Friday, July 11, 2008

Primal Thoughts


So I promised to post some thoughts on Primal Quest, which has been over for more than a week now, and I've been home for about that long as well. Work has been incredibly backed up as all kinds of things went wrong while I was away, so I haven't been able to get caught up as quickly as I'd like. Things are slowly getting better, so I appreciate everyone's patience while I get back into the groove of things. Vacations are great, going back to work, not so much...

So, some thoughts on the biggest and baddest adventure race in the world:

- Yeah, Nike really is that good. They blew away the competition and the course. We had time estimates for when we thought teams would pass through certain areas, and they pretty much annihilated those times. Team Merrell, who are no slouches either, still finished well behind. Nike was also the only team to nail all 12 points on the Orienteering Course, gaining themselves precious time bonuses. Not that they needed them.

- The PQ staff and volunteers were unbelievably dedicated to the race and making it the best possible event they could. Everyone worked very long hours and bent over backwards to make the event a success, and you'll be hard pressed to find racers who didn't have a great time in Montana. I was the "new guy" for the most part, but I soon realized that the staff, many of whom have been working together for years, was like one big family. It was a pleasure to get to know them, and have a chance to help out.

- Montana is an amazing place to hold an adventure race. I'd never been to the state before, but it sure left a positive impression. The mountains were beautiful, the whitewater was crazy, and there were miles and miles of backcountry to explore. I had the chance to visit one of the more remote checkpoints where teams were exiting the Crazy Mountains, and it was stunningly beautiful. In fact, most of the racers said that the Crazies were amongst the most scenic places they'd ever been anywhere on the planet. Add them to your "must hike" list for sure.

- Speaking of the whitewater, the week before the race we were concerned with the massive amounts of snow that were still at altitude. Turns out we didn't have anything to worry about, well, at least not on the mountains. The summer arrived at long last, melting all that snow, which of course ran into the rivers, turning them into raging torrents. On the second day of the race, the Gallatin River was running higher than ever, and it made for one intense ride. In the afternoon, it crested and through a lot of the racers for a loop and the decision was made to pull the teams off the water. At that point, the Search and Rescue teams were conducting no less than FIVE rescues at the same time. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

- If you think hitting Class IV+ water in a "rubber duckie" is scary, try doing it on a riverboard. I don't think I need to say much more on that subject.

- It was incredibly fun to see how fixated on the race the state of Montana became. Everywhere we went, people were asking us about it, and watching the leaderboard. There were daily news paper reports, and updates on the nightly news, complete with current standings and some top notch reporting. We even had a few people inquiring as to when we would be back next year.

- As for the leaderboard, if you followed the race at all online you probably saw the innovate new tracking system designed by SPOT. We had a rough start with the tracking system the first day, as the SPOT servers were a bit overwhelmed, but their track tech support team corrected the issue quickly and by Day 2 we were getting updates from the SPOT Messengers in the field about every two minutes. That's pretty accurate tracking for an adventure race. In my close statements at the PQ awards ceremony I mentioned that we were reinventing the way that the sport was followed, and I completely believe that to be true. Judging from the heads in the crowd that were nodding back at me, I wasn't the only one that felt that way.

- We had a lot of questions about next year already as well. There have been some rumors circulating about the race going International, with the likely destination being British Columbia. I can confirm that it will go International, but B.C. is just one of a number of places being considered. Look for announcement on the location sooner than later. I can tell you that all the places being considered will make excellent locations for an adventure race.

That's all for now. I'll post more thoughts soon...