Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar live up to its billing
“Winning never gets old and losing sucks.” So said Vail’s Mike Kloser Sunday at Beaver Creek while watching his kids finish their first adventure race with his wife, Emily. Just fewer than 16 hours earlier Kloser closed out the rest of the Balance Bar 24-Hour Race field when he and his teammates Danelle Bellangee and Michael Tobin won the 105-mile Beaver Creek race for the second year in a row with a time of 14 hours, 8 minutes and 25 seconds. “We expect a lot out of ourselves and if we don’t perform up to our greatest potential we’re hard on ourselves,” Kloser said.
When you win, however, and win convincingly as Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar did on Saturday night nearly two hours ahead of second-place finishers Team Seagate of New Zealand (16:06:46), you can smile.Kloser was doing a lot of that on Sunday. And, it wasn’t just because of the $10,500 check that his team collected with its win.”Last year, I probably put a little more pressure on myself because it was a bigger purse, and it was the first time doing an adventure race in front of the home crowd,” Kloser said. “They expect a lot or I expect that they expect a lot out of us. This year was a lot more relaxed from that perspective. I wasn’t as stressed.”
Teams began the race at 7 a.m. Saturday at the State Bridge landing on the banks of the Colorado River. The eight-tenths of a mile kayaking portion of the race was in mostly Class II water before competitors reached the Catamount Recreation Area and transitioned to the trekking portion.Following the trek up and over Horse Mountain, teams hopped onto mountain bikes and rode to a ropes section just off Highway 131. At the ropes, racers encountered the line of rope hanging some 200 feet across and 90 feet above Alkali Creek. Competitors traversed the crossing, while pulling their mountain bikes along from behind.The mountain-bike leg was where Kloser said the race was won, yet it also could have been lost. His team had taken the lead during the trekking leg but pushed a little too hard during the bike ride which had a cumulative elevation gain of 7,800 feet.”It could have been lost if we cracked on the bike, which we were having a little struggle with at times,” Kloser said. “(At the transition), I think we had to kind of get in a rhythm that we could maintain to the finish because it was a long bike ride. We had to ease up a little there and regroup and eat and drink.”
When teams reached the third transition area located at Beaver Creek, they left their mountain bikes and took to their feet for the final orienteering leg of the race. Kloser and his teammates were required to find nine points on the north and northeastern slopes of the mountain before crossing the finish line.”We definitely wanted to get to the orienteering in the daylight, because we knew it would be to our advantage,” Kloser said. “Also, I have to say, it’s a little bit of a help knowing the whole lay of the land here on the mountain. Last year, it cost me because I just kind of took it for granted when we took off running under the lift without looking at which lift we were supposed to go under. I tried not to repeat that this year. On the orienteering leg at Beaver Creek, everything went quite well.”Newly formed Team GoLite/Timberland took third place with a time of 16:13:14, passing Team Montrail while on the orienteering course. Rounding out the top five were Team Montrail, with a time of 16:20:09 and Team Epi/Sole Custom Footbeds arriving at 18:52:59.
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