Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Merrell/Zanfel Primal Quest Odyssey Ends With 2nd Place Award in Big Sky Montana

Merrell/Zanfel Adventure team members (from left) John Jacoby, Travis Macy, Aaron Prince and Robyn Benincasa, huddle close for photographers while on stage during the awards ceremony for the Primal Quest Montana expedition adventure race. The medals around their necks feature an engraving of Lone Peak, the mountain behind Montana's Big Sky Resort. The boxes they're holding are SPOT messenger devices. The cardboard tubes hold maps of the Primal Quest Montana course, laid over an image of Lone Peak.

Robyn took the microphone for a few comments, during which time she gushed about her teammates, detailing strengths of each one. She even dubbed Travis Macy as adventure racing's next Mike Kloser, which drew hoots and cheers from the assembled teams and their support crews.

A profile on Robyn was recently posted on the official Primal Quest website. It was written by Frances Fisher, Primal Quest's assistant media director. Learn some things you didn't know about Robyn by reading Frances' story here.

Anker Congratulates Team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure on Primal Quest Finish

Legendary mountaineer Conrad Anker congratulates Travis Macy of team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure during the Primal Quest Montana awards ceremony at Big Sky Resort.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happily Ever After

Jeff Akens, support crew leader for adventure racing team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure, carries fiancee Robyn Benincasa, captain of the team, to a support vehicle and a day of hard-earned rest in the team's Big Sky Resort condo. Robyn and her teammates had just completed the 500 mile Primal Quest expedition adventure race in Southwest Montana. The team took second place.

Merrell/Zanfel Adventure Completes Primal Quest


Six days, 2 hours and 10 minutes. That's how long team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure was on the Primal Quest Montana course. Well behind team Nike, but hours ahead of teams battling for third place, it's very likely that Merrell/Zanfel Adventure will in fact be awarded second place.

I was here in the Huntley Lodge at Big Sky, updating blog posts, when I heard a cheer outside. Sure enough, here comes Merrell/Zanfel Adventure! I packed up my laptop and camera and ran for the finish line, but they beat me by about a minute. A big thanks to Will Ramos, Primal Quest's director of photography, for providing the shot above to the media.

Support crew Jeff Akens and Ryan Floth arrived at the finish line just after I did, so they missed the big finish as well. That's all right. All Jeff and Ryan care about is that their team is done, and that everyone is still in one piece.

To view my gallery of Merrell/Zanfel Adventure finish line photos, click through to my Flickr photostream.

Merrell/Zanfel Adventure to Finish Primal Quest Today

Today team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure will finally cross the finish line of Primal Quest Montana. The expedition-style adventure race began at Big Sky Resort on the morning of Monday, June 23, and, for Merrell/Zanfel Adventure at least, will end right where it started, some time this afternoon, on Sunday, June 29.

The team has endured 500 miles of multiple mountain hikes, multiple mountain bike rides, rock climbing, rope climbing, orienteering, rappelling, whitewater kayaking and even whitewater swimming. Through it all, team members Robyn Benincasa, John Jacoby, Travis Macy and Aaron Prince have been forced to work together at all times, as a team, to complete the course. This was their first race together. They now have a bond so tight, it's difficult to comprehend.

Support crew members Jeff Akens and Ryan Floth have set up and torn down camp for their team a dozen times. Many former racers who work as support crew say that crewing is only slightly easier than actually competing in the race. Watching Jeff and Ryan in action, I believe it. Many nights they only got a few hours of sleep. Their endurance was astounding.

I expect my next post will show a very happy team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure at the finish line.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Merrell/Zanfel Adventure Takin' Care of Business in Primal Quest Home Stretch

Members of adventure racing team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure are in fine spirits and taking care of business as Primal Quest Montana winds down. It now appears certain Merrell/Zanfel Adventure will take second place in a field of more than 60 international teams that started Primal Quest back on Monday, June 23, 2008.

Support crew boss Jeff Akens said all members of the team are in good spirits, and are physically well. Robyn has developed a nasty blister on the pinky toe of her left foot, Jeff said, but it's not serious enough to threaten the team's forward progress. Teammates John Jacoby, Aaron Prince and Travis Macy continue to forge ahead with no reported physical issues, Jeff said.

Jeff said he expects to see the team around 3 a.m. on Sunday, June 29, 2008, at Ennis Lake, if all goes according to plan. The team will then have to return to Big Sky Resort, where the finish line awaits.

Travis Macy's Family Drops in at Storm Castle

Travis Macy of team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure has been looking forward to this day for more than a week. Because today, his family ventured out from Evergreen, Colorado, to visit Travis on the Primal Quest Montana course. They caught up with him at Storm Castle, just before team Merrell/Zanfel Adventure set off for the ropes and orienteering sections of the race. Family members who visited Travis include, from left, Travis' dad, Mark Macy; younger sister Dona Macy, age 14; and Travis' mom, Pam Macy. Mark Macy has been around adventure racing for quite a while. Check out his team Stray Dogs site here. Welcome to Montana, Macys!