Addicted to adventure

Racers can't get enough of each other, action

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It was Monday, and Matt Hannon was annoyed to be back at work in Fort Collins.

He didn't want to talk to his co-workers at Rocky Mountain Bagel Works. He wanted to be left alone. Tuesday wasn't much different. He missed teammates Kris Cannon, Mike Hall and Scott Murrell.

The four had just placed third at the Adventure Extreme Series 24-hour race in Durango to qualify for the U.S. Adventure Racing Association's national championship in November. Apparently, the nearly 20 hours the four spent riding, running and trekking through Southwest Colorado on June 12 and 13 wasn't enough.

"I had post-race blues," said Hannon, 29. "So I signed us up for our next race."

Cannon, Hall and Murrell live in Steamboat Springs. Hannon is from Fort Collins. Through a massage therapist, a Yampa Valley Medical Center employee and other adventure races, the four found each other, creating a team that wasted little time becoming a success.

With Hannon residing in Fort Collins and the other three on different work schedules in Steamboat, it is difficult to find a time when all four can train as a group. In fact, the four have gotten together twice since they became a team -- once for a race in Moab and once in Durango.

In March, Team Bagel Works/ LOKI finished the 12-hour Moab race in seven hours, prompting the team members to head to Durango with sights on a top-three finish to quality for nationals.

"You either love it or you hate it," Hannon said of adventure racing. "It's extreme by nature."

Cannon, 31, became interested in adventure racing while watching the Eco-Challenge, the extreme of extreme races in which co-ed teams of four race nonstop for six to 12 days, covering more than 300 miles. Discovering that, many continue channel surfing. Cannon stopped because watching people push their limits intrigued her.

"Kris is probably one of the toughest women I know," said Hall, 32. "We love Kris."

Cannon was the final piece added to Team Bagel Works/LOKI -- each adventure racing team is required to have at least one female. Cannon is an accomplished mountain biker who has learned to repel and mountain climb. She is learning to kayak.

Mountain biking, running, trekking (power hiking) and kayaking are adventure racing standards. Most other races incorporate repelling, Tyrolean traverse (pulling oneself across a gully on a rope) and in-line skating.

All four had previous endurance experience in triathlons, marathons or century bike rides, but adventure racing tests far more than an athlete's physical fitness. Adventure racing tests a person's mental toughness. It tests team cohesiveness because, as Cannon said, "15 hours into a race, something is bound to get on your nerves."

Hannon and Hall have been on teams with little compatibility, and it ruined the team. But the quartet of Hall, Hannon, Cannon and Murrell, 29, genuinely like each other. They finish each other's sentences and laugh at each other's jokes. Mostly, they respect each other and what each member means to the team.

"Everyone is good at different times," Cannon said, then quickly added, "but Matt is an animal the whole time. It isn't human."

To be honest, Murrell said, there has to be something innately different inside an adventure racer who competes for days on end and sets a stopwatch to remind himself or herself to eat and drink. It's converting stupidity into intensity, he said.

Somewhere between a Durango race that included a 25-mile mountain bike ride, a Tyrolean traverse, another 25-mile bike ride, a 14-mile kayak, a 10.5-mile run, another 10-mile bike ride and a 30-mile trek -- all while carrying a 25-pound backpack containing food, water, a blanket, a first aid kit, personal documents and gear -- pardon some people if they don't get confused on where the line between stupidity and intensity begins and ends.

"Anything that hurts makes me want to go harder," Hannon said.

Expect Hannon and his teammates to go plenty hard during the next several months in anticipation of the two-day USARA National Championship in November in French Lick, Ind. In some races, teams are given the map the night before the race. At nationals, teams will receive the maps the morning of the event.

Team Bagel Works/LOKI, which also is sponsored by Larabar and supported by Orange Peel in Steamboat, has a full slate until then. The team plans to compete in races in Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Moab and Grand Junction.

The Moab race is a three- to five-day, 250-mile event.

The team members' wives and boyfriend, not to mention friends, have been extremely supportive of Hall, Cannon, Hannon and Murrell's adventure racing desires. Adventure racing is an expensive sport because of travel and entry fees and gear and personal maintenance, so the team is always looking for additional sponsors. The four are showing no signs of slowing down.

"The more sports you add, the longer you can keep doing it without burning out," Hannon said.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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