Kloser tries to make it in Manhattan | VailDaily.com

Kloser tries to make it in Manhattan

Janet Paskin

NEW YORK Vail’s Mike Kloser outran the tide in Morocco, conquered the mountains of New Zealand, and tamed the rivers of Borneo to win three Eco-Challenges and establish himself as one of the world’s top adventure racers.Friday, June 13, he makes like King Kong and tries to conquer New York City.Kloser, with Team ACG/Balance Bar teammates Danelle Ballengee (Summit County) and Michael Tobin (Boise, Idaho), is favored to win New York’s first-ever 24-hour adventure race, the 120-mile Wild Onion.”In a race like this, you’re not out in the elements,” Kloser says. “But you’re dealing with the urban jungle. You’re dealing with the traffic, the city streets and stop lights.”The race, which travels overnight and through New York’s five boroughs, requires some of the same skills as a wilderness race, but with an urban twist. Racers will use a city map instead of a topographical one; the ropes section will use buildings, rather than cliffs; the biggest obstacle to the bike leg will be maniac taxi-drivers and, for those who illegally hop onto the sidewalks, the police.Other legs of the race are strictly citified: stairclimbing, scootering, in-line skating. Participants are expected to carry cash in small denominations, and coordination with support crews will depend on the crews’ ability to navigate the congestion of the city’s streets. Past urban adventure races regularly featured “mystery events”: in Houston, racers punched four checkpoints inside Minute Maid Stadium while the Astros played the St. Louis Cardinals and had to ride a roller coaster at an amusement park. In Chicago, teams rode the elevated trains.Such soft-core events can create nay-sayers and detractors, and before his first Wild Onion in Chicago, Kloser was one of them.”Obviously I was skeptical,” he says. “I was thinking it would be hokey, running and biking around the city. But I was pleasantly surprised, and I’ve enjoyed every Wild Onion since.”The race, actually, wasn’t so easy, and Kloser didn’t win that first Wild Onion, or his second one, finishing second in both Chicago races. Kloser, Ballengee and Tobin didn’t win until an Indianapolis race in 2002.”It’s still challenging,” Kloser says. “Climbing up the Sears Tower (in Chicago), 110 flights of stairs in 20 minutes and then scrambling down as fast as you can. Rappelling off Navy Pier in Chicago was quite unique.”The New York course was to be kept secret until 10:30 Friday morning, June 13. The race starts at Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal and ends with a 200-foot zip line down the U.S.S. Intrepid, an aircraft carrier-turned-museum on the Hudson River.

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