Anderson, Nike/Beaver Creek overcome pain to take 10th
MOAB, Utah – For about 45 seconds, Nike/Beaver Creek’s walk to the Primal Quest Utah finish line was all about the color of their flags. One of the only teams with three nationalities represented, the group displayed the red, white and blue of Australia; the red, white and blue of the U.S.; and the red, white, blue, black, yellow and green of South Africa.Then Sari Anderson took off her shoes, peeled the duct tape from her feet, and suddenly the spectators had new colors to stare at: mainly white, with some pink, blue and purple thrown in.Finally, everyone understood why Nike/Beaver Creek, a podium hopeful when the race began, had finished 10th instead.Anderson’s foot problems got so bad this week that she realistically considered dropping out of the race. She persevered, of course, and the ‘Beav still found a way into the money.
The racers (joining Anderson were South African Martin Dreyer and Kiwis Richard Ussher and Gordon Blythen) crossed the finish line at 1 p.m. – a time that was adjusted to 6:40 a.m. due to a six-hour weather delay they endured at Castle Rock and the Rectory the previous evening. They finished about 25 hours after the winners and will take home $8,500 for their efforts.OuchAnderson, an Eagle-Vail resident, ended up with blisters covering most of her feet. There were oozing ones on her heels, two-inch-long bubbles near her arches, even a purple one under her big toenail. She slept with her feet uphill to alleviate the throbbing.”Most races I’m thinking, ‘This is fun, I’m enjoying it,’ and there’s just times I wanna be done,” she said. “Well this race, the whole time I wanted to be done.”It was just these blisters. I’ve never really gotten blisters before. Every step hurt. It got to the point where I was counting my strides, one through 20, then I’d start over. That was what kept me going. I couldn’t think of anything but my counting.”
For that reason, simply finishing was good enough for her.”There were so many points where (my teammates) thought, ‘Sari’s done. She can’t walk.’ And I thought that too. So we’re happy we finished, we’re happy with top 10,” she said. “When we started there were (89) teams. Top 10 is not bad.”Ussher, who shared the win as a member of Team Seagate the last time Primal Quest was held, said the result “was definitely not what we came here for.””But,” he added, “in the scheme of things it’s going to be a fantastic learning experience for not only myself, but the rest of the team as well. And I definitely think that we did ourselves proud.”Ussher, 30, came to Utah hoping to prove to himself that he could captain and navigate a team of his own through a major expedition race. The way Nike/Beaver Creek persevered showed him all he needed to know.
“We were in total survival mode from day 3,” he said. “Most teams would’ve pulled the pin with all the issues we had.”That’s racing, ya know? If you knew that every race you were gonna show up and be bulletproof and strong, then what would be the point of racing?”Devon O’Neil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vail, Colorado