Team Nike Balance Bar set to defend title
WESTPORT, New Zealand ” The Adventure Racing World Championship got underway with a mass start in Westport, New Zealand Monday morning, and competitors are on their 430-kilometer journey.
The event, which features $140,000 in prize money, is being held in the Buller region of the West Coast of the Southern Alps and 46 international teams are competing for the prestigious title.
The first stage saw competitors swarm down the main street of Westport running to North Beach, where they launched kayaks into a rough swell. Vail local Mike Kloser’s team, Nike Balance Bar was among the leaders at the transition to sea kayaking. Ian Adamson of Boulder, Monique Merrill of Breckenridge and Idaho native Michael Tobin round out the team.
The defending world champions arrived in New Zealand last week to make their preparations for the final event of the year. Kloser felt that the course, which was only revealed Sunday afternoon, will likely bring about numerous lead changes over the next four to five days and that no lead will be safe, even if a particular team did manage to get an early position at the front.
Veteran adventure racer Billy Mattison of Vail is competing with three New Zealand racers as part of Team GoLite Timberland.
The first teams could be across the finish line on Nine Mile Beach at Tauranga Bay as early as Friday afternoon.