Team GJ Heading back to Patagonia!

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My head is still spinning. The experience has not yet sunk in. Last month, after almost seven straight days of racing — and hundreds of miles traveled on bike, foot, and kayak — Team GearJunkie.com completed the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. . . .

Those words initiated my first post-race report last winter, a column penned while my feet were still raw and my nerves scrambled from the insanity of the 2010 Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race. The weeklong event through Tierra del Fuego in southern Chile began in early February, 2010, and it coursed south on foot, bikes, and in kayaks for almost 350 miles toward the tip of the continent. It was an event that changed my view on racing, fast-and-light wilderness travel, and the gear that allows modern explorers to push to the edge.

Team GearJunkie.com in 2010 Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race; photo by T.C. Worley

This year, the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race is ramping up for its ninth edition, and for the touted “toughest and wildest race in the world” up to 60 international athletes are anticipated at the starting line. Team GearJunkie.com will again be there to toe up at the line, including the same four-person squad as last year. I will serve as captain, and my friends and race partners from the YogaSlackers adventure group, Jason Magness, Chelsey Gribbon and Daniel Staudigel, will round out the team for another epic trip through the wilds of Patagonia.

YogaSlacker tomfoolery at the opening ceremonies for the 2010 event

Instead of Tierra del Fuego, the race moves north this year to the area around Chile’s Southern Continental Ice Field. Disciplines will again include kayaking, mountain biking, trekking, navigation, and ropework. Says race organizer Stjepan Pavicic, “When planning the course for the race each year we always make sure it is a good mix of virgin terrain and stunning views, and I guarantee that 2011 will be no different.”

Deep “fairytale” forests in Patagonia; photos by T.C. Worley

Like a mini Olympic Games, the WPER race always includes a highly international roster. Past competitors have represented 25 nations, including USA, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and many more. Like last year, Team GearJunkie.com is looking forward to the unique camaraderie and competition that comes with racing with such an international field.

Jason Magness of YogaSlackers relaxing post-race on deck of a charted Chilean Navy vessel
photo by T.C. Worley

The race this year begins on Tuesday, February 8, and it continues through February 17. Our dedicated micro-site on the event — www.GearJunkie.com/Patagonian-Race — just like last year will include training information as Team GJ prepares for the event, gear reports, photos, videos, a blog, and then live race reporting by T.C. Worley, a Gear Junkie contributor and professional photographer, who is going back to Chile again with the team this year.

I am currently ramping up my training effort to prepare my body for the event. The gear is piling up, too, and from our experience last year there will be a few key changes to the equipment list. I invite you to follow Team GJ on its journey back to South America. And please wish us luck. We’re going to need it again down there!

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

Patagonia’s Beagle Channel and Darwin Mountains beyond; photo by T.C. Worley

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