For those who don't know, Réunion Island is the site of a well-known Ultra Trail World Tour event. The 100 mile race, La Diagonale des Fous, weaves through the mountains from the south coast to the north coast. A typical 100 mile trail race has a time limit of 30-34 hours but this race has a time cut-off around 64 hours, which gives you an idea of the trails. Supposedly, the terrain is "brutal" and organizers don't permit poles in spite of 9,500+ meters of climb and slippery mud.
We're less than a month away now and the list has grown to 65 teams. There are still no Canadian teams but each of the U.S. teams has adopted a Canadian so I will cheer for them both: Bones (featuring Liza Pye with Roy Malone, Charles Triponez and Jim Driscoll) and MRC MainNerve (featuring James Galipeau with Shane Hagerman, Peter Jolles and Rachel Furman). :)
The list includes many of the usual suspects: Avaya (aka Seagate), Columbia, Naturex, Estonians, Swedish Air Force, Sweco, Haglöfs Silva, Merrell, Cyanosis and more. Below the team list are brief written interviews with most of the teams.
The world championship 2018 will start in Hell-Bourg (see below) with a festive prologue dedicated to the reunionese culture. Each team will race in relay with a child of the island in a Kours la rou, a traditional local game. Once the race is finished, a traditional meal with music will be shared. This meal will be cooked by 4 local restaurants: Villa Marthe, P'ti Koin Kréol, Jardins d'Héva and Auberge du Passant.
That's disappointing. I guess they couldn't find four teammates so there will be no North American teams to cheer for. In fact, 27 of 64 teams are from France at this World Champs, reflecting better flight options. Nearby South Africa is in second place with 5 teams.
It appears to be unlike any ARWC we've watched before. Fun! (For the spectators, anyway.)
According to Merrell Facebook: "The first route book and maps for the first three legs will only be issued after the start. Second route book and maps to finish will be offered at TA3."
Also: "Each team has a Sleep Card on which a mandatory 12 hours needs to recorded during the event at a TA or designated CP, made up of blocks from a minimum of 30min to a maximum of 4hours. Teams however, have to check out of TA with no further access to their resupply box – and then sleep. "
Sleeping out on the race course does not count. Merrell says that five of the TAs have no shelter.
For those of us in the northeast (Toronto, New York), the time on Réunion Island is 9 hours later. The race starts Thursday at 6 a.m. local time, i.e. Wed. 9 p.m. for us.
Are any of our South African or U.K. friends watching this AP thread? There will be a lot of action during your daylight hours, which means North Americans will be the "night shift" reporters.
Yeah, I'm here for some dot-watching :) I actually just did the Diagonales des Fous 2 weeks ago, so have a pretty good idea of the terrain and ridiculously steep climbs these guys are in for!
Based on the race profile, it looks like they're summitting the highest peak on the island (Piton des Neiges - 3069m) at about the 80km mark on the first monster trek. Pretty crazy for such a small island to have a 3000m peak on it!
Great to have 6 SA teams taking part - really hoping that Sanlam Painted Wolf can pull something incredible off... such a strong team!
I'm with you Stijn! What an incredible island it is. I backpacked for 3 weeks there in 2015, so i know those climbs well! My prediction for the first trek is from Hell-Bourg into Cirque Mafate (a big loop there), then into Cirque Cilaos, then up to Piton des Neiges, and then from there in a south-easterly direction towards Plaine des cafres. lets see how it works out!
my predictions for a top 5:
1. Painted Wolf
3. Estonia Ace
(Then Jabberwock, Cyanosis and Red Ants all within the top 12!) :-)
“You can only move very slowly as it is so difficult, so it took a long time. We will use some new canyons never visited before and I think they will be a surprise to the teams. I really don’t think they are prepared for how slow they have to move here. It will be a shock to them."
I think this race will be better run than Pantanal, but it might be even crazier...Very excited, though I DO wish we had some North Americans in the hunt...
So glad to have some South Africans on the day shift! :)
Agreed, it's disappointing that we don't have any North American teams to watch. I admire Avaya and predict them to win but because they always do, I'll send some extra love to all the South African teams (in honour of our AP friends) + the Estonians, who navigate well and are always close. Are any Attackpointers there?
Live tracking at: http://live.arworldseries.com/ will keep you up to date with exactly where teams are during the race. The site also has extensive photos, videos, leaderboard and reports. Become a #dotwatcher !!!!
Live Streaming Tune in on https://www.facebook.com/arworldseries for the start at on 8th November and the winners around the 12th November (disclaimer! it is a remote island in the Indian ocean and internet access could be challenging!) Other live streaming throughout the race so keep checking back.
Are there time corrections due to the staggered start?
Never mind, just read on Sleepmonsters that there are not:
"Teams will start in 30-second intervals based on the prologue result, so the last will be 30 minutes behind the first. The top teams don’t want to lose a second, or be behind other teams on narrow trails or ropes, so they wanted to do well. "
While he may be racing for a Swedish team (Naturkompaniet Pioneers), Tommy Ivarsson currently lives in Toronto, so he kinda counts as North American. He helped us find a couple of CPs during The Longest Day in September, so I'm all-in for the Pioneers. Go Tommy!
It didn't take long for the usual suspects to get to the sharp end of the race, even though most of them didn't finish near the top of the prologue. Avaya, Columbia, Naturex, Yealands and Haglofs Silva are leading the charge after 2 hours. There are lots of team hot on their heels.
Yeah, I'm surprised how quickly the usual pecking order prevailed. Looks like there was a technical canyon section very early on with 3 abseils - top teams will have moved much quicker through that type of terrain..
Doesn't look like there's any route choice in the first part of this leg. It's pretty much impossible to leave the paths inside the Cirques due to the steepness of the terrain. There's a long stretch between CP2 & K5, which may bring some route choices - looks like 2 major path options to get to Marla and then over the Col du Taibit.
And we have the first alternative route choice - leaders Red Fox have opted for the more direct, but hillier route from CP2, via Ilet a Bourse & Grand-Place-les-Haut. Naturex is following the route as suggested on the live tracking..
checking in from ZAR for the dayshift, if we've got some antipodeans then we'd have blanket cover.
Interesting to see no teams from N.America, especially since last year ARWC was in US. With such a huge local turnout, one would think that a few would then go travel for the next one. (Although i suspect this might be the case every year - how many french teams will go to Sri Lanka in 2019?).
I'm looking ahead. at the packrafting stage Because this has the potential to split the field.
In the racebook, under the legs 1-3 it says that K14 - it is forbidden to progress along the banks at night.
However, it doesn't say you can't walk along the bank for K8-CP7-K9 (I assume you walk the 2.5km along the beach with rafts still inflated) then it says you must stay 10m from the riverbed from CP8-K12 (there's an out of bound road marked on the map south of the river)
I'm guessing that you can only paddle these 3 water sections of the leg, and once it is darkzone - 7pm you have to stop.
edit:i see it says you can navigate along river at night after CP10 - with strobes on packraft. so this must be the only spot you can paddle on after dark
In the racebook, the whole of section B has a rule stating "Authorised navigation times: from 05:15 to 19:00 (can change, information will be given at T1)".
I'm not sure if that applies to the entire leg, especially the early section? i.e. Will teams be allowed past TA1 after 7pm? If not, it's a restart at 05:15 and then a race to get to just before CP10 (from where night-travel is allowed) by 7pm again..
A - a short hike, ropes at waterfall, assemble boats
B - 10-12km paddle, first half down river, 2nd half flat/estuary
C - 2,5km beach trek
D - 5km up river estuary paddle
E - 8km hike up valleys (500m gain!)
F- 12km down to finish.
The race book says 14h15 for the quick guys
And there's 5:15 - 19:00, 13:45 of sunlight.
Looking backwards, from the F leg, you can paddle at night from CP10,and you can travel here from point 68, about 2km up river by foot.
So you need to start F at about 5:30pm , the book says you can leave CP9 by 16:45, so i guess that is sort of a way of setting the darkzone limit.
Now working further back, you'd need to start the E hike by about 2:30pm
You'd need to start the D paddle by 1:30pm
The beach trek by 1pm
The B paddle by 9am
The A hike by 8am.
