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Defending Champions Head to Finish Line

Defending Champions Head to Finish Line in 2005 Adventure Racing World Championship

November 19 2005: Defending champions Nike Balance Bar have put the hammer down in the race for second place at the 2005 Adventure Racing World Championship on the West Coast of the Southern Alps and is now on the 16km beach walk to the finish line at Tauranga Bay near Westport.

GoLite Timberland is making a last minute break and has moved up several places to third position after sitting further back in the top ten most of the race. The team's racing experience, like Nike's is now starting to really show.

A large crowd gathered at Tauranga Bay to welcome Kiwi adventure legends and the 2005 world champions Balance Vector home at 10.22pm last night in what was a hugely decisive victory.

Captain Nathan Fa'avae says the team really relaxed after the kayak leg down the Buller River.

"We realised that by making it off the river (before the 9.00pm curfew) we had really given ourselves a bit of a cushion."

But he says although they won the race by around 12 hours anything could have gone wrong.

"All it takes is for someone to fall over and sprain an ankle or make a navigation mistake and you can lose hours and hours. We were always in a good position but we were never complacent about it."

He says the final day of racing yesterday felt like a formality, they had won the race and just had to make it to the finish line.

Team member Richard Ussher says it was an emotional homecoming and the end of an ear with Fa'avae and Kristina Anglem both competing in their retirement race.

Anglem says it had been a particularly tough race but as a team unit they were fantastic.

"It is hard to believe this is my last race."

The seven teams jostling for second place stayed together until late last night when Nike Balance Bar and GoLite Timberland broke away on the mountain trek through the Paparoa's.

Kiwis Port Nelson started the trek in second place yesterday at 12.58 but have now dropped back to sixth. Nike Balance Bar and Kiwis Sierra International set off at 1.45pm and 1.47pm respectively. Swedish Cross Sportswear and GoLite Timberland left at 2.04pm.

Sierra International chased Nike Balance Bar through to the first checkpoint on the trek arriving five minutes after them at 7pm. Port Nelson slipped back to fourth place and left the checkpoint at 7.31pm. The rest of the chase pack spread out behind them.

Nike Balance Bar extended their lead and passed through the transition to the 15km mountain bike, from Charleston to the Nile River, at 12.51am with a four hour advantage over GoLite Timberland, who left at 4.43am.

Port Nelson lost a few hours and left the transition at 7.48am, a minute before Swedish team Halti arrived.

Nike Balance Bar retained their lead and passed transition 11 to begin caving at 2.44am and made it to the Te Tahi Caves entrance at 3.23am. GoLite Timberland entered the cave at 7.12am.

Only 12 of the 46 teams are left racing to the finish after Kiwi/US team Montrail and Swedish Lundhags Adventure suffered minor injuries and had to withdraw. UK family team Salomon GB did not make the cut off at the end of the kayak down the Buller River before 9pm.

The West Coast Development Trust is the principal sponsor for the World Championship with $100,000 prize money distributed among to the top five teams.

For up to date race coverage or for alternative coverage

Southern Traverse Ltd is a premier international sports event management company operating elite events around the world, including the Adventure Racing World Championship, the AR World Series and the Southern Traverse.

The Adventure Racing World Series is an international circuit of premiere adventure races representing 10 countries creating a 12-month calendar of professional events around the world. The series events are: Beast of the East-USA, Raid the North Extreme- Canada, Ecomotion/Pro - Brazil, Explore Sweden - Sweden, The Bull of Africa - S.Africa, Terra Incognita - Croatia, Bergson Winter Challenge - Poland, Wilderness ARC - Scotland and Southern Traverse -New Zealand. Adventure Racing World Series events are qualifiers for the Adventure Racing World Championship

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