Why we’re covering Primal Quest | SummitDaily.com

Why we’re covering Primal Quest

DEVON O'NEILsummit daily news

While the rest of the world works, sleeps and picnics away the 10 lazy summer days between June 25 and July 4, a group of about 360 perpetually adventure-starved athletes will test the limits of the human heart rate.They will travel 600 kilometers (about 375 miles) on foot, bikes, horseback and through thunderous whitewater both in boats and on their own as swimmers. On a good night, they’ll get a few hours of sleep. They will band together in teams of four, some in the pursuit of a $250,000 purse, others in the pursuit of a simpler achievement that money cannot buy: finishing the race of their lives.As they say on TV, “This is Primal Quest.”Two years ago, however, in the middle of the third Primal Quest (PQ) ever staged, tragedy and heartbreak collided. A competitor was struck and killed in the middle of a rocky ravine by a massive mountain boulder accidentally dislodged by an opponent. What followed became well documented: The race ceased to continue for two days, then was restarted in a manner that many racers claimed to be unfair. Only after a pair of teams decided to cross the finish in unison did some of the smoldering sting cool down.PQ lost a lot in the months that followed. The race director and its No. 2 official stepped down. Big-time sponsors who normally backed the sport unconditionally began having second thoughts. Last year, there was no Primal Quest at all.All of which makes the race’s return less than a month from now an even bigger deal. Adventure racers once again have a premier event to build their schedules around. The $100,000 first prize is back. Television networks are now campaigning for PQ’s attention and business, instead of the other way around. And Primal Quest’s unmatched prestige is up for grabs.What’s more, the event is under new leadership and boasts a grueling course designed by a pair of legends from the sport’s early days. Race officials promised a route second to none in backcountry challenge, and the hordes followed: a 70-team limit quickly became 90 due to overwhelming demand. Every top team in the world will be there, a rarity even for Primal Quest, which costs $8,000 to enter.Still, that is only part of the reason the Summit Daily News has committed to covering this race like a blanket. The other is our community’s local ties to adventure racing’s elite level, a tie that features, among all others, renowned racers Danelle Ballengee and Monique Merrill.

Merrill will be racing with Team Nike, which has won or shared the win in each of the three prior Primal Quests, and Ballengee – who was part of all three PQ wins as Nike’s lone female racer – is slated to lead Team Spyder into the fray this year after leaving Nike last season.We will also be following local and area athletes who are not competing for the win, necessarily, but simply trying to finish as fast as possible.

Beginning on Wednesday, June 21, you’ll be able to find daily Primal Quest content on a site specially designed for our coverage of this race: http://www.summitdaily.com/primalquest. During the race, you’ll be able to find an up-to-date leaderboard; two or three fresh stories per day including racer and team profiles, race conditions and more, depending on what transpires; and photo galleries galore.We will also feature much of that content in our daily print edition.

More than anything, our goal is not simply to cover this race as we would a normal sporting event. We plan to bring you inside the guts of this thing. We plan to show you just how insane this adventure race really is.You’ll see what happens to the world’s elite endurance athletes when they meet their absolute limits on day 5, having slept too little, with no outside support (teams have been supported in the past, but will not be this year). If it’s ugly, we’ll tell that story. If it’s triumphant, we’ll tell that one.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-4633, or at doneil@summitdaily.com.

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