This is the 3rd part of the race report from 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.
Ok...Stage 4, 28km of biking, this should be one of the most easy stages in the race. It included 1000m climb in total, but anyway, 28 is not a long stage. But for me it was. Legs felt like they had been run over by a car. The power was just not there. I got help from the team in the uphills. Bjarke was towing me and the rest of the team kept the spirit up. Without getting any more details of the sickness... I just can say that it was not over until the last climb of the stage. The final climb I was walking. The other guys took my bike and I was also given a helping push on my back. Thanks guys! I hope I will never be this weak (on a race? or maybe ever...) again!!
The following transition was slow and the loop trekk of 15km was also slow, but during the trekk we started to discuss the rest of the race. I was not able to eat anything and after some discussions we ended up with a plan to visit the supermarket and try to get some proper food before heading out for the next long bike leg.
Proper food for me was mac n cheese, noodles and bread. I stored one noodle package in the back pack for later use. These photos from stage 7 looks really amazing. The beautiful yellow flowers on the open hills... We bushwhacked through some of them and they are an aggressive species. The 2cm thorns covers the whole plant and they are willing to take a bite on you whenever getting to close...
After the trekk it was time to recover on the 70km long bike stage followed by a 8km run and a 37km bike stage, before entering the next cosy indoor TA at a shopping mall. It was something like 4000m vertical climb on these stages and this is were I started to get the strength back again. But it didn't start that easy. Helen was starting to feel sick as well. She struggled with the powers leaving here, but she made it from throwing up and she could still eat and drink normally. I was not even close to my normal biking shape, but I managed to stay in the pack and just focused to get better.
We started with a climb and got up to the windmills. Felix was carrying Helens backpack and she hanged in with the pack and got better and better. When darkness came I started to have a discussion with my stomach about how it would like to be treated for the rest of the race. I remember this stage as the stage where we came by a downhill in a small village to a stop sign and then turning left. It felt like we did this exercises for 5-10 times and in every village I was looking at the covered bus stops with longing for a sleep...
The most beautiful scenery was a church/town along the sea. I'm not sure of the location or the name of it, but it felt like a special place when we biked through the streets. We were only there to look for a small foot path to hike the bike uphill. That is what we do... We find a way to continue.
When we had continued for hours I managed to get the team to accept me to have a 2minutes sleep. Finally I got lay down at a bus stop, close my eyes and slept. 2 minutes is not long, but at the time it made the job and we continued again.
At the very end of the stage it felt like my legs were released from the sickness. I could not eat, but the infection was somehow leaving the legs and the power started to come back. Helen was also starting to feel better and we realised that our worst part of the race was over. Felix and Bjarke was still strong and we started to prepare for the last part of the race. Stage 9 was a 8km trekk along the coast line and the 37km bike stage was managed without problems.
From one of the checkpoints on Stage 10 - to the shopping mall.
At the TA we biked into the shopping mall and was met with applauds and music!! That was really nice! The organisation also gave us a slize of Pizza and I enjoyed my noodles before we hit 30min of sleep.
This looks kind of cosy? Doesn't it?
The stages 11-13 is already covered in a previous post and I'm just going to focus on the last stage in this post.
We were out hunting and we had been hunting for almost 20h now. We gained time on the teams ahead and we were determined to try to catch Cyanosis from South Africa. Unfortunately I could not eat anything and was only fuelling with fatty acids, but at least I didn't slow the team so we were reasonably strong at the time. Helen was also felling ok now and Felix and Bjarke was as strong as ever before.
We pushed on. Felix and Bjarke had been doing a superb race with the maps. And now their expertise really paid off. We got one of thoose Gallaecian showers after the first climb and we got the shell layer on. Weather was semi-cold and ultra-wet, but now we only focused on the finish line. After some climbs we surprised a photographer... why did we surprise him? He was not expecting us to come from where we came... He got into the car and followed us, took some pictures and released a drone to take some video when we got to the next cp.
What we didn't know at the time, was that we had chosen a different route then Cyanosis and had gained almost 45 minutes.
Cyanosis is number 5 on the route choice up north. We are number 27 down south (number 4 Chaos Machine is on short course and it looks like took the same rout as us).
I'm so proud of the team navigators for the whole race. They did an outstanding job! This was a route choice "victory" well deserved.
When we spotted another team ahead of us, we assumed it was Cyanosis and we prepared to push hard to get passed them. But, when we got closer we realised that it was the American team Chaos Machine (on short course) and we chatted with them, asked if they had seen Cyanosis. They said we were ahead of them... Yeah... sure, how could they know :) . We continued to push.
The last part was undramatic, apart from a close encounter of a big dog. He we not really fond of our next route choice and was determined to have Bjarke for lunch. Lucky for us we got away and the dog stayed hungry.
We rolled in to As Pontes again. Happy to reach the finish line. I was at the time very hungry... Im not the biggest racer out there and my fat reserves where burned... Now it was time to refuel.
We have learnt a lot and are very pleased to make a strong finish after the troubles we had in the middle of the race.
At last.... We would like to thank all of the organisation, the people in Gallaecia, the dogs for being very nice (actually the hungry dog at the end was an exception), all fellow racers and all of the volunteers for making this race come true.
Next time will be different :)
Thanks to our supporting families, wives, parents and kids. Without your support, we would not even 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.