Supreme challenge

Steamboat local participating in six-day adventure race

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— For the past several months, Travis Wilkinson has been trying to prepare for one of the biggest races of his life the Four Winds 2001 Supreme Adventure Race in the Teton Valley region of Idaho.

The problem the 29-year-old Steamboat Springs resident has been faced with is trying to figure out exactly what he wants to focus on as he prepares for the 350-mile journey across the mountainous terrain of the Tetons.

"They give you a general idea of what the race is about," Wilkinson said. "We all know where to meet, but we really don't know where we are going or how we are going to get there."

The exact route the athletes will take during the 6-day journey is kept a secret until the last minute, but rest assured the participants will need to know how to mountain bike, swim, ride horseback, raft, kayak, and climb in order to reach their final destination.

"They hand you a tube with all the topographical maps you will need and then the clock starts," Wilkinson said.

It's up to each four-person team to figure out the best route to each check point which is positioned strategically to require teams to use a number of backcountry skills welcome to the world of adventure racing.

Wilkinson was introduced to the sport earlier this year after he was drafted by members of Team Blade Runners to take part in the Eco Lonestar race. Since then he has been training normally on his own since his teammates are in Texas to make sure he isn't the team's weakest link.

Wilkinson spends two to three hours each night and up to 10 hours on the weekends training to compete.

"I kind of thought it was going to be totally grueling. I thought it was going to be a physical workout from the start to finish," Wilkinson said of his first adventure race. "But once I got out there, I found out that I was having a really good time. The physical demands didn't seem so threatening."

Wilkinson, who works for the city of Steamboat Springs as a manager for the Parks and Open Space department, was asked by his brother-in-law Jim Ficke to be a part of the group. Ficke is the team captain for Team Blade Runners.

Ficke is stationed in San Antonio, Texas, but has a large group of relatives here in Steamboat. The lieutenant colonel and orthopedic surgeon is a

dedicated adventure racer who sharpened his skills in the Lewis and Clark ultra-trail run from Clarkston, Wash., to Cape Disappointment, Ore. He is a veteran of multi-century bicycle rides as well as adventure races such as the Mountain Rage with team Scrub Dogs and the Eco Lonestar with team Blade Runners.

Other team members include Lois Fiala and Heather Currier, two athletes with an extensive athletic background and several adventure races under their belts. Both women are stationed at the Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio.

"If anything happens I know that I will be in good hands," Wilkinson said of his teammates who are all doctors.

His teammates may also be comforted by the fact that Wilkinson is also a ski patrolman and certified Emergency Medical Technician.

The team will face one of it's biggest challenges this weekend when it travels to Idaho for the adventure.

The race spans the striking mountain and desert country of southwestern Idaho. Team Blade Runners will arrive at the Idaho Falls airport Thursday, go through a day of testing Friday and then begin the race on Saturday. The fastest teams are expected to complete the trek in six days. Wilkinson thinks Team Blade Runners can complete the trek in seven, but there is no doubt they will be shooting for the six-day mark and a chance of winning.

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