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Team Nike Beaver Creek claims victory in the Crux and the Crucible at Adventure Sports Week
posted Saturday, June 20, 2009 by Yak @ 11:23 AM - 0 comments

Team Nike-Beaver Creek, comprised of Jay Henry, Gretchen Reeves and AR legend Mike Kloser claimed the overall co-ed "Crux and Crucible" title at Adventure Sports Week at Farragut State Park, just north of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, June 13—14.

The north Idaho wilderness created a race venue and backdrop as spectacular as any in the world, and was unanimously praised by the racers for its sheer beauty and the challenges it provided for the teams. "An amazing venue," said Kloser, veteran of over a hundred races from all over the world. "This was an awesome course...the views from some of the mountain summits, as well as those from on the lake were stunning." Added Henry, one of the top mountain bike professionals in the US, "the single track to finish up the second day was one of the best tracks ever. In Adventure Racing, we don't usually get such a great amount of top quality single track, so to have over 15 miles of outstanding trail (7 mixed the first day, and a solid 8 down the mountain the second) in a single adventure race was pretty special."

The Crux and the Crucible was a points-style race that kept the top teams racing full speed and out on the course for as close to the cutoff time as possible, in order to collect the largest number of points from the many mandatory and optional checkpoints along the challenging route.

Saturday dawned clear and hot, and at 7:00, the teams received their maps and got to work plotting out the many controls of the first day. At 8:00 a.m., the shotgun fired, and the race was on. The "warm-up" challenge was a 2 mile "locate and run" around a distant water tower before hitting the bikes for one of the most challenging tests around; over the next several hours, the teams made their way north over multiple mountain peaks bordering Lake Pend Oreille. Teams would navigate, bike, trek and kayak their way through some of Northern Idaho's most rugged terrain.

Along the way, they had to take multiple bearings, and plot additional UTMs as they earned more clues. Despite a slow start while taking time to make sure their maps were plotted properly, team Nike made up time on the bike and was the first to reach the manned bike way point.

The next challenge was a 13 mile kayak down the lake, made more challenging by the fact that a thunder storm was approaching from the east, and would catch some of the later teams, forcing them onto the support boats in the midst of golf ball sized hail and lightning. The kayakers had to stop in the small town of Bayview to complete a mind puzzle before making their way to idyllic Buttonhook Bay, where they had to portage their kayaks up a 200 meter hill before completing a 4 mile orienteering task on foot. Many of the teams were using their headlamps as they approached the 14 hour cutoff of day one.

After Day one, Nike had a slim 5 point lead over True Grit, meaning the race would come down to the second day. With a short night's rest, the surviving teams gathered at 5:00am for the Crucible briefing and maps, and at 6:00 a.m., they headed out on foot long the technical lake shore trail. Day 2 commenced in a slight mist, and with definitely cooler temperatures, which would help the racers later in the day.

After a 2 mile run, the teams had a 250 meter swim with their gear in dry bags, and hiked over the peninsula before retrieving their kayaks and beginning a 7 mile kayak east along Idylwilde Bay toward Lakeview.

Team Life-cycle, an all-male team, were first out of the water, using their super fast 3 man kayak, and a fast swim. Nike and True Grit were only minutes behind, with the remainder of the teams coming in over the next 40 minutes. The second day's challenges were less based on navigation and more on physical ability, as nearly 9000 feet of climbing—both on foot and on bike—awaited them.

There were 10 mandatory points and 11 optional points available the second day, all with varying values, so teams had a choice of route and difficulty, as long as they were back at the finish within the 13 hour time limit. The first check points included river crossings and mountain tops on the way to the base of Chilco Mountain, where the teams dismounted and climbed two miles to the summit on foot, where they were treated to panoramic, 360 degree views of Northern Idaho, Washington, Montana and even Canada in the distance.

Back at the Chilco way point, the teams received the coordinates to the day's toughest challenge: the Crucible, which sat atop Bernard Peak, just across the bay from the venue. Even after 8 hours, it would take teams another hour of climbing to reach the peak, and begin one of the true joys of the day, the 8 mile single track ride down the western bowl of Bernard Peak back into the park. This is truly one of the great single tracks in the world, consisting of a narrow, twisting, smooth dirt trail with numerous switchbacks, stream crossings and jumps to keep the rider's occupied during the 40 minute descent.

The final task of the day was a challenging on-foot orienteering course through the brush and forest of the park before biking to the finish. Only 4 teams were able to achieve all of the checkpoints on Day 2 and get a perfect score: though all the teams were able to get all the mandatory markers and complete the course. Team Nike-Beaver Creek with their combined two day results bested the rest!

"In all, it was a terrific race," said Kloser. "We'll definitely be back next year. It was a great test, with two days of challenging, fun and exciting racing, I'm personally looking forward to the additions and changes they have in mind for next year."

As for next year, the organizers are already well underway with their plans, but the only thing they will share about next year's course at this point is that roller coasters will be involved!

The Crux and Crucible adventure race at Adventure Sports Week is part of the Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing Series presented by Inov-8.

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