Sunday, June 25, 2006

What a course! It's a greatest hits of Canyon Country.

A few hours before racers started the 450-mile Primal Quest at 6:30 a.m. the directors gave each team four maps showing the course. We got a peek at the course a few hours before the racers got to see it.
Man, it is cool.

It starts in the San Rafael Swell over 100 miles northwest of Moab with a 23-mile horse ride, then goes into a 23-mile “trekking section” – this can mean running or hiking. We’ll see what teams decide to do. From there it goes to a 60+ mile bike ride to a whitewater swim, to a long kayak down the Green River, to a long rappel over a cliff, to a wander through a narrow slot canyon.

It eventually ends up touring some of the best single track mountain bike trails around Moab and finally takes a few jaunts over the highest peaks in the La Sal Mountains east of town.

I’ve done most of the sections of the route at one time or another, but at a very different pace. The kayak they’ll do in a few hours, I took days to do. The tour of classic mountain bike trails took me years to check off. This is basically a Canyon Country greatest hits lineup – all the famous stuff in one big push. Very intense.

When it runs on TV this fall, it will look stellar. A fabulous backdrop at every turn. And when you see the list you can’t help but wish you were going along on this long expedition. Then you realize for much of it, the athletes will be too zoned out to really appreciate, or at least really enjoy, where they are. They’ll just have to come back and enjoy it later with a little more leisure.

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