By Richard Rhinehart
Eagle, Colorado, September 22, 2015 – For the 50 disabled and able-bodied athletes competing in national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ September 18-20 Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado’s high Gore Mountains, winning wasn’t the primary goal.
Through three stages of the ninth annual event based at the rustic Rancho del Rio resort along the Colorado River, participating athletes welcomed the competitive nature of the Challenge, but learned to work together as colleagues. Through close cooperation and strategic planning, the ten teams of five athletes – two on each team being adaptive athletes – successfully completed outdoor sporting activities ranging from off-road bicycling to river rafting to rock climbing to orienteering to running.
At the Challenge conclusion, the Misfits, a team of athletes who had never competed together in an adventure race, crossed the finish line together, 36 minutes ahead of the second-place team and about three hours ahead of the final team. Misfits team members attributed their unexpected success to embracing teamwork and working to further team goals, rather than individual goals.
For World T.E.A.M. Sports, the championship of the Misfits reflected the core of the organization – outdoor sports bring together individuals of varying backgrounds and abilities to create a cohesive team. By joining military veterans and civilians, disabled and able-bodied athletes, white collar and blue collar, into teams faced with completing stages of up to 25 miles, participants quickly learn that only through cooperation and applying their abilities will they successfully reach their destination.
In the nine years of Adventure Team Challenge events in Colorado, no team has abandoned the competition, even when faced with technical challenges and difficulties. Remarkably, the Challenge has included exceptional athletes who are paraplegic or quadriplegic, lost a limb or limbs, who have Post-Traumatic Stress or brain injuries, who have overcome serious illnesses, as well as athletes who are blind or deaf.
With elevations in the Gore Mountains course ranging from 6,700 feet to over 8,600 feet, Challenge participants found the thin mountain air to be a challenge in itself. The high altitude also offered cold and clear nights and frosty mornings that resulted in wet clothing from the previous day freezing.
Competition began with a short prologue at the Rancho del Rio resort on September 18 that included off road bicycling and rafting. Early the following morning, teams were transported to a ridge of a high peak overlooking the Colorado River gorge at Radium. Descending to the river by foot and on bicycles and hand cycles, the teams then rode, hiked and rafted to a high granite outcropping along the river. Here, they climbed, rappelled and rode a high zip line across the river. The teams then rafted to the day’s finish at Rancho del Rio.
On Sunday, teams set off on rafts from Rancho del Rio to State Bridge. Following an orienteering and skills challenge, the teams then rode their bikes and hand cycles back to Rancho del Rio and the Challenge conclusion.
For all competitors, it was immensely satisfying to complete the 2015 Challenge. During lunch afterward, many were already looking forward to their next Adventure Team Challenge.
The 2015 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado from World T.E.A.M. Sports was supported through sponsors and partners including American Portfolios Financial Services, Audubon Orthotic & Prosthetic Services, Deven’s Recycling, Pearl Meyer & Partners, Skanska USA, TimeCapital and Timberline Sports. Additional financial support was provided by Jim Noland, George Puskar and James Benson.
Final Team Results
1. Misfits 05:47:00
2. Pumpkin Spice 06:23:11
3. Marines 06:34:50
4. Bimwits 06:51:24
5. Wet Socks 07:16:32
6. Girls on the Move 07:31:28
7. Endless Abilities 07:40:50
8. Puskar Family 07:41:21
9. Black Eyed T’s 07:53:20
10. 50 Shades 08:41:59