You can start the B paddle at 5:15am, so I guess my times are a bit short, but you can definitely do this leg in one day.
I expect loads of top teams will be at the TA1, logging sleep and then all hitting the K8 ropes at first light.
Yes ropes, so there is tactics in getting a jump on teams here.
The darkzone on night 2 is after 37 hours racetime, which is slated to take the quick guys 38h30.
It almost seems like this first leg is setup to have a virtual restart for the leading teams at TA1, but suggested times are just that.
If you could blitz this first leg in 35 hours, you have 2 hours to get to CP7 where you could still log sleep.
If you go insanely quick, you could get maybe all the way to K10 and then the end of the beach/CP9 and still log sleep. but that would then mean doing this first leg in something like 30-32 hours. This is potentially a big enough carrot for a team to push hard on this leg and then rest up at CP9 for 8 hours..
as always, speculation is the easy bit looks simple on google earth.
106km Trek including the summit of Reunion Island’s highest peak the Piton des Neiges (3,071m). This leg may be the most difficult of the entire race and includes long and difficult sections involving off path travel in dense tropical vegetation with many route choices. Shortly after the start leg teams must complete three abseils in the Bras Marron canyon including one mammoth 90m free hanging descent near a waterfall. They then leave the Cirque de Salazie and travel to the Cirque de Mafate where they must negotiate the difficult and technical Fleur juane canyon which includes more rope sections . Continuing on to the Cirque de Cilaos teams must summit the Piton des Neiges and then descend toward the East coast of the island and the end of leg transition. Fastest teams are expected to take over 38 hours on this leg and slower teams up to 62 hours.
Three of the top teams are racing with women who are new to their teams this year:
Avaya is racing with Fleur Pawsey, as Joanna Williams broke her leg in a skiing accident last month.
Estonia ACE is racing with Reeda Tuula, after Mariann Sulg decided to take a break from the sport (unofficially, I think this decision was made while sitting in a penalty box in a Galician mall during Raid Gallaecia last year).
FMR is racing with Sonia Furtado, who has raced with Naturex in the past. Perhaps regular teammate Lucie Croissant was not that excited by La Reunion, considering she already saw most of the island when she finished top 10 at Diagonale des Fous in 2016.
Anyone know of any other personnel moves that might have an impact on the final standings?
It is now past 8 p.m. in La Reunion, and sunset was officially 6:30. So teams are traveling in the dark.
My estimate is that the top teams are around 45-55k into the trek, with Naturex beginning the descent into the town of Cilaos before heading up the climb to CP5 and the Piton des Neiges, the highest point on the course (and on La Reunion).
Current top 10: 1) Naturex
Chasing, in order, 2k-5k back back:
2) Red Fox 3) Avaya 4) Haglofs Silva 5) DSN74 Hoka
1k further back 6) Swedish Armed Forces (SAFAT) 7) North Face 8) Sanlam Painted Wolf 9) FMR 10) Columbia
Yealands has dropped back a tiny bit to 11th, with Estonian ACE, Absolu Raid Occitane and Berghaus all charging.
@shebeen- plenty of teams from NA wanted to go but airfare alone would have consumed an entire year’s race budget for most teams.
Looks like Merrell grew tired of playing follow the leader on the green line and have turned towards the village of La Nouvelle.
Camila and Gui are two of the strongest racers in Brazil. I too have been wondering how the nationality rules are coming into effect...unless they moved to Hong Kong?
In other news, Twitter confirmed the following: "Team 39 Peaklife sport decided to withdraw. Wendy Fjellstad has flu symptoms"
Bummer for these guys. Raced around them for a while in ARWC, Wyoming. Super nice and savvy group of racers.
After meeting so many great people in Australia this year while racing XPD, we have been rooting for the Antelopes in particular as they helped us out a fair bit after the race. They too are off to a rough start with Tom feeling rather ill. A video highlighted the team taking his gear, and while he was smiling, he wasn't feeling it. Fingers crossed they bounce back as we had a blast meeting them and were impressed with them as racers and as people.
I'd saying that Rootstock is rooting for them, but we already traumatized a generation of Tasmanian youth with our team name in March...Still...
Sleepmonsters reporting from Cilaos at CP4 has Naturex opting for 2 hours sleep already. Might as well bank those compulsory hours if they're going to get caught in a dark zone somewhere on leg 2 anyway..
From AR Live Coverage just now: "Checking the Leaderboard the top seven teams are only 2 1/2 hours apart. Avaya have blasted straight through CP4 and are just behind Naturex. However... Naturex have banked 1h 15m of Sleep so are effectively 1h 30m ahead." (The team timing chart shows hours of "Rest".)
Reading that FMR has a 2-hour penalty for a missing strobe light, and that Naturex had to completely unpack their bags before finding theirs...I wonder how many other teams will be caught out by the equipment check.
I'm wondering if the "Rest" listed on each team's timing info (if you click on the team) is actually just TA/CP time. Supposedly, teams had to check out of a CP/TA and spend at least 30 minutes in order to count it as rest but I see Red Fox has "rest" listed for each of CPs 1 to 5, with a 20 minute rest at CP1, which isn't supposed to count.
At 8:15 a.m., Haglöfs Silva leads Avaya by a little over 1 km on the trek from CP6 to K7 and TA1. Naturex and Red Fox are about 1 km behind Avaya in 3rd and 4th. The leaderboard is not showing CP6, the 2nd visit to CP5 after climbing Piton des Neiges, so Red Fox is still shown in the lead but that is no longer the case.
(This doesn't include rest since I can't figure out how to interpret the leaderboard rest time.)
Top 4 teams have about 40km to finish trek. And they drop about 1500m too so it could be quick. They have 10 hours to dark zone so could start some of leg 2. And that's including 5 hours rest time each.
I think the projected times are maybe a little short
From AR Live Coverage: "Haglofs Silva has covered 2.5km in a straight line in the first hour downhill. They have another 15km Straight to go so that will be at least another 6 hours. It's currently 8.30am so estimated time into TA1 about 3pm. How far can they get on Section B??!? They need to sleep at a manned CP to bank a further 4 hours sleep. If anyone gets caught in between they will sleep 11 hours and bank nothing."
@Bash - I think the leaderboard rest times are geofenced. Hence many teams have several hours of "rest" at CP3 as their dot was stationary there while they were moving down the canyon without tracker signal.
So we'll have to take them with a pinch of salt. I think the only legit rest times so far are those indicated at CP4. Not sure if some teams rested at CP5/6? As that should also be accurately tracked by the geofencing.
For Haglofs Silva it's probably ~12/15km to go to TA1, and it's 1:30pm local now. I'm guessing you'd need 2/3 hours to get to CP7 from TA1 It involves - a ~1km steep hike down to waterfall (drop of 200m vertical) Kite at waterfall, then if waterlevels are low, about a 2km walk along small river to main one Then inflate packrafts and paddle ~3km to checkpoint, with two portages
I guess you'll need at least 2hours to do this, so you'll have to leave TA1 at 5pm at the latest.
Either way we'll know pretty soon what they choose to do. I've got a feeling that they will end up at TA1 overnight and see more and more teams arriving and eating up to their hard earned lead. For the four other leading teams it is just a bit harder
What are the Wolves (13) up to? Looks like they're heading to Hell-bourg. Are they: a) lost? Surely not. It's daylight and only day 2, still fresh minds. b) pulling a big nav move? Using the D48 major road to get to TA1? Is that allowed? c) going up the hill for the view? d) ....pulling out of the race?
I'm sure the racers will have their opinions, but from a spectator point of view this 12 hours of banked sleep is great. Especially the 4hr max.
Hindsight will show us what the best strategy is, but currently i think Haglofs, Avaya and Naturex will go out onto leg2 now. there is no point sitting in a TA during daylight and then waiting for 12/13 hours to go again.
All they have to lose is 4hours of logged sleep at a crowded TA. They stand to gain a headstart on leg2, and the possibility to take leg2 a bit slower in order to make the CP10 darkzone comfortably.
They have completed the "38:30" hours leg in 34:15, so clearly chose to try and make this window. We will only know later if doing this leg in 42/44 hours will stand a team in better stead.
Sanlam Team Painted Wolf (13) have unfortunately withdrawn from the race.
