Interview: Patagonian Race Preview

Back from a two-week scouting expedition to the wilds of Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Race Director Stjepan Pavicic, Ann Meidinger, and other members of the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race team have completed the planning and layout for much of the 2010 course. This interview with Pavicic is a trip report and a sneak peek on some details of the upcoming race, which kicks off on February 9.

Gear Junkie: You just returned from two weeks of exploration in Patagonia. How do you feel? What were some highlights from the trip?

Stjepan Pavicic: It was a great experience and I wish I could have stayed longer to explore more — there is so much to see and discover that any amount of time seems short! Every expedition is unique as nothing is ever the same as it was before. The colors change from one moment to the next, grays turn to yellow, red, or green depending on the ground, the position of the clouds and the sun. There are also many wild animals such as condors and herds of wild horses. There is always something to be discovered.

Get ready to bushwhack! Trail-less Tierra del Fuego

Gear Junkie: Did you mountain bike, trek, climb, and kayak, just like the racers will do?

Stjepan Pavicic: We only did the trekking portion of the race as the racers will have to do it.

High alpine pond

Gear Junkie: How remote did your group get? Did you go for days without seeing other humans?

Stjepan Pavicic: We trekked the most remote portion of the race. During our expedition we did not see any other humans other than the members of our group. We were isolated from civilization.

Flat lands prevail in parts of Patagonia

Gear Junkie: What were the main objectives in terms of exploration and course planning?

Stjepan Pavicic: The main objective of this exploration was to explore the route that I drew on maps to determine whether or not it was possible to do, to evaluate the risks involved, and to make the necessary changes to have an unforgettable and defined line.

Time for wet feet: The bogs below the mountains

Gear Junkie: What can you tell readers about the 2010 WPER course?

Stjepan Pavicic: It’s definitely going to be a route of many contrasts. It starts in a dry and endless pampas, then goes through forests, peat zones, mountain areas and channels that have been carved by glaciers. But beyond the geography, racers will also enjoy the mystic of passing through places that for thousands of years were inhabited by the native nomad tribes who coexisted in perfect balance with nature.

I anticipate that the kayak leg will be shorter than in previous races. It will make up around 10% of the total. Regardless, it will impact the progress of the teams and the ability of each team to complete the race.

Gear Junkie: What types of terrain can racers anticipate?

Stjepan Pavicic: It’s going to be very diverse: steppe, forest, peat, rivers, lakes, mountain and channels.

continued on next page. . .

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By
Stephen Regenold is Founder 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 two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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