By Richard Rhinehart
Fruita, Colorado, May 21, 2012: World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure TEAM Challenge moved west in 2012 to a new and challenging desert landscape along the Utah borderland, west of the Colorado National Monument gateway city of Fruita. Though the landscape for the inclusive event changed, the final result did not – Team Lumber Liquidators finished first for the fourth consecutive year, despite efforts by the other 13 teams to unseat them as defending champion.
Featuring two military teams and the event’s first all-woman team, the 2012 Challenge included five athletes per team, of which two were disabled. One member in each of the teams was a wheelchair user, requiring teammates to pull, push, carry and assist the athlete through a rugged course featuring mountain biking, hiking, river rafting, orienteering, climbing and rappelling.
For Denver-based Team Lumber Liquidators, the unfamiliar terrain and various challenges – including roping with a lasso and fixing a flat – provided small margin for error. At the end of the three day event, the winning team had only a 61 minute lead on their closest competitor, the first-year Team Fire Strategies, a team of firefighters based in Colorado Springs.
Sponsored by Alteryx, a software development and services company headquartered in Irvine, California, the Challenge provided an opportunity for participating teams to work together and creatively solve challenges and problems through cooperation and support. In each participating team, the skills and determination of the disabled athletes usually provided the key in clearing a challenge. This included blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, of Team Lumber Liquidators, who successfully solo climbed a difficult sandstone rock with a top rope. With his team mates guiding him on from below, Erik’s ascent was one of the highlights of the Challenge.
For all of the participating teams, however, simply finishing the Challenge was a success. Exploring the red sandstone high desert of the region, rafting the Colorado River, and participating in group meals at the Bureau of Land Management’s Rabbit Valley campsite, individual athletes experienced the benefits of working together as teams and overcoming adversity. Able-bodied participants were inspired by their disabled colleagues, and those athletes with disabilities showed themselves that they can excel in a competitive wilderness adventure.
In a weekend bracketed by a stinging desert sandstorm and a solar eclipse, the participants of the sixth annual Adventure TEAM Challenge learned that by using ingenuity, cooperation and hard work that the ultimate team adventure can be successfully met by all competitors. For Weihenmayer, who started the Adventure TEAM Challenge with World T.E.A.M. Sports in 2007, his idea of an inclusive team sports event has grown with each passing year. His greatest satisfaction, though, is not in winning the championship, but in experiencing the satisfaction and empowerment the Challenge brings all the participants.
Final Team Standings
Official times as of May 22, 2012 – includes total time
- 1 Team Lumber Liquidators: 6:18:26
2 Team Fire Strategies: 7:36:54
3 Team Atlas Shrugged: 8:42:56
4 Alteryx Avengers: 9:01:22
5 Semper Fi Alpha: 9:04:14
6 Team Pearl Myers: 9:06:26
7 Semper Fi Bravo: 9:43:31
8 Alteryx Fuzzy Match: 10:13:36
9 Team Spofit: 10:40:49
10 Alteryx Armadillos: 10:48:48
11 Alteryx Team Clarissa: 10:55:33
12 Team Crump: 11:41:14 – includes 2 hours penalty for missing climb
13 Team Who Says I Can’t: 11:41:51
14 Alteryx Force: 14:57:46 – includes 4 hours penalty for missing 2 check points
Watch the start of Stage Two on Sunday, May 20
Watch Team Lumber Liquidators win the championship on Sunday, May 20