Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Travis Wilkinson and Ken Meyer, graduates of Steamboat Springs High School, entered this year's Subaru Primal Quest race in Washington seeking the thrill of adventure.
But a tragic accident Wednesday that killed an athlete on another team has dampened that pursuit.
Susie Wilkinson, who talked to her husband by phone earlier in the day, said everybody on his team was fine, but they had been pulled off the course because of the accident. The racers were informed about the accident and were told they would have to wait to find out if the race would continue.
Organizers were grappling with the idea of continuing the event, but Wednesday night -- at the request of Nigel Aylott's family and teammates -- it appeared the event would be completed despite the tragic events. Susie Wilkinson said her husband was going to attend a meeting a 7 p.m. when an official announcement would be made. Public relations director Gordon Wright, however, was confident the event would be completed.
"We talked with his family and his teammates, and they really wanted us to complete the race," Write said. "Emotionally, nobody really wants to go and compete, but we want to do what's right by Nigel."
Aylott, 38, lived in the Australian State of Victoria, according to a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
His team, AROC, and the American team Montrail were leading the 400-mile adventure race when the accident happened.
Reports indicate that Aylott was struck by a 300-pound boulder while repelling down a rocky slope about 400 feet below Illabot Peak near Rockport. The teams were about halfway through the race.
The race immediately was put on hold.
Alan Wilkinson, Travis' father, said his son had expressed some anxiety about the rugged, isolated course before starting. But the veteran adventure racer thought it would be one of the most challenging courses he had attempted, and he elected to compete with his TeamVasque Adventure team.
The team was made up of the Steamboat racers and Primal Quest veterans Pamela Fletcher and Susan Murphy.
The Primal Quest race featured 56 teams from around the world competing in trail running, hiking, open-water paddling, river paddling, night and day navigation, glacier travel, rope work, mountain biking and skating in remote areas of Washington. The winning team was expected to pocket a check for nearly $100,000, and the event purse was $250,000.
The teams began the trek Sunday and were expected to finish the journey in about 10 days.
Susie Wilkinson said she expected her husband to continue the race, if organizers decide to continue it.
"You maybe go to one big race like this a year," Susie said. "The racers have invested a great deal of money, time and training into getting there. It's tough just to walk away."
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