By Richard Rhinehart
Grand Junction, Colorado, January 28, 2013 – One of America’s most challenging outdoor adventure races, the Adventure TEAM Challenge from World T.E.A.M. Sports, returns to the rugged and scenic McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area in western Colorado this September 13-15.
The Adventure TEAM Challenge will be held in the high red rock desert of the Colorado Plateau along the Colorado River Valley, not far from the Utah state line. The two day Challenge includes up to 20 teams of five persons, including military participants. Each team includes two persons with disabilities, one being a wheelchair user. In past years, paraplegic and quadriplegic athletes have participated.
“The Challenge was physically demanding, but so worthwhile,” said Gina Utegg, a Tewksbury, Massachusetts athlete who participated in her first Challenge in 2012. “I was so happy to compete against teams, make friends, see old friends, succeed, and do some many physical, mental and emotional challenges as a team. As a disabled athlete, I find great joy in participating.”
Steve Mestdagh of Boulder, Colorado found satisfaction in “meeting disabled people like myself and being amazed at what they are able to do. Meeting new people was the best. I could feel the love in the air at the end.”
At the 2012 Adventure TEAM Challenge, 70 athletes from 15 states participated. The 14 teams competing in the Challenge were the greatest number of competitors in the event’s six year history. Each participating team depends on close cooperation and team building to successfully meet the event’s many physical challenges, ranging from mountain biking to river rafting to climbing and orienteering.
Created by Golden, Colorado blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, the Challenge is the only competitive event sponsored by the Holbrook, New York-based World T.E.A.M. Sports. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, the organization has created and directed events that bring together disabled and able-bodied participants. These events include several cross-country bicycle rides, a world bike ride, two climbs of Kilimanjaro, a cross-country ride in Vietnam with former combatants, a popular annual bicycle and hand cycle ride from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg, and a series of outdoor expeditions and camps for disabled veterans from our nation’s military.
“The beauty of adventure racing is that there are no superstars; everyone on the team plays an integral role and has to cross the finish line together,” said Weihenmayer of the Challenge. “Everybody has moments when they suffer and are in pain, moments when they need help to keep going, and moments when they shine. The best teams are those which can tap into the talents of each member and find a collective team strength which becomes bigger than its parts.”
Team registration for the 2013 Challenge is currently open. There is a limit of 20 teams of five persons each. Military and non-profit teams are encouraged to participate. For more information, visit the 2013 event site.