Local adventure racers Olof and Whitney Hedberg dominate again at Teton Ogre Adventure Race | SummitDaily.com

Local adventure racers Olof and Whitney Hedberg dominate again at Teton Ogre Adventure Race

Phil Lindeman
Summit County local Hannah Taylor carries her mountain bike through a calm river during the 2017 Teton Ogre Adventure Race from June 24-25 in Idaho and Wyoming. Taylor and her teammates, Summit Nordic Ski Club coaches Olof and Whitney Hedberg, came in first overall and were one of just two teams to finish at the 24-hour adventure race with biking, paddling and trail navigating.
Darren Steinbach / Special to the Daily |

Teton Ogre Adventure Race results | June 24-25

This 24-hour race in the wilds of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming was not for the faint of heart. Of 14 total teams — four-person, three-person and two-person coed or open — just five teams finished and only two finished the entire course, including Summit County locals Olof Hedberg, Whitney Hedberg and Hannah Taylor with team New York Adventure Racing Association. Here’s how they stacked up:


1. NYARA (Olof Hedberg, Whitney Heberg, Hannah Taylor) — 20 hours, 51 minutes

2. Adventure Medical Kits (Mari Chandler, Erik Sanders) — 21 hours, 30 minutes

3. Journey Racing (Katie Ferrington, Thomas McKeen, Jeremy Rodgers) — 23 hours, 47 minutes

4. Team MONARX (Scott Mead, Duncan Browne) — 22 hours, 55 minutes

5. Two Honey Badgers Leaping (Adam Herzberg, Nathaniel Nyberg) — 22 hours, 49 minutes

If you can beat ‘em, you might as well also join ‘em.

For nearly 24 long hours from June 24-25, a trio of Summit County locals — Summit Nordic Ski Club coaches Olof Hedberg and Whitney Hedberg, joined by fellow coach and first-time adventure racer Hannah Taylor — navigated the claustrophobic woods of the Teton Range for the annual Teton Ogre Adventure Race. After an astonishing 20 hours and 51 minutes of running, biking and paddling from checkpoint to checkpoint, the local team, dubbed New York Adventure Racing Association in honor of the Hedberg’s first club, crossed the finish line first to take the overall win.

In the process, NYARA became one of just two teams to complete the entire course, beating four-time national champions Adventure Medical Kits (Mari Chandler and Erik Sanders) for the first time on U.S. soil. A total of 14 teams competed in the event, yet only five teams finished, and just NYARA and AMK completed all 89 miles of the course. That’s a finishing rate of 36 percent (“finishing” means crossing the finish line, “completing the course” means hitting all checkpoints).

“I really thought I messed it up on the last CP (checkpoint),” said Olof Hedberg, the team captain and primary navigator. “I knew we were in the lead, as there were no other tracks crossing the high snowfields on the trek, but then on the very last CP of the race I overshot (and) made a navigation mistake going too far on a ridge. As I cursed myself, backtracking back to the CP, I thought AMK had passed us, but luckily we had enough of a gap that it didn’t matter.”

After much eating and drinking and resting, the AMK team approached the Hedbergs with a compelling proposal: Race with the defending U.S. national champions later this summer, beginning with an upcoming event in Colorado.

What did the Hedbergs say? In short, bring it on.

“We are racing with two out of three people in the current national champion team, who was undefeated in U.S. until we beat them two weeks ago,” Olof Hedberg said. “So we have a silly-strong team and are going for the win there.”

Without a doubt, AMK recognized future adventure racing superstars in the Summit locals. The two teams were neck-and-neck after the first two of four stages — a 20-mile bike and 23-mile paddle with added rope elements — and separated by just seven minutes at the crux of the course: a 22-mile mountain trek with more than 6,000 vertical feet of climbing on significant off-trail portions, all while hauling their bikes on their backs.

When AMK took a “suboptimal route choice,” Olof Hedberg remembers, NYARA pulled away as the sun was setting over the Tetons, and then held their lead through the night and into the final 15 to 20-mile bike leg — even with that mistake on the last checkpoint.

Onto Worlds

What comes after joining AMK? More adventure racing, of course, but oddly enough, the husband-wife Hedberg duo will be split up for their first trip to the sports top tier: the Adventure Racing World Series World Championships this August in the wilds of Wyoming.

For Worlds — a daunting 300- to 500-mile course with mountain biking, paddling, route finding, pack-rafting and rope navigating for a total of $50,000 in prize money — Whitney Hedberg joins a team of Colorado racers and a Utah navigator. Olof Hedberg can’t disclose his team until the team manager makes an official announcement.

“We are both super-excited to be representing USA in World Championships — a goal we have focused all our training on over the last year,” Olof Hedberg said. “So, needless to say, we are pretty focused on getting this last month of training right and make sure we have everything dialed in for Worlds.”

Worlds runs from Aug. 8-16. Check in with the Summit Daily News for updates on the Hedbergs and their inaugural trip to the big show.

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