Primal Quest

01 May 08
It’s been called one of the most difficult athletic events in the world, and now a little piece of it is coming to the South.

- by Jedd Ferris
It’s been called one of the most difficult athletic events in the world, and now a little piece of it is coming to the South. Primal Quest is an annual high-profile expedition-length adventure race that finds the toughest competitors shelling out thousands of dollars to tackle some of the toughest terrain in the country. Past events have taken racers into the Utah desert and the remote San Juan Mountains of Colorado for over 400 miles of mountain biking, climbing, trekking, and paddling.
But running an event of this magnitude—coverage has included spots on ABC and ESPN—is no easy task, and last year race organizers considered ending the event for good.
Suddenly to the rescue came Don Mann, a former Navy SEAL and adventure racing pioneer from Virginia Beach, Va., who formerly owned promotion company Odyssey Adventure Racing, which produced the epic BEAST of the East adventure race. Mann sold Odyssey with no intention of returning to the sport, but out of nowhere, opportunity came knocking.
“I thought I had retired from this stuff,” Mann says. “But then last year, the owners of Primal Quest called me up and asked if I’d be interested in becoming the race director. It’s a lot of hard work, but the urge to put on races never really left me.”
Mann decided he would take over and save one of the most recognized adventure races in the world. But without a huge budget, he was forced to look for new ways to make Primal Quest survive. As a result he’s created the Primal Quest Sprint Series. The first race will take place on May 10 at Pocahontas State Park near Richmond, Va. Two other sprints will take place this year in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and starting next year, the series will include 10 races across the country.
“We’re going to rebuild Primal Quest,” says Mann. “But we’re going to do it without the millions of dollars that have been put into it in the past.”
Every sprint race will have seven disciplines, including trail running, mountain biking, and paddling, as well as some innovative ropes courses—a cargo net, low crawl, and a bridge. Mann will also implement some of his background as a SEAL and include log exercises. Orienteering will not be required of racers, but optional navigation challenges will be offered for extra points.
The transition points will all be in one central spot to make the races spectator friendly—something not very common in adventure racing. The courses, which will cover around 40-50 miles, will be geared toward experts being able to finish in four hours and novices coming in at around six.
In the series, participants will rack up individual points, so they don’t have to worry about racing with the same partner. The series winner will get a free entry into the Primal Quest main event, which costs a hefty $12,500.
UPCOMING ADVENTURE RACES
WESTERN CAROLINA ADVENTURE RACE
MAY 3 • MODOC, S.C.
HAMILTON BRANCH STATE PARK
www.kandoadventures.com

PRIMAL QUEST SPRINT SERIES RACE #1
MAy 10 • Chesterfield, VA.
Pocahontas State Park
www.primalquestsprintseries.com

NORTH CAROLINA ADVENTURE RACING SERIES #2
MAy 17 • CHARLOTTE, N.C.
US National whitewater center
www.action-learning.com

WILD, WONDERFULL 24 HOUR ADVENTURE RACE
MAy 24-25 • New River Gorge, W.Va.
www.oarevents.com
LIONHEART ADVENTURE RACE
MAy 24-25 • OHIOPYLE STATE PARK, PA.
www.americanadventuresports.com

SPECIAL OPERATIONS ADVENTURE RACE (SOAR) HIGHLANDS SPRINT AND ELITE
June 14 • Nantahala National Forest, NC
www.soarhighlands.org

NORTH CAROLINA ADVENTURE RACING SERIES #3
JULY 19 • CHARLOTTE, NC
US National whitewater center
www.action-learning.com

ODYSSEY ONE DAY ADVENTURE RACE
July 26-27 • Roanoke, Va.
www.oarevents.com

GOLD RUSH 24 HOUR ADVENTURE RACE
August 2-3 • Woodstock, Ga.
www.ymcaatlanta.org
PRIMAL QUEST SPRINTS SEREIES #2
September 6 • Pittsburgh, PA
moraine state park
www.primalquestsprintseries.com

BLACKBEARD ADVENTURE RACE
September 13 • NAGS HEAD, NC
www.americanadventuresports.com

NORTH CAROLINA ADVENTURE RACING SERIES #4
September 13 • CHARLOTTE, NC
US National whitewater center
www.action-learning.com

PRIMAL QUEST SPRINTS SEREIES #3
October 4 •CHARLOTTE, NC
US National whitewater center
www.primalquestsprintseries.com

NORTH CAROLINA ADVENTURE RACING SERIES #5
October 25 • CHARLOTTE, NC
US National whitewater center
www.action-learning.com

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