Set for a Primal Quest | SierraSun.com

Set for a Primal Quest

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Provided to the SunTeam Aquan takes time out from a training session in Yosemite National Park last spring for a group photo. Team Aquan, from left to right, is Jim Easterbrook, Thomas Bastis, Jackie Wollman and Peter Pensotti.
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Team Aquan will soon know how aptly Primal Quest was named.

Sunday at 3 p.m., the local adventure race team will depart from Moab, Utah, on a 10-day, 400-plus-mile competitive journey that is Primal Quest 2006.

The grueling adventure race will put to the test each member’s level of skill, guts and endurance by way of non-stop navigating, trekking, mountain biking, whitewater swimming, paddling, mountaineering, horseback riding and canyoneering.

With Primal Quest 2006 organizers predicting a finishing ratio of about 30 percent, Team Aquan holds high hopes of being in that minority percentile.

“First and foremost, our goal is to finish the race ” without injury,” said Jim Easterbrook, a Truckee resident and Team Aquan member. “And we want to finish with a respectable time.”

Each knows it won’t be easy.

Forming in March and adding teammate Jackie Wollman in late April, the recently assembled Team Aquan is comprised of Easterbrook and Wollman, of San Jose, team leader Peter Pensotti, of Truckee, and Thomas Bastis, who lives in San Carlos.

Thus far, the team seems to gel.

“I feel we’ve got pretty good chemistry going,” said Pensotti, the team navigator.

Wollman, who along with her husband, Mike, coordinates sprint adventure races for Shooting Star Adventures, agrees about the team’s chemistry. Asked about Team Aquan’s strength, “mountain biking and camaraderie,” came to mind.

“We all have really gotten along since we’ve known each other,” Wollman said, adding that Bastis had each member fill out a personal questionnaire in order to become better acquainted. After that, they came up with nicknames for each other; but Wollman was reluctant to divulge.

Although Team Aquan has never competed in a race as a unit ” each member has competed in an assortment of races individually ” it did get together in Yosemite National Park for a 36-hour training session last spring, Pensotti said.

Based on each member’s respective skills in outdoor activities, the team is confident it will fare just fine in Primal Quest.

“Our strength is that we’re pretty good at all the disciplines,” Pensotti said. “You kind of have to be a Jack-of-all-trades.”

Specifically, according to Easterbrook, Pensotti’s main strength is navigation; Bastis’ is paddling; Wollman’s is all-around athleticism and adventure racing experience; and his strength is climbing and cycling.

“We all have different strengths. That’s definitely what is going to make our team strong,” Easterbrook said.

Team Aquan is one of 90 teams competing in Primal Quest 2006. Pensotti said of those 90 spots, 15 went to past top finishers, 25 went to international teams and the remaining 50 got in on a lottery.

“We kind of got lucky there,” Pensotti said. “I was kind of blown away.”

– Adventure racing ” founded by a French jounalist in 1989 ” is a multi-sport, co-ed team endurance competition lasting anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to 10 days, non-stop.

– Primal Quest is one of the most, if not the most, prominent adventure race the United States.

– Starting in Moab, Utah, on July 25, Primal Quest 2006 will be the largest expedition-style adventure race to date.

– In addition to the 360 racers competing in Primal Quest 2006, there are about 100 staff and volunteers, 25 members of the media and around 15 television crew members: a total of roughly 500 people.

– Primal Quest organizers expect the finishing ratio to be approximately 30 percent.

– Co-ed teams of four will race 24 hours a day for up to 10 days across a 400- to 500-mile course.

– The course will involve trekking, mountaineering, horseback riding, canyoneering, mountain biking, whitewater swimming, paddling and day and night navigation.

– All members of a team must finish together. Any team with a member who is unable to finish will be disqualified.

– There may be anywhere from 25 to 40 checkpoints in the race.

– Exact details of the course have not been disclosed and will remain a secret until the pre-race briefing.

– 90 teams will be competing in the 2006 race, including Nike/Balance Bar, Merrill/Wigwam, Spyder and other teams from around the world.

– Race progress can be followed in real time with GPS tracking and video feeds on the race web site: http://www.ecoprimalquest.com.

– The race is conducted in partnership with Leave No Trace in order to minimize environmental impact.

– A $250,000 prize purse will be distributed between the top-placing teams.

” Info from ecoprimalquest.com