At approximately 12:15pm local time the news was received from the team that they have withdrawn in the best interest of their team member John Collins.
Statement from the Team
“We are absolutely devastated to have to tell you that Team Salam Painted Wolf has had to withdraw from the ARWC due to knee injury to John that just progressively worsened despite all attempts to remedy it. In the end after 8000 meters of up and down, even with the help of a dangerous amount of anti-inflammatories, the attentions of two race doctors on the course, he was still hardly able to progress at all. It is the hardest decision we have ever made and we are crushed. Thank you all so much for your interest. Mark, John, Andre and Robyn”
We wish John a speedy recovery and know that he will be racing again at full strength very soon.
Looks like no one is pushing on from TA1. It's going to be chaos when the darkzone lifts in the morning. There's an abseil just after the TA, so there could be a big queue for that. Will teams respect the order of arrival at the TA?
Someone referenced Avaya and others perhaps pushing on after TA 1. Guessing they must have determined that making it to CP7 was not in the cards. Hence, it would be wise to bank the 4 hours of sleep at the TA. Looks like Avaya is sleeping a bit into the woods past the TA. Guessing that is legal?
I admit that I really haven't memorized all the sleep rules yet. Not sure what is legal and what is not...
Avaya seems to be exactly where they want to be. I feel like the last couple of years, they have really dominated from the start, but before that, I feel like they generally eased into races. Often trailed behind for 24-48 hours and then really took over. In the next leg or two, I wouldn't be surprised if we see them pulling away.
The sleep strategies and dark zones definitely could prolong the race from fully taking off, however. To some degree, races with all of these early dark zones mask things as teams don't always fully "race" until they are clear off such obstacles. Might be another day or two until we really see where things stand. would love to know what the actual strategies are for the top 5-10 teams.
Chris Forne (I think, might have have been Stuart Lynch) mentioned somewhere last night that they were being cautious: they did not want to "make mistakes or go too fast". How many teams out in the front pack are going too fast?
Something tells me that Avaya isn't out of magic yet. But as always Haglofs looks primed to push them. And Naturex is clearly looking to win "at home". I saw somewhere that at least one of the Russians seemed to be hurting a bit, so I don't know that I'd bet on them holding with the leaders through to the end. SAFAT is always so strong, so who knows there. I don't know that I see any other teams storming back to overtake ALL of these lead teams.
That said, do we know if dark zones neutralize times? That could change things for sure and give some of the teams off the lead a chance to catch up for free with the leaders seemingly parked at TA1 for a long while...?
Interesting thing about the dark zone is that the teams who have managed to bank the most official sleep by the restart tomorrow will be in the virtual lead. At this stage the top 3 then looks as follows:
1) Hoka, with 6 hours + likely 4 hours at TA1
2) Estonian Ace Adventure with 4 hours + another 4 at TA1
3) Absolu Raid Occitaine 1 with 3h20m + another 4 at TA1.
These teams don't have much sleep left to bank for the rest of the race!
Nice point, stijn. I didn't hear much about this strategy before the race started, but given the dark zone the front teams appear to all be stuck in, it may have made sense to bank as much sleep as possible at previous CPs in order to clear it out of the way and allow for a continuous push later in the race.
Of course, there is a second dark zone before the next paddle, correct?
Hoka have made a genius move. They were in about 5th place on the ground and opted to take another 3h30m of sleep at CP5, which dropped them out of the top-10, but will give them the virtual lead by 2 hours by the time we restart tomorrow morning. If it was an intentional move by them, that's brilliant strategy!
I suspect the potential problem with that strategy is that once you get down to the coast, the dark zones are mostly done, and there is still a lot of race left. So teams will need to sleep. If they have mostly cleared their sleep, then they will either be forced to sleep more at the expense of time or they will be forced to race more without sleep.
Not saying it's wrong, but not sure it is will work out in the long run...or make a notable difference.
Before the race, I'd want to know what two teams are doing: 1) avaya 2) Columbia (largely because I believe Nick Gracie is one of the bets tacticians out there)
I think most of the top teams would use less than 12 hrs of sleep for the quoted race duration so getting any extra mandatory out of the way like Hoka without adding unnecessary rest as the top 5 have done will pay dividends.
Vidaraid slept 2+ hrs total at ARWC '16 for reference.
Newly posted rules for dark zones: 1/ From K9 to K10 full darkzone, no paddling no walking 2/ From K14 to CP10 there are 2 rules : From K14 to point 68 (elevation) full dark zone (no paddling, no walking) From point 68 to CP10 teams could walk.
sorry just getting caught up on what's going on. it's my understanding the top pack teams have been knocking out 30 min sleeps...assuming this is correct; I have to wonder, if they are using them in a quick 'time out' fashion; bust into the TA and toss everything on the other side of the 'line' and officially take a 30 min 'nap' essentially taking their time to tend to feet, food, maps, and reassessing things. Then when they are ready, head out. This would take bites out of the mandatory 12 hrs, with the idea that the top teams would historically take 4- 6 hrs of sleep to complete a course. Just a thought...
Columbia is also peaking my interest: they are typically closer to top, but they got Nick G.....
If teams are allowed to move from TA1 to K9 in the dark, now is the time we might start to see dots moving for the lead teams, depending on how long it took them to complete their TA and start logging 4 hrs of official sleep time.
The new Sleepmonsters article seems to confirm that we won't see teams moving until light, or just before. So, sometime around 815PM, east coast US time, I believe for those on my clock? ~5.5 hours from now? Am I reading this right?
18 teams in now with 3 - 5 teams that might make it to TA before the dark zone lift. Agde Raid Adventure is now retired at least their tracker is as it took the direct route to the finish line. CP5 appears to be a busy place with 8+ teams in the area. Likely getting some sleep. Some after summiting and other before heading up.
Agreed Broots, that SM article sounds like the organizers stuck to the dark zone as described in the route book even though they'd said they might announce a change at TA1. Nobody has moved from TA1, which further indicates there was no change.
Although the leaderboard hasn't updated for awhile, it appears that all teams have reached CP5, the start of the climb to Piton des Neiges. Team Belgium is currently on the summit at 3,049 m. Well done, given that the high point of Belgium is only 694 m above sea level.
It looks like the DZ has lifted as the team head down river for CP. Wonder if everyone is playing bumper boats with that many teams (~14) nearly all heading into the river at the same time. At the other end of the race I am not sure if Team Belgium missed the turn or are backtracking to CP4.
An 18 minute hosted video of teams coming down the river and coming ashore with their packrafts. I skipped through it but I did hear a racer confirm they were permitted to leave TA1 before 5:15; they just couldn't go onto the water.
As a refresher now that the lead teams are in the middle of it, the packraft + ropes stage from TA1 to TA2 was estimated to take 14:15 to 22:50. So teams stopped by last night's dark zone are moving quickly to avoid being stopped again by tonight's dark zone.
Although the time is tight, a couple of things will help. Teams were allowed to leave TA1 before the dark zone lifted at 5:15 a.m. Also, it is permitted to walk along the riverbank after 19:00 starting a few km before CP10 (at a sign post past point 68 on the map). There is no dark zone from CP10 to TA2.
The first dark zone cut-off is a 16:45 departure from CP9. The next dark zone cut-off is 19:00 and the impact depends on where teams are.
Based on the leaders' progress, Naturex & Avaya should reach CP9 by 12:45, with 4 hours left before the 16:45 dark zone cut-off there. i.e. Any teams not within 4 hours behind them now will struggle to get there in time. They were at CP8 4 hours ago, which means that Jabberwock (in 17th place) is the last team likely to make it. They need to hustle though!
2 things to ponder A) after the monster leg 1 Trek and now low water packraft, will they be keen to get in their bikes? From the rd time predictions it looked like really slow going, 44km in 6 hours without much climbing. But on Google earth, and the description of cane fields it would seem to be easier. The only thing i can think of is mud. B) where will painted wolf find a pub to watch the France Vs South Africa rugby game tonight? :-)
The main thing that looks tricky about the bike leg is the nav. The race maps show many many roads and tracks, so plenty of micro route choices and careful navigation will be required. Especially at night...
