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Raid Gallaecia Race Report (part 1)

I’m Jacob Westerberg, team captain of USWE Adventure Team and I’ve got the opportunity to write a little something about our race in Spain. The race is called Raid Gallaecia and is part of the World Series of Adventure Racing. The race is non stop, you compete in teams of 4 and the whole team sticks together at all time. The distance covered was about 500km with 27.000m height change, 14 stages of trekking, running, Mountainbike, canyoning, swimming and ropes. 32 teams started, 10 teams got to the finish line. USWE Adventure Team finished in 6th place.

Chasing with no sugar added!

I grabbed two slices of pizza and we set off for the last section of the race, stage 11-13. These were the 3 last stages before the final bike sprint to the finish line. Stage 11 was 33km on foot. Sun was shining and we were cruising out of the Gallaecian city of Narón (or Ferrol maybe its called, not sure. The municipality is called Narón). It was Thursday around 3 a clock in the afternoon and we were running in a good pace. This was the easy part. Of course, feet were hurting. We had already covered almost 150km of running in this race. And for my part, I had a minor problem of my own. When the rest of the team kept a good pace eating race food, I could not get my sick stomach to accept anything. I was running on fat – with no sugar added!

Felix in front - Stage 11 – to the kayaks

We kept our pace until the transition to kayaks. The paddle started in a river and we finally got out in bay of the Atlantic Ocean. No dolphins were spotted (maybe they were there, but it was quite dark, so we couldn’t see them). It had passed 12 hours since my last calorie intake. I was re-thinking about food plans. Is sugar really needed at a race? Or… Can we just keep on racing with the fatty-acid-diesel motor for ever?

From left: Bjarke Refslund, Helen Westerberg, Jacob Westerberg and Felix Breitschädel.

We finished the paddle and had a night run around the city Narón (Ferrol?). This was the last 22km of running for this race. The checkpoints were tricky, but our navigational experts Felix and Bjarke, led us to the checkpoints without trouble. Personally I had a struggle with sleep and made one interval-run-sleep-exercise that paid off. It’s quite an easy exercise and can be performed by anyone, from rookies to pros. And you don’t have to do 3-4 days of non stop racing in advance. Sometimes you feel the need on an ordinary Sunday afternoon or after work on a Tuesday. You just run 50m ahead of your friends and lay down on the ground. You close your eyes and fall asleep… until your team covers the gap.

We got ourselves into the last TA (Transition Area) and we prepared for a stay in the penalty box. Because of an early mistake in the race (we got separated more than 100m during the first paddle) we knew that we had to serve a 2 hours penalty stop at this TA. This TA was set inside a shopping mall and was the same TA that we had left before heading out on stage 11. We had passed a couple of teams on the last legs. We were now on 6th position, ahead of South African Team Cyanosis. Before the last trekk they were 1h 20min ahead of us. At the TA we were 1h ahead, but our penalty made them pass us again.

High class TA...

The Penalty Box photo by Anne-Marie Dunhill, originally posted on facebook

From the box we were looking at the South Africans when they left the TA. With envy we saw them get on the bikes and out on the final stage. We were locked in for 35 more minutes. Then our final chase begun!

We were only 3 !

Two weeks before the race we got a substitute for Wolfgang who couldn’t race due to an injury. Bjarke Refslund, Danish Adventure Racer from Team Yeti, was going to race with us. We had not really met him before the race and he could not arrive in As Pontes before Sunday noon.

Before the start we found out that one of our trolleys for the kayak portages were out of order. One of the wheels had exploded during the flight and it could not be fixed. Anyway... we got the last things together and tried all to get a good night sleep before the start Monday the 8th of May at 10:00 am.

Start of the Race - city of As Pontes

Our target was to be in the front pack, with not more then 5 teams ahead of us. We followed the plan and had a nice and safe first 11km run.

We got our selves to the first TA in 2nd position and we soon set a good pace in the kayaks. There was a small stream and we tried to find water deep enough for our kayaks. After some kilometres we reached the first portage and we really made a mess for our selves. Helen and me got our kayak up from the water and we heard and saw Felix and Bjarke taking their kayak and started to run. We hurried and didn't notice that we got started to move on after the guys. Convinced they were ahead we hurried on.... In reality they were behind us and tried to catch up. This is were we got separated more than 100m. We did definitely no gain any time on this mistake, but we would later on visit the penalty box for 2 hours because of it.

Anyway... after some 48km of padling we arrived to TA 2. We got the kayak gear stored and headed for Stage 3 a 35km run with a night orienteering section. Weather was nice, pace was good and we enjoyed the stage. Later on the sun went down (not a surprise really) and we got to the orienteering section. We got company of a couple of teams who could benefit on our strong navigation. A part from that, not really much of drama occurred.

Stage 4 -MTB 58km

First night and we headed off in about 3rd to 4th position. However Bjarke got a flat on the first downhill and we were forced to stop and put a tube in the tyre. Some teams swished by, but we caught them later on during the stage. The last part of the stage included a lot of small tracks (almost invisible) and a lot of hike a bike. This made the teams get together again and we were keeping our position in the race around 3-4.

First night was over. It was now time to get out on the big 64km trekk/run section. Additional gear on this stage were: wet suite, climbing gear, helmet and wet suite. This is heavy equipment and we knew we had a challenge ahead of us...

More to come in the next part of our race report from Raid Gallaecia.

Thanks to our supporting families, wives, parents and kids. Without your support, we would not event get to the start line. A big thanks also to our sponsors. USWE for the best hydration packs and hydration solutions in the world. 2XU for clothing (this was our first multi day competition with true compression clothing and we are all impressed how good it worked). Merrell for shoes in water and on land (we started our cooperation just before the race and we used both Dexterity and Agility Peak on the race). Also a big thanks to Lupine for supporting us with lights, for Fjordnutrition for minerals and for Nordenmark Adventure for mapholders.