Harmonious Japanese target Patagonia survival

Fri Feb 5, 2010 8:13am EST
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By Alastair Himmer

TOKYO (Reuters) - Four Japanese adventurers have tweaked the nose of fierce seas, unforgiving mountain terrain and hypothermia to enter one of the world's most dangerous races.

The first team from their country brave enough, or mad enough, to enter the hair-raising Patagonian Expedition Race, the Japanese are more concerned about being nice to each other.

"Some of my scariest moments have come when we have had arguments during the race," professional racer Masato Tanaka told Reuters before the brutal nine-day, 600-kilometers test.

"We'll try to avoid that. Our biggest challenge may be the kayaking sections -- I'm a bit nervous about the rough ocean. We will also be careful about hypothermia in the mountains."

Tanaka's sage advice to his three inexperienced team mates comes after two Americans got lost while trekking last year and needed to be rescued by helicopter.

Chile's Tierra del Fuego hosts much of this year's race where survival is the priority for the 16 four-person teams kayaking, trekking and cycling across grueling terrain.

"We have some beginners in our team so we'll take things carefully," said Tanaka before leaving for the high-endurance event that begins on Tuesday.

"This is one of the toughest races in the world so we have to treat it with respect."   Continued...

<p>Competitors kayak in Ultima Esperanza Sound past the Serrano glacier at the start of the Patagonian Expedition Race at Torres Del Paine National Park February 10, 2009. REUTERS/Will Gray</p>