Official Press releases for the Eco-Challenge, in order of issuance.
Official Press releases for the Eco-Challenge, in order of issuance.
COSTLY NAVIGATIONAL ERRORS ON WAINIMALA RIVER DELAY SOME ECO-CHALLENGE FIJI 2002 TEAMS INTO CP 2 UP TO 5 HOURS
Competitors battle cold, exhaustion and strong currents as they fight to correct mistakes
Viria, Fiji (October 12, 2002)--As Eco-Challenge Fiji 2002 enters its second day, competitors are experiencing the dense and complex terrain that makes up this year’s championship course. After building a bilibili using 13 long bamboo poles and 100 meters of cord in Navuniyasi Village at Checkpoint 1, competitors had to carefully navigate their raft 41 kilometers, avoiding river hazards and possible shark encounters, from the Wainimala River into the Rewa River, to Checkpoint 2 in Viria Village.
As the evening grew darker, navigation became more and more difficult. Ilana Lobet, 51, of Eco-Subaru (45-USA) found the consequences of bad decisionmaking exhausting. “We made a wrong turn somewhere in the night, and at 3:00 a.m. we realized it and turned back. But paddling in the dark against the current is what exhausted us.”
Team Quest (65-USA) said they got off-course during the night when a local villager surprised them by his enthusiasm to help find their way. “A local villager jumped into the water and pushed us in the wrong direction, and 5 hours later he we are,” said team member Lisa Hawkins, 32. Despite their long journey, the team remained in very high spirits, enthusiastically greeting Fijian children who approached, while focusing on preparing for the trek into the Suvi River Valley.
Teammates Duane McDowell,43, and Bill Lovelace, 55, of Team Eco-Diabetes (43-USA) estimated that 15 teams made a wrong turn on the river during the night. Beyond their navigational problems, McDowell and Lovelace as admitted that their raft was hastily made. Additionally, Lovelace said that he escaped serious injury when a local spectator inadvertently threw a pointed, spear-like bamboo pole into the water, which hit him in the sternum. “Another couple of inches and this would have hit me right through my heart.”
At 10:43 this morning, with 76 teams already passing through the checkpoint, Team Innocent (31–Singapore) finally entered the encampment looking a tired but happy to have arrived to applause from supportive local Viria villagers. Lim Le-anne, 27, cold from a night spent wet and exhausted, said, “I was rigid and couldn’t move and was hyperventilating. My teammates kept paddling while I was wrapped up.”
As of 11:30 a.m., teams Sketchers WEP (64-USA) and Kodak Water & Sport (13-Canada) were still far upstream and had hours to go before heading to the next checkpoint.
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ECO-CHALLENGE FIJI COMPETITORS TREK THROUGH THE LOST WORLD TO BEGIN FIRST MOUNTAIN BIKE LEG
As of Dusk, a Handful of Lead Teams Reach the Waivaka Valley to Assemble Bikes and Head Off on an Eight-Hour Plus Journey
Waivaka, Fiji (October 12, 2002) – Competitors from Eco-Challenge Fiji, the world’s toughest Expedition Race™, are beginning to surface out of the jungle and are assembling mountain bikes to head off on a seven- to nine-hour mission through the Waivaka Valley on their way to kayaking in the interior of Viti Levu Island.
After trekking upwards of 18 to 20 hours in a grueling dense jungle known as the Lost World, teams emerged into sweeping hills along the fertile Waivaka valley. Visibly tired, most teams quickly unpacked their dropped-off gearboxes and began eating food, changing clothes and assembling mountain bikes.
Arriving first was team Mazda of South Africa, followed by GoLite/BALANCE Bar (USA), MONTRAIL (USA), Seagate.com NZ (New Zealand), Spie (France), Nokia Adventure (Finland), Air Pacific (Australia), EarthLink (USA), and Buff (Spain).
The news of the day came via three American teams. Favorites team MONTRAIL made a large leap in the competition, moving from 30th to 3rd after charging voraciously through the jungle trek following an hour nap and a refueling of food at a villager’s house along the way. While stopping to assemble her bike and grab some food in Waivaka, MONTRAIL Captain Rebecca Rusch said that although her team suffered from poor bilibili raft building, they charged full steam ahead when trekking through the Lost World. “Sitting in 30th place, none of us were happy about that,” continued Rusch. “Hopefully we don’t have to build any more Fijian modes of transport.”
Another US favorite, Team EarthLink, suffered a time setback after losing their race passport and were also slowed by a missing bike bolt, which they had to borrow from another team before heading out into impending rain on a dark, muddy path.
