Three-Day Race Across Belize. Team YogaSlackers/GearJunkie 1st Place!

It took 200 miles of biking, trekking, and canoeing — plus around-the-clock strategy and map and compass navigation — but our YogaSlackers/GearJunkie team has taken first place overall in the debut Maya Mountain Adventure Race in Belize.

The team finished on Saturday (Feb. 15) after three days of hard, sleepless racing.

“Pushing hard almost ended in disaster when we ran out of water on the jungle trek near the end,” said our team racer Daniel Staudigel, writing an email from the finish line in Belize. “We had to filter some water from a rain-filled mud rut left by a jeep.”

Despite bad water and three difficult but fast days the team is in high spirits with the win. Wrote Staudigel, “In the end, a huge number of details, big and small, came together for a fantastic race.”

Chelsey Magness traverses a gorge

Our team was among an international field who went to Belize to race a unique course. It included terrain ranging from jungle to pine tree mountain ridges — not to mention caving sections and ancient ruins.

Congrats to all the teams who finished the tough course. Below are some images from the action as well as a bit more text from Staudigel on the YogaSlackers/GearJunkie experience in Belize.

Through a village, into the jungle wilderness beyond

Daniel Staudigel, 02/16/14 — “Despite a leaky rear tire for the first leg, and muddy conditions, we were neck and neck with a few teams (the Danes, the Ecuadoreans, and Odyssey) for the first few hours. But after the first trekking leg, the navigation simplified and the road/trail conditions improved, and we began to pull away…first 20 minutes, then 40 minutes. By the time we got to the dark zone, we were 5 hours ahead of them.

To get there, we did not really sleep at all, resting for 20 minutes on top of the Mayan ruins before a long jungle trek, drying our feet and enjoying the views from the tallest structure in Belize.

Deep jungle to higher altitude pine forests

The race was fun. The weather was wet and cool for the first part of the race. This was great for trekking, but pretty bad for mountain biking — it made many of the roads basically un-rideable. The variety of different biomes was terrific, from pine-based forests, to broad-leaf rainforests.

We also almost ran out of batteries when our new rechargeable AAs did not behave as expected. Luckily we were carrying our bike helmets which had extra headlamps and batteries attached to them. In the end, a huge number of details, big and small, came together for a fantastic race!

Hidden falls

Through a village

Topo map and cluesheets were the racers’ only guide

Exhaustion setting in… Jason Magness (top) and Daniel Staudigel near the end of the three-day race

Paddle a jungle river toward the finish line

—You can follow our athlete teams here .

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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