WEDALI (We Eat Dust And Like It), the runners-up of the 2010 Atomic Adventure Race presented by Fuji Bikes, are returning for the 2011 edition of the race.
The bar just got raised for those with their names in the hat to be a victor of this year's race of champions.
Currently on the roster are all podium teams from 2010, the 2nd place team from 2009, and the near-victors from the same year. They'll all be vying for the championship of the third installment of this year's race.
No doubt Team Checkpoint Zero, who emerged champions over WEDALI by a mere 4 minutes after 24 hours of racing last year, are planning to stay ahead. Earlier this year, Team Checkpoint Zero officially merged with Team EMS, one of the most dominant teams in the nation, to form Team Checkpoint Zero/Tech4o. These guys are bringing the big guns in for this year's Atomic Adventure Race presented by Fuji Bikes.
That won't scare WEDALI, the 2010 USARA National Champions, though. These guys are smooth operators; the symbol of confidence in American adventure racing. They show it in both their interviews and their racing swagger. Most adventure racers take on the motto, "Start slow and taper off from there." In every race I've watched WEDALI in--from day races to expeditions--they reverse split. This has proved an incredibly devastating strategy against elite teams: no matter what kind of lead a team may have, if WEDALI's in the race, the leaders feel as if they have no room to breathe.
Make no mistake--WEDALI's reserve tank is quite large. At the Badlands edition of Primal Quest, one of the most difficult endurance events in the world, their final day surge was well-recognized by those within the adventure race community as proof of how much WEDALI still has when the rest of the world's best are running out of steam. And last year's Atomic was no exception--in the final leg of the race, they pushed 25% faster than Team Checkpoint Zero, the next fastest team through the section. With that kind of blistering speed so late in the race, when all teams are giving it everything, no team is safe from their reach.
WEDALI is hungry--with the 2010 Atomic being the only race last year that they didn't take home the Gold, and with the margin of their loss being so narrow, captain of Team Checkpoint Zero Peter Jolles' will need to dig deep in his bag of tricks if he wants a repeat of last year--the same bag that will be carrying the 10lb cast iron Atomic AR Trophy, mandatory gear for last year's champions in this year's race.
So when I say it's on, it's on. It is on. We're talking rematch of the year, folks.