Kloser, Team Nike second at worlds in Brazil
Vail, CO Colorado
After nearly four days and 520 kilometers of racing in oppressive heat through eastern Brazil, Team Nike finished just 1 hour, 20 minutes behind New Zealand’s Orion Health at the 2008 Adventure Racing World Championships.
Team Nike is made up of Mike Kloser, Gordon Walker, Monique Merrill and Chris Forne.
The race began on a peninsula accessible only by boat and the 60 teams from 18 countries started the competition with 15 kilometers of sand-dune running. This was followed by 12 hours of laborious paddling against tides and head winds through the night while covering a mere 60 kilometers to the town of Parnaiba before the race headed inland. A 106-kilometer bike ride inland led to the first of the mountain-trekking sections.
It was at this point that Team Nike seemingly in control of the race lost the lead.
“We were well ahead on the first mountain-trek,” Kloser said. “Then Forne, who is typically flawless in his navigation, led us up a steep gully and we lost the trail. I’d say we lost about two-and-a-half hours there, after this we were chasing Orion Health for the latter part of the race.”
Through the next stages of mountain bike and trekking, the two leading teams were chased hard by a close pack of other competitors. In an expedition race like the World Championships, it can come down to those who manage the sleep strategy best. (Teams had the opportunity to collect a bonus checkpoint and take four hours off their mandatory sleep requirement.)
Orion was one of only a handful of teams that opted to paddle the extra two hours to reduce their mandatory eight hours of rest to four. Knowing it had to play catch up, Team Nike opted to bank on the extra sleep and the recovery that comes with it.
Orion Health took a chance on the mandatory rest bonus and left the checkpoint after the ropes section before Nike ever saw the leaders. At this point, it was Orion Health’s race to lose. Nike had been steadily eating away at the time bonus of Orion.
“Losing the world title is a tough pill to swallow when you know you are the fastest team in the race,” Kloser said.
There were still 68 kilometers of mountain biking, followed by 60 kilometers of paddling down a virtually waterless river and one more leg of mountain biking to the coast. It concluded with a sailing leg using traditional fishing boats and a trek along the sand dunes to the finish at the windsurfing town of Jericoacoara.
In 2009 the Adventure Racing World Championships move to Portugal and Team Nike’s Kloser is already looking forward to it.
“We’ll be back next year gunning to regain the world title.”
Team Nike will face Orion Health again in its season’s last event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in December.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.