By Richard Rhinehart
Eagle, Colorado, September 3, 2014 – The annual Adventure Team Challenge from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports brings together teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes for a three-stage outdoor adventure race in Colorado’s remote Gore Range September 12-14.
Featuring ten teams of five athletes – two having disabilities, one a wheelchair user – the Challenge provides a wilderness experience as individuals to join together to overcome challenges. Teams travel in the mountainous terrain northeast of Eagle on off-road bikes and hand cycles, undertake climbing and rope work and raft through the deep canyons of the Colorado River.
“World T.E.A.M. Sports is extremely excited about this year’s Adventure Team Challenge,” said the organization’s CEO and President, Van Brinson. “Our volunteer staff has dedicated long hours to recruiting athletes and teams to ensure that we have a competitive mix of participants.”
For some of the participating athletes, the Challenge will be their first experience outside of civilization and the lights and pavement of cities. For others, the outdoors is a familiar environment to which they often return.
Jamey Stogsdill of Pendleton, Oregon sustained a spinal cord injury a decade ago, but has remained active in outdoor sporting activities. In March, Stogsdill successfully descended by monoski the Big Couloir at Montana’s Big Sky Resort, being the first woman to successfully complete the descent, which reaches greater than 50 degrees at its steepest point. “If wild places hold any value for you,” Stogsdill said, “After spinal cord injury, you have to think creatively about how you are going to access those environments and reinvent how you engage them in a fulfilling way.”
Dan Marshall was severely injured in a fiery plane crash in 2002. Left paralyzed in the crash, the Colorado Air National Guard flight instructor and captain from Estes Park regained his love of the outdoors through sports like off-road hand cycling and mono-skiing. Eventually, feeling began to return to his legs, and Marshall learned to walk again.
Paul Meehan, the CEO and founder of Virginia’s Peak Wellness Partners, is a cyclist who rides thousands of miles each year. Ten years ago, in a cycling accident, Meehan fell and shattered his T-12 vertebrae. Following surgery, he faced a long recover and rehabilitation. Though doctors said he would be fortunate to regain his riding skills, his determination and support from his family helped him back to his exceptional fitness and his riding regime.
In 2005, self-described “fun hog” Robb Kimbrough of Boulder, Colorado checked into the local emergency room thinking he had the flu. Within a day, doctors thought he may not live owing to organ failure due to septic shock. Yet, after having both legs amputated below the knee, he recovered from his infection and headed back to the outdoors. Today, he climbs ice and rocks, and also cycles four days each week.
Veteran Kevin Burton of Erie, Colorado spent nine years in the Navy, including a tour in Iraq, before losing his vision from a degenerative eye disease. Active in cross-country skiing prior to his loss of sight, Burton continued to ski, working with a guide who skis with him. This year, Burton participated with the USA Paralympic team in Sochi, Russia, competing in cross-country skiing and biathlon.
Hosted at the Rancho del Rio Resort in rural Eagle County, the Challenge is inspiring not only to the participants, but to volunteers and supporters. Following two years near Grand Junction in the high desert, “The move to a new race course, along with the increase in the number of teams will ensure that this is an interesting year,” said Brinson.
The 2014 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado is supported through sponsorships and partnerships from Pearl Meyer & Partners, Benson Botsford LLC, Devens Recycling Center, Front Street Re, The Independence Fund, INTEGRATED Healthcare Strategies, Oregon Adaptive Sports and Timberline Tours. Additional support for the Challenge is provided by James Benson and George Puskar.
Explore biographies of selected 2014 Adventure Team Challenge athletes.