Anticipation is building as the start of the UK's most important adventure race of the calendar draws near. This weekend 36 teams will gather in Cardiff for the start of the ITERA, the UK round of the Adventure Race World Championship series. In the main event teams will trace a 600km route from Caernarfon to Cardiff by foot, mountain bike and kayak. For Team Ellis Brigham AR this is the main race of the season and hopes are high both for an amazing adventure through spectacular Welsh landscape, and for a competitive performance and a high placing.
Team captain Andy Wilson gives us the lowdown:
"With less than a week to go to the start there are still many unknowns. The route being the main one! Organisers like to maintain total secrecy with regard to the route until the last minute, and teams will only be given maps and route details on Saturday, 2 days from the start. The route is broken into stages with teams transitioning between foot, bike and kayak several times during the course of the week. Team kit is moved forward to the next transition by the event organisation. For now we’ve been given a route guide which shows which discipline and how long each stage will be.'
"We know that the route starts in Caernarfon at 8am on Monday 11th August with a 3km run followed by a 40km kayak. Where this will take us to transition to the following 40km mountain biking stage only the race director knows. But I'm sure speculation is rife amongst all the competitors, and is part of what builds the excitement before the event. With one of the world’s most experienced adventure racers and former world champion, Tom Gibbs, designing the route, we can be sure to visit the jewels in Wales’ cultural and physical landscape. My money is on us seeing plenty of castles along the way, including I hope Conwy Castle, which is just a stone's throw from where I grew up and where I still have family and friends. Epic trekking stages through Snowdonia, the Rhinogs and Cader Idris and the Brecon Beacons are almost certainties surely?'
"The other uncertainty in a competitive sense is the opposition. Almost half the field is made up of foreign teams, which is wonderful. We are privileged that so many have made the effort, and it is a huge logistical effort to race overseas, to come and join in the adventure and discover Wales's many marvels. Many will be hoping to secure a free place in the end of season AR World Championships in Ecuador by winning the race. What is certain is that our team, and likewise every other team, will have an amazing adventure and leave richer for it."
A Real Test
"I'm sure many will look at the event and the sheer scale of it, and others like it, and wonder why we do it. It is a question often asked, not least by those taking part on occasion! Each individual will experience many low points, physical and mental hardship and exhaustion. But the payback is immense. Travelling day and night we will see so much of Wales and at times and in conditions in which one would never normally trek or ride. These days it is not the norm to really seek out adventure, day hikes with the sun on our back are enjoyable but don’t really test us mentally or physically. Trekking at night is perhaps one of my favourite parts of the race. No-one should be on the hill at night, surely? Perhaps it is the best time, the darkness heightens the feeling of remoteness, the knowledge that everyone else is warmly tucked up in bed only emphasises the uniqueness of the experience.'
"We perhaps long to challenge ourselves, search out the limits of our physical and mental capacity, in ways which adventurers of a previous age wouldn’t have given second thought. Doing so in the company of good friends, who can support us through the tough times and share our experiences, will undoubtedly leave everyone who takes part with memories which will last forever."
Follow The Team
Ellis Brigham Adventure Racing will be carrying GPS trackers throughout the event which starts with a prologue in Cardiff on Saturday 16th August, followed by the main race start in Caernarfon on Monday 18th August at 8:00am. Our progress can be followed on the live event website.