Team Greenpeace Wins
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Over the last week, this race has progressed at breakneck speed. The finish is no exception. Event organizer Mark Burnett describes it as the closest finish ever in any adventure, expedition-style race.
At 9:20am local time Team Greenpeace of New Zealand crossed the finish line at the beautiful lakeside resort of Bahia Lopez. It is hard to imagine, as they exit their kayaks, that just over five days ago they began a nonstop, 318km journey through the most rugged and majestic terrain that Patagonia has to offer.
The huge local crowd and media that have become a feature of this year's event were out in force to greet the team. Captain John Howard described the race as "the best adventure race I have experienced in my career. I had the best teammates that you could ever ask for; they are a wonderful group of people and we had a huge amount of fun out there together."
The team described the scenery as magnificent and were thankful to the local people of Bariloche, who have been so generous in their support during the race. When asked if the team had ever cursed Mark Burnett for the hellish course he set, Greenpeace's Howard said he actually feels quite the opposite.
"Mark should be given great credit for the course he has designed. We loved the course as it challenged us immensely, but for the teams further back, it is still doable. It is all credit to Mark that no one had a serious injury or we did not see a death on this course," he said.
In true Kiwi tradition, once the official ceremonies were over, the first thing on the list was to crack open a cold beer. For the small contingency of New Zealand media and the Kiwi Team Map Info, it was a special moment knowing that once again New Zealand reigns supreme.
Less than an hour later, at 10:05am Team Sierra Nevada, of Spain, crossed the finish line. This is the third Eco-Challenge the team has competed in and its performance in the last few days, as it chased the leaders, has been remarkable.
At 11:30, the locals, Team Condor, arrived to one of the craziest welcomes you could imagine. In a scene reminiscent of a World Cup soccer final, the people of Bariloche cheered and sang as the team walked to the podium. Mark Burnett says that Team Condor has now entered the elite circle of the best adventure racers in the world.
Team Rubicon, the only team with three female competitors, is expected to arrive later today. It's a beautiful day here and it seems the locals have settled in for a party!
Chris Vile, MountainZone.com Correspondent