ARWC 2007: From Hell to Heaven (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Adventure Race World Championship: From Hell to Heaven (Monday) On arrival at Inverie (with only access via either Loch Nevis or a rough trek over Knoydart, this has got to be the most remote village in the whole of the mainland UK) the teams set out for a long trek across the rough bounds of Knoydart taking in the peaks of Ben Aden, Sgurr a Choire-bheithe and the Munroes Luinne Bheinn and Ladhor Bheinn. As the sun rose, the views back to the islands of Rum and Eigg where the race kayaked from were spectacular. With the lead team four hours behind schedule many teams missed the cut off and took a shorter course. On Knoydart, some teams took their first sleep (just 2 or 3 hours); those in the know made good use of the Sourlies and Barrisdale bothies. From Knoydart, it was a long mountain bike ride over to Glen Affric. Here the teams undertook the first of two challenges set for them; a 20 foot jump into the freezing plunge pool at Plodda Falls. Many chose not to get their kit wet by jumping in naked! Careful editing will be required before this goes out on the telly.

By Plodda Falls the lead teams were streaking ahead

After a short ride and as night approached, the lead teams made it to the Red Bull Aerial Exposure Tyrolean; a 100m cable stretched across the raging Badger Fall. The first three teams across were Wilsa Hellyhansen, Team Nike, and Team Balance Vector.

Night draws in on the Tyrolean

Adventure Race World Championship: It?s a wash out (Tuesday) From Badger Fall teams were back on their bikes to the spectacular setting of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, and from here it was a relatively short paddle across the loch. A section of Nordic walking took the teams down Loch Ness to Foyers Canyon. Here the lead teams made it through the canyon. However, the now incessant rain soon led to this part of the course being abandoned. From here, a long wet and misty trek led teams through the Monadhlith Mountains to Laggan Wolftrax MTB Centre. Adventure Race World Championship: Hike a Kayak (Wednesday) At Laggan it was a quick lap of the red route mountain bike trail, Team Nike setting the time to beat (35 minutes). With the café open many teams chose to take a break and dry off a bit. Some teams were in good spirits and some were in a complete daze.

Aberdeen Asset Management taking a well earned break

From here, teams left for two rope challenges: an ascent and descent that were set up on Binnein Shuas (the final hill on the LAMM a few years back). By this time it was bitterly cold and looking back over Loch Laggan a clear snow line on Creag Meagaidh could be seen. Here there was good news for the teams, organisers had decided to remove the Munro of Creag Pitridh from the course given that the race was taking longer than expected.

Plodding on in bitterly cold conditions

It was then back on the bikes to Dalwhinnie, where teams were reported to be having a drink in the hotel bar. In the past, competitors have complained about ´Hike a Bike´ in other events (this is where paths are too rough to be cycled on) and there was no Hike a Bike in this event. Instead, teams started a kayak section across the centre of Scotland; linking the A9 and A82 this would include about 20k of Hike a Kayak. The majority of this section can be paddled on Loch Ericht and Loch Laidon but there will be some long portage (carrying or towing the kayak on a trolley) sections that will really test the already exhausted teams. By the evening, Team Nike had pulled out a commanding lead and were kayaking across Rannoch Moor. The next teams behind them are Wilsa Helly Hansen and The first British team are Aberdeen Asset Management in 12th place. Over two days racing separates the first and last teams. Only 20 teams of the 49 that started remain on the full course. 12 teams are completing a shorter course and the rest have withdrawn from the race. On Wednesday evening the clouds began to clear from the west and it stopped raining. This will raise the spirits of those teams still in the race. They still have a long way to go. Once they have finished the crazy kayaking section they still have to climb every peak in Glencoe (via Curved Ridge and the Aonach Eagach Ridge), a mountain bike from Kinlochleven to Glen Nevis and, finally, an ascent of Ben Nevis before they return to Fort William and the finish.