The end of a gruelling six days as Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge competitors run to the the finish line on the Corniche.
The end of a gruelling six days as Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge competitors run to the the finish line on the Corniche.

Usshers make it four in a row in Adventure Challenge



ABU DHABI // Their teammates and team name may change, but Richard and Elina Ussher remain remarkably consistent in the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge.

The husband and wife from New Zealand were on the winning team for the fourth consecutive year yesterday, teaming with two other Kiwis to win the title for the Thule Adventure Team.

They won all nine sections in the six-day endurance race, including yesterday's 33km kayak race around Lulu Island.

Thule Adventure - the Usshers, plus Marcel Hagener and Nathan Fa'avae - won by more than 80 minutes from the Thule Adventure Europe team, from France.

"The universal camaraderie, energy and will to win just cannot be measured. It is always special to win a race, but to do so four times in a row is unbelievable," Richard Ussher said.

"We've had a fantastic week together and the race's new-look format was a thrilling experience. We need to see more of races of such diversity elsewhere around the world."

Jacky Boisset, the captain of Thule Adventure Europe, said he was satisfied to take the runners-up position but challenged Ussher and company for the 2011 race.

"We are very happy as this year's second place is better than all our previous results," Boisset said. "If we won the race, there would probably be no reason for us to come back. We'll be back to do it again next year and we'll do everything we can to beat Ussher's team. The strategy for 2011 is just one word: win."

During the six days, athletes from 48 teams swam, mountain biked, canoed, climbed, kayaked and navigated their way through the deserts, mountains and waters of Abu Dhabi.

Forty-eight teams completed the Challenge, including 30 who were competing for the first time.

"The fact that 48 teams, including all the rookies, came back safely after six days ... demonstrates how this event is improving international standards and developing the domestic talent pool and pedigree of endurance athletes," said Faisal al Sheikh, the events manager for Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.

Thule Adventure's final time was 45hrs, 44mins and 47secs. Thule Adventure Europe was second, followed by Wenger (Switzerland), Adidas Terrex (UK) and Netcompetence (Sweden).

Bernhard Hug, the Wenger captain, was pleased with the third-place finish. "I never expected to reach the podium and we are very proud we did," Hug said. "It was hard to be motivated today after a full day's rest yesterday, so to get that consistency of performance back straight away is no small achievement."

Among the eight local teams, the best finish was recorded by the 2XU Blackberry team, who took 15th overall. EcoRacers were next, 30th overall.

"This is a very good result based on the amount of training we did," Darryl Chiles, the 2XU Blackberry team captain, said. "Although the race was much tougher than last year, I like the new design because it keeps the event fresh."

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Company name: Cargoz
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Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

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Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

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The government also said that leading academics, medical doctors, scientists, engineers and star students would be eligible for similar long-term visas, without the need for financial investments in the country.

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