The Adventure Racing community is a small one. Looking through the lineup of the US teams, I realized that I have raced with many of them. As a result I have some insight in to the strengths of the various teams, and team members, and will go out on a limb and make some projections.
First and foremost, this appears to be one of the strongest fields ever for a world championship. There are many very fast and experienced teams vying to win. In addition, the terrain in Costa Rica will force teams to be on top of their game the entire way. Navigating in the jungle can be very tricky – I have learned the hard way on that one! And I understand that there will be a lot of paddling in relatively slow kayaks. (recent facebook posts show inflatable kayaks with attachable sails that teams can bring themselves) maneuvering these rigs will take good technique and long sustained effort. Above all I would expect that this course will be very wet, which means that foot care will be essential. Any adventure racer knows that if you fail to take care of your feet, it will be a very, very long race.
Team Tecnu is the top ranked team in the US. Based out of Northern California, I know Kyle Peters and Garrett Bean personally and I know that they have been training very hard. Other team members are Bob Miller, a Canadian icon and great navigator, plus Karen Lungren (Super K), one of the top female adventure racers in the world with tons of experience with Team Sole. Tecnu won in Costa Rica last year and took the USARA Championship this year. They are looking for a top 5 finish and if some of the favorites falter, they could find themselves on the podium.
Team Bones is also a Northern California based team and is anchored by Roy Malone. Roy introduced me to adventure racing back in 2003 when he was racing for Team Subaru. Roy has a ton of experience dating back to the Eco-Challenge days and has had top finishes against international competitions including Primal Quest. Jason Quinn formerly of Silly Rabbits is a medical doctor and a top navigator. Andy Tubbs, also an old Silly Rabbits team member is a top notch paddler. They are joined by Mari Chandler another world class female racer. Mari races more then anyone I know, most often with DART/Nuun and took 2nd this year at the USARA Championship. Bones won the Gold Rush Mother Lode 2013 and is in top form. I predict they will be a top 10 finisher and, based on their Costa Rica experience, might be able to place even higher.
Gear Junkie/YogaSlackers lives by the motto of “Go fast and take chances.” I have raced against Jason and Chelsey Magness many times and they always shown up fit and ready to go. Jason and Chelsey have been racing with Daniel Staudigel for a number of years now. They tend to do better when the conditions are rough and could be a sleeper team. They are joined by a relative new comer Eric Sanders. I don’t know Eric but if he is hanging with the YogaSlackers, he must be fast and tough. I would expect a top 20 finish and if the conditions are really rough, maybe even better.
Leki 50 is a group of racers that I have personally raced with at various times. I raced with Pete Spagnoli (from New York) and Thor Egerton (Australia living in Norway) at Raid the North in 2011. J.D. Eskelson (currently living in Germany) dragged me around the Gold Rush Course in 2011 and Mark Lattanzi raced with me in this year Gold Rush. This team collectively has done well over 50 expedition length races. There are three excellent navigators on the team and they are all strong and determined. Given the strength of the field a top 30 finish would be an excellent out come.
Dark Horse and Committed. I don’t know either of these teams so can’t comment too much. Based on a little research it appears that Dark Horse has team members that raced back in the Eco-Challenge days so they would have some good experience. Team Committed raced at Gold Rush this year as an all male team. They seemed to have a fun attitude which will carry them a long way. Given the length and expected difficulty of the course, I would expect that these teams will be trying to stay ahead of the cut offs so they can do as much of the course as possible.
Shout out to Team Selva Kailash with Jennifer Moos from Florida. This Brazilian team has lots of experience and has done well on the international stage. The main challenge for this team will be the language barrier. Jen doesn’t speak Portuguese and the guys speak very little English. This will make for an interesting team dynamic. I raced with Jen on Team Barking Frogs at Gold Rush this year. She is super strong and fast on the bike and has a great upbeat attitude. That should help a lot!
We will be following all of these teams as they battle the course and each other. The starting gun goes off soon. Good luck to everyone.
Barking Frogs Ambassador