This week San Gerardo, the next village over, hosted a required rest area between sections five and six of the Costa Rica Adventure Race. Wow! What amazing stamina these athletes have. Sorry, Iron Men, but you have quite a ways to go to keep up with these men and women.
The day before they began arriving the locals, resident expats, and Cloudbridge volunteers spent several hours preparing food for the contestants, race personnel, and observers. An assembly line was a great way to make the tamales. I got a bit of a sore spot on my thumb from peeling potatoes. Linda and I worked together to translate the menu into English. The kitchen was open twenty-four hours a day for three days as racers were arriving at all hours.
This incredible show of passion for outdoor adventures began along the Panamanian border, proceeded to the Pacific Ocean, crossed over the Talamanca Mountains, continued by water to the Caribbean Sea, headed north to the border of Nicaragua, and then went a bit south again. The course covers 815 km and is traversed by bike, kayak, feet (including 10 km of portaging kayaks), and raft. Two zip lines are a welcome break; one is even Superman style! A GPS was used by each team solely for tracking purposes. Navigation could only be by map and compass.
We were lucky enough to be living nearby and witness the bikers reaching the rest camp before heading out by foot up, over, and down Mt. Chirripó to the rather challenging Pacuare River which took over thirty hours. Particpants battle exhaustion as they sleep for a couple of hours only when needed. Chafed private areas and water logged soles plague them all.
As teams arrived over three days, having all left the starting gate together but finding the mangroves especially confusing, it was interesting to see the different sequence the teams took at the rest area. Some immediately disassembled their bikes and packed them in their special transport boxes before changing clothes, eating, and finally sleeping. Others immediately changed clothes, took care of their weary muscles and sore skin, and renourished their bodies before getting a couple of hours of shut eye on the concrete floor. Of all the teams we saw only two slept out on the soccer field. Then they had to repack gear as the bikes and other items were being driven to the other side of the mountain range. They also needed a backpack for clothing, personal items, food, and water. The French team was rather messy and used a lot of space, but one USA team was very efficient and kept their things in a very contained area.
First to arrive was team Thule who wore the Swedish Flag but are French. One guy seemed a bit dazed even after being at camp for four and a half hours. They all seemed a bit haggard.
Next was Team Seagate from New Zealand who seemed much more rested and were the winners last year. Each team must have at least one woman, and Sophie seemed to be very animated despite this grueling adventure.
The first USA team came in third, followed by Spain. The second day we saw another US team down the road as we were driving to San Isidro. Bill paused to ask a guy where he is from – Boston! Go, Red Sox! This is his fifth and final adventure race!!
The race is open for ten days and as of right now, only the first three teams have any chance of winning. The other teams are being delayed by required dark stops as one can’t raft in obscurity.
Update….the winners – Team Thule came in first, Spain second, and a USA team tied with an English team having chosen to finish together. The amazing Seagate Team from New Zealand had to withdraw due to horrendous foot blisters. So sad as they were so close to the end and could have won.