Locals set for Kiwi adventure | AspenTimes.com

Locals set for Kiwi adventure

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Courtesy photo.Aspen's Amy Capron negotiates a tyrolean traverse during the 2001 Southern Traverse adventure race in New Zealand.

The unpredictable Eco-Challenge, the grueling 24 Hours of Moab ? honestly, those were just training runs.

The real test lays ahead for the members of Team Timbers Club at Snowmass, who have their eyes on one of adventure racing’s big prizes: a top finish at the Southern Traverse in Marlborough, New Zealand, next month.

Team Timbers Club ? as valley residents Amy Capron, Chad Denning, Thad Reichley and Julian Underwood became Monday after claiming a major sponsor ? are no strangers to the world of adventure racing, which combines running, biking, paddling, climbing and other disciplines in a team “expedition” format. Capron and Denning have successfully teamed up for these types of races before, including a second-place finish at Utah’s Wasatch Adventure Race.

But Capron, a veteran of two Eco-Challenges, and Denning, athletic supervisor with the Aspen Recreation Department, were looking for something a bit more demanding than the two-day Wasatch race.

“We just said, ‘Hey, we should go big,'” Denning recalled.

The pair went on to additional competitions, gradually meeting the members of the future Team Timbers Club. While completing yet another “extreme race” in Vail earlier this year, Capron and Denning literally ran into Underwood ? he was sprinting down the race course in the wrong direction. The world of adventure racing can be a cutthroat one, Underwood said, leading his competitors to purposely send him off course in an attempt to disqualify him.

With his future teammates’ help, Underwood ? a self-described “total neophyte” on the adventure racing scene ? found his way back to the real race course, finished the running portion of the competition with time to spare, and went on to complete the paddling leg of the race just four minutes behind a former Eco-Challenge winner. The experience got Underwood “pretty psyched” for another adventure race.

Reichley, a triathlete, 24 Hours of Moab competitor and Underwood’s colleague at the Aspen School District, joined the team the following weekend. Reichley and Underwood are also adventure racing teammates, having claimed second place ? along with Kallie Carpenter ? in the Kokopelli Adventure Race in Grand Junction, Sept. 29-30.

Finding their first adventure race to try as a team was easy ? but completing it will be more of a challenge.

Capron tried her hand at the 2001 Southern Traverse, but a teammate’s injury disqualified her group from competition. Ready to give the race one more shot, she convinced Team Timbers Club to register.

The team lucked out, signing up for the traverse ? scheduled to kick off Nov. 18, continuing through Nov. 24 ? just a few weeks before the trip to New Zealand.

“Those races usually sell out in a day,” Capron said. “We got in on a longshot after a last-minute cancellation.”

The team was accepted as a qualifier, but only after a lengthy background check on all four members. Southern Traverse organizers take the competition seriously, and frequently turn away teams they feel aren’t up to snuff for the weeklong endurance race.

The Southern Traverse consists of 400 kilometers of biking, paddling and rappelling through New Zealand’s harshest terrain. Organizers take their course so seriously, they keep the entire thing a secret until the day before the 60 four-person teams are set to begin.

Though registration was the team’s first hurdle, their second seems to be time management. Reichley, a third-grade teacher at Aspen Elementary School, and Underwood, a student teacher at Aspen High, have to fit training runs between classes.

“It’s actually a really nice compliment to training. I can train in the afternoon, and I have weekends off,” Reichley said.

Capron, a landscape architect, is also scrambling to finish a few big projects before the trip to New Zealand, and Denning frequently jogs at night after a day of supervising after-school recreation activities. But, all in all, employers are understanding of the team’s efforts.

“That’s part of being employed in this town ? this community’s made up of athletes, and they understand,” Denning said.

A fund-raiser and slide show scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center will give attendees a taste of adventure racing ? and will hopefully result in some extra traveling cash for Team Timbers Club. Though the Texas Pacific Group has contributed money for airfare to New Zealand and various outfitters have donated the temporary use of equipment, the group could still use an additional $1,000 for the trip.

The team will raffle off a bike from the brewers at New Belgium.

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