ADAC: The race takes shape

With only hours to go before the start of the 2008 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge from the Corniche Beach in Abu Dhabi, the 36 teams discovered, for the first time, the course details after receiving their maps and road books.

ADAC 2007.  Foto: Sascha Jurek / FunsportingAt 10:00 this morning, the first of the 36 teams from 20 different nations started the round of compulsory clothing and gear checks set up beneath the soaring arch that serves as one of the entrances to the Armed Forces Officers Club here in Abu Dhabi. By 14:00, all the teams had past muster, though some were experiencing minor issues.

Some new faces were in evidence like the young physical training instructors from the Royal Air Force, racing under the aegis of Towergate Wilson, eagerly looking forward to measuring their training techniques against the “Top Guns” of AR from around the world. The Americans of Dart Nuun could hardly believe their luck when they were chosen as the North American continent’s ADTA award winners: “This one comes about a month after the end of the season so it’s a welcome bonus for us, especially as we have been invited by the ADTA, ” they beamed in unison. Another team new to the ADAC, Singapore Tec, were already encountering a steep learning curve: "We have done a lot of stage races in Singapore but the desert is totally new for us…" they confided as they discussed possible problems with the sand.

Earlier in the day they had their first real look at the course in detail. A spectacular start awaits them in Abu Dhabi city, with a 40km triathlon involving MTB, sea kayaking and trail running on a looping circuit beginning and ending on Corniche Beach. The teams will first head west on the Corniche road, exceptionally closed for the duration of the race, for an initial 17km MTB leg, sprinting past the sumptuous Emirates Palace in one direction, looping around the headland and then back along the corniche, with a u-turn east of the beach bringing them back to the kayaks. Next they take to the seas for the opening 12.5km kayaking section out to and around Lulu Island. Once on the island, they will complete a very fast 10.5km trail run, leap back into the kayaks for the 500m dash back to the beach and the finish.

The next phase of the competition will introduce them to one of the world’s most remarkable ecological success stories. Sir Bani Yas, Island is located just off the coast of Jebel Dhanna, about 170km west of the city of Abu Dhabi. It is home to over three million trees and thousands of animals, including twenty-three rare species of birds and wild animals, so the teams will have to pay particular attention as they speed along the small dirt roads and tracks that criss-cross this sublime destination. With the 45.5km MTB stage over by 09:00 for the fastest, the teams will take to their kayaks for a mass start on what promises to be a long and arduous 2 days on the water. The first 33km section starts from the Eastern Beach on Sir Bani Yas at 11:30 and, after traversing 10km of mangroves abounding in exotic seabirds, takes the teams out to Kurkum Island, another enchanting desert island destination with a beautiful lagoon at its centre. Here they will spend an unforgettable night with before setting off again for the 82km main kayaking section East towards Mirfa.

After transferring to Moreeb Dune for the night at the bivouac, the teams will finally confront the desert with a 2-day, 107km desert trek across the appropriately named “Empty Quarter” starting at 07:00. Navigation on this stage will be crucial and it is essential that the teams make the right choices if they still want to be in contention when they reach the stage finish in Hassab. The last teams are expected by 13:00 on the 16th after which the caravan leaves for the garden city of Al Ain and the race’s grand finale. In the shadow of the jagged peaks of Jebel Hafit, the teams will enjoy the lush and verdant Green Mubazzarah camp in preparation for a fast and furious face-off. The morning starts at 06:00 with a 12km MTB ride up the mountain road to the summit, followed by an immediate departure on foot, trekking across the mountain to a spectacular and challenging rope works, eventually returning to Green Mubazzarah 14.6km later. All geared up for the final sprint into the finish at Jahili Fort, the teams will cover the last 27km on their bikes for a sensational end to this entertaining and demanding event.

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