US's GoLite Crosses 2nd
Day 8: Sheraton Resort Resembles a Triage Unit
October 18, 2002- 7 p.m. Fiji Time- Denarau Island, Fiji
Just hours after an impressive win by New Zealand's Team Seagate.com closed one chapter in this year's Eco-Challenge, two more teams are now comfortably ensconced in the luxury Sheraton Denarau Resort here at the finish line.
Team GoLite/BALANCE Bar finished the race at 2:08 p.m. today, just over six hours behind the winning team. Then, at approximately 5 p.m., Australian Team Air Pacific finished in 3rd place, just about one solid workday after the winners.
"We'll be looking back on this race for months," said Aussie Novak Thompson. "There were so many different scenarios we could have taken."
The team had made an impressive move up, at one point in 12th position, to finish 3rd, even after sleeping for 14 hours around CP 5 when Alina McMaster fell ill during the race. "I'm amazed we finished," said Thompson. "We did what we had to do to finish the race."
Asked what he was thinking about as his team paddled for the finish line, Thompson replied simply "I hoped the wind would blow harder. And that we slept too bloody much last night!"
For team member Matt Dalziel, today was a double celebration as he not only finished, but also celebrated his 32nd birthday. "This is the longest race ever," he said. "I grew a beard and grew a year older." Dalziel continued, saying "The race went on and on, and came down to attrition. But I'll tell you, at one point out there we were talking of quitting it all and going surfing. We needed something catastrophic to end our race," he joked. "But nothing happened, no one broke a leg or anything."
"We really were planning on a shorter race and relied on the villagers for food. We all lost weight, but the locals were fantastic offering food along the way." Asked what his most memorable moment was, he replied, "In a village after the second mountain bike leg (CP 10), one village put out a spread and these men sang a cappella. They sounded like angels."
We asked John Jacoby to compare this race to the current record-holder for longest-ever adventure race, the 2000 Elf Authentic Adventure in Brazil. Jacoby won that race as a member of Team Spie, but it took them 11 long days.
"It's hard to compare," he said. "That race was long, but slow with lots of dark zones, but when you compare a four- to five-day race to a six- to seven-day race, they're very different. Part of it is mental, but when it goes to 11 days, that's a whole other level."
MountainZone.com spent part of Friday heading backward on the course, to intercept 9th-placed Brazilian Team Canon Qasar Lontra and shoot photos on the hike from CP 10 to Abaca Village. We missed them on the rope rappel, but will try to get back in there for photos.
Meanwhile, we missed the 2nd place arrival of Team GoLite/BALANCE Bar Friday afternoon, but will try to bring you an interview with Captain Ian Adamson in the next day or two.
The Sheraton Resort now resembles a triage unit, with all sorts of haggered competitors hobbling around the lobby, or lying out by the pool to rest their tired feet. Only 22 teams are still ranked, spread between CPs 7 and the finish, but they should keep racing right up until the deadline on the 21st. A big finish party is planned for that night, so we'll try to sneak a camera in to that.
Team Mazda is due up next in 4th place, and should be arriving here at 1 a.m. local time. Fifth-placed Earthlink should arrive sometime Saturday morning. Team Washington Adventure Race is bringing up the rear in 22nd place, having left CP 7 at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
So check back for more stories from the race. Meanwhile here's our word of the day from Fiji: Stubby. A stubby is what the locals call their local beer, Fiji Bitter Beer.
Ari Cheren, MountainZone.com Correspondent