Team Nike ACG/ Balance Bar looks to repeat
The usual suspects are back for what is the most unusual of racing events to hit the valley this year.Unpredictable may be a better word.The Balance Bar 24-Hour Adventure Race – formerly the Ford Adventure Sport Challenge – returns to Beaver Creek this Saturday during the Beaver Creek Adventure Weekend. Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar made up of Vail local Mike Kloser, Summit County’s Danelle Ballengee and Boise, Idaho’s Michael Tobin return to defend their title from last year.
The most successful adventure-racing trio in history will be challenged by its sister ACG/Balance-Bar team of Vail local Dan Weiland, Boulder’s Ian Adamson and Jenny Tobin.The New Zealand-based Seagate team also looks to be in the mix for the first-place $10,000 purse.”Last year, Dan and Ian’s team took second to us,” Kloser said. “They’re both familiar with the terrain up here and should be right there with us. The Seagate team has been up in the mountains for the last two weeks getting used to the altitude and should be pretty tough, too. They always rival us whenever we’re in a race together. It always seems like we’re right there with each other.”This year’s race course will be different than last year’s 100-plus mile course, although as to what those differences are won’t be revealed to the competitors until need be. Competitors can expect mountain biking, trekking, ropes, navigation, and kayaking at elevations ranging from 7,000 feet to 10,000-feet-plus.The most notable absenses from this year’s competition will be whitewater swimming and rally driving.
Competitors know what to pack – no GPS, lots of water, a whistle, a survival blanket, a mirror, two different kinds of hats, chem lights, etc. – they just don’t know where they’re going.Race officials have provided some clues, such as the mountain-biking portions of the race will take place predominantly on fire roads with a small amount of singletrack added in, and the stretch of river selected from the bevy of paddling opportunities in the valley will be relatively tame with only a few classified sections.”They definitely changed the course this year, although we don’t know what the differences are,” Kloser said. “Sometimes (in adventure races) they tell you everything in advance the night before. Sometimes, it’s only partial and you figure out where you’re going along the way. Last year, they gave us some segments in advance and then gave us the last portion on the trail.”The racing format could also be another deciding factor as to who crosses the finish line first. The race’s official rules dictate that competitors on the same team can be no further than 100 meters apart from one another or risk being disqualified. Last year’s race, however, did feature a section where racers were told to split up to track down separate checkpoints.
Athleticism is only half the competition in a race that is so unpredictable. The other half is smarts and survival sense. “There are some other races that have more prestige and definitely more prize money in the purse,” Kloser said. “Last year, this event had a huge prize purse with Ford as the sponsor. Now, it’s back to what the standard prize purse is. Still, it’s a big race. It’s one that has a good reputation.”Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org