Eco-Challenge 2002 from Fiji Begins
61 Teams Are Through CP 1 by 2:40 p.m. Fiji Time
The Eco-Challenge 2002 began this morning at approximately 9 a.m. in Fiji. Eighty-one teams from 23 countries embarked on an epic adventure near the Navucini Village on the island of Viti Levu. By 2:40 p.m., 61 teams had made their way through the first trekking leg and had emerged from the jungle near the village of Navuniyasi.
Teams entered Check Point (CP) 1 from all directions crossing the Wainimala River and finding piles of bamboo. The bamboo is used to build bilibili rafts – traditional Fijian crafts used to navigate the island’s many rivers. Teams were not told outright that they would have to build the rafts until the beginning of the race, but it appeared that some had anticipated the move.
“I’m excited to see that some teams spend a really long time on their boats and others just throw them together – just what we expected,” said Event Manager Tricia Middleton. “I saw some professional-grade bilibilis. They [the teams] had to have studied it. They had to have prepared for it.”
“If you look at Eco-Challenge, we always try to use some kind of indigenous ways of transport,” said Race Manager Kevin Hodder. “The bilibilis are both a traditional and current means of transport [in Fiji], so it was easy for us to decide to use them.”
The first 20 teams to leave CP 1 – listed in order – were: AXN Merrell Quantas, Buff AXN, Schick Xtreme3, Mazda, Running Free, Spie, MONTRAIL/Parallax, Spectrum Access, Nokia Adventure, GoLite/Balance Bar, Seagate.com NZ, Oxydol Extreme Clean, Air Pacific, EarthLink, The North Face/Kona, TriWest Allied Spirit, Rustic Pathways, Subaru USA, Seagate USA, and Strange & Carpenter.
Lead teams are expected to reach CP 2, and the bilibili take out point tonight at approximately 8-10 p.m. The next leg of the course leads competitors into the Sovi Basin, which is also called “The Lost World,” for a daunting and navigationally challenging trek.