As you probably already know, I spent the past month wandering through the southern tip of South America, in beautiful Patagonia. The main reason for coming down there was to be one of the mobile photographers covering one of the most extreme adventure races on the planet, the Patagonian Expedition Race, a roughly 500km, 8 to 10 days suffer fest which combines kayaking, mountain biking and trekking deep in the Patagonian wilderness, in teams of four self-sufficient racers. Basically, it’s very badass.
Here’s the map for the 2012 edition:
As a photographer, I was lucky to cover large sections of the race. First, from the 2:30am start in Punta Arenas down to PC1 on bikes and the kayak transition, setting off across the Magellan strait. Bad wind conditions prevented us from crossing with the teams, however, and we instead drove back to Punta Arenas and spent the whole night getting to PC6, where after a few shots of penguins on a nearby island, I arrived just in time to latch onto one of the teams heading into the first 90km trekking section. I initially followed Team Norcal (US) up a long river, then switched to Team Dancing Pandas (CA-US-NZ) in the evening, spending a frigid night in the out and then a navigation nightmare through turbal fields and old growth forests. After 32 hours on the move (minus 3 hours of “sleep”) and about 100 actual km, I was pretty wasted when we reached PC8, the end of the trek. But when I could get 8 hours of sleep in a warm sleeping bag with hot food being served to me, most of the teams instead had to bike through the night, and keep going for another week!
I managed to get to PC9 by truck and do some trekking with teams Ad Natura (HZ) and Alcatel-Adidas (CL-CO), before retreating to Punta Arenas again, and this time boarding an incredibly luxurious 2 days cruise down to the Beagle Channel and the end of the race. I got to PC19 in time to see teams Cyanosis (SA) and Gearjunkie/Yogaslackers (US) finish the very long and very tough second trekking section, before setting off into the mountains to try to photograph other teams coming in. Hours of scrambling and waiting in insane winds finally paid off when I happened upon team CUVA (DK) and their final half hour down the hills.
The weather was still too bad for teams to paddle in the last section of the Beagle channel to the gorgeous finish line, by the hanging Pia glacier. Only one team was still missing, the Dancing Pandas with whom I had spent so much time earlier in the week. As all hope of them finishing in time had nearly been given up, and PC19 was all but dismantled, they showed up an incredible 12 minutes before the final cut-off time, thus completing the race just in time. Like other racers, their feet had been infected by a nasty bacteria strain, in some cases so bad they could barely walk, and they were beyond exhaustion.
With the final paddle cancelled, we all boarded a ferry back to Punta Arenas, which took two cramped and smelly days to reach its destination. And a formidable adventure it has also been for me!
In no particular order, here are my favourite shots from the race. Enjoy!