Monday, June 26, 2006

After 100 miles, Primal Quest race begins again

(Frida Rosenberg of Team Halti holds on strong to her swim board. Photo by Side Light/Dan Campbell, courtesy of Side Light, Dan Campbell and Primal Quest. Thanks for the visuals.)

Mike Kloser, captain of Team Nike, said it best when he stumbled out of an eight-mile river swim at 8 a.m.

“The race starts all over today,” he said as he got ready for a 35-mile kayak.
He meant that his team’s 1-hour lead on the closest competitors had been erased by a “dark zone” – a checkpoint on the course where racers have to stop until first light. In this case, it was a whitewater “swim” on the Green River. The racers use super-sized kickboards to keep them afloat, so they’re not really swimming, but it’s dicey enough that you don’t want to do it in the dark.

Nike got to the dark zone at about midnight and unrolled their sleeping bags. During the night, 14 other teams caught up to them, and they all started neck and neck again. It probably only helped the other teams temporarily.

The first swimmers onto the beach were from Team Nike, followed quickly by a half-dozen other teams.

One strength of seasoned racers is efficiency in the transition zones. Nike had to get out, change clothes, put their swimming gear in the right pile to be taken down to a distant drop zone, get out paddling gear for the kayak, fill their food bags for the next several hours, and take care of any bumps and bruises - and not let their exhaustion make them dawdle. This all took about 20 minutes. No distractions.
Nike, Spyder (made up of racers from Boulder, Summit County and Australia) and Merril/Wigwam (made up mostly of New Zealanders) all paddled out at the same time. Nike had lost its advantage.

The teams are headed into a VERY remote area of the desert where they’ll do a mix of kayaking through Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River, and get out to run a course through some gnarly slot canyons.

We’re going to try to get in there to keep tabs on the racers. No promises though.
In the meantime, you can learn more about the teams and track their progress with a real time GPS map at

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