And they’re off! Team Cyanosis gear up to tackle the Cowboy State

Team Cyanosis after completing Raid Gallaecia 2017

Team Cyanosis celebrate after completing Raid Gallaecia in May 2017. This was their last race as team ahead of the World Championship. Photo: Alberto Armada

And they’re off! Team Cyanosis has departed to the United States for the Adventure Racing World Championship (ARWC). For the first time in its 16-year history, this renowned event will be hosted by The Cowboy Tough Expedition Race. And next Thursday, 10 August, will mark the start of the team’s adventure through the varied and truly breath-taking terrain of Wyoming’s backcountry.

It’s going to take grit and all the guts Cyanosis has got to conquer the Cowboy State. They will have six days to complete 760km of non-stop racing, as they amke their way from the start line in Jackson Hole to the finisher’s arch in Casper.

Out of the sixty teams competing, Cyanosis will be the only South African representative. But after their performance in Paraguay in March 2017, where they won Expedición Guaraní with a 12-hour lead, there’s no doubting that they’ll do us proud.

Team Cyanosis, Raid Gallaecia 2017, adventure racind, ARWC 2017, Clinton Mackintosh

Team Cyanosis show their grit during a cold and wet MTB leg at Raid Gallaecia 2017. This was an expedition race in Spain where Cyanosis manged to place seventh overall. Photo: Antonio Aradas

The Team

“We sat down at the beginning of the year and worked out what we wanted to achieve. The World Championship was a focal point, so it’s really important that we go into the race with the right mindset. The team has an objective, and we’re all pretty hungry for a good race. So hopefully the results will speak for themselves.” – Clinton Mackintosh

Meet Clinton ‘Mac’ Mackintosh, the captain of Team Cyanosis. He is very goal orientated leader and brings out a healthy competitive streak in the team. Next is Nicholas Mulder, the man to follow. He holds the position of chief navigator and marked the route to victory at Expedición Guaraní 2017.

Nathan Thompson is the backup navigator. He’s extremely strong on foot and is described to be the packhorse, often carrying the heaviest load. And then finally there’s Susan Carter-Brown. By no means is her pack any lighter than the others, and she brings a lot to the team with her strong kayaking skills.  She is also brilliant on long-distance hikes.

Team Cyanosis has been around for 14 years, and has raced the World Series for about as long as it’s been around. They took a break for the last two years, and only focused on a few local races. But they’re back in the game and with a specific goal: “We’re ready race more competitively, and to race with more competitive teams. South Africa’s got an incredible amount of capable athletes!” said Clinton.

Clinton Mackintosh fighting off sleep monsters during a tracking leg at Expedición Guaraní 2017.

Preparation

Nathan is based in the UK, and every other team member in different provinces of South Africa. So getting the team together to train has been difficult leading up to the World Championship.

But Cyanosis have used specific races to prepare. While the victory in Paraguay plays a fundamental role to the confidence of the team, the more recent Raid Gallacia gave Cyanosis the opportunity to make any final adjustments. This was an Expedition Race that took place in Spain in May 2017, where they managed to finish finished seventh overall.

Clint is confident in the amount of training each member has put in individually: “Everyone in the team has trained for a specific goal. We knew what kind of sacrifice they would take, and we had to each give it our all.

There’s been no half-measures, because three other people count on each individual. Spain really wasn’t that long ago, so we’re feeling well prepared. I can’t wait to finally get going with this race!”

Team Cyanosis, Raid Gallaecia 2017, adventure racind, ARWC 2017, Nathan Thompson

Nathan Thompson on a rapid descent! Raid Gallaecia 2017. Photo: Enrique Blanco

Race strategy (and possible bear encounters)

“This will be my first trip to the USA! And I’m so looking forward to taking on Cowboy country” – Clinton Mackintosh

Cyanosis have geared themselves up for plenty time in the saddle after race packs were released recently.  Leg seven and eight will make up a total 322km of mountain biking, separated by a 7km rope section, which is estimated to take only an hour.

Clint’s approach this: “By the looks of it, we’re going to have pretty rideable conditions, either flat or only a little elevation. It looks like it going to be fast-going!”

When asked how often the team plans to stop on a leg like that, he replied, “Stop? There’s no stopping to stretch our legs and crack open a sandwich! If we have to stop it will be for a very specific reason. Our approach is just to get through a leg like that as quickly as possible.”

Clint doesn’t even consider that to be the most daunting stage of the race. He is more concerned with the two trekking sections of 64km and 65km, which will apparently not even take place on mapped trails. The race organisers have taken the approach of including very few checkpoints, and spreading them out as far as possible. So teams won’t be guided to any specific areas.

“We want to be able to maintain a high intensity for as long as possible. There’s not going to be a team there that will walk these legs if there’s the opportunity to run. And that’s what we’re up against,” said Clint.

Does their race strategy make provision for the possible encounter with a bear? Yes!

Clint has that situation all figured out: “I’ll start by testing out our bear spray out Nathan, just to make sure it works. But should we actually encounter one, I’m just going to make sure I can outrun one of the other team members!

But on a serious note, we’ll take precautionary measures and make sure we know what we’re doing.”

Team Cyanosis, Raid Gallaecia 2017, adventure racind, ARWC 2017, Susan Carter-Brown

Susan showing off her paddling skills at Raid Gallaecia 2017. Photo: Enrique Blanco

Expectations

When asked about what South African’s should expect to see the team do, Clint said:

“We want to win the World Championship. We’re certainly not going over there just to participate in the race!

The objective is to race as hard as we possibly can. We are realistic and know that we’re racing against the top teams in the world, but that’s what we want to be doing to see how we measure up.

It’s a pity that some of the other South African teams can’t make it, because it would have been a pretty good showing for us an adventure racing community. But let’s see how we represent. We have objectives and hope the results will align with that.”

Wishing team Cyanosis all the best from back home!

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