I survived another Primal Quest, this year held in the Badlands of South Dakota. Of course, I wasn’t racing the event, but it takes it’s toll on the staff and volunteers as well. Once again, it was quite an event to witness first hand. Everyone associated with the race, from the athletes to the checkpoint volunteers, and everyone in between are incredibly dedicated, to the sport of adventure racing, and PQ in particular. In fact, it was much like a family reunion there, with old friends getting together for the first time since the last race in Montana. Everyone works very hard, has a good time, and loads of fun too.
This year, the course was more than 600 miles in length, and wound it’s way through the Black Hills and Badlands, which offered a lot of diverse, and amazing scenery. The teams all commented on how difficult the race was, but beautiful at the same time, and I can attest to that. If you haven’t been to South Dakota, I highly recommend a trip to the Rapid City area, where you are a stone’s throw away from some very unique landscapes, and plenty of outdoor fun.
The race was won by OrionHealth.com, a team from New Zealand that has really left a mark on the sport in the past few years. They are easily one of the top teams out there, and ran an amazing race, although it got a little tighter than they had hoped in the end, thanks to a navigational error that drained 8 hours off their lead. With Team Nike not competing this year due to injuries to captain Mike Kloser just weeks before the race, there were many at Primal Quest who wondered what it would have been like to see these two teams go head to head. It is difficult to say who would have won, but I do know that that is a race I would have liked to have seen.
It was a lot of fun to watch the locals in South Dakota get into PQ, as most had never seen an event like it before. It was great to hear them talking about the teams and the course when you were out and about town, and when the home team, Team South Dakota, came across the finish line there were probably 500 people there to greet them. It was a fun sight to see, and a testament to how involved the community and state were in the race.
I had the distinct honor of being the only PQ staff member to see every team cross the finish line. That’s not an easy thing to do, because they don’t always cross at a convenient hour. The last few nights of the race I was up every hour or so to check the tracking system to know when I should go to the finish line to meet them, and the last day in particular I went on about 20 minutes of sleep for the entire night, as the racers arrived throughout the evening and into the day time. The result was that I was nearly as sleep deprived as the athletes by the time the race ended, but fortunately I hadn’t started to hallucinate just yet, something that was common for teams in the field.
It wasn’t all work though. I had the opportunity to visit Deadwood (too touristy for me!), the Black Hills (spectacular!), and the Badlands. The scenery was amazing, there was plenty of wildlife to see, and there were plenty of other surprises to take in as well. Below is a video that I shot while in the Badlands that I thought you might enjoy, and for more photos from the race, check out the PQ Flickr Stream.
I’ll be getting down to work again here soon, with regular posts resuming. Plenty of things happened while I was away, and I have some catching up to do!
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