La Ruta de los Conquistadores sticks with three-day format

Organizers of La Ruta de los Conquistadores announced the dates for the 2013 edition of its race. The three-day Costa Rican race, which will be celebrating its 21st anniversary, will happen from October 31 to November 2.

After the conclusion of the 2012 event, racers were wondering what format would be used for the coming year. For the 20th anniversary celebratory edition, the race was run over three days, with a shorter final day to accommodate an optional whitewater rafting stage.

For 2013, the race will stick with its original three-day format instead of going back to four days; however, the whitewater rafting segment is gone, so racers can complete the typical, longer final stage over 122km.

"The reason for the three-day version is that it opens up the event to a bigger audience , not just the pro riders," La Ruta founder and promoter Roman Urbina told Cyclingnews. "Plus the number of accidents and injuries are a lot less. Both the racers and the staff are worn out after four days, and we like to see happy faces at the end of the race, not zombies."

"There will be no rafting. That was just a 20th edition thing."

Running a mountain bike stage race in a point-to-point format across Costa Rica is no easy task and involves complicated logistics.

"It has not been easy keeping the event going for such a long time. The logistics for this event are very hard and expensive. It is a joy having 500 racers crossing coast to coast across Costa Rica in a true biking adventure. I think La Ruta keeps the true spirit of mountain biking alive. It's not a corporate race - we still have soul."

After the 2012 edition of the race, many of the elite and amateur racers from outside Costa Rica expressed a preference for four days of racing, which they felt made it more worthwhile to travel to and from the race.

However, some racers have since said they that they prefer a three-day format. Giving what he called a "middle of the pack perspective", Patrick Sweeney told Cyclingnews, "I like the three-day format because as a full-time CEO - it is really tough to keep my reputation as an 'Endurance Entrepreneur' intact while building my business. A fourth day would make both training and the race too much to handle."

"So the top 20 guys may like the four-day format - but the rest of us, [we] like the three-day. Plus there is one other benefit - with twice the number of entrants there is twice the revenue and the organisers can have better logistics, security, support, etc."  Sweeney was part of a team with five other CEOs and some young Costa Rican riders.

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