(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,
Although most of the peaks and many of our trails have snow on them, it has been super warm this week which has been great for training. Now that the XTERRA races are over for the season, I am focusing again on adventure racing and more specifically the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. This means more training, longer runs and rides and lots of paddling. All of which is awesome except for this thing called daylight savings. I plan on getting in some flat water paddling in the dark and making some trips to Moab in the next month for the best training possible.
Due to our unseasonably warm weather this weekend, Ian and I were able to get in one last ride in Aspen on the great Sunnyside Trail thanks to our friend Kara hanging with Juniper for the afternoon. After a quick trail run through our neighborhood this morning, I headed to the Colorado River for some upriver paddling.
No complaints here on the warm weather and the great training. Meanwhile, my teammates Mike Kloser, Monique Merrill, Chris Forne and Kiwi Gordon Walker are in Brazil defending the title for the Adventure Racing World Championships. Visit Sleepmonsters and Ecomotion to see how they’re doing.
Sari called me on Skype last night from China and I got the latest update.
The race started yesterday with the Opening Ceremonies. I don’t think the event included 2,008 Fou drummers and thousands of fireworks like some other recent ceremonies up the road in Beijing, but Sari did say it felt like all of Wulong came out to cheer on the teams. She said the locals have been very friendly and curious.
After an official welcome by the Wulong County governor, the race started with a very short, fast prologue stage. The stage including mountain biking, trail running, paddling and then more mountain biking. Sari said the team went all out, and at times they were both pushing and pulling her to maintain the frenetic pace. The strategy paid off and Team Nike won the stage by just four seconds over Lafuma. Team Nike collected $1,500 US for the win.
Prologue Stage Results
- Team Nike
- Lafuma Sport 2000
- AdventureSport NZ
Sari said that everyone on the team is feeling healthy and strong. They are all looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, which will be 6-8 hours and include more biking, running and paddling.
On another note, some of you may have seen on the news this morning that there was a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in southwestern China yesterday at 4:30pm. The epicenter was in Panzhihua and there are 3-5 reported casualties. While this is tragic, from what I can tell Panzhihua is at least 500 miles west of Wulong. I’m confident everything is ok with the team and the race….I think we would have heard otherwise. Zoom out on the map below to see earthquake location and race site.
Keep posting positive comments and sending positive thoughts to China!