Imagine mountain biking up a steep ascent. You press your feet into the pedals as hard as you can, trying to ignore the feeling of the sweat-drenched shirt melting into your skin. Mind overrules the body’s desire to quit, and you keep on pedaling. Imagine reaching the top with no time to celebrate because you must move on to the white-water rafting, running, zip lining, climbing, and rappelling you must still complete to finish your race.
This is the 2011 Adventure TEAM Challenge, a race beginning on June 26th where teams of five must have at least two disabled members, one being either a wheelchair user or a paraplegic.
The event is run by World TEAM sports, a non-profit organization in Washington DC that organizes outdoor sporting events for disabled and able-bodied participants to do together. The organization runs such inspiring events as the Face of America rides in honor of wounded war veterans and the Sea to Shining Sea cross-country bike ride, a 4,000 mile ride from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, completed by both disabled veterans and civilians.
The Adventure TEAM Challenge, sponsored by Alteryx, will take place in Eagle, Colorado. It will include both amateur racers as well as professionals like the legendary Erik Weihenmayer, the only person to ever climb the Seven Summits blind. “You have all these disability organizations out there that take people out climbing, and this and that, but for me there is a step beyond just going out and having a quick little experience,” Weihenmayer remarked during the 2009 TEAM Challenge. “[There is] having a real adventure, and that’s what this race is, it’s an absolute real adventure.”
The race is really not about winning. Instead, it is about doing something great for those who would not have the opportunity anywhere else. The able-bodied team members make it their number one goal to keep their disabled teammates safe, so—more than anything else—the race is about team trust and bonding. “This was the first team event I’ve done,” remarked a past participant, “usually all of my racing is all about me, and this event was about us as a team.”
“The setting of the race makes it so easy for people to attack all these major struggles together as a team,” says one race spokesman, “to trust each other and believe in your team then, through that trust, you are able to rise above yourself. Once you get a taste of what that’s like there’s no turning back.”