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A round-up of extreme sports events in August

We had to shoot up to Nice yesterday to meet up with a cousin and friend who dropped in briefly on their 17-countries in 32 days whistle stop tour of Europe! Fairly extreme… and all the time I was aware of August having started without a comment from us!

A whole lot of crazy drivers are out there hurtling their way (if you can hurtle in a car that has no more than a 1-litre engine) to Ulaan Bataar. They are, of course, taking part in The Mongol Rally organised by The Adventurists – a race that has 3 starting points: London, Barcelona and Milan, but one finish line in the capital city of Mongolia. There are only two rules and both involve the car. It must be no more than 10 years old and preferably a 1 litre engine or less. They have had to be a little flexible on the engine size this year as it is difficult to find a car with that sized engine from 2002 and younger, so a tiny bit of leniency has been introduced – the engine can go up to 1.2 litres, but NO more. There is no route – you choose your own line to Mongolia. The Adventurists encapsulate the concept: “10,000 miles of pure adventure over mountains, deserts and some of the most remote, challenging terrain on the planet.  All in a tiny car designed for doing the weekly shop.” Motorbikes kick the system a bit – they are limited to under 125cc.

Enjoy this 2007 video – before the 10-year limit was brought in for the cars:

And while the Mongol Rally thunders across the continent, Sarah Outen continues her epic London2London Via the World journey. Yesterday she twittered “4 months and 12,500km since Tower Bridge. Woop woop and woop! 10 days to Beijing.”

The Red Bull X-Alps came to an end with Christian Maurer well in the lead, landing on the float in Monaco at 16:22 on Thursday, and at that time, his nearest followers were over 150 km away. The final day was a nail-biter. However Toma Coconea (ROM), who had taken the road and run 80kms before launching his paraglider, clinched 2nd place with newcomer Paul Guschlbauer (AUT4) taking 3rd. Behind them, Martin Muller flew well into 4th place, while another newcomer Jon Chambers maintained his fifth position. The party of all parties was held at Stars and Bars in Monaco on Sunday evening.

There are some good Adventure Races scheduled for this month. Expedition Idaho, close to Coeur d’Alene and in the Silverback Mountain Resort takes place between 14th – 20th August and is open to co-ed teams of 4.  This is a 600+ km (373+ mile) which event organisers are determined will become one of the premier events on the world AR calendar. As Team Nike’s Gretchen Reeves said “if it’s anything like the race we did there a couple years ago, it’s going to be killer! The mountain biking there is hands down the best I’ve ridden at an AR, ever!”

Mount Elbrus is the scene for several adventure races happening in the next few days – the Elbrus Traverse starting on the 3rd, the Elbrus Adventure Race from the 3rd – 6th, the Elbrus Ultra-Trail from the 4th – 6th and the 24-hour limit Elbrus Trail from the 5th – 6th. There are countless Adventure Races around the world this month including in Canada, Vanuatu, Australia, South Africa, America, the UK, Latvia, Czechoslovakia and Germany, but the big one is the Grand Raid des Pyrenees in France on the 26th – 28th August, an ultra trail race,160km with 10,000m ascent and 80km with 5,000km ascent in the High Pyrenees. If you want to know more about any of these races then you need to go to the Sleep Monsters site and see their calendar and details.

What about Surfing?

Yesterday saw the opening day of the Women’s WCT Nike US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, California and the elite ASP Top 17 tore through Rounds 1 and 2 of competition in tricky one-to-three foot surf with some explosive performances despite the challenging conditions. Although 18-year old Carissa Moore made history last month by becoming the youngest ever ASP Women’s World Champion, the competitions continue and the Nike US Open of Surfing represents a do-or-die event for several women campaigners looking to requalify for the elite ASP Top 17 for 2012. It was, therefore, a very important event to many of the surfers.

Courtney Conlogue at the Nike US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, California

Courtney Conlogue (USA): photo courtesy of ASP / Rowland

Other surfing competitions to look out for this month will be:

  • the 6* Sooruz Lacanau Pro from the16th – 21st August in Lacanau, France;
  • the 6* San Miguel Pro in Zarautx, Basque Country in Spain;
  • the 6* Relentless Boardmasters in Associations with Vans in Newquay, Cornwall, UK between the 9th – 14th August.
  • The much anticipated WCT  Billabong Pro Teahupoo in Tahiti will be held between the 20th – 31st August.
  • The 4* Coastal Edge ECSC presented by Vans at Virginia Beach, VA, USA from the 22nd – 28th August;
  • the 6* SriLankan Airlines Pro in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka from the  30th August – 4th September.

