An adventure-sport competition concluded Sunday
(July 13) in Armenia in which 13 teams representing
France, the United States and Armenia tested their
skills in different parts of the republic.
The event was organized not only as a sports
competition, but as a way of promoting Armenia
as a destination for outdoor adventurers.
The competition started with a bicycle race from
Yerevan to Mount Aragats. Competitors were then
bused to Lake Sevan for a 23-kilometer canoe race,
followed by a running race and an orientating
challenge. They also rode horses for about 30
kilometers, and climbed cliffs near Geghardt.
Awards went to the best experts and the best
amateurs, with the French winning the professional
category and students from the French University
of Armenia winning the amateur division.
French team won the professional race, while
the French University took the amateur title.
Armenia Tsaratunk (non-governmental organization)
was one of the sponsors of the event. "We
are interested in extreme tourism," territorial
head Suzan Yakobyan Klayn says. "Foreigners
(to the race) have been exposed to Armenia and
the positive impressions they got is already a
big achievement for us."
Participant Arnoldo Chakerian says that he liked
his father's motherland very much. "I have
now understood why this country is loved all over
the world. Most of all we liked the sincere hospitality
of Armenian families."
Jean Pierre is from the French Alps and was in
Armenia for the first time.
"I find the acquaintance with Armenians
very interesting. It is important for me that
through the tournament, representatives of different
countries communicated with each other. I have
acquired wonderful new friends," he says.
The chief organizer of the competition is extreme
athlete Claude Abitbol, from the University of
Paris. He heads an organization that annually
produces a book about such events throughout the
This is the second year he has organized a competition
in Armenia, and says a decision will be made in
the fall as to whether to hold one next year.
If it is held, he says, the emphasis will be even
heavier of extreme tourism.
"I do not know Armenia myself," he
said. "I only know the part where the tournament
was held. This is a small but wonderful country.
All the corners would be interesting to explore
in the future."