Avaya and Naturex are the only teams biking on stage 3 right now. Although Avaya has about a 40 min lead, they have only logged 5:50 of sleep vs. 7 hrs for Naturex. So Naturex is the virtual leader for now.
It looks like 12 other teams passed the “point 68” dark zone by 19:00 unless some team isn’t tracking. (Team Pirineus is tracking near TA2 but they didn’t visit CP9.) SAFAT appears to be the 14th and final team to make the cut.
With the time approaching 9 p.m. (2100) in La Reunion, dark zones are once again coming into play. TA 1 is going to be party central tonight, and I expect some teams to pile up at CP 9 in order to get some credit for banked sleep.
Are there any other dark zone stops that I'm missing?
I noticed that the Estonians left the river shortly after CP10 and took a road route through town rather than following the river. It looks like most lead teams have stayed in the river but there is nothing in the road book indicating that leaving the river is illegal. It doesn't look like that route was any faster but there might be some other advantage, e.g. warming up a chilly, wet team member.
Meanwhile back in the mangroves, the Lanterne Rouge team Down Under should arrive at TA1 in 4-5 hrs, around 1-2 a.m. Teams have to leave by 13:30 tomorrow to make the short course cut-off at TA1, and it appears everyone will make it.
Aw rats. SAFAT is near "point 68" on the map, after which teams are supposed to see a sign post. After that point, teams are permitted to continue on foot along the riverbank to CP10. It looks like they just missed the 19:00 deadline. They've moved away from the river, presumably to sleep and cry. They will be stopped for 10 hours and none of these sleep hours will count.
Berghaus Switzerland is wandering in the area near K14. They were the last team to make the 16:45 deadline to continue from CP9 and they would have known they would be stopped along the river where they would sleep and get no credit for it. It's not clear whether they reached the rope at K14 before dark but it looks like they probably did. I thought they might be returning to CP9 where their sleep would count but they've turned back toward K14 now.
They didn't. They were at CP8 at 14:45, then suddenly jumped to TA2 at 19:30. Avaya took 9.5 hrs to get from CP8 to TA2, and Pirineus does not have any geofencing times for CP9 or CP10 so even though they're still 6th on the leaderboard, I think it's safe to say they're short coursed or retired or something.
Speaking of retired, I just noticed that Sweco is out.
On a happier note, Berghaus made it out to the road and it looks like they're heading back to CP9 where their sleep will count. However, the road book says that navigation is not authorized after 19:00 so I'm not sure whether they were allowed to do that. They weren't progressing forward but they were moving during hours of darkness. Maybe there is a problem.
A number of teams are moving between K12 and CP9. Although the road book says navigation is not authorized after 19:00, I guess this restriction only applies to riverbed travel. After K12, teams are not required to stay in the riverbed and the "blue line" route follows roads. So I guess there will be a party at CP9 tonight since there was a 16:45 cut-off to depart from there.
At 22:00, Avaya is about 12 km from TA3. Has anyone seen a road book for the race beyond this point? The maps are linked above. In the overview, this was described as a 27 km Trek (+MTB) with 330 m of climb. Maybe this is the national park where they have to walk their bikes? Part of the route from TA3 to TA4 is on road so maybe they can ride when they're on a road?
Avaya now has a lead of 1 hour over Naturex, which is getting close to Naturex's 70 minute advantage in logged sleep. Naturex, in turn, is about 90 minutes ahead of Haglöfs Silva in 3rd (albeit with 2:10 less sleep than Naturex).
Agreed. The rules say "Authorized navigation times 05:15 to 19:00". I think it's a translation issue. In French, one of the meanings of "navigation" (in addition to "navigation") is "travelling on the water". So I guess unless it's specifically prohibited to leave the riverbed in a particular section, teams can move during the dark zone on this stage.
They just seem to always know exactly how to manage their race.
Into the TA and presumably knocking out more sleep. Naturex looks to be 1.25-1.5 hours back now. Yes, they have a lead on sleep, but they will probably stop now too to sleep in darkness. Avaya is not only outpacing them now, but they will likely pass them on sleep at this TA. Most of the chasers seem to be 3 hours or more behind. Haglofs might be a bit closer. Whatever "lead" others might have had due to additional sleep credits looks to be gone. Avaya will most likely sleep a big one now, knocking off more sleep and darkness while others trickle in or toward the TA. They may not necessarily leave TA before others, but they will be much more rested if teams elect to push on without sleeping in the TA. I know where I would put my money...
I know I'm waxing on about the same old, same old. But as a big sports fan, I have always admired watching greatness when it is happens, and this is undoubtedly it. I'm just always amazed to watch these guys manage a race. It might look like they are finally slowing down or maybe being outraced, but... then we realize they are in control and maybe have been before the race even began. Naturex still has a chance. I'm not sure anyone else is close enough to hang with them though. Haglofs may be 2-2.5 hours out best case scenario, but they have ,slept less, and Avaya will put 2-4 hours more onto them in sleep now before Haglofs has a chance to even see them. And then most others teams are further back than that.
The opposing strategy: Hoka has banked ALL 12 hours now...They are 5 hours behind Avaya. I'd bet they are at least 6 hours behind Avaya based on pace. I don't see them racing to the finish without sleeping at least once more which will hurt them mathematically. Still a fair bit to do...Avaya will sleep 4 hours now is my guess, getting them to just shy of 10. They will then leave probably about two hours before Hoke gets in and now only two hours behind Hoks based on sleep. but Avaya will be "fresh," and they will be nearing sunrise so ready to go for a full day more. They will probably open their lead further on most if not all teams. Teams like Hoka that have slept 10-12 hours will then be forced to push on or stop to take more sleep "on the clock" knowing they already burned their sleep. Tough situation from a competitive standpoint for them.
As an NBA (American basketball) fan, we always hear about the great debate: Jordan or Lebron. To me, it's Seagate/Avaya or _____________. Nike? John Howard's team? Any other contenders.
This trek of 27km involves a coasteering section through Anse des Cascades along the cliffs and paths which cross the lava flows formed by the eruption of the piton de la Fournaise in 2007. The final section of this leg is along a road and the organisation will drop team mountain bikes at a CP so they can ride this section to the Transition Area. Teams are estimated to complete this leg in 4 - 7 hours.
The lead teams are virtually on a 70ish km trek now...Technically, two legs, but the majority of them are trekking. Then they start a bike leg, but much of the first portion of it is hike a bike...hence, my rough estimate of 70 km. And it doesn't sound easy; sounds and looks dry and maybe a lot of volcanic rock. From having raced in Iceland and hiked in Hawaii, I wonder if this terrain will be as sharp and nasty as the volcanic terrain I have experienced. I bet we start to see the lead 10-15 teams spreading out even more now.
Avaya is at TA4 now. They logged 4 hrs of sleep at TA3, as Broots predicted. They have now had 9 hrs 50 mins of sleep. Naturex is 1 hour back and they have only logged 9 hrs of sleep. Hoka is 4 hrs back and have logged their full 12 hrs of sleep. So as expected, Avaya have a solid lead, both on the race course and in the virtual timing.
Anyone see any sign of that road book for Part 2 of the race course yet?
I'm racing tomorrow so please post some news so I can catch up afterward. :)
One more thing: SAFAT actually *didn’t* make last night’s dark zone but they thought they did. They were turned back at CP10 and told to go back to the place near “point 68” where they were supposed to have spent the night. Surely a penalty served at the CP would have been better than sending them back to a place where it supposedly wasn’t safe to travel in the dark.
I'm guessing that the normal 7pm-5:15am dark zone applies for the Sea Kayaking leg? Avaya started this trek up past the volcano just before 8:30 this morning and this is what's coming up for them:
Section E Trek: 32km (10h50m)
Section F MTB+Trek+Caving: 51km (8h05m)
Section G Trek+Ropes: 3km (1h15)
This should get them to the start of the sea kayak leg at about 5am tomorrow morning, just in time for the lifting of the dark zone - no surprise here that they've got everything under control!
Teams will want to start that sea kayak leg by 1pm latest (estimated fastest time 5h50m) to finish it before the 7pm dark zone comes into effect tomorrow night. i.e. They need to stay within 7-8 hours of Avaya. If the time estimates are accurate, the top-11 teams as far back as FMR (currently 5h behind Avaya) all have a shot, but it will be tight for some of these teams, especially if they need to take a few hours of sleep tonight.