In addition, Eco-Challenge Fiji suffered its first team dropout, as Team Eco-Subaru of the US bowed out after Captain Rodger McFarlane surrendered to injuries. In a valiant effort, remaining members Susan Murphy, Pamela Fletcher and Ilana Lobet are continuing the charge for Eco-Subaru despite the loss of their captain.
Heading into the Valley of Pain, lead teams began riding into an area known as the Namosi Gap, a series of rugged, mud-sloshed roads winding through dramatic rock towers.
Aside from the leaders, Eco-Challenge Creator Mark Burnett anticipates that by night’s end more than 30 teams will reach Checkpoint three, a remote spot in the lost world trekking section that competitors reach prior to picking up bikes at Waivaka. Heading through wild terrain, teams were forced to navigate a largely uninhabited section with no specific route. Additionally, Burnett commented that several teams, including some very experience navigators, had chosen the shorter, more difficult route in the largely uninhabited lost world section. Filled with wild terrain and increasing darkness, the shorter route will prove virtually impossible to traverse given its vertical ascent along waterfalls.
Only 33 hours into the race, teams are already suffering setbacks prior to the long and draining first mountain biking leg. After an eight-plus hour biking leg, teams will reach the first dark zone, a specified area of the course in which competitors must wait until daylight to proceed.
Editor's note: I'm not going to copy the same USA networks copyrights every time. Assume that all press releases are covered by the copyright information at the bottom of the first release.
ECO-CHALLENGE FIJI’S ‘EXPEDITIONARY’ EMPHASIS TAKING A TOLL ON COMPETITORS
Competitors Feel a Dramatic Difference in Race Difficulty as Teams Cross Paths at the Navua River During Day Three
Beqa, Fiji (October 13, 2002) – Eco-Challenge Fiji’s leading teams are beginning to sharpen navigation tactics and utilize local resources in an attempt to distance themselves from the competition upon entering day three of the world’s toughest Expedition Race,™ which will feature bicycling, kayaking and trekking throughout the Navua river valley of Viti Levu Island.
As the majority of competitors race towards Checkpoints four and five, teams are feeling the increasing effects of minimal food, little sleep and a more difficult Eco-Challenge as they cross paths at the Beqa settlement along the Navua river.
The Beqa settlement and checkpoint was a bevy of activity, as both lead and trailing teams passed through. Competitors at the front of the pack steered inflatable kayaks to the river’s edge, on their way to a 51km trekking, climbing and scrambling leg known as the Trail of Fire, while the trailing teams waded through waist-high waters with bike in tow bent on reaching Checkpoint four.
Arriving first at Checkpoint five was team MONTRAIL/ Parallax of the United States who glided into the kayak take-out around 11:30 a.m. Soon after, team Spie of France arrived, followed by Air Pacific (Australia), Nokia Adventure (Finland) and Mazda (South Africa).
As no teams reached the kayak drop-in point between Checkpoints four and five until 7:20 a.m. Sunday morning, trailing teams were not able to take advantage of the mandatory dark zone area at Checkpoint four that would have allowed them to catch up with those teams who had been stopped. Instead, both leading and trailing teams reached Checkpoint four in the late morning, moving slower than anticipated.
Leading teams were slowed by a longer than anticipated bike leg which required precise navigation and extreme endurance in darkness and adverse weather. Though still in the top five, team Nokia of Finland were forced to walk with their bikes at least half of the entire bike leg due to the difficult navigation and darkness. To compensate for time lost on the bike leg, both Nokia and team Air Pacific took strategic breaks and utilized the help of villagers.
Further to Eco-Challenge Creator Mark Burnett’s advice, teams mentioned the necessity of reviewing navigation tactics and tapping local resources in the hopes of finishing the markedly more difficult Eco-Challenge Fiji.
U.S. based team Moosejaw.com cited a lack of maps, guides and rules as one of the biggest challenges in this year’s competition, as they were forced to solicit navigation help from villagers during their night trek along waterfalls and narrow canyons.
Team True GRIT of the U.S. said that Saturday’s combination of disciplines, including trekking and mountain biking, proved the toughest yet. After trekking for over 22 hours from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, the team spotted a local pig hunter who provided directions. In addition to hallucinating at several points, GRIT member Lynn Armstrong said she was “cold beyond cold” while fighting through chilly neck-high water during the trek.
Though competitors were in agreement about the increased challenge of this year’s course, teams echoed high praise about the setting, scenery and overall course approach in Fiji. “(The course) is a very positive thing” said Team Jackson Hole Captain Jason Petervary. “It’s not just for the physically strong, but the strong minded.”
