Just got off the phone with Don Mann, the CEO of Primal Quest. He’s ramping up for Primal Quest Montana, the 5th edition of the world’s toughest adventure race, to be held June 21 to July 2 this year.
But my conversation with Mann was about next year’s event, the 2009 race, where Mann’s company plans to take the PQ international, potentially with a race that climbs one of the Seven Summits as part of its course.
In January, Mann and his wife, Dawn, traveled to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, a 19,341-foot stratovolcano that claims prize as the highest point of elevation on the African continent. The pair made the summit at 6:45a.m. on January 11 after a seven-day trek and climb. “It was more wonderful than any of us ever dreamed,” Mann wrote in a web post.
Indeed, the experience seems to have inspired something in Mann. When we spoke, he said Primal Quest in 2009 will be held at an international destination (i.e., not in the United States), mentioning Iceland, Vancouver Island, B.C., Costa Rica, and Tanzania as options.
But it was the last option, Tanzania, about which Mann seemed most excited. “It’s expensive to get there,” he said. “But once you’re in the country everything is very cheap, and the people are wonderful.”
Though its very much in the drawing-board stage, Mann had obviously thought through the logistics of incorporating a Kilimanjaro summit bid into the race. He said a race in the Tanzania might last 12 days, of which four to five days could be committed to having teams climb the mountain. There’d be mandatory stops at huts on the way up the mountain, he said. Each team would get one porter. At each stop a doctor would assess the health of all racers, allowing only those who showed no sign of altitude sickness to continue. “You could leave a teammate behind at a hut if he or she was sick,” Mann said. “That way the rest of the group could still make the summit.”
Mann said the fastest team could make it in four days. “That’d still leave a week of racing time outside of Kilimanjaro.”
We’ll have to wait and see what materializes. As noted, this is just one of many options for PQ 2009. But the concept intrigues me: Tick off one of the world’s toughest races while at the same time climbing a Seven Summits mountain. Sign me up, Don!
(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)