Reporting from ‘The Last Wild Race’

Patagonia Expedition Race

As reporters on, we end up in some far flung places covering expedition adventure races all over the globe. Even so, a recent trip to report on the Patagonian Expedition Race was something special, perhaps our biggest reporting challenge of all.

The race is a 10 day epic of mountain biking, paddling and trekking across the far south of Patagonia, its ice caps, forests, grasslands and fjords. It’s called ‘The Last Wild Race’ and takes all those involved out of their comfort zone – including reporters. The teams can trek for days and not see any sign of human habitation, not a fence, a trail or a building – it really is wild. And our job is to find them!

To report on the race Rob Howard keeps a close eye on each team's progress.

To report on the race Rob Howard keeps a close eye on each team’s progress.

For the 2016 race I was working with Anne-Marie Dunhill and we knew from past visits that keeping ourselves dry and warm was essential, so Páramo was our clothing of choice. The weather in Patagonia is extreme even in summer and the wind relentless. The region where the race takes place is the southernmost on earth, next stop Antarctica – and it’s not far away either.

During the race we rode 4×4 trucks across wide open grasslands full of ‘Nandu’ (ostrich like birds), past lagoons full of flamingos and other migrating bird life. We trekked up into the trackless mountains. We jumped on and off small boats in the magnificent fjords as we watched teams paddle past glaciers that fell to sea level.

The most remote location was checkpoint 12, known as ‘The Camp of Last Hope’. Only a handful of the teams who took part made it this far and we waited for them camped out in forest so dense that it was only just possible to pitch a tent. (The alternative was to be out in the wind … and that wasn’t going to happen.) The weather here was typically Patagonian; windy, cold, sunny and wet, often in the space of an hour! At times the rain was torrential and the wind and foul weather meant teams had to camp out there for a couple of days, unable to continue in their kayaks.

Only four teams managed to finish the full course. The race was won for an incredible 5th time by the Godzone Adventure Team, a UK team wearing Páramo.

The winners of the Patagonian Expedition Race; Godzone Adventure

After 612 km of strenuous biking, trekking, and kayaking Godzone Adventure celebrate their win. (l-r: Jari Hiatt, Chris Hope, Nick Gracie, Warren Bates)

Our reports were read by adventure enthusiasts across the world who could follow one of the most remote and challenging races on earth from the comfort of their homes – and it was thanks to Páramo keeping us comfortable and safe that we were able to get the news out to them.

Rob Howard,

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