Superhumans take 24-hour race
BEAVER CREEK – A superhuman form of determination seared through the worn bodies of Team Nike ACG-Balance Bar as the team willed its way through 105 miles of water, earth and rock to win the Ford Adventure Challenge’s 24-hour Adventure Race Saturday night.
Despite a 30-minute penalty, Vail resident Mike Kloser, Michael Tobin of Boise, Idaho, and Danelle Ballengee of Summit Cove left 38 teams scattered all over central Colorado when they finished at 9:40 p.m. Saturday with a time of 17 hours, 40 minutes and 9 seconds.
Racers encountered mountain biking, rappelling, kayaking, canyoneering, trekking, whitewater swimming and land navigation during the course of the 105-mile course, in the same fashion as the Eco-Challenge.
And $110,000 and bragging rights were at stake.
The race began at State Bridge Landing – 15 miles north of I-70 on Route 131 – at 4 a.m., with an approximately 13-mile trek.
Teams reached the second Passport-Control (PC) point – checkpoint – and jumped on their bikes.
At the third PC point, racers traded their bikes for boogie boards and flippers and hopped in Ford Expeditions for the first Ford Rally – teams were required to navigate the independent, volunteer drivers of the vehicles. Team Nike ACG-Balance Bar received a 30-minute penalty for failing to put its gear boxes into a support truck.
“Even though we were assessed the 30-minute penalty, we kept our heads up and we stayed focused,” said Tobin. “We knew that things turn around quickly in adventure racing, so we stayed on course.”
When the SUVs pulled up to the fourth PC point, the teams jumped in the Colorado River for whitewater swimming.
Teams exited the river to complete a ropes course at PC point 5, and then continued swimming to Pumphouse Campground, where boogie boards and flippers they exchanged for three-person kayaks. The field faced more than 10 miles of flatwater, Class II and III rapids and swarms of singing swallows before a hike to the top of an ominous cliff.
From the cliff, racers rappelled more than 100 feet, gathered themselves and ran down a mountainside and across Piney Creek to another Ford Rally, which led them to 4-Eagle Ranch and more biking. Racers then hopped off their bikes and bounded toward Adventure Village at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain.
Teams then advanced to a PC point for walkie-talkies and one map. Then they split up to find three separate points, which required impeccable communication and map-reading skills.
After each team member reached their personal coordinates, they rejoined forces and finished the race in Adventure Village.
Throughout the race, a healthy crowd of medical and race staff, relatives and curious spectators followed the competitors through the rugged course, cheering and encouraging each and every team to continue.
Some members of the crowd stood at the starting line at 4 a.m. Saturday.
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