Hard enduro has really developed rapidly here in Peru. In fact, it was just a few years ago when the first, what I would call legit race was held. The El Inka Hard Enduro entered the stage with a bang. After Jorge Nieto and Branko Bozovich of Lima, spent some time traveling around the world to participate in some of the hard enduro favorites like Romaniacs, Sea to Sky, Avandarocks, Ukupacha and so on, they decided to take a shot and organize the first hard enduro race in Peru under the umbrella of ZICK, a company founded with the purpose of developing hard enduro in Peru.
This is the 2016 Race Video...Check it out!
The courage to chase down the idea came after some big names like Cyril Despres, Gio Sala, Chris Birch and Martin Freinademetz came to Peru and stated what Jorge and Branko had known for a while: Peru has some of the most amazing terrain for hard enduro in the world.
In order to obtain a world class track for El Inka Hard Enduro they contacted Peter Weiss, a popular name in Hard Enduro, he came out and developed the route along with the local knowledge provided by Zick. This guy knows how to build a race course! The race was held in San Bartolo, which is a cool desert riding area just south of Peru's capital city of Lima. The race brought in some good talent. An entourage of riders from Lima wanted to give it a go. In addition, a handful of guys from Mexico came down and if I recall, a rider from Equator. A Spaniard living in Peru, throw me in there to represent the US, and there you have it...the birth of an amazing international hard enduro race event. There were about 85 racers if I recall.
The race was as organized as anything I have ever seen in Peru. I was pleasantly surprised as it exceeded my expectations. The prologue was a fun obstacle riddled course on the beach in Lima. Great for the spectators to enjoy, a challenge for the riders to make it around especially as the tide came in, and a convenient place for an event to bring the new sport to light.
Fast forward one year to the second El Inka and we found the likes of Kyle Redmond and Cory Graffunder. The reigning champ from Mexico, Didier "Frodo" Goirand also came back to defend his title. This time Jorge and Branko developed a track that was basically drawn out in Google Earth and supported by their "weekend warrior" knowledge of the area. For year two, they brought Peter Weiss and his buddy Mike Skinner to put the final touches on the route. They spent countless hours marking trails and figuring out ways to destroy the riders...It was perfect. Just what we were all wanting...another impossible route with a super slim chance of making it to the finish.
The prologue was bigger, better, and devoured a few more riders this time. Each rider got to take two separate laps to qualify for the semi, then the top eight of the sixteen in the semis raced for a cash prize and choice of starting position for the following day. Again, the prologue was a fantastic spectator event that is just fun for anyone to watch, let alone someone that likes motorcycles.
The second day was a three lap time trial. The course was intermediate in level and about 15 miles. Each rider took at least one lap. If satisfied with their time, they could bow out. If not, there were two more chances to better their position. Day two's results determined the starting line-up for the final day.
Day three was the big race. The first dozen positions started seconds apart, then paired up two at a time until all the riders were on the course. The course was laid out in four sections. The first was Iron/Acero which was the easiest level. Some of the riders had it in mind to reach the end of the Iron/Acero section and that would be a success. Then came the Bronze/Bronce section. The technical level went up and began to create some traffic and chaos on the course. After the Bronze/Bronce section was the Silver/Plata section. This was the part that took out most of the field. Many good riders threw in the towel during this phase or at the final silver checkpoint. Gold/Oro, was a hideous mix of obstacles intended to test the best of the riders. Only a handful made it into this section. An even smaller number made it to the end. Of course, the winner was the one who reached the finish line first after completing all the stages. Cory Graffunder came out on top. It was another successful year for the El Inka Hard Enduro.
Year three is coming up. December 1-2 will be the 3rd annual El Inka Hard Enduro. Sounds like Kyle Redmond is coming back, Cory Graffunder will be defending his title and another name from the States will show up: Mitch Carvolth. Mario Roman will take a shot at the El Inka Hard Enduro if Sherco manages to get a bike in Peru. Still waiting on some other big names, but I am sure this race is here to stay. The World Hard Enduro Series has put the El Inka as their final race of the series this year. That alone, should draw some more riders from around the world. Peter Weiss will be managing the course once again. He also puts on a great enduro school during the few weeks prior to the race.
The whole thing seems to be building a lot of momentum. The riders in Peru are moving up in the ranks of hard enduro. Nine riders from Peru went to Romaniacs this year. Thats a huge number! It's really cool to see the sport taking off like it is in a place like Peru. I am convinced there is no better place to ride than the Andes. Keep your eyes out for more big news from Peru...It's certainly worthy of being put on the international enduro map.
If you are interested in the El Inka Hard Enduro, check out the organization ZICK on Facebook as well as the El Enka Hard Enduro Facebook page. I can't wait to tackle this beast again!
Now I gotta go out and train!
Scott Englund is a social entrepreneur operating hard enduro tours in the Andes of Peru. All of the profits from the business are used to support a number of social projects in the Cusco region of the country. You can best find him on the MotoMission Peru Facebook page or email at Scott@motomissionperu.com. Also, check out the Youtube channel at MotoMission Peru Dirtbike Adventures to see what tour in the Andes looks like.