Questing primally across Utah's deserts
June 27, 2006 5:16 PM   Subscribe

While many in the world are glued to the outcomes of the World Cup there is another high-profile international sporting event toiling itself away in the Utah deserts. Primal Quest, a 417 mile expedition adventure race consisting of desert trekking, mountain biking, wilderness navigation, kayaking, and canyoneering, has a prize-purse of $100,000 and many professional, international, and amateur teams have arrived to compete to be the best endurance athletes in the world. Considered by many to be the successor of Mark Burnett's Eco-Challenge the Primal Quest has an expected finishing time of 4 days for the winners and 10 days for the slower teams. Along with the Raid series, Primal Quest continues to give competitive adventurers a grand outlet at the international level but it is to be noted the sport of adventure racing has not been without its problems in the past.
posted by rlef98 (9 comments total)
That looks insanely hardcore. I wish the race site (detailed though it is) laid out all the race rules for us to see -- that would be really interesting. And like, when do they sleep and eat and poo and all the rest...I need to know!!
posted by brain cloud at 6:59 PM on June 27, 2006

posted by oddman at 7:50 PM on June 27, 2006

anyone know when/where i can watch this?
posted by sophist at 8:07 PM on June 27, 2006

I loved the Eco-Challenge. I had always wanted to enter it. There is no way I could finish the thing, but I would have so much fun trying. I too would love to know where to watch it. Hopefully discovery channel will pick up a summary of it or something.
posted by Hypharse at 8:14 PM on June 27, 2006

Word on the street is that the PQ folks cut a deal with ABC for a special and that is is also going to be broadcasted on ESPN and RSN (Resort Sports Network). I think the ABC/ESPN deal was just cut so they probably don't have broadcast times down yet.
posted by rlef98 at 8:44 PM on June 27, 2006

"Football! You bet!"
posted by missbossy at 3:00 AM on June 28, 2006

It may be a cool idea, but my GOD it has a dumb name.
posted by JHarris at 11:10 AM on June 28, 2006

(Disclosure: I'm affiliated with the Primal Quest site. I've done most of their Flash work over the years. Apologies that most of the links to follow are to the Primal Quest site. I'm not trying to shill... It is just what I'm familiar with.)

Nice FPP, rlef98.

...prize-purse of $100,000

Technically, the purse is $250,000. First place takes $100,000. The rest of the top 10 get a piece. Here is a breakdown of the prizes, along with an overview of the race.

That looks insanely hardcore.

It is. Just finishing an expedition length race requires an uncommon combination of technical skill, physical fitness, teamwork and badass determination.

There are lots of ways to get hurt. Blisters are common (and very gross). This year, team Utah withdrew after less than a day because three team members had severe blisters. Team Subaru lost a member to blisters, while the rest of the team continued on unranked. Another team withdrew in the first day because of a blown out knee and a stress fracture in the hip. (The team includes three Navy SEALs. I hear they are pretty tough.) Altitude sickness can also be a danger. Hirsute racers face more unusual hazards.

I wish the race site (detailed though it is) laid out all the race rules for us to see

I completely agree. The site should do that. There are lots of rules. The basics are something like:
  • Teams must have 4 members. (3 members at a minimum can try to complete the race, unranked. Sometimes, teams with a couple of injured racers will combine, just so they can finish)
  • Teams must be co-ed.
  • Teams must travel in accordance with whatever discipline (hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, etc) is indicated for that portion of the course.
  • Teams must stay together. If members are ever separated by more than 100 yards, they are penalized.
  • There are lots of other rules. Stuff about dark zones (times you can't travel on a particular leg of the race), disallowed areas (bikes on paved surfaces, for instance), etc.
when do they sleep and eat and poo and all the rest...I need to know!!

Racers can sleep whenever they want. But choosing when to do so is a big part of a team's strategy. The "sleep monster" is sort of the bogeyman that adventure racers try to outrun. Sleep deprivation and hallucinations are very common.

Racers eat whenever they want. In previous Primal Quest races, they had support teams that would cook them nice meals at checkpoints. This year, teams had to pack gear boxes that were stowed around the course.

Racers poop in various places. If they find a rest stop, truck stop, gas station, they are free to poop there. Or, they poop on the trail. The race adheres to the Leave No Trace principles, and all racers are quizzed on environmental ethics. Used to be, racers buried their solid waste. Due to environmental concerns, this year they'll pack it to a checkpoint in a WAG bag. Mmm.

anyone know when/where i can watch this?

There will be 4 one-hour nights on ESPN2, and a finale special on ABC. Stuff will also air on ESPN Deportes and some other ESPN channels. No dates or times have been set yet.

Sorry if the long comment offends. Y'all asked. And I've been soaking in this for months.
posted by thinman at 12:09 PM on June 28, 2006

The editor of is on one of the teams racing in PQ. He's audioblogging by satellite phone as he goes. Here he is, talking about poop.
posted by thinman at 2:31 PM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

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