Lynne Stark of team Bridgedale Ireland Salomon agreed. “Eco-Challenge Fiji is much more challenging—a total adventure,” said Stark.
Eco-Challenge 2002: Multinational Field Leads Teams to Suwa Falls
For Some Teams, Racing is Winning
Pacific Harbor, Fiji (Oct. 14, 2002) - An array if international teams lead the field to Suwa Falls on day 4 of the Eco-Challenge, the world's toughest Adventure Race™. Teams MONTRAIL (USA), Buff AXN (Spain), Spie (France), Nokia Adventure (Finland), and Mazda (South Africa), respectively, held the top 5 positions.
While the top teams in this year's Eco-Challenge competition press on to the northern part of Viti Levu, most of the other contenders are just arriving at the Navua River near the Beqa settlement, which is the midpoint of the first mountain bike leg as well as Checkpoint five.
For many teams, just reaching this point was a victory in itself. The first jungle trekking leg through the Sovi Basin along nonexistent paths en route to Checkpoint four claimed a large number of teams, and those at the very back of the pack were still trying to find their way.
At the banks of the Navua River, several teams stopped briefly after crossing with their bikes to catch their breath and check their maps. The rest of the bike leg from this point on is not especially difficult, though the road winds through endless steep hills. This didn't seem to faze the teams. Danelle Folta of Team Smirnoff Ice/Playboy X-Treme was prepared for the challenge. Despite two broken bike derailers, she and her team were having the time of their lives.
Some competitors, however, were not quite as upbeat. Alyson Denk, of Team OneWith Izod, described the bilibili rafting leg, which they'd completed the day before, as "a floating prison." Despite their struggles, none of these teams would rather be anyplace else.
Teams this year seem to have adopted a central theme of friendship and camaraderie. Nowhere was that more apparent than when Teams Staubach and Quest, who formed a seven member squad for the muddy ascent out of the Navua River valley. Both teams have gone through adversity -- team Quest's captain had to withdraw less than a week before the race's start and Team Staubach's original fourth member withdrew due to a death in the family.
David String of Team Staubach made it clear about what motivated him to continue: "I think about my wife and kids to get through it." String's continued loyalty to the team is all the more amazing in that he was called upon less than 48 hours before the start of the race. Hopping on plane after plane, he caught up with his team in Fiji and hit the ground running. "Aside from the 30 foot fall, I'm holding up fine," he said, when asked how he was faring four days into the race.
Resourcefulness is nothing new, it seems, as teams continue to find fascinating ways of getting ahead. Sometimes, though, it pushes the Eco-Challenge rules almost to the breaking point. At deadline, race officials were still trying to determine whether or not to assess a team penalty against Team Spie of France after they hired a local villager to carry their packs on horseback.
As they complete both the bike and first kayak legs, teams in the middle of the pack remain confident and excited. Tired and weary, they nonetheless head out with smiles and more than a few blisters. Whether that spirit of adventure holds strong as they move into their second jungle trekking phase, and the more technical points beyond, remains to be seen. Headed into Checkpoint six, teams now face a brutal hike through more dense jungle, rappelling from the top of towering waterfalls and the debut of packrafting.
ECO-CHALLENGE FIJI'S TOP TEAMS STRUGGLE TO REACH CHECKPOINT EIGHT
Top Teams Continue to Move Slowly as a Result of Difficult Navigation, Depleting Food and Shaky Weather
Navala, Fiji (October 15, 2002) - Lead competitors from Eco-Challenge Fiji, the world's toughest Expedition Race™, are moving, albeit more slowly than predicted, toward Navala Village in the interior of Viti Levu Island. Soon they will begin the second leg of mountain biking en route to the finishing stretch, which will send them out into the Pacific.
While still fighting a draining packrafting journey through "The Hunting Grounds" of the Ba River, lead teams were beginning to trickle through the end of the packrafting leg into the ancient village of Navala on Tuesday evening.
Team MONTRAIL/Parallex of the USA again led the charge, followed by Buff AXN (Spain), Mazda (South Africa) and GoLite/BALANCE (USA). Additionally, teams Seagate.com NZ (New Zealand), Air Pacific (Australia), Spie (France), Earthlink (USA) and Nokia Adventure (Finland) were confirmed as passing Checkpoint seven on Tuesday evening.
Set to arrive late Tuesday night at Checkpoint eight at what is considered Fiji's most picturesque village, teams will need to unpack gearboxes and assemble bicycles before heading out through the Nausori Highlands.
