Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To GPS or not to GPS

My buddy Mikey Bitton is on scene for Checkpoint Zero covering Primal Quest and one of his most recent posts called out the question about whether or not the presence of GPS at PQ was a good thing...he mentioned me particularly because of my incident in Moab and the rescue that was involved.

Here is a link to the post where Mike writes, "Mann said he thinks VanGorder, who doctors later said was dehydrated and overheated, might have died if he'd fallen on a more remote part of the Utah course. I've got a call in to Ryan in Seattle to see how he feels about this. I'm actually more interested in the opinion of his wife, Jennifer VanGorder. Her husband survived Primal Quest Utah because the rescue team knew exactly where he was. What would Jen say about Mann's PQ Montana decision?"


Although Mikey is more interested in Jen's opinion (I am too) I thought it was worth while to post my thoughts as well.

I've done more than a handful of expeditions since I suffered a heat stroke in Moab, including Ecomotion in Brazil, XPD Australia, Baja Travesia and Raid the North in Prince Rupert. All races have been in remote regions and I felt as safe as can be in all of them because of the people I choose to race with, who by the way are the main reason for why I survived a heat stroke in Moab (thanks team).

Whether I am out with my team mates for a weekend excursion or in the middle of a race in a far off land I choose to be there with them because I feel safe being able to rely on them when I need help. I guess I would call them my first line of defense. I know that my team mates have spent the time to prepare themselves to handle almost any situation that can be thrown at them and it's nice to be able to fall back on them.

Raid the North and Baja Travesia in particular had GPS on the mandatory gear list and used a sealed priority mail bag to keep it dry and also to verify teams had not used their gps at the end of the race. Teams that used the gps couldnot place in front of teams that had not used it. I felt this never hindered the spirit of the event and the reliance of tru navigation, but also made some of the beginner teams feel a bit more confident in taking the steps necessary to navigate their way through the rugged adventure.

I don't think that the inclusion of GPS in this years Primal Quest changes the stigma or stature of the event and I respect the fact that race management is taking steps to add another level of safety. Teams that need to rely on this as their second line of defense will be glad that their friends and them can utilize it and those that don't can continue to race the night away without any of technologies help. My only thought is that I hope that the time penalty laid out by race management is material enough to make teams think twice about using the GPS if they really don't need it.
I'm looking forward to seeing this years event go down as another epic adventure and will be sending all the mojo I can to my buddies on DART-nuun. Go team go!!!

1 comment:

Mike Bitton said...

Ryan, thanks for the post!