problem.