Adventure teams reach new Summit

“Whatever it takes to cross the finish line.”

That’s how most adventure race teams approached this year’s 80-plus mile Ford Gorge Games course.

Only a select few teams even bother to think about winning the race, which took 53 teams from high up on Mt. Hood to the Adventure Village in times ranging from 13 hours, 56 minutes (first place Team Seagate) to 32 hours, 58 minutes.

Forty-seven of the 100 teams did not finish, but one that did, a three-person team from Summit Projects in Hood River, took home the big prize — free one-year leases on three 2002 Ford Explorers — in the co-ed division with a time of 20:58:11.

“We weren’t really planning on winning,” said Jill Crimmins, who was competing in her second Gorge Games adventure race along with teammate Dave Russell. “But I think the home-field advantage really helped us. We play to train, so all the time we spent training for this event was purely fun for us.”

Joining the two veterans this year was Crimmins’ husband, Corbin, a former professional mountain biker and current employee of Discover Bicycles.

“We all brought strengths to the race,” Jill Crimmins said. “Corbin’s strength on the bike portions was key, as was Dave’s expertise in the paddling section. As for me, I just tried to maintain a positive attitude for the group and keep up.”

The race started at 5 a.m. Saturday with an eight-mile mountaineering/ orienteering route around Mt. Hood. Teams then rode mountain bikes for 20 miles, performed a 350-foot Tyrolean traverse, trekked cross-country for 10 miles, rode another 32 miles by Laurance Lake, and topped it off with a 12-mile round-trip paddle from Hood River to Mosier.

“We found the rope section to be the hardest,” said Russell. “They had a bunch of ropes strung across the basalt columns off Highway 35, and you just had to hook on your carabiner and muscle it out. That section took a good hour to recover from.”

The team, which is locally sponsored by Da Kine, Rosauers and Summit Projects, along with SmartWool, ClifBar and CamelBak, finished 19th overall, just behind the elite division.

Another local adventure racer, John Harlin, competed with Portland-based Team Backpacker, and finished third place in the corporate division with a time of 25:21:38.

Overall, Team Seagate from New Zealand took home the top prize of $50,000, which was funded by Balance Bar as part of a five-race series that will continue Aug. 29 in Boston.

“The course was excellent, from the interesting navigation and the rugged terrain,” said Nathan Fa’avae, who crossed the line with Kristina Strode-Penny and Neil Jones. “This one was one of the best races I’ve ever competed in.”

Perennial powerhouse and the No. 1 seeded team, SoBe, finished second with a time of 14:16:52, while Team Black Butte Porter finished third at 14:41:46, and Team Earthlink fourth at 14:56:05.

“Each of these teams was great,” said Medical Director Boomer Reeves of Granbury, Texas. “The top teams finished before we even thought they would.”

Reeves thanked Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue and Wind River Search and Rescue for contributing to the success of the race.

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