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NEXT ROVING RACE IN SRI LANKA (Starts on 14 Feb 2016)
Introducing RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015

This year the 4 Deserts Race Series will stage its first Roving Race in Latin America, thrilling competitors with a chance to explore the rich, green and mountainous land of Ecuador. The Consul General of Ecuador in Guangzhou, Mariella Molina, sums up the possibilities:

“Racing in Ecuador will not only be a unique sporting achievement but a lifetime opportunity to explore the most megadiverse country by square kilometer in the world.”

Ecuador is an inspired choice. Divided into four regions, the country has something for everyone. Each region has its own features:

The Coastal Region produces much of the world’s banana crop and is home to many fisheries;

The Sierras are distinguished by Andean peaks, volcanoes and fields growing potatoes and quinoa;

The Oriente contains the Amazon jungle provinces, home to many of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples;

The Insular region is famous as the home of the Galápagos Islands, where Darwin developed the theory of evolution.

Ecuador’s uniqueness is marked by Quito, the most elevated capital city in the world, and Mount Chimbosara, a volcano thought to be the point furthest from the earth’s core. When asked what will be the toughest part of the race, competitor Shayne Stoik from Canada, who completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam in 2012, replied:  “The altitude, Ecuador has some big mountains. In Peru, I got up to 4500m and I remember having to stop every few steps and catch my breath when I got that high.”

Competitors should prepare for some serious wildlife spotting opportunities. Fifteen per cent of all known bird species inhabit Ecuador’s jungles and mountains and there are over a thousand species of hummingbirds alone. Not to be outdone, the flora is equally abundant. Consider bringing binoculars.

The culture is also varied and vital. Inca Shamans (traditional medicine men) can still be found using traditional plants as medicines, using the native practices of Ecuador’s many tribes. Add to this mix a Spanish colonial past and an African influence unlike any in the region, and you have the elements of a strong and exciting culture.

Ecuadorian Franklin Ruiz, who has competed in RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 and Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2011 has some recommendations: Quito, the vibrant capital is very welcoming and has many attractions like Colonial churches and museums, or you can visit small towns in the outskirts of the city with spectacular views of the different volcanoes in the area. The Cotopaxi is easily accessible by car and with a good hike the summit is within reach. There are many national parks that offer gorgeous views of lakes, rivers and mountain ranges, too many to mention but easy to find out. Many small quiet Indian towns are worth a visit... a lot of things to see and do.”

Competitors can anticipate fresh wholesome food, Spanish in character, but with a Latin American twist. Local ingredients include Yucas, Plantains, and Cuy, a type of guinea pig. Participants should try the local street food, in particular Hornado, a dish made from potatoes and roasted pig.

The drama of such an abundant country makes Ecuador an ideal location. Event Director, Riitta Hanninen, gives us an insight into the thinking behind this race:  “Ecuador was chosen based on its diversity and exotic landscape, the cultural highlights that range from ancient Inca heritage and colonial era to today’s colourful street life. Ecuador also provides great opportunities for exploring the country after the race, including the famous Galápagos Islands“.

This is a race that has everything: rivers, mountains, jungle and wildlife. Ecuador will keep the competitors intrigued and surprised as they wonder what they will discover next.

By John Pache

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