Kloser, Nike ﬁnd right path in Mexico
Vail, CO Colorado
As much as it happens, Mike Kloser never stops appreciating it.
That “it” ” adventure racing wins ” happened last weekend for Kloser and Team Nike at Extreme Adventure Hidalgo 2007 in Mexico.
“It’s good to win,” Kloser said. “Winning doesn’t get old.”
In the three-day stage event, Kloser and his teammates Michael Tobin and Jenny Johnson took a lead from the first stage and overcame a late directional miscue to win in 31 hours, 36 minutes and 37 seconds. The next closest finisher, the French team BuffCoolMax, was about 15 minutes behind while Team Nike/Beaver Creek, made up of local residents Dan Weiland, Jay Henry and Gretchen Reeves, was fifth.
After making a costly navigation error at last year’s Hidalgo race, as well as in another adventure race in Mexico last summer, Team Nike settled for two third-place finishes. This year, Kloser and company sought to stay as close to what can be considered on the right path.
“There are so many roads and trails that aren’t on the maps,” Kloser said. “There’s a good quote by one of the Finnish racers who said, ‘Sometimes I think I’d be better to have a blank piece of paper.’ You just look at the maps, and the only thing you can do is keep a general understanding of the lay of the land and the direction you’re heading.”
Heading into the final section of the race, Team Nike held a substantial overall advantage, until they were led a bit astray.
“We were following the race and camera crew vehicles down this roadway,” Kloser said. “Then they took a gander at the map and found a shorter route.”
Team Nike recovered and won the Hidalgo for the third time in six years.
“(Our lead) could have evaporated with the snap of a finger,” Kloser said. “That bad situation (at Hidalgo) last year was made better by winning this year.”
And as impossible as it may be to believe, considering Team Nike’s track record, winning isn’t that easy.
“We’ve been the recipient of good luck over the years,” Kloser said. “And we’ve had some bad luck ” some that we’ve created. We’re really fortunate to have had the success we’ve had when thinking about the variables that would throw a wrench into your races ” health, something could go wrong with your equipment or the route you choose or … what you eat.”
Of course, Kloser has to be in incredible shape and be able to excel in everything from mountain biking ” not so much of a problem for a former World Cup Champion ” to canyoneering and kayaking.
Then, there’s the fluctuation team aspect. Last month, Kloser, Tobin, Jay Henry and Josiah Middaugh won the Wulong Adventure Race in China. This time, as usually is the case, Team Nike sported a co-ed group, but without former Vail Valley resident Sari Anderson, who recently had a baby. Kloser had only raced with Johnson once before, at the Sea Otter Classic this summer in California.
“She’s awesome,” Kloser said. “She wasn’t conditioned for the altitude or intensity of the race, but she was a real trooper.”
The race, which was put on by the Mexican government and tourism bureau, boasted large crowds of enthusiastic residents, and the stages allowed for competitors to get a reasonable amount of rest.
“This year was really good,” Kloser said. “We stayed in same hotel with the exception of one night. It wasn’t buckets of rain coming down like last year when we were camping and stepping out of our tent into two inches of mud.”
Up next for Team Nike is the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge in December.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.