Team Saab Salomon - United Kingdom
RECENT RESULTS: 2nd, 2023 X-adventure Raid Series final rankings; 2nd, 2023 X-adventure race, Scotland; 2nd, 2023 X-adventure, France/Italy; 4th, 2023 X-adventure race, Ketchum, Idaho; 5th, 2023 X-adventure race, Spain; 1st, 2023 X-adventure race, New Caledonia; 6th, 2023 Raid Gauloises, Kyrgyzstan; 1st, 2023 One.Tel Hebridean Challenge, Scotland; 1st, 2023 British Adventure Racing Championships (BARC), UK; 3rd, 2023 X-adventure Raid Series final rankings; 5th, 2023 MSOQ, Malaysian Borneo.
THE PLAYERS: Jim Davies, 37, the team's captain, works in outdoor retail and lives in Cumbria (the Lake District), England. An international mountain runner and fell runner, Jim started adventure racing after his sister, Nicola, got involved in the UK version of the Hi-Tec Adventure Racing Series in 1999. He has since competed in dozens of races, including the 2023 and 2023 Southern Traverse with his sister and two brothers. His previous team, Parrot/Lythgoes, was the most successful UK team before morphing into the core of SAAB Salomon. Along with his running prowess, Jim is a good navigator and is known to have a cool head when things start to fall apart.
Helen Jackson, 26, works in sports product marketing and lives in Yorkshire, England. Although Helen has represented Great Britain at the World Mountain Running Trophy, she is probably better known for her strength as an endurance mountain biker. She has won the UK's best-known 24-hour endurance mountain bike race (Saab Salomon Mountain Mayhem) and placed third in the mixed pairs division of the Trans Alp, an eight-day mountain bike race across the Swiss Alps. She's rarely seen without a smile on her face.
Ben Bardsley, 33, a veterinary surgeon, is also from Cumbria and also a member of the earlier Parrot/Lythgoes team. As well as being a top fell runner, he is a powerhouse on a bike, holding the European 24-hour record for off-road biking (290 miles). In his youth, Ben was a cross country runner, BMX racer and climber.
Pete James, 37, is an aerospace engineer based in Bristol, England. Pete is probably the UK's most experienced adventure racer and is a top navigator, having been a junior orienteering champion. A four-time Eco-Challenge veteran (second in Morocco in 1998), he has also taken part in the Southern Traverse (twice), Raid Gauloises (twice) and Raid International Ukatak. Pete also has lots of marathon paddling and whitewater experience.
THE SCOOP: Team SAAB Salomon was formed in 2023 as the brainchild of team manager Tim Lloyd, an ex-Olympic ski team coach, who saw the possibility of creating a world-class British adventure racing team. The initial squad of eight members has changed a little each season, and now extends to 10 athletes, most of whom have backgrounds in fell running or mountain running.
The X-adventure Raid Series only allows a named squad of six, though, which includes the four profiled athletes (the likely lineup for the X-adventure race in Bend, Oregon, on June 12-13), plus Morgan Donnelly, another fell runner, who joined the team last year. The final place in the squad will likely be taken by an as yet unnamed female. Other members of the full squad will contest domestic races and one or two international races. The complete lineup also includes: Nicola Davies (sister of Jim and international fell runner), Steve Birkinshaw (a champion orienteer and regular mountain marathon winner), Tom Gibbs (one of the most successful adventure racers in the popular UK-based ACE Races), Rob Jebb (UK fell running champion) and Helene Diamentides (holder of several ultrarunning records).
NOTEWORTHY: The team is most effective on run/trek sections because of their shared background in fell running. Centred in the Lake District, fell running is a peculiarly British sport. It involves running and navigating over steep and rocky hills, typically off trail. In particular, this promotes strong descending skills, so if SAAB Salomon is just behind you on a downhill run to the finish -- look out!
WHAT'S NEXT: Not surprisingly, the team's main focus for 2023 will be the X-adventure Raid Series and Raid World Championship: Race #1 in Morocco in May, Race #2 in Bend, Oregon, on June 12-13, Race #3 in France/Italy on July 10-11, Race #4 in Australia on September 4-5, and the World Championship in Argentina in November. They will also compete in Le Raid de Dom in the French Alps in May and in the 2023 British Adventure Racing Championships series.
-- Jon Brooke
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