Events/News

Inaugural Adventure Team Challenge North Carolina Thrills Teams

By Richard Rhinehart

Charlotte, North Carolina, December 2, 2015 – Eight teams of five athletes from ten states came together November 13-15 at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte for the inaugural Adventure Team Challenge North Carolina. Created by national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports and presented by MetLife, each participating team included two athletes with disabilities, one being a wheelchair user.

Participant David Poole.

David Poole, an adaptive athlete from Bozeman, Montana, is a past Adventure Team Challenge Colorado participant who traveled to Charlotte. Photograph by Tony Granata.

Under sunny skies and warm mid-November temperatures, the athletes competed in a three-stage, two-day adventure race directed by experienced event directors Helene and Billy Mattison of Vail, Colorado. The Mattisons, who also direct World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado and a series of kids adventure races nationally, took advantage of the Center’s many outdoor attractions to create an invigorating athletic event that tested not only the physical skills of the participants, but also their ability to cooperate and overcome difficulties.

Climbing at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Participants climbed a rock wall at the U.S. National Whitewater Center using a belay line. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Teams negotiated off-road cycling, zip lines, rock climbs, obstacle courses, and white water rafting through Class II, III and IV rapids on the Center’s two man-made rivers. For many adaptive wheelchair athletes, the competition offered their first opportunity to get off pavement and into natural environments. Innovation and coordination was critical in successfully assisting these athletes through the back regions of the 700-acre white water park.

Team competition began on Friday afternoon after participants set up camp at the Center and completed short informational training sessions with event and Center personnel. The short prologue was the longest and most difficult in the history of the Adventure Team Challenge, which has been hosted annually in Colorado since 2007. The prologue provided athletes with a sample of the activities they would be undertaking in the next two days, and determined the starting times of each of the teams.

A team begins Sunday's stage.

A team sets off on their Sunday stage at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Saturday’s stage one began with a canopy tour on zip lines to the banks of the Catawba River. Here, teams transferred to water craft, including stand up paddle boards, to reach checkpoints along the shore. Teams then climbed onto mountain bikes and off-road hand cycles for travel through the extensive network of back country trails at the Center. Later, teams climbed onto rafts to descend one of the two man-made rivers.

Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte was a highlight for many teams. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

For most participants, after dinner and a strategy session for Sunday’s stage, it was an early evening under starry skies. The following morning, athletes rose to a heavy frost and chilly temperatures. With the rising sun warming the countryside, teams began their second stage every few minutes. Off-road cycling, rock climbing, zip lines and the exceptional class IV rapids of the Center’s second man-made river occupied the athletes as they headed toward the finish line.

The Coagulators, the winning team at the Challenge, finished only three minutes faster than the second place team, Team 192. Overall, the eighth place Purple People Eaters team was less than 141 minutes behind the Coagulators in two days of competition.

Finish times for the participating teams.

Official results of the 2015 Adventure Team Challenge North Carolina. Courtesy Helene Mattison.

The Challenge marked World T.E.A.M. Sports’ return to the Charlotte region, having been based in the city for its first 11 years. With the success of the inaugural North Carolina Challenge, and the strong support of local athletes, volunteers and sponsors, it is likely the non-profit will return in 2016 to host another Adventure Team Challenge.

The 2015 Adventure Team Challenge North Carolina from World T.E.A.M. Sports was supported through sponsors and partners including presenting sponsor MetLife, American Portfolios Financial Services, American Airlines, Penske Truck Rentals and TimeCapital. Additional financial support was provided by George Puskar.

World T.E.A.M. Sports in Charlotte, North Carolina.

World T.E.A.M. Sports returned to Charlotte for the first time in more than a decade for the Adventure Team Challenge North Carolina. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Annual banquet in Charlotte.

The Adventure Team Challenge banquet was held November 12 at the host Holiday Inn Airport in Charlotte. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Camping at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Athletes camped at the U.S. National Whitewater Center Friday and Saturday nights. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Helene and Bily Mattison.

Helene and Billy Mattison, on left, give participants a pre-event talk about the adventure race. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Providing an adaptive athlete an assist.

Team members provide an adaptive athlete an assist during the Challenge. Photograph by Tony Granata.

The Canopy Tour at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

The Canopy Tour at the U.S. National Whitewater Center provided athletes plenty of zip line action. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

The man-made rivers at the U.S. National Whitewater Center offered a variety of rapids. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

A team hurries to the finish line.

A team hurries to the finish line at the Adventure Team Challenge. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

Group image of the athletes.

Athletes at the Adventure Team Challenge come together at the end of the event in Charlotte. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.