Aspen’s Capron is up for another Eco Challenge |

Aspen’s Capron is up for another Eco Challenge

Not long after recovering from the aches and pains of Eco-Challenge 2000, Amy Capron has already got her sights set on the 2001 event.

Capron is helping organize a four-member team of superb Aspen athletes who aim to compete in one of the most unusual and grueling races in the world. Capron, Charlie Tarver, Charlie MacArthur and Anda Rojs hope to participate in Eco-Challenge 2001 in New Zealand at the end of October.

“It would be up our alley,” said Capron, noting that the events would feature skills and terrain similar to what the Aspenites are used to.

Gaining entry into the event might prove more difficult for this dream team than the actual activities. The Aspen team wasn’t selected in a random lottery, nor did it make the waiting list.

Their last shot – and it is a long shot – is to get one of five at-large bids. Applicants must submit a video showing why they are uniquely qualified to participate.

“If we can put together a really great story maybe we can get in,” said Capron. They will find out later this month.

The 28-year-old Aspenite wowed members of the Basalt Kiwanis club earlier this week with a slide presentation of her experiences in Eco-Challenge 2000, held in Borneo.

Capron teamed with Aspenites Chris Morrow, Ben Niiler and Brian Hightower in a multiday race that combined sailing, mountain biking, canoeing, jungle trekking, caving and scuba diving in the northern province of Malaysia.

The race pitted 78 teams that had to rely on navigational skills, brute strength, finesse and wits while maneuvering through tough terrain and locating roughly 40 check points. The teams must negotiate the courses in as few days as possible while carrying all their food, water and supplies.

It makes TV’s “Survivor” look like kids’ play.

“It’s a pretty intriguing race to do,” said Capron. “You have to know a lot of sports activities.”

She acknowledged that she’s not a jack-of-all-skills. “I don’t do everything great.”

But she’s a good enough athlete that she is proficient at all skills needed and excels in some. Teamwork is a big requirement in the event. One member can’t carry a team with skills or brawn.

“A lot of people don’t understand the mental part of it,” Capron said. She’s found that a baseline of athletic skills can carry participant throughs, as long as they have the mental toughness.

Training can help develop that mental mettle, but it often just depends on the person’s genes.

“I think a lot of it is who you are, and how you deal with people and the random stuff that comes up,” she said.

The Aspen team was hampered in Borneo when a team member became dreadfully ill on the mountain biking leg of the trip. “He couldn’t keep anything in him, either side,” said Capron, noting that they nursed him along to partial recovery.

The jungle trekking was “very wet and very leechy,” Capron recalled. The canoes all teams used in rapids and calm water had been made by natives from green wood, so they tended to split.

“We in essence had three people paddling and one bailing water all day,” said Capron. “This was probably the toughest part of the race for us.”

The heavy craft didn’t maneuver very well and the team members had to accept soaked feet, then hop from the canoe and endure a 25 kilometer “death march” along roads through old plantations.

Only 44 of the 78 teams finished. The Aspen team, sponsored by Boogie’s, completed the 300 miles in 11 days, placing 39th.

Capron is also a veteran of the 1996 Eco-Challenge held in British Columbia. That was a totally different experience, she said, because rules allowed five-member teams back then. Plus the mountains and climate of British Columbia were much more familiar to the Aspenites than the jungle of Borneo.

Capron has recently shared her experiences in slide show presentations at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the Basalt Kiwanis.

“Most people are pretty impressed that you would do such a crazy thing,” she said.

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