Primal Quest Montana
Hello! Hopefully you have checked out the PQ website and seen that Nike won! I am sitting in Denver airport writing this blog. Here is an account of the race more from my (support crew) perspective, because you can read a lot of puff about the team on the website....but you won't read about encounters with bears and flipping inflatable duckies on that!
We arrived in Big Sky with Michael Tobin after a long drive up from Boise. There was snow on the hills, and Lone Mountain which stands at the head of the valley looked spectacular.
The next two days were spent busying ourselves getting organized: Chris and the rest of the team sorted gear endlessly as well as attended the odd TV interview; I drove around to 1 billion supermarkets with Emily K buying tonnes of food.
Race morning came and we were ready with our rented RV and truck alongside. The other guys supporting the race were Chris (a Big Sky local) and Dawes (a friend of the Klosers). The racers set off with a bang up Lone Peak and it was with a significant twinge of jealously that I waved them off. The weather was beautiful and we zoomed down to TA 1 beside an extremely swollen Gallatin River.
The team arrived in after dark from a long trek before a compulsory dark zone before the paddle/river board section the next morning. The river was flowing very high due to all the snow melt and our team had a fun time (the boys loved it!) before heading off on another big trek. Later on in the day the lower half of the field had an interesting time (even involving the sherriff shooting one stranded duckie boat 5 times with a pistol!)
Chris shows off his skills on the river board.
As Nike support crew things were a bit stressful and we seemed to average about 3 hours sleep a night for the first few days.A few things went wrong; like the team not being informed about needing snowshoes and not being given corrected TA coordinates, but on the whole they seemed to charge along pretty well.
Another grassy TA....
Chris is famous!
I was very excited at a bike drop to glance 20 m down the road and spot....A BEAR!! A beautiful black bear was just ambling across the road! That was cool After that I (with assistance from fellow support crew) compiled a list of animals sighted by Emily for the first time:
A bear (wow!)
3 dead and smelly skunk
6 long horn cow
Several white bummed deer
I was most excited by the wildlife around here. We had several chilly swims in the snow melt rivers and generally spent the rest of the time packing, unpacking, making food and napping where possible. In the meantime Nike was storming along gaining a greater and greater lead over 2nd place Merril. We spent the afternoon on the 4th day peering up at the dramatic ropes course (me a little longingly).
The support team.
Finally the team was on the final ride into Big Sky and we all waited to cheer them into the finish line before they got engulfed by the media ! This is the photo they don't show on the website 2 seconds after Nike rode in (they are in there somewhere!):
After that it was up to the fancy pants accomodation the team won up in Moonlight Basin (never have I seen so many pillows on one bed!) (and a spa mmmm).
Note the NZ flag for Chris, just as well (-:
We spent the next 4 days at that very nice spot. Chris and I got out for an awesome bike ride on some single track with a bit of snow bashing. On the last day we joined up with the guys from Merril and a took the inflatable kayaks (duckies) down the river boarding section of the race on the Gallatin. It was awesome funny, super bouncy with huge standing waves, and icey cold. It's kind of like Maori Gully on the Hurunui only 5 times longer with no bluffs...oh yeah!
After we reached the end of the paddle the boys (Chris, Mike, Aaron, John, Jeff and Travis) decided they had to try House Rock, which is a knarly big rock with the 'Mad Mile' streching out after it (I wisely decided just to watch this bit). No surprise...carnage (-: Chris and Mike went down it out of control backwards and were soon flipped. The other tow boats flipped two and I saw 5 people corwding onto one duckie...another floating away with noone on it, and someone trying to negotiate the rapids with a paddle and no boat! Needless to say it was hilarious for me and the two media guys watching (-:
That evening we went to the prizegiving and buffet. This morning we departed Big Sky after an exciting and eventful week (Big Sky is an awesome place) and are now at the airport in Denver awaiting our flight for Czech (via LA, London etc.). Bye for now!