Nike ACG-Balance Bar world champs
Mike Kloser has a strong will to say the least. In fact, his entire family can do.
Sore and battered off the world championships of adventure racing – the 2004 Raid the North Extreme – Kloser and his wife Emily ate dinner while they waited for their daughter, Heidi, to return to Denver International Airport from freestyle skiing camp in New Zealand.
Kloser, an Eagle County resident, and his adventure racing team, Team Nike ACG-Balance Bar, won the championship by mere 20 seconds. Michael Tobin, Danelle Ballangee and Ian Adamson won the race with a final time of 3 days, 9 hours, 49 minutes, 30 seconds to defeat the Swedish team, Cross Sportswear.
Among the 42 foursomes, Kloser and crew came out on top at the base of Marble Mountain in Newfoundland, Canada, after more than 500 kilometers of extreme racing over a wide variety of rugged terrain.
Local Billy Mattison’s team, GoLite/Timberland, also finished well, taking eight place.
Kloser took a few minutes to speak with the Vail Daily about his team’s victory.
How do you feel … physically?:
“I’m doing well, just recovering. I’ve got to work out the tiredness in the legs and catch up on some sleep.”
How about in general?:
“Fantastic. It’s always nice to be world champion, right? It really didn’t sink into me at all until after we finished and someone said, “Well, how does it feel to be world champion?’ I’m like, “You know I haven’t really thought about it that much. I was just focusing on winning the race.’ I guess that was a nice little perk that came with it.”
Can you talk a little bit about the course?:
“It was a really classic expedition course, in the respect that, you’re really put out there in the wilderness. Very little time did we spend passing through villages and townships. We did see a number of people come out on the course in different transition areas to cheer on the teams and so forth. But, there was very little metropolitan interaction.”
I heard that you had to work through some bad ankles, a possible broken toe and some other ailments.:
“(Chuckles) I may have broken my toe, I’m still not sure. It’s pretty swollen. The night before the race, I kicked a register, so it was a bit of a clumsy injury. So, my toe was sticking out to the side, and I had to tape it to the inside of my shoe. I rolled my ankles, both of them, slightly, but I had taped up the one that I tore about a month ago. It kind of prevented me from doing serious damage. The other one I’d rolled a little bit, but it wasn’t horrible; swollen, but very manageable. It’s pretty rugged terrain. Most of the time, when you’re on your feet, you’re looking down at them to see where you’re stepping.”
Do you want to talk about your teammates?:
“Oh yeah. Fantastic squad. After each race, we try to sit down and have what we call a “race debriefing.’ We look at the race as a whole, talk about positive things and address issues that we thought were weaknesses that we can improve. When we looked at it, there were so many great, positive things about the race, and the team is so solid as a whole. We have Michael Tobin, who is a world champion in duathlon and Xterra triathlete champion. Ian Adamson has set world records in paddling and has done other numerous multi-sport events. He’s been involved in adventure racing for a dozen or more years. Danelle Ballengee has the 14ers record for women, snowshoe championships and you name it. Anyway, it’s a really solid team of really impeccable athletes. Looking at the race, we were feeling a little bit down. As in, one member might be feeling a little bit sluggish, and that’s where the other team members step in. But, probably in this race, that was where we let down our guard a little bit. In the last trekking section, we didn’t close the door behind us on what was happening with the other chasers and pursuers. And, low and behold, they caught us at the last transition, the bike. It became a real horse race to the finish.
“I think they (Cross Sportswear) were about 14 or 15 minutes behind us, starting on that last leg. We’re making decisions that we need to make absolutely certain that we’re not making the wrong turn because it can cost us the race, and the teams behind can basically follow our tracks. We had had probably a six-minute lead going right before the river crossing on the last canoes and the bike – a kilometer and a half before the finish. We had to find a route – a choice of two roads. We went down one direction, decided it wasn’t right, scurried back up, took the other road, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Fortunately, it was, and when we got down to the field – looking for the checkpoint – we looked over our shoulders and they were about 100 yards behind us. That was just frantic at that point. We’re trying to get through the checkpoint with our bike, to the river, into the canoes and race across the river with the canoes and the bike in the canoes to get to the finish with these guys literally right on our heels.”
“Just looking forward to a couple days off here, although it be a short couple days before I head off to the Outdoor Retailer Show on Wednesday to accommodate some sponsors and do the Masters National Championships on the road bike on Thursday morning. So, I’ll go out there, try to recover between now and then and then come back here and rest up. I’ll do the Ultra 100 and prepare for the Primal Quest, which is in the Pacific Northwest in mid-September. I’m looking forward to really focusing on that. You know, nobody’s ever three-peated a major race like that. So, we’ve got an opportunity to do so, and we’re going to try not to let it slip through our hands.”
Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.