Making the cycle that much more difficult will be the simple topographic map competitors will receive, which purposely fails to highlight required bike sections. As a result, teams will be forced to draw their own map of the bike leg based upon a route posted on a map near the Navala Checkpoint.
While the western side of the island is considered the 'dry' area of Viti Levu, lead teams were pummeled by a heavy afternoon rain, which villagers said was the first to occur in over a month.
To date, 19 teams have left the course due to minor injury, illness or disqualification. These teams include: N.Y.S.T., Seagate USA, Advil, Adventure Racing Calgary, Solera Venezuela, Skechers WEP, VVnW, V8 Splash Mexico, Eco-Subaru, Visit Argentina, XL-Lupus UK, Staubach, REI-SALOMON, Bermuda, Lupus Foundation, BulaFiji.com, BDA Extreme, BellSouth Panama, and AXN Merrell Quantas. No major injuries have been reported.
LEAD TEAMS PICK UP THE PACE AS DARKNESS FALLS ON DAY SIX OF ECO-CHALLENGE FIJI
Buff AXN of Spain Reaches Checkpoint Eleven While Leading a Handful of Top Teams Through Biking, Trekking and Fixed Ropes
Navala, Fiji (October 16, 2002) - Leading competitors from Eco-Challenge Fiji moved one step closer to the finish line on Wednesday as Buff AXN reached Checkpoint eleven followed by a internationally diverse handful of top teams who charged through Checkpoints eight, nine and ten. In addition, a number of teams bowed out of competition, including Kodak Water&Sport, featuring Actor Hayden Christiansen.
With the majority of competitors beginning the day with a struggle to complete a packrafting journey through the Ba River, lead teams (with the exception of Buff AXN), took an extended nap in Navala village before heading out on a bike leg through the Nausori Highlands. In a tactical move, Buff AXN opted to stop for a brief rest before moving to the mountain biking leg.
As a result of their stellar navigation and continuous movement, Buff AXN moved into a distant first on Wednesday evening, followed by GoLite/BALANCE (USA), Air Pacific (Australia), Mazda (South Africa), MONTRAIL/Parallax (USA), Nokia Adventure (Finland), Seagate.com NZ (New Zealand), Earthlink (USA), Spie (France) and Spectrum Access (USA).
After reaching CP11, Buff AXN was able to showcase their exceptional navigational skills by mapping out the next phase of their journey on the water within minutes. "We slept at least two hours every night to keep our minds alert so we can keep making great navigational choices," said Captain Emma Roca , in regard to Buff AXN's eight hour lead. Upon receiving maps which fleshed out the ocean leg, their disappointment was evident as the team expected to be closer to the finish when they reached Checkpoint 11 at Saweni Beach. In addition, Buff AXN expressed concern regarding team GoLite/BALANCE Bar's proximity.
Former leading team AXN Atenah Brasil is no longer in the race as member Eleonora Audra was evacuated from the course due to an infection. Additionally, eleven other teams dropped from Eco-Challenge Fiji on Wednesday, running the casualty total to 30 teams.
Eight Teams from Six Countries Reach Ocean Kayak,
Contend for Eco-Challenge Fiji Title
Forty-eight Teams Have Dropped Out or Continue Unranked in the World’s Toughest Adventure Race
Nadi, Fiji (Oct. 17, 2002) – Eight teams from six different countries are still in contention for the 2002 Eco-Challenge title in Fiji. Team Seagate.com NZ, which placed second in last year’s epic Eco-Challenge New Zealand, took the lead after Team Buff AXN dropped out earlier today. Following within hours were teams GoLite (USA), Air Pacific (Australia), Montrail (USA), Mazda (South Africa), Spie (France), EarthLink (USA), and Nokia (Finland), respectively.
As teams push off from Saweni Beach, they are scheduled to visit Checkpoints located throughout the Yasawa Island chain, including Vomo, Waya and Wayasewa Islands. They will navigate the island section paddling, coasteering and snorkeling to Checkpoints before beginning the trip back to the finish line on Denarau Island near Nadi.
The second wave of teams are traveling to and through the second mountain biking leg, which will take them through the Nausori Highlands, past the Vaturu Dam and towards the second rappel at the Sauvione Falls. Team Spectrum Access of the U.S., in ninth-place overall, leads the pack.
Forty-eight teams are continuing unranked or have been forced out of the world’s toughest Expedition Race™ because of disqualification or injury. Team Buff AXN from Spain, which had a significant lead coming out of Saweni Beach, pulled out today when team member David Rovira was unable to continue because of a foot infection. Eco-Challenge’s medical staff is seeing to Rovira.