Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wicked Gorge Games...Shane Gibson interview

I spent the weekend in Hood River with the family and had some time to get out on some of the trails. That was just enough for me to get pumped about the Wicked AR series coming back this year and uniting forces with the Gorge Games...The Gorge Games popped my cherry...I mean was my first 24 hour race and got me addicted to adventure racing. Ok, so this was enough for me to get some questions out to Shane Gibson at Wicked AR for a high level preview of what to expect. So here you have DART-nuun adventures first prime time interview...

> Wicked is back! We missed you, are you fired up to get your race production back on?

You bet! Kathleen and I are incredibly excited to be putting on races again. We really missed producing races in '07 - and are excited to be back at it. This year, we had (as always) far more ideas on what we want to do, than we practically have the time to do well. We still have so many races and places we want to explore, having to chose a select few races is almost as hard as producing them!

> How did Wicked end up in the Gorge?

The 2005 Wicked Gorge race was one of our favorites. Beacon Rock State Park was such a gorgeous venue, Erik Plunkett, the head ranger, was incredibly supportive and great to work with - the feedback on that race has always ranked at the top of the list. We've wanted to come back tothe Gorge year after year, and we decided it was time we did for '08. We started laying plans back in October, and in December we were contacted by Scarlett Marketing who now owns the Gorge Games brand. They were interested in us producing an Adventure Race for the Games. Ironically,we had already begun initial planning for a Gorge race. The connection was almost eerie. This race will be a very different experience for us - since the responsibilities for event management, production, and running the race are varied between the Gorge Games and Wicked Adventure Racing. We're looking forward to the enthusiasm and excitement that has surrounded the past Gorge Games, and tapping into that energy. The businesses, people,and community in the Gorge have been incredibly supportive of the Gorge Games return.

> Did you race the Balance Bar at the Gorge Games? If so what do you remember the most?

I didn't participate in them - that was pre-Shane racing era. I was still on the couch in awe of what those athletes were doing, trying toget up the courage to participate. I do remember watching the Games and the Balance Bar race on the telly - and I vividly remember the final leg when teams were heading to the finish line, up river. One of the teams was using a kite with their kayak, when the camera panned from in front of the boat, to the bow, you could see the hull up out of the water, it was like the kayak had an outboard engine opened up to full throttle -it was incredible. Then they lost something in the water, and had to drop the kite, got passed, and lost the race by a few spots. I rememberthat scene clearly - and it plays forefront in my mind when I'm outthere scouting the course out, thinking about what all the racers willbe going through. The Gorge is one of the top destinations in the World for wind powered sports - racers should be prepared for some incredibly tough paddling conditions!

> Will focusing on one race in 2008 allow you to do more in terms of preparation?

Well - we never approach or consider producing a race with out being asfully prepared as we can be. We take the safety of every single racer out there as if they were our own children. My gut turns knots when we're at HQ deciding whether or not to mount a search and rescue since Team X disappeared into the mist and are now three hours overdue. In many ways, producing a race is a LOT harder than participating. When I'm racing, I just have to focus about navigating my team safely through the course and directly be responsible for our decisions as team captain. When we're producing a race we have to worry about some odd 30 to 50 teams getting through our race course safely! It will be an interesting experience since we are meshing the Wicked team with the Gorge Games organization. So far they've been exceptional people to work with, tremendous experience, knowledge and care. We have incredibly busy lives and producing only one race in 2008 allows us to produce a great quality event and also to focus on other areas oflife.

> What are we in store for in the Gorge in '08?

Definitely expect the paddling section to be tough. Teams without any paddling skills are going to be hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Strong paddling teams are going to be challenged, and will be well rewarded for their experience and training. Many of the NW racers have seen the Columbia River Gorge. I don't think anyone in their right mind would call any of it "gentle" terrain. It's going to be steep. It's going to be leg and lung busting. But I also expect it will be an incredibly fast and furious race. We also have a few twists in store for racers that we're working on - if they come to fruition, I think this race is going to continue the great buzz around the Wicked Gorge legacy. This race is also a CheckPoint Tracker Series points race for the $30,000 series prize purse. We've had a number of teams contact us from outside the region that are interested in pursuing the Check Point Tracker title - so expect some new faces. You were there for the last Wicked Gorge Race, Ryan. Based on your experience, what are you expecting?

[rvg: I'm expecting nothing but monster climbs and big gnarley downhills, brutal terrain and soft sultry single track...maybe some wind on the side]

> Any issues with permits and how are the people to work with in the area?

So far we've had great experiences. Land agencies can be very difficult, expensive and time-consuming to negotiate with when you're a small AR company, but hooking up with a prestigious event like the Gorge Games really helps pave the way for permitting. There is still a tremendous amount of work to do on the race course, but so far things are looking promising.

> Where will Cp1 be? Just making sure you were paying attention.

Well, Ryan - I don't think I'm known for coughing up details too easily! I can tell you this - when you get to the race HQ on race day, look for the highest point. Chances are always good that some wicked sick race director is going to think it's a killer idea to send you up there ...on the steepest slope possible! We are looking forward to the 2008 Wicked Gorge race this year. Forthose of you looking for the down and dirty stats:

Friday July 18th at 5:00 pm - start of the Wicked Gorge Pro course -24 Hour raceMountain Biking, Kayaking, Trekking, Navigation, and some othercoolstuff ...

Saturday July 19th at 10:00 am - start of the Wicked Gorge Sportcourse - 5 to 10 hour raceMountain biking, Kayaking, Trekking, Navigation, and some other cool stuff ...

Complete details will be posted on the Gorge Games website:

Registration will be open on March 25th, via the Gorge Games website: http://www.GorgeGames.net/

We hope to see all of the Northwest racers our there this year - we've missed producing these races, and we've missed the camaraderie and community of the athletes - we're looking forward to kicking off another WICKED year! --Shane


rvg: Thanks for your time and best of luck on the preperations Shane!

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