Racing for the environment

By | Category: Travel destinations

St. Valentine’s Day may be a day for lovers but in Patagonia it’s a day for lovers of extreme sport. Today’s the day for the start of the Patagonian Expedition Race.
Known as the “Last Wild Race,” this year it celebrates its tenth year. Nineteen teams, each of four runners are competing in the 360-mile non-stop multisport competition in Chilean Patagonia run to raise awareness of the need to protect the environment.
Personally, I think they are mad as this is one of the most gruelling events that you can undertake. During the race – which can take up to ten days – the teams will compete on mountain bikes and kayaks as well as running part of the way. They set off at 2.30 am (yes, I do mean am!) today from just north of Punta Arenas in the southernmost part of Chile.
This year’s route will see competitors cross the Strait of Magellan on kayak and race down the length of Chilean Tierra del Fuego before hitting the mountains and glaciers of the Darwin Range and finishing in some spectacular fjord scenery in the Beagle Channel.
Last year a Briton was in the winning team for the third year in a row. Nick Gracie is back with his Adidas TERREX-Prunesco team looking for another win. Why does he do it? “It’s a real feeling of exploration,” he enthused, “you go to some places where you think, my God, I might actually be the first person to ever put my foot down in this valley.”
As well as highlighting the environment and conservation, it also reveals the splendour of southern Chile to visitors. Odile Palustran, from Tourismo Chile, said: “The Patagonian Expedition Race helps broadcast the natural wonders of southern Chile and reveals to the world what Chilean Patagonia has to offer.
To follow the race daily – or to see the sights of unspoilt Chile, click here.

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