Adaptive, able-bodies partner for Adventure Team Challenge near Vail | VailDaily.com

Adaptive, able-bodies partner for Adventure Team Challenge near Vail

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EAGLE — Considered to be one of the toughest backcountry team competitions in the United States, national nonprofit World T.E.A.M.'s annual Adventure Team Challenge taking place Sept. 6-9 will see teams of adaptive and able-bodied athletes competing together in Colorado's Gore Mountain Range.

An anticipated 10 or more teams will arrive in Eagle on Thursday, Sept. 6, for a weekend of competition at the rustic Rancho del Rio resort on the Colorado River 25 miles northeast of this mountain community.

Since the first Adventure Team Challenge in 2007, the competition annually welcomes teams of five athletes — two being adaptive — completing stages that require not only physical ability, but technical ingenuity, resourcefulness and exceptional determination. Athletes will cycle off-road on single- and double-track trails, raft Class III rapids on the Colorado River through Gore Canyon, climb high granite rock outcroppings and orienteer a safe and efficient route through a wilderness environment.

"I really can't imagine life before Adventure Team Challenge," said a 2017 competitor. "The coordination of the event is excellent — everything is covered and well thought out. Being an athlete, you have no idea what to expect and there is just support from everyone. I am really overcome with emotion when it comes to my team."

'Sore, but wanting more'

What makes the Adventure Team Challenge different from other outdoor adventure competitions is that the event includes both adaptive and able-bodied athletes.

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Teams complete every stage together, using the skills of each participant. With paraplegic or quadriplegic athletes being members of every team, all athletes must coordinate their efforts to complete the course within a specific time limit. Each year, every team that has started has successfully finished.

"I left sore, but wanting more," said one athlete of her first-year experience. "I think it is a really nice balance of challenges so you aren't wearing out one part of your body more than another."

Directed by experienced outdoor adventure competitors Billy and Helene Mattison, of Vail, the Adventure Team Challenge includes two evenings camping outdoors along the Colorado River. Although it is only 30 minutes north of Eagle, the Rancho del Rio resort is isolated and remote, so much so that cellular telephone signals do not reach the canyon. This remote nature encourages athletes to get to know each other at group meals and around the evening campfire.

About World T.E.A.M.

World T.E.A.M. brings adaptive and able-bodied athletes together by empowering, enabling and engaging individuals through inclusive athletic events. For 25 years, our organization has used athletics to challenge men, women and children with disabilities to accomplish goals they never thought possible. In all our events – whether mountain climbing, biking, white water rafting or many other sports – we include both adaptive and able-bodied participants.