A chock full month.

Kitesurfing? What’s up….

The 4th tour stop of the PKRA World Tour happens in Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain. This is the 10th anniversary of the Kiteboarding Grand Slam for the Freestyle discipline. The Tour started in Thailand, followed by Morocco and then France with a wide variety of conditions which showcased the best overall rider. The current leader of the tour and winner of every single event so far is Youri Zoon (NED, Slingshot), closely followed by Alex Pastor (ESP, Airush) and Alberto Rondina (ITA, Cabrinha). In the women’s division, Gisela Pulido (ESP, Airush) will be defending her title at home and is currently leading the tour over Bruna Kajiya (BRA, Flexifoil), followed by Karolina Winkowska (POL, Slingshot) who has been training up north on the island.

How’s about Ultra-Marathons?

The big one this month is the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. Scheduled to be held between the 22nd to the 28th August this is a 4-in-1 event.:

  • UTMB® [Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®] : 3 countries – 166 km and 9,500m of positive height gain in semi-autonomy – 46 hours maximum – 2,300 runners at the start
  • CCC® [Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix] : 3 countries – 98km and 5,600m of positive height gain in semi-autonomy – 25 hrs max– 1,800 runners at the start
  • TDS [sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie] : 110km and 7,100m positive height gain in semi-autonomy – 32hrs max – 1,200 runners at the start
  • PTL [la Petite Trotte à Léon]: 3 countries 300km and 25,000m positive height gain in total autonomy. A non-stop event without final positions open to 80 teams

This is a serious endurance challenge and there are some important obligatory regulations when it comes to what you have to have with you at all times. Race manager, Catherine Poletti, says, “Trail runners, have to think firstly “Mountain” before thinking “Trail “, to advance not only effectively, but especially safely. If we want to run an ultra in the mountains, it is necessary to accept rules different from those of other races, and that includes of course the great majority of trails. It seems evident that to run in the desert, special equipment is needed; in the mountains it’s the same. Every element of the compulsory equipment has to be the answer to a risk, for The North Face ® Ultra-Trail of Mont Blanc ® events but also for all mountain races!”

The 2010 event experienced apocalyptic weather which was an important lesson for race organisers and participants alike. If you are not properly equipped you are not only putting yourself at risk but others too. As Sébastien Cheigneau who came 2nd in the 2009 event says, “I think that this type of equipment (jacket, gloves, over-trousers…) shouldn’t be part of the obligatory equipment but should be found permanently at the bottom of the pack because it is essential. We should not even have to impose it. It is when we find ourselves confronted with problems or bad conditions that we question it but then, it is too late…”

And how about Red Bull?

Of course we have the second last Red Bull Cliff Diving event happening on the 20th August – a much anticipated showdown is expected with contestants jockeying for position. Gary Hunt will be determined to outdo himself and win by a large margin, he is already 29 points ahead of Michal Navratil. Others will be equally determined to out perform him. The event is to be held in Boston, USA – the first time it will have been held on mainland America.

Not forgetting the Southern Hemisphere… and snow:

The New Zealand World Heli-Challenge is underway on Mount Albert’s east face. “An all heli-access event to terrain like this is reason enough to come down here to NZ,” said American Ted Davenport, a two-time winner of the World Heli Challenge. “Being in helis and skiing pow with an awesome crew is as good as it gets.” The Extreme Day was held yesterday on a site that wasn’t revealed to riders until they were on location. Judging and winners will be determined after the contest based on film segments. More on this later…

New Zealand World Heli-Ski

The venue on Mount Gilbert (left) and the floating heli platform Photo courtesy of Nick Draxi

The 3rd – 6th August sees the Mountain Dew Boardriders Challenge and Shred Fest at Mount Buller, Australia, an Olympic training venue. Or you can take part in the Kangaroo Hoppet – Australia’s longest crosscountry ski race and a world-wide competition. Scheduled to take place on the 27th August, this 42km race will be held at Falls Creek, north east Victoria. The event is the opening event of the 2011 / 2012 Worldloppet series of long distance cross country ski races.

And last but not least… GOLF!

Last year, 2010, Ushuaia in Argentina held a snow golf tournament – three par 4 holes and three par 3 holes. The winner of the contest was Marcelo Ricci with 41 hits, while in the ladies category the winner was Cecilia Cortiglia with 53 hits.  Can anyone tell me if it’s being held again this year?

That’s it for now – a mere handful of the hundreds of things going on this month. Enjoy!

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