ADAC: A taste of effort and opulence
The opening day of the 2008 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge embraced extremes of more than one nature: First came the effort required by the athletes to compete this morning’s inaugural triathlon.
The morning of the first day brought an explosive start to race as the teams sped away on their bikes for the first leg of an opening 40km triathlon held along and just offshore the Corniche Beach waterfront. The 17km MTB section along the wide avenues was followed by 12.5km of sea-kayaking around Lulu Island, 10km of trail running along the island’s tracks and dunes with a final sprint paddle back to the beach for the finish.
The hot sun and stiff sea-breeze added to the fierce competition that saw last year’s winners Desert Islands (NZ) come out on top ahead of compatriots Team NZ and a Sport 2000 Vibram Outdry (FR). An elated but somewhat perplexed Richard Ussher expressed his surprise at the outcome of this opening stage: “We are a little surprised at our lead on this first section, especially as we thought our strengths would lie more on the biking and running stages. Our paddle went really well though and we had an error free run on the island. The team is really well balanced overall and if any of us appear to be suffering they can always get help from another,” he said confidently.
The teams then transferred from Abu Dhabi West along the coast to Jebel Dhanna where they took the short ferry ride across from the mainland jetty to the spectacular desert island destination of Sir Bani Yas for the evening bivouac and a introspective night before tomorrow’s early morning MTB section. The mountains that crown this 17km by 9km pearl-shaped paradise loom out of a brilliant blue sea.
In the fading light, the greenery that blankets the island appears to sweep down to the waters edge where mangroves blur the transition between land and sea. The dominant hues of deep ochre, burnt umber and green remind you of other renowned havens of peace and spirituality like Australia’s Ayers Rock and the short trip around the island, to the bivouac on the East Beach, reveals a tiny portion of the millions of trees planted over the years to provide a suitable habitat for the thousands of wild animals, including twenty-three rare species of birds and the iconic Oryx, not to mention giraffes, deer and the odd leopard, that run free here.
Extensive archaeological digs have unearthed traces of early Christian and Muslim settlements, emphasising the historical importance of this “Arabian Eden” that is now home to cutting edge research and experiments aimed at “greening the desert”. From its ancient roots as a pearl fisher’s paradise to the modern cradle of the country’s agricultural rebirth, Sir Bani Yas is a truly emblematic essential in this race itinerary, providing a perfectly serene centrepiece for tomorrow’s 45.5km MTB section that gets underway at 07:00.
Top 5 after section A - Triathlon:
1 DESERT ISLANDS NZ 02:23:12
2 TEAM NZ NZ 02:26:32
3 SPORT 2000 VIBRAM OUTDRY FR 02:27:30
4 ADCO AROC AU 02:29:07
5 LUNDHAGS ADVENTURE SE 02:29:26
December 7th, 2008: With a field of 37 teams representing a record of 21 different countries, the 2008 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge positions itself as the world’s most international adventure racing event.
For the second day of the race, based on the picturesque Sir Bani Yas Island, the teams started with an opening 45.5 km MTB section followed by a 27km kayaking leg culminating at Umm al Kurkum Island.
As the race hits its mid point, early front runners Desert Islands (NZ) see their race lead reduced with the power paddlers vying for supremacy over the second 82 km sea-kayaking section.