So we might see a bit of a regrouping of teams in the back half of the top-13 towards the end of the race. Looong way to go still!
The hike up Piton de la Fournaise is going to be brutal. It is a very rocky and dry there. I'm not sure where they'll find water, so teams will probably have to carry their compulsory amount of water from T4. No leg in this race is going to be easy.
LSN made the same error but are still traveling south. It's taken them an hour to get where they are presently and I'm gutted for them as the moment they figure it out, their hearts will sink after clawing their way into such a high placing.
If you haven't watched the video on facebook of Armed Forces discussing the issue, it's worth watching. Let's just say they are as adamant as I have seen a team that they were correct and the RD wrong. And the RD, of course, is digging in. Armed Forces refused to hand over their tracker as they wanted to keep the evidence. WOW!!!
Seagate/avaya really just a dominant team, not forgetting that they were the fastest team in Tasmania but lost it on a penalty for not having the tracker.
It's a bit boring seeing them so far out front, again. But there's no denying that the three men in this team who have been the constant over these years are masters at this art (I say this because they have just drafted it a female racer at the last minute and it's almost a non issue)
Yealands is way south...further than even where the Estonians got (but not as far as where Lozere was). Hope they can figure it out soon. Must be tough considering they're off the map. (Speaking of which, does anyone have the link for the second set of maps and guide book?)
I was wondering how Black Hill and Issy clawed their way back into such good position...here's their story and that of the elusive K20, as told by Rob Howard of Sleepmonsters. He is really nailing coverage of the race, I must say.
I'm not sure I'm a fan of how K20 is at the very bottom of the map, and that racers weren't provided any map of what lies to its south (where many of the teams that got lost ended up). Seems a bit unfair...
Naturex is about 90 minutes past CP15, where Avaya appears to have completed their 12-hr sleep requirement (plus some extra) and will probably leave soon. Naturex still needs to log 3 more hrs of sleep. Any bets on how long it will take Avaya to catch up? They are totally in control - so impressive to watch.
They started the stage 3 bike but returned to TA2. I wondered if they were just mentally defeated but it turned out that Oskar went to hospital and likely has broken ribs. He was injured earlier during the first stage and it wasn't getting any easier to race in rough terrain with that pain.
I figure Naturex has to sleep either at the end of this bike or at the start of the paddle. They haven't had a notable sleep in well over 24 hours and they need to knock out a big chunk still. I'd think doing it before paddling would be the way to go. I'm actually surprised they didn't do it overnight though...
Now they have to give up a few hours of daylight. Unless they plan to push on and try to make it through another day (the math based on course projections suggests Avaya will finish at night "tomorrow") and sleep at one of the last CPs/TAs. If that is their plan, I don't see them holding pace with Avaya, something they have come close to doing all things said and done. And I'd be very impressed if they can keep a good pace up for another full 15 hours or so without some sleep soon.
I don't know that Haglofs is close enough to overtake them (and I think they have even more sleep to take still than Naturex?), but if Naturex gets sucked into racing Avaya head to head right now without taking care of that sleep, things could really unravel for them. And it sounds like there might be a bit more tricky nav on the final bike...
Hmmm. Haglofs has actually banked a bit MORE sleep than Naturex...and it looks like they are 2-2.5 hours behind Naturex right now. So, Naturex and Haglof's timing for sleep strategy may be crucial for holding or overtaking for second.
Looks like they were doing the short course "Cut-B" where teams go from K12 to CP10. That became mandatory Monday 7 a.m. at K12 but they chose to do it earlier than that. They aren't allowed to leave CP10 until noon. I would have expected them to sleep there but it looks like they've gone west. Maybe a better place to eat or sleep for a few hours?
The kayak is expected to take between 6 and 8 hours.
I'm assuming the cutoff to be off the water is 7 p.m. (1900 hrs) as travel is only permitted during daylight hours. Using the fast estimate, that's 1 p.m. (1300) into TA7.
Assuming teams will travel slightly faster during the day than the leaders did at night, I think realistically that only gives a handful of teams a shot to make the DZ cutoff. Black Hill, Estonia, and potentially the French trifecta of Lozere, Hoka, and Absolu 1, if they got a move on.
The light has come and Yealands found the path! Back on track now.
Top 10 on the road (not accounting for sleep totals): 1) Naturex 2) Avaya 3) Haglofs Silva 4) Black Hill Opavanet (nice work by these guys!) 5) Estonia ACE 6 (3 way tie):Lozere, Hoka, and Absolu 1 9) Columbia 10) North Face
"Navigation [on the water] is authorized from 5:00 to 19:00."
"Departure time on the sea in the morning and closing time in the afternoon will change every day in function of the sea state and weather..."
"From TA7, you cannot leave for CP17 after 15:30."
"From CP17, you cannot leave for TA8 after 16:30."
OK, so using Bash's calculations, that gives the French trifecta a little bigger buffer. But I don't think any others besides them will beat the darkzone. That means a very long wait for those arriving after 15:30... Saint-Pierre is one of the bigger towns on the island so I expect there to be a range of dining options. I wonder if anyone will get a hotel room? I would!
Avaya passed through TA7 quickly and started to paddle shortly after 8:30 a.m. Naturex and Haglöfs Silva are in the TA, possibly logging some sleep. It's a shame to waste daylight so unless they're really flagging, I wouldn't expect them to log all of their remaining sleep here (2.5 hrs for Haglöfs Silva and 3 hrs for Naturex). Also, there is the risk of sea conditions slowing down their paddle and keeping them from finishing by 19:00.
4th place Black Hill Salomon Opavanet is 5 hrs behind Avaya on their way to CP16. The Estonians haven't tracked in 1.5 hrs and they were just about to arrive at the cave at CP 13/14. I think Black Hill is the only team with a faint hope of finishing the paddle before the dark zone. And it's really faint. Other teams will be able to leave up until 15:30 but they'll need to log sleep at CP17 or go ashore in some other place.
Btw thanks to Broots for the video link of SAFAT discussing the dark zone situation. As a race organizer, I'm kinda relieved for everyone that SAFAT withdrew due to injury so this disagreement doesn't need to go to referees or a jury.
From Sleepmonsters: "The Race Director just confirmed with me that Avaya served a 30 minute penalty at CP16 for a lost figure of 8 and that Naturex are currently serving a 2 hour penalty before starting the kayaking. They lost a pfd and safety rope. (They can sleep but it's not taken off the sleep card.)
[On the pack raft stage Yealands picked up a pfd and reported it, but no team could be found with one missing until now.]"
We're down to a the horse race. The same three who caned it on the first leg.
I think this shows that they are the strongest three, not that arriving at TA1 was the best strategy. I was expecting that one of the teams that had paced that leg around the TA1 DZ would have been in the mix by now. Avaya hold all the aces now, but anything could still happen. They must double check their mandatory equipment at each ta!
Interestingly if haglofs or naturex had slept at a CP before TA1 they would have a full book by now, hindsight is a brilliant science.
Intersting scenario now that CP17 is closed... the 15:30 cut-off at TA7 would have been based on teams being able to reach CP17 by 7pm. If they can't go to CP17, would the TA7 cut-off be moved earlier as teams would need to be able to complete the entire leg to TA8 before 7pm?
This would make it very tight for Blackhill & Estonia to be allowed on the water soon..
Naturex have gone straight through TA8 without sleeping, overtaking Haglofs who look to be taking the rest of their mandated sleep there. As far as I can tell, Naturex still need to take 3h of sleep (and Haglofs 2.5h), so maybe they are making the most of the daylight and will sleep at CP18 after it gets dark to break up the climb a bit?
Looks like CP17 was reopened again. I was surprised that it was closed. There's a nice break in the backline for surfers but the beach itself is fairly protected by a reef (and obviously the marina). But the Estonians and Black Hill will have a good night's rest there (one or two decent restaurants 400m from the CP). So a reset for the 4th & 5th place I guess.
ah, I was just about to write about Naturex and Haglofs...this changes it a bit...
that said: The Power of Sleep
looking at Avaya's pace out of TA vs. Naturex: Avaya is now really pulling away in regards to speed. Add in the 2-3 additional hours they have on the chasers, and I think they will end up winning by 4-5 hours at least. Maybe a couple more...barring injury, notable nav issue, etc.
