Twenty-four Schriever athletes expirienced what it might be like to compete as reality TV-show contestants June 11 at the United States Air Force Academy.
On a warm, cloudy and humid day, eight Schriever teams of four athletes each set out against their counterparts from the USAFA, Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson Army Post in a multi-event adventure race, called the Front Range Adventure Team Challenge.
And they represented Schriever in fine fashion, taking two of the top three places.
Schriever’s “Team Weik,” made up of Holly Weik, Dave Weik, Scott Nicholson and Derek Hamby traversed the 16.5-mile course in three hours and entered Falcon Stadium as race champions, 10 minutes ahead of USAFA Rulers.
“Team Dire Cost,” including Schriever members Cory Marion, Jayson Anderson, Caitlyn Diffley and Justin Lovuolo took third in 3:40.00.
“This was quite a bit different from a normal adventure race,” said FRATC Director Chuck Alfultis. “Normally, teams find out what they’ll be doing at the start of a race, but we set this up to flow like the reality TV-show most people are familiar with.”
Competitors started the competition with limited knowledge about what lay ahead. Of course, they knew the FRATC would include running, mountain biking, swimming and the use of a Global Positioning System receiver at some point, but everything else was a mystery.
In reality-show style, once teams completed an event, they picked up an envelope, which explained their next test.
They began with a 3-mile trail run near the USAFA’s North gate. After traveling south to an activity area, they were tasked with using a GPS receiver to find hidden ammunition cans, an activity known as Geocacheing. At that point, Team Weik sat in fourth place.
Once all of the cans were found, teams ran another three miles to Ice Lake, where they boarded rafts and traversed a lake course while blindfolded (one member was allowed to see and direct teammates around buoys).
From there, the 19 teams rode their bikes up a large hill to the base’s fire training area.
In this event, all four members first had to construct a fire hose, then blast a target with water before splitting up to perform the second part of the event. From there, two team members climbed a fire-training tower and repelled back down while other members completed the combat challenge, where one team member donned a full fire suit, climbed six flights of stairs at a second tower, raised a weight to the top of the tower, then ran back down. His teammate then donned the fire suit, climbed the same six flights and lowered the weight back to the ground.
“You wouldn’t think that opening an envelope and following the directions would be that tough,” Marion said. “But, it proved difficult at times because the instructions were fairly detailed and our minds and bodies were growing fatigued as the race continued.”
Teams opened their third envelope only to find they must carry their bikes up a stairway to the Pine Valley.
“It was one of the more grueling parts of the race,” said Alfultis, USAFA’s outdoor recreation director.
From there, they rode bikes to the base fitness center, where they dismounted and swam a 400-meter relay event.
That’s where the USAFA Rulers and Team Weik separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
“We passed some teams along the way, and thought we were in second place just behind USAFA Rulers when we entered the pool,” said Holly Weik. “But, Scott (Nicholson) is an awesome swimmer. We left the fitness center in a dead heat.”
Teams then rode down a hill to the base Archery Club, where each member was tasked with shooting an arrow through a target from 20 yards away.
“This was my first adventure race and it was a lot more challenging than I imagined,” said Gary Goff of Schriever’s, ‘That’s So Raven’ team. “The hardest event, physically, was carrying your bike up the stairway to heaven, and the hardest event, skill wise, was the archery, especially since I’ve never shot a bow before.”
From there, teams jumped back on their bikes and rode three miles to Falcon Stadium… the finish line.
At that point, Team Weik had a 10-minute lead, but hardly felt comfortable.
“We were still looking back over our shoulders at the very end,” Weik said. “We were just sure they were right behind us.”
Goff said the events were well spaced out and that the race required competitors to use a full range of talents. That fact wasn’t lost on Weik.
“With adventure racing, you don’t have to be the best at all the events,” she said. “You can be mediocre across the board. Some of the teams had great cyclists or runners, but having that average level of skill, the jack-of-all-trades sort of thing, sets you up for success.”