World Class Ascent: Team Tahoe earns place in Primal Quest | SierraSun.com

World Class Ascent: Team Tahoe earns place in Primal Quest

Walt Torbert, Sun News Service

The officially named Team Tahoe discovered two weeks ago in the early morning hours that it would not finish the Yosemite Adventure Race. But due to the extreme demands of the course, 40 other teams suffered the same fate.

Though the team stopped about eight hours from the course’s end, it earned ninth place overall, one checkpoint ahead of the Incline Village foursome, and more importantly, qualified for the world-renowned Subaru Primal Quest competition to be held in September on Tahoe’s South Shore.

The team, including captain Tim Farrar, 35, of Washoe Valley, his wife Jessica, 32, Truckee’s Scott Bower, 32, and Reno’s Matt Anderson, 30, spent the 30 hours prior to the race’s end struggling through the wilderness of Yosemite. As the team approached the ropes section of the course, a race official notified them that the competition was over.

“You have a mental image of how long your going to be out there. We were prepared for 15 hours, but it took us 31,” sais Scott Bower.

Though they had been racing for more than 30 hours, Farrar said the team was “a little bummed” by the news.

“We were feeling a little better in the morning, but when we heard that the last team took eight [more] hours on bike, we weren’t real excited about that.”

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Due to gross miscalculations by designers, the course was far more difficult than anticipated. Only eight of the 47 teams finished, and the winner’s time of 28 hours was eight longer than expected.

“Our team learned a lot about each other because we where out there so long,” Bower said. “We were faced with a lot of questions, but we kept moving forward. We managed to finish ahead of the two other teams and that was the key.”

Team Tahoe may not have finished the adventure race it entered last weekend, but as the top team of the three competing from the Sierra region, the team earned a scholarship to the 2003 Subaru Primal Quest, scheduled for Sept. 5.

It is considered the world’s most prestigious adventure race, and its 100 competitive spots were filled via qualifying criteria and a lottery system. The lottery proved to be so popular that the response overwhelmed the race’s computer servers in less than 90 seconds. But one spot was reserved by race organizers for a team of four athletes who could represent the locals in this 400-mile back country endeavor.

“We want to foster a greater knowledge of the sport of adventure racing throughout the United States, and figured that a good way for the residents of Lake Tahoe to get to know us is to invite them to get out here and compete against the best endurance racers in the world,” noted race director Dan Barger.

Considering the prestigious race’s steep entrance fee of $6,500, Team Tahoe regards its performance at Yosemite as a tremendous success.

“We’ll be representing Tahoe in the premier adventure race in America,” said Farrar.

Adventure racing, days-long multisport competition through the back country, necessitates traveling light and fast, day and night. But in this year’s Primal Quest, Team Tahoe will carry a heavy burden of expectations on their backs.

Though relatively new to the sport with only three races under his belt, he and his team are up to the challenge the Quest will provide.

Like T. Farrar, Bower has competed in a few short adventure races and is a competitive mountain bike racer. Anderson is a passionate outdoorsman, with a mountaineering background and 13 years of competitive mountain bike races to his credit. A former varsity soccer player at Princeton, J. Farrar’s first adventure race was the Cal Eco qualifier, but like her teammates, she too has an extensive back country background and environmental ethos.

“As a student and instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), I was introduced to the ethics of Leave No Trace, and I adopted those principals fervently,” said J. Farrar. “Now, as a teacher, I try to impart them to my students and the community, stressing things like recycling, composting, community service and the need to tread lightly in the outdoor environment.”

The 400-plus mile race requires somewhere between six and 10 days of trail running, hiking, flat-water and whitewater paddling, caving, ropes work, mountain biking and cycling — disciplines for which Team Tahoe will spend the next months training.

“We’re spending from 12 to 20 hours a week training,” said Farrar, whose team alternates long distance hikes and rides with short interval work.

“The challenge is hitting all of the disciplines enough to remain proficient at them. We like all these [sports] recreationally anyway. No one sees it as work.”

In addition to the skills needed in each sport, teams must be prepared to endure sleep depravation and hunger, as well as any number of unforeseen obstacles.

“I guess we’re just gluttons for punishment,” said Farrar, who calls the races “brutal.”

Though the course is kept secret, Team Tahoe will surely benefit from training in the Sierra. Last year’s “home team” from Telluride surprised the field of 100 by placing seventh overall despite losing one of its members on the first day, disqualifying themselves for an official finish. The racers credited their knowledge of the local trails and their high-altitude living for this more-than-credible finish.

The same competitive advantages will apply to Team Tahoe, so they are considered to be a team to watch in competing against the world’s best adventurers. If Team Tahoe benefits from the “home-field advantage” and goes on to win the Primal Quest, it will take home a $100,000 purse.

-Elena Renee Arney (formerly McCoy) contributed to this story.