I was thinking Haglofs was banking their remaining sleep, and I was going to project that they would then power past Naturex. Maybe Naturex's penalty allowed them enough sleep that they felt good, but I have to wonder if sleep earlier on would have allowed them to keep a stronger pace here at the end. Not saying they are moving slowly, but the dots suggest Avaya moved approximately twice as fast out of TA up to Naturex' current position, and I suspect they aren't going to slow down now.
6th to 10th place will be fun. All these teams will restart at 5am on the kayaks when the dark zone lifts, all having expended all their mandated sleep. By 5am I think there'll be 6 or 7 teams there: Lozere, absolu, DSN74, Columbia, North Face, Yealands for sure, Cyanosis probably, and Red Fox may make it.
At that point it'll be an 18hr sprint race to the finish. Just what the doctor ordered!
Similarly, the Estonians made an impressive push after getting lost for more than four hours around K20. They steadily picked up the French trifecta and eventually reeled in Black Hill on the water. That moved them from 8th to 4th (not accounting for sleep).
I would love to see how the Estonians and Czech teams are enjoying their night on the coast. Mention of restaurants. Beds? Can they sleep in a hotel? They can really have a party tonight and then race it in.
Any fun amenities? Volleyball nets? Cabanas? Sand fleas?
Some of the teams at least really have gotten a fair bit of rest. Imagine this race if they couldn't? I have actually been surprised that there hasn't been MORE carnage...though I do wonder how many teams in the back half or so start to fall out. How long is the course open?
Avaya now about 200-250 meters below the rough apex. CP 19, and then downhill.
Naturex largely done with the majority of the climb. Some "flatter" terrain for a while. Too bad Haglofs tracker isn't updating properly as that will be exciting to watch. Presume they are around Naturex.
That said, how are they going to finish their sleep? In Rob's last SM article, he referenced Haglofs spending an hour of it at a bar...Kind of surprised by that. Why wouldn't you sleep?
Assuming they both have a couple hours left, I think you have to sleep at CP18. Google suggests the CP is at a hostel. Inside, shelter, maybe warm. i'm guessing it's cold up at elevation.
Cp 19 is a parking lot way up high. No indication that there is much/any infrastructure there. Then, the only other location is back down at the final TA before the finish. What good would sleep be then?
I think I would bang it out at CP 18, get some extra pep for the rest of the climb, and continue on.
Interestingly, they've logged much less official sleep than the race leaders, who are better able to reach TAs and CPs before cut-offs and thus plan their sleep accordingly. Pleinouest has had *lots* of rest but they only have 30 minutes of official sleep. I'm sure this time at TA2 will take care of that.
It looks like these teams don't have to worry about another cut-off until Wed. 22:00, when they would have to take the "Cut-C" short course from TA5. Lead teams took 25-35 hrs to travel this stretch from TA2 to TA5 including rest time.
ok curious about the "margin of victory" for Avaya/Seagate compared to 2017.
2017 results: 1 - Seagate - 79:13:30 2 - Haglöfs Silva - 83:48:45 - 4:35:15 back from Seagate, or 6% of Seagate's race 3 - AMK - 84:11:13 - 0:22:28 back from Silva, or <1% of Silva's race 4 - SAFAT - 84:59:00 - 0:47:47 back from AMK, or 1% of AMK's race 5 - Naturex - 85:06:05 - 0:07:05 back from SAFAT, or <1% of SAFAT's race
I'm going to estimate a bit and have Avaya win by 5 hours in 115:00:00 race duration. That's 4%...so if either Naturex or Silva can keep it that close, it is an improvement by the chase pack from last year!
Bash, interesting observation on the sleep of the less experienced teams...The next question is: yes, they can knock out four hours in their current TA, but that's it according to the rules. So, hopefully they learn quickly how to better manage that sleep since they will still need to bank several chunks more at a place where sleeping is legal!
There was a live video up yesterday of them trekking up around the volcano. They didn't seem as spry or QUITE as upbeat as they always do, but I wouldn't have come close to saying that.
That said, I'm not surprised. They have virtually been on their feet the entire race with some breaks on the bike...but even then, huge climbs and some hike a bike. Much of the packrafting had them out of the boats, the terrain is brutal. The rocks. Videos of other top teams (Haglofs for example) suggest that everyone is feeling pretty beaten up. Not a ton of joy or positive energy coming through from what I have seen since the first couple of days. I'm very curious to hear the post race tales.
There was another video with the Patagonia team, I think. He specifically noted how this race is a bit of a throw back to some of the grueling, "RDs try to destroy people for the sake of it" types of races of the past. Thought it interesting, though I don't know much about the source. This said, it does seem like this race is a monster. I know some people really dream of the "golden days", but rarely do I hear people during the event or right after sounding genuinely excited and happy about such experiences. I'm not suggesting there isn't value to such events, and I really don't know where Reunion falls in, but if Avaya is indeed "pretty broken" that doesn't bode well for the rest of the field.
Still, no doubt this will be a journey for the record books...
For sure, they weren't there 2 hours. Max 90 minutes, it looks like - probably less. It's not a TA so they could count their entire time there. I can just imagine them arriving at the door of the hostel yelling, "We're sleeping starting NOW!!" Their last recorded sleep was at CP13/14. I wonder if they've taken a 30 minute sleep somewhere that wasn't recorded.
Haglöfs Silva has departed CP18 too, and it appears they got their 90-minute "sleep". We don't know their exact timing but the info we do have suggests they did it. They tracked at TA8 and disappeared until they tracked at CP18 at 21:54. The leaderboard is based on geofencing and thus is unreliable, e.g. it shows the Estonians at CP12 in 12th place. But trackers often "disappear" when teams sleep indoors with trackers possibly facing down.
Just looked at the race maps and realized that even though it's almost all downhill to the finish for Avaya, there are 7 Kites to visit along the way - K27 to K33. There certainly appears to be room for some nav errors by teams, especially at night. So it's not going to be all about speed.
ARWS video of Naturex entering CP18 looking very strong and headed for sleep just surfaced. The beginning of the video places their arrival at ~21:30, which jives with their tracker first reporting them there at 21:45. They think they had 1.5hrs of remaining compulsory sleep, but this does not align with the information on the tracking site, which shows they need 2hrs. Of course, there could be some unreported time from earlier in the race.
Looking closely at the Naturex breadcrumbs indicates that they did indeed stop at CP18 for the 1.5hrs that they think they needed to complete their compulsory sleep. Let's just hope they haven't miscalculated only to find that out at the finish line.
That would be awful. Their last recorded sleep was CP13/14. They did spend about 2.5 hrs at TA7, where they served a 2-hr penalty. I suppose one possibility is that they were permitted to complete their TA activities during the 2-hr penalty (which isn't good practice but sometimes happens). Then they could have logged 30 minutes sleep there that got missed. Or maybe they slept earlier and it got missed. When it's only 30 minutes, we dot watchers can't figure it out ourselves!
It's going to take Avaya ~3.5 hours to finish the "Downhill" section, which has some up hill sections, because well it's ARWC, so all downhill sections need climbs in them.
~30 gap between 2 & 3 as they continue the last steep likely hike a bike section to CP19.
Avaya last tracked 40 minutes ago, and at that time, they appeared to have 15+ km left to ride with only K32 and K33 left to pick up. It's not exactly "downhill", as Rob points out, but it's rolling terrain rather than mountainous. I would expect them at TA9 soon.
FWIW, the official sleep times for both Haglöfs Silva and Naturex have been updated to include CP18. Naturex is still missing 30 minutes according to the record. This doesn't mean it's correct but you would think this would have caught the attention of organizers by now so they would fix an error if there was one. I wonder if there will be a controversy at the finish. (Or as Phatty would say, "CONTROVERSY!!!")
I just watched the video of Naturex at CP18. When asked about how much rest they had left, a team member said "1 hr 30 mins, I think". If that were my teammate, I'd ask him to check! They seemed cheerful and surprisingly fresh although one member had a knee injury and couldn't bend his leg much. That must be just awesome on the bike.
