More big news for fans of adventure racing today as it has been announced that Team Nike has pulled out of Primal Quest Badlands. This comes on the heels of the news that Robyn Benincasa, the captain for Team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure is also not racing in South Dakota in a few weeks, as she has undergone surgery on her hip and will not be ready in time. These two pieces of news change the landscape for the other teams competing in the race however, and guarantee that we’ll see someone new at the top of the leaderboard.
Late last week Mike Kloser, the captain of Nike, was in a terrible accident on his mountain bike. The crash sent him to the hospital with five broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and a collapsed lung. Mike faces a long recovery period at this point, and will be healing up for awhile, so with superman on the shelf for Primal Quest, the rest of the team decided to not try to replace him (as if you could!) and gave up the opportunity to defend their title. It should be noted that Nike has won all five of the previous Primal Quest races, so their absence completely opens the door for other teams to make a move at the top spot.
One of those teams is of course Merrell, who have generally finished just behind Nike on the podium. That won’t be the case this year, but without Robyn, how will they fare? Benincasa will be replaced by Denise McHale, who is an experienced endurance athlete, and was part of Team Peak Adventure last year in Montana, and she will no doubt be a worthy addition to the team. Can Merrell finally break through and claim victory in the Badlands, or is there a younger, hungrier, and faster team lurking in the shadows?
The news that Nike is out and Merrell is racing without Robyn is really interesting, as it means that we’ll have a real shake-up at the top of the leaderboard. There are some very experienced and fast teams coming to the Badlands when the race kicks off on the 14th of August, and I can’t help but think they’ll be even more energized with the thought that the race is completely up for grabs this year. It’s definitely going to be fun to watch, and exciting too, as we find out who will emerge as the new contender for Nike’s crown.
Personally, I hope Robyn and Mike both get better soon, and I’d like to see them racing again ASAP. But their rather large shadows loomed over Primal Quest, and now the stage is set for others to step up and have a run at winning “the World’s Most Challenging Human Endurance Competition”. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.
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