Primal Quest Recap

Primal Quest Recap

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Kurowski, Becky Edwards
For its fifth edition, the 500+ mile Primal Quest ultraendurance-adventure race journeyed to Big Sky Country for some early-summer hospitality. And were we ever ready.

The banner snow year and exceptionally cool, wet spring threw plenty of curveballs at the racers and organizers. As course director Chris Caul put it during his first few days in Montana, “We’re altering the course daily, depending on the changing conditions. Every day is different.”

Primal Quest is more than a race; it's a game of skill and strategy, of knowing when to rest, and of mastering mountain biking, trail running, rock climbing, and riverboarding. This year, the river sections were especially hazardous, as the Gallatin was running nearly over House Rock. The teams portaged around that rapid, but plenty of other burly boofs kept them on their toes.

Flooding and high water on the Yellowstone forced bikes to substitute for kayaks in Paradise Valley, and postholing in the deep snow of the Crazy Mountains and Gallatin Range took its toll on participants. All in all, racers tackled over 100,000 feet of elevation gain in the Madison, Gallatin, Crazy, and Bridger Mountains. Luckily, there was only one rescue, performed near Sacajewea Peak due to a severe case of shin splints.

Team Nike claimed first place, rolling off the course a mere 5 days and 11 hours after the starting gun fired on June 23, and Team Merrell / Zanfel Adventure pedaled in for second several hours later.

Race organizers were delighted with the turnout, the media coverage, and Montana's beauty. As assistant race director and race photographer Tim Holmstrom remarked, “It will be hard to leave all of this beauty and the friendly, hospitable people. I think Montana has a pull on me… I’ll be back.”

For Primal Quest 2009’s location and dates, visit
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