Primal Quest

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Fixing a sail to the kayak just before the start of Primal Quest 2003.

Primal Quest was an expedition-length adventure race that has been called one of the most difficult athletic events in the world and was cited as the most prestigious expedition event in North America.[1] The race once featured the largest prize purse in adventure racing.[2] Each race lasted up to ten days, with winning teams completing the course in approximately six days. Each team was required to have four members and were co-ed.

Each team was required to carry a GPS monitoring device allowing race organizers and spectators to track each team real-time via the Internet on the Primal Quest website (no longer active). This device does not offer any navigational assistance to the teams. In an emergency, the teams can use the tracking devices to signal for help.

Race history[edit]

The first Primal Quest was held in 2002 in Telluride, Colorado. In 2003, the race moved to Lake Tahoe and 2004 featured a course on Orcas Island, in the State of Washington. During this race an unfortunate injury resulted in the death of a racer [1] . CBS broadcast highlights of the race in 2003 and 2004, the first expedition adventure race to be featured on network television.

Primal Quest was not held in 2005 but returned in June 2006 to the Utah desert after addressing safety concerns [2] Here the racers faced a course of approximately 420 miles and temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Returning to the roots of adventure racing, no support crews were permitted for the racers, requiring teams to carry more gear and up to three days of food. Disciplines included mountain biking, trekking, horseback riding, technical rope skills, mountaineering, kayaking and white water swimming. Primal Quest Utah was broadcast internationally as four one-hour episodes on ESPN2 and a one hour recap and finale on ABC Sports. Barrett Productions produced the video.

Previous races[edit]

2002 Telluride[edit]

  1. SoBe/SmartWool - became Nike ACG/Balance Bar in 2003
  2. Team Montrail
  3. Team GoLite

2003 Lake Tahoe[edit]

  1. Nike ACG/Balance Bar
  2. AROC
  3. Team Seagate

2004 Orcas Island[edit]

  1. (tie) Seagate; Nike ACG/Balance Bar
  2. Holofiber

2006 Moab Utah[edit]

  1. Nike PowerBlast
  2. GoLite/Timberland
  3. Merrell/Wigwam Adventure

2008 Montana[edit]

  1. Nike
  2. Merrell/Zanfel Adventure
  3. Bones

2009 Badlands South Dakota[edit]

  2. Salomon/Crested Butte
  3. Merrell/Zanfel Adventure

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Leadership in the Wild, Forbes, June 26, 2006, p. 37
  2. ^ Primal Quest to return in '06, possibly through Colorado; Adventure racing's premier event could bring unprecedented TV deal, Summit Daily News, August 4, 2005, P. C1