Naturex is currently 45 minutes ahead of Haglöfs Silva. Both teams assume that both they and their opponent are officially finished with sleep, and they'll be racing accordingly, which is sad because that may change the way each team races.
Some quotes from teams sleeping at TA7 (from Raid in France Facebook):
Team 21 – Lozère Team2raid - Rudy Gouy
"Last night didn’t go so well. At the end of the trek section, we didn’t have enough food nor water and we started to feel the lack of sleep. We lost too much time compared to the front teams even though we rushed out. Today, our goal is to finish the race no matter what. We’re going to fight for the Top 6."
Team 30 – Absolu Raid Occitanie 1 – Johan Thomas
"In a world championship, you should never underestimate half a kilometer. You have the feeling that you will finish a section quickly but in the end, the last 500 meters are the worst. Tomorrow, we will leave at 5am for the great battle. We’re extremely motivated. We only have 3 sections left, the end is getting close."
Team 17- DSN74 – Hoka – Jocelyn Vogt
"After a non-stop 5 day race and the lack of sleep, you’re starting to have hallucinations. Especially in the river section where some rocks are shaped in human form by Reunionese people. Between the heat, the foot pain and the blisters, it is not always pleasant but we’re doing good. We’re loving Pascal’s holiday club ! We are having a great time on this amazing adventure. Even though some engaged paths gave us a hard time. But those paths are the one used by local people such as « le chemin des marrons », a former slave path. This race is a real immersion into the local culture."
Haglöfs Silva tracker stopped working at the top of the big decent. They were ~30 minutes back at last check and Naturex will need to sleep for 30 minutes still.
Avaya looks slightly tired, but nothing like other teams will appear when they roll in over the next few days.
Naturex has just wandered a bit off-course at the last bit of the final bike. Given how close things appear for the second podium spot, this does not bode well for them. Even an extra minute could sink it for them depending on where Haglofs is hiding.
They appear to be at or near K32. There is an out of bounds on what appears to be the most direct route to K33, so maybe they are doing an out and back. Or they are searching for a good spot to watch the sunrise.
From watching Avaya's finish line interview, they sound quite genuinely pleased with the race. I'd expect nothing less from the winners, and esp. as these winners have a track record of being so professional and respectful. Still, they do seem impressed with the course.
Now, I really hope Haglofs tracker starts working in TA...
It think it's a late race racer-brain issue. RD's around the world need to put their heads together to develop a racer-friendly work around for this I-have-sleepmonsters-and-my-pack-is-a-sh*t-show-and-the-tracker-is-now-buried-somewhere-in-there-and-I-don't-care-anymore situation.
Also, will Naturex have to serve their final 30 minutes of sleep at TA9? There are different ways organizers could handle this. They could add 30 minutes to their final time but that goes against the principle involved, i.e. getting 12 hrs of rest on the course. Might there be an additional penalty for failing to follow this rule? Stay tuned...
I think they have to serve it at TA. There is the time it takes to check in and out, get gear settled, etc. I'm dubious they will really do anything other than sit there and watch their clocks, but still. It might be a few more minutes than 30 when it's all said and done. And maybe those few minutes make a difference.
Also, as you pointed out Bash, if Haglofs sees them in TA, it changes the complexion of the the last leg. If they don't...well, they should know better, but I've seen plenty of other top teams lolly gag just before the end only to have others sneak ahead. Ahem, AMk crushing a certain team in Costa Rica at the finish line!
So, that is important for Haglofs....Unless Haglofs is ahead...which is possible...
And Naturex is now tracking out of TA...which smells fishy to me...This might get ugly. If Naturex wins and there is not a clear explanation you'd have TWO very unhappy Swedish teams. I really hope all is straight as it would be a shame to have the podium end in controversy...
Do you think Naturex is spending its rest time blowing up packrafts?
The final leg of the race is a short 5km trek/ packraft. The pack raft section takes teams down the Ravine St Gilles to the harbour where they exit the water for a final beach run. The finish line is outside the Village Corail and rewards teams with beer, pizza and deck chairs to relax. Teams are estimated to complete this leg in 1 - 3 hours.
My guess: Naturex has argued, maybe successfully, that they cleared their sleep...I don't know what to think of that if that is the story though. Multiple layers to that. It SOUNDS like the RDs themselves have confirmed publicly that they still have 30 minutes to clear...so, if they change that ruling, it seems like they are taking the word of Naturex....though 36 hours ago they were pretty insistent that Armed Forces was wrong, even when AF was insisting on keeping their GPS as evidence that they were in fact right...
Maybe they are assessing a 30 minute penalty at the finish, or perhaps pulling them aside somewhere on the beach...For the reasons noted above, I think those are also problematic solutions, though it would be better to pull them aside before the finish shoot than letting them cross in second only to hit them with a time penalty.
If there is some additional explanation and evidence confirming that Naturex did, in fact, serve 30 minutes extra, then all is well, and I really hope that is it....
I assume the 30 minutes were added at TA9 for the reason Broots proposed: the team successfully convinced organizers that their sleep total was wrong, and the error was corrected as if it happened at TA9. It doesn't look like Naturex would have had time to wait 30 minutes at TA9.
What a way to end the race. With the remaining sleep for Naturex and Haglofs right to the last part of the race, they really had to play the perfect game to take second place. It's a pity that the Haglofs tracker didn't work though...hopefully some video of that sprint finish will emerge at a later stage.
I checked the video above and the Naturex racer said they arrived at the final transition and the officials raised the question of the missing 30 minutes of sleep. He got very animated and spoke quickly right after that. I *think* he said their team pointed out the extra 30 minutes on their sleep card and that resolved it. That part of the story didn't go on too long after that so it sounded like a quick resolution. Hopefully someone else who is truly bilingual can watch the video starting at 18:15 to provide a better translation.
Estonia only have 1 usable pack raft, right? They will enjoy that marina crossing.
I didn't think the sleep log would affect the outcome, bit it did in the end. How was it recorded? The best would have been an actual log on the passport signed in and out, but that is quite a bit too organise. What also gets me is that it all seems rounded off to the nearest ten minutes.
The the teams that charged into TA1 finished comfortably ahead in the end, they spent about 11 hours at that TA, but only logging 4.
From Merrell Facebook pre-race: "Each team has a Sleep Card on which a mandatory 12 hours needs to be recorded during the event at a TA or designated CP, made up of blocks from a minimum of 30min to a maximum of 4hours. Teams however, have to check out of TA with no further access to their resupply box – and then sleep. "
"The organization has just decided to create a new cut so that the back teams whose progression is getting slower can stay on the race til the very end. Today after 1pm, the teams passing through TA4 (Saint-Philippe) will be taken to TA6 (Saint-Pierre). From there, they will continue the race with the sea kayak and moutain bike section heading to Maïdo."
SM article about the sprint finish. It doesn't talk about the 30 minutes of sleep so that seems to be a non-issue now. It sounds like Haglöfs Silva passed Naturex about 20 seconds before the finish line. Ouch. Apparently, it's the 2nd time they've lost a sprint finish at ARWC, and they've also had sprint finishes at a previous Raid in France and at Expedition Africa.
Without any North American teams in the race, I'd planned to cheer for the Estonians (currently just behind 4th), the South Africans (yay, Cyanosis in 13th!) and Naturkompaniet Pioneers (because Tommy apparently lives in Toronto). So now that the podium is settled, it's time to start watching their dots more closely. :)
Check out 63 - Les Louves des 2 Alpes track up the volcano. These ladies are making sure they're not missing out on the caves. Looks like they completely missed the paddle leg. What a pity, as they seem to be doing the fun stuff on the island.
This finishline album captures the emotions brilliantly. https://goo.gl/s61ADc Sorry about the broken link from earlier...I didn't post the live video link. Not sure what went wrong there. That video is not there anymore. Possibly deleted?
I wrote Relentless (James Galipeau), who was supposed to be racing at ARWC with MainNerve but they weren't able to fill all the spots on their team. He is bilingual and listened several times to that section of the video where the Naturex racer explains what happened at TA9 regarding the 30 minutes of sleep.
