Orienteering 9:30:00 
Expedicion Guarani, April 2019
In short, the way it came up, and how the race went was pretty crazy, but wouldn’t trade it for the world. The report will talk about the race, but also some of the cultural nuances I encountered in this race. The greatest things for me was the challenge, interacting with the locals, and the beauty of the countryside. The biggest challenges was having to speak and translate Spanish/English all the time---even when tired, the many challenges we encountered and being soaking wet and cold during the ginormous paddle.
About 2 months before the race, JD texted me “Congratulations, you are going to Paraguay.” Truth, I did reach out and mentioned that I noticed he looks for teammates from time to time and I did start to think about wanting to try international expedition racing, so I had reached out. I did say maybe not Paraguay but something in the future.
When I got the message I thought about it for about a day. Then decided to go for it. I don’t know if it’s turning 49, or the thought that 2020 might not hold a lot for racing for me, or the thought of such a significant cultural growth experience lured me in, but I was crazy enough to jump in. The two other teammates are from Mexico, Jorge and Uli. They had some experience with XPD racing. We had communication through WhatsApp and a phone call pre race about gear and race communications, but I didn’t meet them until I arrived in Paraguay.
JD wasn’t set to arrive until after us, so we headed off to the store. That bike ride was insane! Uli was out front, and would whistle and hold up his hand to control traffic. I never rode like that in my life! I did everything to keep up so cars wouldn’t separate us. Wow. That was nuts. But exhilarating at the same time. During this ride, we realized something was up with my back brake. After taking a look at it, headed off to the trek store for a repair. They asked if I wanted XTR replacement (which is what I have) or a more basic replacement, and I said XTR. They made a few phone calls, and after some wow and laughter, they told me the price (cheaper than US!) and said it would take a few days. So shimano it was. This situation was one of many, many that really opened my eyes again and again.
Once the team was together it was go time on coordinating gear and getting things together. However, JD was feeling a bit under the weather. Jorge passed something to JD to use for his cold, and he proceeded to use it as a nasal inhaler. After some howling, he learned it was for his mouth. Oh my goodness, this and the brakes turned into a long list of “what could happen next” things to come.
The pre race activities proceeded without incident. I did have the first of what turned into quite a few instances of chatting with the Columbia VidaRaid team. Very nice people for sure! At the welcome dinner, I sat next to a young woman name Majo (pronounced Mayo). I was starting to get my bearings with speaking Spanish, which was a good thing! In many countries English isn’t hard to find, but the hotel didn’t have bilingual staff, and a lot of the verbal race information and communication was in Spanish. Jorge was as bilingual as I am, and certainly some things got lost in translation.
Anyway, back to Majo, she shared that she is 28 and probably the youngest female racer in the in Expedition category. I joked back that I was probably the oldest. She asked how old I am, and when she heard, she was totally and completely shocked. As the race went on and post race, I had about 10-15 people want to guess how old I am or wanted to know. The average age they guessed was 40. I have to admit, with steady health care and access to just about anything I need, I can imagine I look younger than my age.
But, I was getting weary of pre race. I wanted to get this started. Off to be at 7p for a 2:30a alarm.
We got on the bus at 3:30 and got to the start at 6a. We were given 20 maps. I realized we had not at all discussed how we would use this time. Incidentally, I had my map wheel with us, but realized it was faster to use the ruler or just the plain old squares for distances. JD still wasn’t feeling great, so I started to proceed with bike distances with the time we had. As the navigator, he started looking at the first nav map. We got our first warning from a referee, the map wheel! GAH! I had no idea. He noticed we had not used it, but said it needs to disappear. So, we got it into our overnight luggage.
At 7:30, we were finally off! CP 1 and 2 went along fine, and as we started on to CP 3, JD started to feel really bad. He had turned his ankle on one of the (many many) fence hops and was just getting way over heated. He took a tow from Jorge and eventually, I realized we were sort of wandering, and that JD didn’t have a map and Jorge and Uli did. I asked them where we were and they didn’t know. Uh oh. So, I stopped us to consult getting us on line. I determined that there was a potentially significant trail that we needed to get to, and once there, could reasonably find our way. With the slower pace, JD started to come around a bit. We made our way to 3, and then started our way to 4, but got off line again with JD’s feverish state. I asked if I could give it a try. He said yes, and the guys looked a little concerned. I went with the easiest possible handrails and figured if there was water in the creek JD could cool down some. We proceeded well, and got through 5, 6, and 7 without incident. JD started to recover again, and when I was on the line for 8, he wanted to pull off. Jorge and Uli have raced with JD before, and I sensed that they trusted him more than me, which makes sense. So we went off the line and found ourselves in a crazy situation again. Fortunately, we made our way back and then on to 9 and 10 and to the TA in second to last. En route, the guys stopped for a quick beer.