Originally published in Adventure Sports Magazine, 2004
Race Director Todd Olsen likes to throw a new twist into every race, and this year’s Wasatch Adventure Race in Provo, Utah, was no different. 30 teams began the race by chasing down a “moving checkpoint:” a race volunteer running down the beach with a checkpoint flag.
Teams were allowed to use their own boats for a twenty-mile paddle back and forth across Utah Lake. Checkpoints placed on muddy shores required racers to climb out of their boats and sink knee-deep in mud to reach the punch points; Robyn Dicesare of Team SCAAR was seen stretching out on her stomach and crawling across the mud. Epinephrine/Sole Custom Footbeds, racing as two two-person teams but sticking together throughout the course, led the pack throughout the paddle and the bike section that followed. Racers followed a bike path through Provo and into Rock Canyon, then a loose rock section of trail up into the Rock Creek Campground. While mapping the next section of the course, teams had to choose one member to ascend and descend a rope hanging from a tree, switching to a rappel in mid-air.
A trek unanimously agreed to be the toughest part of the course took teams up into the southern Wasatch Mountains to hit three separate peaks over 10,000 feet, two of which required some very steep cross-country travel. One of the three peaks, hosting checkpoint eleven and dubbed “the checkpoint in Wyoming,” required an additional eight miles and 2,500 feet of elevation gain and took the front runners nearly five hours. Only seven teams hit checkpoint eleven, and all other teams were placed on a short course.
A long bike loop was to follow the trek, but Olsen cut it out of the course to allow teams to finish within 24 to 30 hours. After biking back out of the canyon, racers trekked to a rappel site, and biked one last time to the finish line in Utah Lake State Park. Team ARGear.com’s support crew misread instructions and did not drop their hiking shoes at the final trek checkpoint, so the team was forced to do the trek/rappel in their bike shoes. Undaunted, and using their local knowledge of the trails, they choose a route that finally put them out in front. With a finishing time of 25 hours 19 minutes, they finished ahead of the two Epi/Sole teams by 38 minutes, winning their own gear as prizes.
First place in the solo division went to Anna Keeling, a Kiwi mountain guide living in Provo. Keeling had originally planned to race with her husband, but he was “squashed between two icebergs doing a photo shoot in the Artic,” so she raced alone with her IPod and cell phone for company. After covering a good part of the course with Team SCAAR and Team EcoQuest/INK, she finished in 27:17. At the awards ceremony, she thanked her support crew–her dog.
The three-person co-ed division was won by Team EcoQuest/INK Coffee in 27:11, racing together for only the second time. “I like it better when the team is new,” captain Chris Morrow commented. “It’s like a first date; we’re all trying to impress each other, so we race harder.” In second place in the three-person division was Team SCAAR (Southern Central Alaska AR), with a time of 28:31.
Rookie team One Hot Mama, composed of a husband/wife/brother team and named for their mother-of-five female member, turned in a stellar performance for a first race, finishing the short course in 32:46. “We had a great time,” said Brooke Sutton, the ‘one hot mama’. “There were only a couple points where we said ‘this sucks, let’s quit’. One of them was paddling across Utah Lake in whitewater kayaks.”
“This was the hardest 24-hour race I’ve ever done,” said local Michael Johnson of ARGear.com, “harder than the previous three Wasatch races. Besides the fact that Epi/Sole pushed us to a really fast pace, it’s rare that 24 hours actually means 24 hours for the top teams.”
Of the 30 teams, 19 finished, 12 of them on one of two short courses. The course totaled just under 100 miles, with 13,000 feet of elevation gain and a top elevation of almost 11,000 feet.
WASATCH ADVENTURE RACE, AUGUST 27-28, PROVO, UT
- ARGEAR.COM (TWO-PERSON OPEN, MICHAEL JOHNSON, CORI JONES) 25 HOURS 19 MINUTES; 2. EPINEPHRINE/SOLE CUSTOM FOOTBEDS (TWO-PERSON OPEN) 25 HOURS 57 MINUTES; 3. ECOQUEST/INC COFFEE (THREE-PERSON CO-ED, CHRIS MORROW, HEATHER SALZAR, ROBBIE DAVIS) 27 HOURS 11 MINUTES; 4. ENOY FOY (SOLO, ANNA KEELING) 27 HOURS 17 MINUTES 5. ECOQUEST/INC COFFEE (SOLO) 28 HOURS, 9 MINUTES
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