In a race like the Wenger Patagonian Expedition, it is extremely hard to explain the intensity, the beauty, the suffering and the all around rawness to a person. This year, Stepjan, the infamous race director made a race course far harder than previous years. He warned us best he could, but even he couldn't explain what we were about to do. Stepjan predicted that only 3 teams would finish the entire course. In the end, no teams finished the entire course. After some alterations to the race course due to some (now regretful) decisions made by Team Adidas, Team Gear Junkie, and the French and The Croats- we finished in our respectful places, with Team Adidas in 1st, Team Gear Junkie in 2nd, and the French coming in 3rd.
The last thing I told Stepjan before I left the closing ceremony is "Please keep it wild and insanely hard" that is what keeps people coming back. It's a race that is like a skeleton in your closet - we've done it twice now - and each time encountered challenges that we never imagined possible - and not just physical. The emotional obstacles that we came up against were often even greater. And in the end, we have yet to complete a full course as imagined by Stepjan. I'll spend the next year in anticipation of our return, not so much in a desire to win the 2012 race (although we'll certainly try), but to enter the crucible (Patagonia has become one for me) and see how I emerge the other side.
This year the race had some amazing volunteers, photographers, videoagraphers and logistics people in the office and out on the course. The amount of updates, posts and tweets had people on the edge of their seats- including my Dad, a construction worker in Alaska who was checking the updates every hour at one point. People who didn't really understand why or what adventure racing is were able to follow us and join us in the excitement of it all. We were further blessed to have our friends and fellow Slackers, Sam Salwei and Paul Cassedy selected as part of the media crew. Knowing that they were out in that same wilderness, trudging around with cameras in that inhospitable and unmatched beauty. We expected to see them as we forced our way out of every brush choked gully - cameras rolling amid whoops of encouragement.
Unfortunately the journalists and photographers couldn't always be with us out there in the wild, unmerciful terrain (we actually spent days with no contact with anyone). However, we brought a camera just for this reason. Below, we take you behind the scenes - where you can get a little taste of what our personal journey was like.
A few of my favorite moments from the race-
- Floating down the river on our ultra light Therma Rest Neo Air - it was worth almost freezing to death later on..
- Watching Dan - the best bushwhacker in the whole entire world wrestle and often win the battle against the "death star" bushes.
- Going up and over a mountain pass, where there was no bushwhacking- only solid, sticky rock (thank you Inov-8!!) and then Running into cp 8 (the check point before the last kayak) finding out that we gained 5 hours on the Brits! - Thanks to Jason's awesome navigation!
- every time I opened up Alpine Aire... my tummy and taste buds were always thanking me.
- watching Jason run with Stephens bike over his shoulder across the finish line- (there is never a dull moment with us)
- My conversations with Stephen - who seemed off in another dimension starting on day 2 of the race.
- Our inventiveness and over all sense of adventure and ability to laugh and help each other out when things got down right bad as a team.