Relentless said: "I don't think he gives a clear explanation. This is just a guess at interpreting what he said and I wouldn't put too much confidence in my interpretation."
"From what I can tell, he says that they knew they needed to take another 30 minutes of rest, so they took their time and inflated their packrafts and eventually the other team showed up. When Haglöfs realized that the French were still planning to rest more (I'm assuming in order to finish off their 30 minutes), they left quickly. From what I can tell, it sounds like he's saying that once the French finished their rest time and left, Haglofs was only 100m or so ahead of them. I don't hear any explanation in there, so it sounds like Haglofs came in near the end of Naturex's 30min rest time. I don't know if there's a way to corroborate that with time stamps on the live tracking? Anyway, there's certainly no clear explanation. Hope that helps!"
Black Hill is smashing that bike course. Really jumped ahead. Their sleep at CP17 for both them and Naturex still has not updated. I was hoping for more of a race between them...but still plenty of action from the bunch following them.
With about 2 km of biking to go until the final TA, 4th place Black Hill has a 30 minute lead on “my” Estonians. I wonder if the Estonians are still racing with only one packraft or if they have been able to repair it. After the first leg with packrafting, they said it had been too wet to repair. They don’t have far to paddle this time.
The Estonians have not been updated on the leaderboard since CP12 and now appear to be in 19th place, as far as their non-dot watching friends and family are concerned. This can’t just be another geofencing issue since they’ve been tracking pretty well; I’m surprised nobody at race HQ has fixed it in the 48+ hours since the problem became obvious.
6th place Lozere is leading Yealands in the early part of the downhill bike ride. Just starting downhill in 8th is Absolu Raid. Hoka is about to reach the CP19 high point in 9th, and Columbia rounds out the top 10, having just passed CP18.
In South African news, Cyanosis is biking in 12th, about 2.5 hours into the big final climb. Merrell is biking toward TA6 in 20th - no rush since they will spend a full night at the TA7 dark zone, and it’s still light now.
DSN74 have slipped a bit in their last full day. They had an amazing race (and still are) and were just around top 5 at one point. They lost contact with Lozere, Yealands, and Absolu, and they are in danger of being overtaken by Columbia. North Face also could catch up if they slip in this final stretch here.
Rooting for them to hold onto top 10 as they really had a great run there in the middle of the race. (if North Face and Columbia both run them down, they would fall to 11th)
Speaking of a great run, Black Hill/Opava really impressed me. Perfect on the nav and very steady through the finish. I'm a bit surprised to see them hold off the Estonians in a head-to-head match-up after the kayak leg. Well-deserved 4th place!
So 43 Vertical Dissidents will be at the tail-end of the race. Unfortunately Thomas Venema had to withdraw at K20 because of a serious foot injury. They've been moving well up to this point and I predict that they'll catch a couple of teams ahead of them. Hopefully they won't fall back on the kayak as a 3-member team.
It's after 2 a.m. so the Chinese buffet at CP17 in the middle of the sea kayak leg finished long ago. Tonight it was Absolu Raid 2, Bim Bim and Berghaus who got to enjoy a seaside vacation during their race for 15th-17th place.
There's a bigger party at TA7 at the start of the sea kayak - 10 teams there now with Movistar making their way from TA6 after choosing to have their sleep there, perhaps with the idea it would be less crowded.
The next cut-off is Wed. 22:00 at TA5, just under 20 hrs from now. All teams still racing are past TA4 now and ought to make it. Such generous cut-offs in this race. Heck, even I might be able to finish the full course!
Columbia is fighting sleepmonsters in the wee small hours of the night a mere 20 minutes from the last TA...still two kites to locate before they can move on. Seems like a short kip would do them some good and before they sprial themselves down to the center of the volcano.
Hoka has finished in 9th. Columbia is on the final beach hike, about to finish in 10th. North Face Adventure Team is around K32 in 11th place, and top SA team Cyanosis is about 2/3 of the way downhill in 12th, well ahead of Red Fox and Blizzard, who are just starting their downhill journey. After that, the three Chinese buffet eaters are *way* back on the water in 15th-17th place with about 6 km to go to TA8.
If I was to recommend a restaurant for CP17 it would be Le Bambou. Fantastic seafood dishes and they do have outdoor seating (very important for smelly adventure racers). :-) https://www.lebambou-restaurant.fr/
I was surprised with the Chinese influence in food but it is integrated in a lot of Creole dishes.
On the Raid in France FB page: "Due to the bad conditions at sea, with waves up to 2 metres, the teams adeorun (26) and tuc tri absolute defeat the muco (38) were not allowed to engage in the portion Kayak. They will be conducted in salty pond (Cp17) to return to the race normally The Nantes Adventure 1 Team (20) is currently at sea, followed by safety boats."
A lot of unhappiness among South African dot spotters, as they feel the ocean is more than fine for paddling in this conditions. A few photos of previous events were shared. Have a look at this album of Expedition Africa 2014...Reunion's waves still has some way to go before they're this size:
The finish line can smell them coming. Merrell is making their way down. They may make it by midnight.
They’ve been on their feet for a week, stopping to pick up accessories like a boat or a bike every now and again and putting that on their back. They’ve been in and around Ecuadorian team Movistar for most of the time, which means Hanno has been baffling everyone with his version of Spanish. The smuggled biltong rations have long since been eaten or traded and they’ve probably all resorted to snorting Tracey’s vegan powder mix. If she didn’t use it all up on her feet. It’s been raining. A lot. But not enough before the race to actually put water in the rivers.
It’s been long and hard - longer for some, harder for others - and overall, it’s been what we expect of an epic adventure race.
All the usual adjectives and expletives have been called up to describe this race – its been brutal and tough and testing and relentless. Each individual has been digging deep and chatting with demons. We have seen the photos of rotten feet and bruised legs and heard racers say how tired they are. Same old.
Why would you be inspired to do it?
It’s not glamourous, it’s not sexy and it don’t make them any money, but I challenge any one of you watching to not want what those racers have got at the end of this event.
That indescribable emotion that you can witness on the face of every adventure racer under a finish arch.
You cannot get it without the previous days’ exertions. It does not come for free. It doesn’t even come from months of hard training and sacrifices.
It comes only when you have given your all out on the course. And then emptied your pockets to find some more all. And then taken out a second mortgage on your all. And then borrowed some all from your teammates to give that also.
If you can arrive at the finish line with no more all, at all, you too can have that feeling.
From Nick Gracie on Columbia: “It’s probably one of my favourite World Champs courses, you know with Raid in France it’s going to be tough and technical and this was definitely that. You almost felt that on any stage you could die, eaten by sharks, drowned in a canyon, falling off a cliff. It was a course which pushed the limits that’s for sure, which is what adventure racing should be all about."
SM also chatted with 4th/5th place Black Hill and Estonians awhile ago. This article mentioned a new cut-off: "The race organization has put an extra cut off into the race today, bussing teams at the back of the race from TA4 to TA6. This takes them around the volcano as the race judged they would be too slow to complete that stage and continue to the finish. I’m told some teams are also biking around to TA6, preferring to short cut under their own power."
The party's moved over to CP19 now! Nothing like some heavy food in your stomach to make that long downhill go faster.
Eighteen teams have finished now. Movistar is trekking along the beach and Merrell is at the final TA, poised to round out the top 20.
In other South African news, Badly Drawn Hyena is climbing, climbing, climbing - almost halfway between TA8 and CP18.
Down Under, the former Lanterne Rouge, is the latest team to join the list of 15 teams who have retired. They made it to TA5 around 13:00 today, which was a short course cut-off where they would bike directly to TA6. However, they were also poised to miss the final 15:00 cut-off at TA7 by quite a lot. The short course from there would have been a ride forward to CP17. It's possible that the organizers weren't able to transport them and their bikes - or maybe they'd just had enough fun for one race.
Just 4 teams are left on the course early Friday morning after 8 days. Olympus Red Ants and Uruguay Natural US are at TA9 ready to start the final short trek. Run Zourit (the final full course team) and Team Belgium are less than half an hour away from TA9. Well done!
Team Belgium was the last ones to cross the line. Now we have to wait for race reports and five days until PER for more dot watching. If I am going to be lazy for the holidays, I might as well watch other people doing stuff.