Wulong Mountain Quest Adventure Race 2008

Wulong Mountain Quest Adventure Race 2008

Between 30 August and 2 September, Wulong County, in the central Chinese municipality of Chongqing, played host to the 8th annual Wulong Mountain Quest adventure race. Featuring a short prologue followed by three full-day stages, the race saw competitors wind their way through challenging mountainous terrain. With a substantial cash pool of USD 150,000, the event attracted a very strong international field including current World Champions Nike from the US and top teams from New Zealand and Europe. defending champions Nike from the US, and 2007 runners up Adventure Sport New Zealand.

The race began with an impressive opening ceremony followed by a 45 minute prologue through the heart of Wulong town. Thousands of cheering fans and an accompanying helicopter followed the teams of four racers (including one woman) as they sprinted through run, bike and rafting sections that saw Nike storm to an early race lead. This was by no means a typical adventure race start, but the short introduction gave the local community an opportunity to get involved. This year, local and regional government authorities heavily promoted the event as part of the Beijing Olympics legacy with the aim of boosting eco-tourism to the region. As a result, Chongqing Television featured daily live coverage and pre- and post-race analysis by famous hosts. The extensive exposure helped to make participating athletes feel like celebrities-for-a-week, and turned up the heat on an already intense competition.

The next three days featured up to 8 hours of trail running, mountain biking and kayaking with rope skills sections and adventure challenges thrown in. A well-designed course with long strenuous climbs and furious white knuckle downhills presented a real challenge even for a world-class field. The organizers took the opportunity to showcase some of the natural wonders of Wulong County, with highlights including a 150 metre vertical rock abseil; a six kilometer technical river canyon scramble; and an extensive underground section in one of the many natural caves that line this beautiful region.

A relentlessly competitive race saw Team Adventure Sport New Zealand take over from suffering Nike after the first long stage. Their lead was then relinquished to the 2007 Adventure Racing World Championship runners-up Wilsa Helly Hansen, who put in a stellar effort to take an eight minute lead into the final day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and Wilsa Helly Hansen suffered a flat tire and a broken wheel on the final day downhill, enabling Adventure Sport New Zealand to retake the lead and claim overall race victory and the US$35,000 Wulong Mountain Quest first prize.

Nine Asian-based teams battled it out over the four days of racing and The North Face Greater China, combining members from Hong Kong and Beijing, took home Asian bragging rights with a very respectable eighth finish overall. Hong Kong-based Team ORCA was the second Asian team across the line, edging out the Chinese adventure racing champions Guizhou Jixian in a hotly contested back and forth battle.

More details are available at the official race website: www.wulongquest.com

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