Race Preview | AlpacAttack Endurance Race, Patagonia
There is always an amount of uncertainty that surrounds any new event or race. The organizers can never be entirely sure that they will attract enough riders to make the race both financially and competitively viable, whereas some riders will understandably be reluctant to venture into the unknown and enter a new event. It can be a catch 22 situation.
Fortunately for the Yakattack, there is a growing number of intrepid riders that have participated in previous YakAttack branded races and have faith and confidence in their ability to deliver the goods. AlpacAttack is no exception. By the time the riders reach Pucon, Chile, on April 18th, Yuki Ikeda, Sonya Looney, Paul Cooper and Zoltan Keller will have completed all three of the world challenges series races on the YakAttack calendar. Matt Ewonus, Tan Tryhorn, Zbigniew Wizner and Wendy Lyall will have completed 2 out of the 3. Those, together with 14 “newbies” that have taken the plunge, will make up the field of 22 that will grace the start line of AlpacAttack in Alumine, Argentina, on April 13th. It’s not the biggest field to ever launch a race, but what it is, is a group of like-minded adventure driven athletes who are looking to expand their boundaries and test their mettle in new environments and terrains. The starting line-up consists of riders from 13 different countries, USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Poland, Hungary, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Portugal and for many, AlpacAttack will be their first experience of Patagonia.
The remoteness of the start line is proving to be the first adventure for many of the riders. One international flight, one domestic flight and a 200km road trip is the very minimum required to just reach the race headquarters in San Martin de los Andes, and then it’s another 200km transfer to Alumine. But this is Patagonia, one of the most sparsely inhabited places on earth and adventure doesn’t come easily. The race itself is basically split into two. The first 2.5 stages will take place in Argentina before crossing the border and continuing on through Chile for a further 3.5 stages. Along the 700km course riders will encounter a variety of terrains and surfaces, including Aruacaria (Monkey Puzzle) forests, windswept steppe, volcanic lava fields, lake hugging gravel tracks, river crossings, mud, sand and rock.
The mother of all the stages is stage 4, the “Lonquimay Loop” a 130km traverse of the flanks of Lonquimay volcano which includes a 32km, 1100m climb on volcanic sand to the highest point of the race at 1870m above sea level. That’s not to say the other stages will be a breeze. After nearly 600km of racing and undoubtedly very tired legs, the riders will have to kick off the final stage out of Melipeco with a 14km, 1000m climb around another of the area’s snow capped volcanoes, before a final 70km of predominantly downhill to the finish line.
The race has attracted a small but select group of supporters, amongst whom are AndesTrack Expediciones, MTB-Argentina, Sportstock Media and TorqFitness, who’s combined efforts will go along way towards making the event a huge success and ensuring its longevity for future years. Not only will the riders be battling it out in Patagonia for a share of the $3000 prize money on offer, but both male and female open category winners will receive free entry into the next race in the world challenges series, The NorthFace Yak Attack-Nepal, “The highest mountain bike race on earth” which takes place in November this year and has never been won by a non Nepali rider.
Race reports, results and photos will be posted daily here on ENDURO from April 13th and the full starting line up can be seen on the AlpacAttack leader board.
Words & Photos: YakAttack