ADAC Day 5: Ranking tight after night in the desert
As night fell, the leading teams embarked on the remaining 44km of the desert trekking stage, each one hoping to find the combination of speed and guile needed to break the deadlock in the overall ranking.
As the fastest teams arrived at the finish line in Hassab on the penultimate day’s racing, the top five on this year’s Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge remained virtually unchanged, despite breaking all the records on was an astonishingly fast but arduous 107km through the Rub al Kahli (Empty Quarter).
A short burst of speed over the last kilometre earned the French of Sport 2000 Vibram Outdry the fastest time, coming in at 3:40am. Jacky Boisset and his crew completed this section in 20h28’:06. Rest period management had been already cited as the key to success in this stage: "We approached this as if it were a series of 10 short stages of around 10 kilometres each with rest periods ranging from 40 minutes to 2h30," explained the French captain.
Barely seconds behind came Team NZ (NZ) who had done their best in an effort to arrest the race lead from compatriots Desert Islands (NZ), who came in 5th, but without success. “We ran well through the night with a group of teams and managed to edge ahead but we decided to wait for Nike (USA) at one rest point which allowed Richard Ussher’s team to close the gap again,” confessed Gordon Walker.
Nike themselves were next in, taking third best time, a fitting reward for having raced throughout the night alongside the other leading teams and allowing navigator Chris Forne to act as pathfinder. “We spent the whole night with a group of around 5 teams following Chris Forne. He just kept going, selflessly blazing a trail across the dunes,” Marcel Hagener of Wilsa HH (FRA), the 4th finisher, proclaimed. The convoy of five race leaders may well have come in all within 2 minutes of each other but doing so required taking some risks: “We were going really well until at one point we made a route choice that put us out of sync with the front teams. We rectified the error and came back hard to stay in contention,” confessed Richard Ussher, captain of Desert Islands (NZ).
As things stand, the two Kiwi teams most in the running for first and second are a mere 60 seconds apart and only two seconds separate the two French teams looking good for third place! An incredible state of affairs after 35 hours of intense and relentless competition.
As they finished during the course of the day, the teams were transferred by bus to Al Ain, in readiness for the final and decisive day, involving a 12km MTB grind from Green Mubazzarah to the top of Jebel Hafeet Mountain, a 14.6km trek with a breathtaking 200m abseil in the middle and a final, nail-biting bike sprint to the finish at the beautiful and historic Jahili Fort in the city centre.
Top 5 after Section E – Desert Trekking – 107km:
1 DESERT ISLANDS (NZ) 35h40:47
2 TEAM NZ (NZ) 35h41:50
3 WILSA HH (FRA) 35h58:12
4 SPORT 2000 VIBRAM OUTDRY (FRA) 35h58:14
5 NIKE (USA) 36h24:45
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.
At 7 o´clock this morning the 36 teams set out in a thick veil of fog from Moreeb Dune with the prospect of a 36-hour struggle with the sands on this massive 107km desert trekking stage.
Richard Ussher, captain of Desert Islands (NZ), draws on the experience and talents of his teammates to complete an error free final day, inspiring his team all the way to the finish at Al Ain to win the 2008 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge.