Ice, snow and a British victory - 6,000 miles from Vancouver

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British success is likely to be as thin as the snow at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. But take heart instead from our team's victory at the other end of the Americas.

The four athletes have won what is billed as the world's toughest race. The 600km course in Chilean Patagonia entailed trekking, kayaking and biking over the wind-swept pampas of Tierra del Fuego, peat bogs in Karukinka Reserve, snow-capped mountains and tree-filled canyons in the Cordillera Darwin and rough waves in the Beagle Channel. They even had to swim a fast-flowing ice-fed river to stay on track for success.

The Helly Hansen-Prunesco team of Bruce Duncan, Mark Humphrey, Nicola Macleod and Andrew Wilson led a field of 14 international teams in five days, six hours and eight minutes. The same team also won the event last year.

Captain Nicola said: “This is such a special race and it’s amazing to win it again – even more so because we have beaten a high quality field of competitors.

“Our most difficult moment was when we had to swim in an icy river because we couldn’t find the route across. We were almost naked for the swim and it was freezing, but we had a 1000m hill to climb straight after, so we soon warmed up.”

The Helly Hansen-Prunesco team were virtually tied with Canadian team Untamed New England and Spaniards Air Europa Bimont when the first main trek of the race finished in central Tierra del Fuego but they excelled in strong winds on the 178km mountain bike section and built an unassailable lead on the 114km Darwin trek.

They completed the race by kayaking across the Beagle Channel and trekking up Mount King Scott and they reached the finish with almost half a day of race time advantage over closest rivals Air Europa Bimont, of Spain.

The race was too tough for some teams to complete the course, with British team Fast and Light the first to drop out at the half-way point after one of their members suffered a stomach bug and could not continue.

The two local teams from Chile were next out, both missing the cut-off times on the route, while Brazilians Tierra Mundo Lontra and American team Eddie Bauer were too exhausted to finish.

The Olympics-partnered event ended today with ghalf the teams failing to finish.