ADVENTURE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
in one of the most rugged southernmost lands has enabled Pavicic a keen sense of route selection that helps him get from one point to another in a place where few, if any have ever explored. |
The 2010 edition of the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race will again be held on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The Land of Fire, as it is also known, consists of one main island and many smaller islands split between two countries, Chile and Argentina.
Typically operating between southern latitudes of 49º and 56º, the 600 kilometre expedition race will be the most southern race in the history of adventure racing. On their journey, competitors will traverse the majestic white-capped mountains of the Darwin Range, the national park Karukinka, and paddle the frigid waters of legendary Beagle Channel.
When developing his vision of the Patagonia Expedition Race Pavicic wanted to showcase his native land and bring attention to the environmental concerns of the area, one of the few untouched regions on the planet. Therefore, the mission of the race was made to raise awareness for conserving the very landscape that it crosses – the remote wilderness of Southern Patagonia. All funds raised beyond the operating budget of the not-for-profit organization are directed to conservation projects in the region, many of which are carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Since 2004 the race has been bringing awareness to the concerns of the area and every team able to complete the expedition has walked away with life altering experiences.
In 2009, English Team Helly Hansen-Prunesco claimed the title of first team to make it to the “end of the world”, while French Team Easy Implant Compagnie.com took second and Team Spirit Canada placed third.
Historically there has been a 30-40% finish rate and this year it is expected to be no different, so it is not an easy race by any means. Dave Hitchon from Team Spirit Canada expressed his views on their ranking.
The trekking section Hitchon referred to was near the end of the race. Concerns had been raised as to the safety of competitors during this trek as one in particular found themselves having to cross a very large, fast moving creek/river. Some teams spent days negotiating the long trek, crossing swollen creeks, endless bogs and wide open spaces and with many teams facing fatigue, the trek would prove to be the end of their journey.
The safety in these races, while ultimately lies on the race organizers, is a large part up to the actions of the competitors. As Hitchon explains, it is experience that will help teams make sound judgments.
If Hitchon could pass along advice to the team that will attempt the race for the first time: “be prepared to be very cold.”
Next year’s Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race will again pass through the infamous Patagonian peat bog which has now become a regular encounter on the long trekking sections (of which competitors will continue on for days without seeing or hearing another soul). And like every expedition race of this type, it will bring unique high and low points for each competitor that will test their limits and ability to persevere just as it will reaffirm the reason for competing in such a race.
If history has not shown this race to be remote, the 2010 version is said to be much more remote, going further south than any previous year. Race organizers have indicated that this will be the first time (that they know) these areas will be explored by humans, particularly through the Darwin Range. Last year’s route saw competitors move through the Valley of Death through the Darwin range, and while this year’s route has not been released as of yet, competitors are being urged to pay close attention the advice given by race organizers during race briefing. Thus far the only information gathered on the route is that it will sit between 1500 and 1800 metres.
Learning from past experience the race organizers will be increasing the minimal equipment list that will be required to be carried. They will also be improving upon the live tracking of teams through gps transmitters so that spectators will be able to observe the race, live, through an online portal on the website for the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race (http://www.patagonianexpeditionrace.com/).
In 2010 teams from North America, Europe and Latin America will again be present, and for the first time a team from Asia will be competing. So far 8 teams have registered and only seven spots are left.
The Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race will be happening February 9, 2010.