Raid Gallaecia to host the 2021 Adventure Racing World Championships in Spain
by Louise Foulkes
Joining the Adventure Racing World Series is a status many races aspire to, and once they are in that select group there is only one higher step to take, to host the Adventure Racing World Championship.
Three of the events in the current series have hosted the championships, and in 2021 they will be joined by Raid Gallaecia, which will host the pinnacle of expedition adventure racing in Spain from October 2nd to 12th.
“The objective of our organizing team since we started our Raid Gallaecia project in 2015 was to ensure that a World Championship was held in our land.” Said Race Director Pablo Lopez. “After touring the world with our competition team, being able to host a World Championship here is a source of great pride and joy.”
He added, “We believe Gallaecia is one of the best places in the world to practice adventure sports. We live surrounded by mountains, very fast flowing rivers, and an incredible coastline. With Gallaecia’s estuaries we have more than 1500 km. coast line!
“The 2021 World Championship will be the most mountainous, the longest and the most technical edition of our race so far, covering 600 km across 3 of the 4 provinces of Gallaecia and passing very near to the border with Portugal.
“We are delighted to welcome teams from all over the world and to offer an unforgettable World Championship. We will do our best. After 2 years without a World Championship due to problems outside of racing, we want racers to enjoy a great reunion in Gallaecia.”
Teams can expect a varied and technical race delivered by a crew which has been together for many years and has a reputation second to none for their courses, logistics, mapping and organisation.
Their history goes back to early races between 2002 and 2004 followed by the formation of a club to organise several races each year, including the first ever Spanish Championships. As their skill and prestige grew the races attracted world class racers like Stuart Lynch, Nick Gracie, Urtzi Iglesias and Albert Roca.
In 2014 the last Raid Bimbache took place in Spain (having hosted the World Champs in 2010), and with 10 years of experience and over 25 races behind them the team at Raid Gallaecia stepped up to keep Spain in the World Series. (Spain will be the fourth country to hold two World Championships since the first one was held in Switzerland in 2001.)
The first Raid Gallaeica expedition race was held in 2015 and had a spectacular finish in Obradorio Square outside St. James Catherdral in Santiago de Compostella. The winners were Haglofs Silva, inflicting a rare defeat on Team Seagate. In 2017 14 nationalities were represented and the winners were Naturex 400 Team (FRA), then in 2019 the Yeti Adventure Team from Denmark beat the returning Haglofs Silva (now racing as Team Sweden).
Those who have visited Gallaecia are full of praise for the professionalism of the event and the whole-hearted welcome to a region rich in culture and cuisine, both of which are elements brought into the thoughtful design of the event. Every single racer asked to comment on the race singled out the exceptional mapping – there is nothing racers like more than top quality maps!
Bjorn Rydvall of Team Sweden, currently the world #1 ranked team, has raced in Gallaecia twice. He also praised the race organisation and added that Gallaecia is “A really beautiful, though challenging, location with a rough coastline and many hills. The race course was varied and interesting and plotted on extra-ordinary good maps.”
Another international visitor, Cliff White of Strong Machine AR from the USA, experienced just helpful the race can be. “I was convinced the organizing group behind Raid Gallaecia was top-notch after they sweet talked my bike out of Spanish customs, and after they fixed a teammate’s exploded front shock on the eve of the race, leaving his bike tuned up and ready to roll when we reached TA1.
“But as the race progressed, we realized we were in a world-class event with challenging navigation, beautiful terrain, and great variety of stages. It’s a part of the world that’s well worth experiencing, and particularly under the guidance of an adventure race crafted by Pablo Lopez and his crew.”
Romuald Viale of the Naturex team said; “I had the chance to participate to Raid Gallaecia in 2017 and how lucky we were to be able to run on such detailed maps!
“It’s such a pleasure to have 1:25000 maps on which the organizers have done a huge amount of work to get them updated. They studied routes between each checkpoint to take us to beautiful places, and to offer many interesting orienteering choices.
The host city for the 2021 AR World Championships will be A Coruña, which has excellent communications through its airport and is well connected to Madrid, Lisbon and Porto by road.
It’s clear from past races that the organisation has close ties and full support from their partners in the region, and the receptions, the carefully chosen transition points, and the finish arrangements and hotels are all first class. They are all part of the race experience and contribute to the Gallaecian welcome teams receive.
“We want to thank all the sponsors, especially the Provincial Councils of A Coruña, Lugo and Ourense for trusting in the project from the outset. We’d also like to thank Paradores, as the official hotel of the race, and the rest of the sponsors for their unconditional support.” Said Lopez.
The race has been announced early to allow team’s maximum time to plan their races for next year, and it’s expected the website will be available in Sept/October. You can read all about Raid Gallaecia at; https://raidgallaecia.com/en/
(This year’s championship which was due to take place in Paraguay before Covid 19 forced a cancellation. That event has now been moved back to 2022.)
The AR World Series 2021 comprises 11 races around the world with the season finale at the Adventure Racing Championships each year. 2021 will be the 16th AR World Championships and you can find full details at: www.arworldseries.com