TEAM Veteran Leader and the USA Supreme Adventure Race

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Team Veteran Leader culminated their 2003 racing season by placing second in the USA Supreme Adventure Race.  The Four Winds USA Supreme Adventure Race, presented by The North Face®, (the largest event of its kind in the US) ran 400 miles through Wasatch County, Summit County, Utah County and Duchesne County. The race was a classic expedition-level adventure competition with national and international competitors in which participants navigated, orienteered hiked, trail-ran, paddled swam, kayaked, climbed mountain-biked, power-parachuted and horseback rode through stunning visual backdrops of wild natural beauty in and around the mountainous regions surrounding Park City and beyond.

The team dedicated the race to SSGT James Cawley, a reserve Marine from Lincoln, UT who was killed in action on 29 March 03 near Nasiriyah, Iraq.  SSGT Cawley was a Salt Lake City Police Officer, SWAT team member, and consummate citizen and the team felt privileged to represent him.  This was further reinforced when two of Cawley's fellow officers, Mark Schuman and Andrew Jacson, met up with the team before the race.

The event sponsor, the North Face, provided excellent race coverage throughout the event.  Video and pictures of the race can be found at

Check back later for more pictures and a full race summary by the team.

Here is some local media coverage of the team in action:

Foursome of U.S Soldiers Race to Honor America's Heroes
Aug. 14, 2003

Sammy Linebaugh Reporting

It's like summer camp on steroids, a 400-mile contest of skill, will and stamina designed to push the boundaries of human endurance and exploit man's natural instinct to compete and conquer.

For a foursome of U.S soldiers adventure racing is also a way to honor America's heroes.

Sgt. Bob Haines, Colorado Springs, Colo. Resident: “Every race that we do, we dedicate to a fallen comrade from the state we race in.”

This race, they say, this soldier's story, is different. His name is Staff Sgt. James Cawley, a Utah husband and father of two killed in Iraq last March during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Gayle Hoffmeister, Littleton, Colo. Resident: "My husband leaves a week after this race to go to Kuwait, and that's hard for me, reading his story, and knowing he left a wife and two children."

Maj. Marc Hoffmeister, Littleton, Colo. Resident: "Racing for a soldier who died a few months ago in an operation I'm deploying to in a few weeks, it's definitely a very emotional tie."

An emblem was presented to the Colorado team last night by Sgt. Cawley's former partner on the Salt Lake City police force. With the patch to remind them of their purpose, they join nearly 100 adventurers who this morning set out to tame Utah's backcountry -- trekking, climbing, even power parachuting across the state's rugged terrain.

For the next five to seven days they'll be on the move all but a few hours a night. They pack enough food and water to last them about 12 hours at a time, about four-thousand calories. Not a lot when you consider they're burning 10 to 12-thousand calories a day.

Capt. Michael Tschanz, Lakewood, Colo. Resident: "When we're really sucking things really hard we're gonna think about why we're doing this, and if for some reason we didn't finish the race and we're racing in his honor, it would almost feel like we had let him down."

And so, they push on mindful of the man they hope we'll all remember and the mission that lay ahead




August 12, 2003
Park City, UT



Adventure race comes to Park City
Nearly 100 people surrounding Park City will be wandering around suffering from sleep deprivation, starvation and dehydration. No, it is not a weather phenomenon, a mass prison breakout, or a Boy Scout Jamboree gone mad. It is the North Fac /Four Winds Adventure Race and the best part is that it isn't cheap to suffer this badly, most of the participants will have paid thousands of dollars for the privilege.

The North Face/Four Winds event will have two separate 'adventure' races going concurrently this week. One will be a 400-mile monster, an 'expedition' style race that will have the competitors suffering to an extent that only going off to war could emulate. The other, is a slightly more sedate 150-mile 'outdoor industry challenge' that should 'only' involve three days of no sleep and exhaustion.


Gayle Hoffmeister of Team Veteran Leader, from Denver, Colo., checks her climbing gear Tuesday morning at Park City Moutain Resort. The four-person team is competitng in memory of USMC Staff Sergent James Cawley, who was killed on March 29, in Nasiriyah, Irag.


Both of these races are a part of a new phenomenon in the extreme sports world. 'Adventure racing' has become the catch phrase for this new sport, and Park City with its outdoor diversity and beauty is quickly becoming one of the sport's favorite destinations. In the last three years there have been at least four of these races crossing the Wasatch, including the recent MXTri held here in July.

And the sport's popularity is growing.

Adventure racing first gained notoriety in the U.S with the very first Eco-Challenge here in Utah, a 400-mile epic that included just about every adventure sports element Utah has to offer. Organized by Mark Burnett of "Survivor fame, it was given a less than lukewarm reception by the environmental watchdog groups, but the sport has since grown up, and the understanding and acceptance of it as a legitimate outdoor pursuit is growing.

In the process, adventure racing has is created an explosion in demand for lightweight, competition-oriented outdoor gear, and the outdoor industry is eagerly responding. Companies like Golite, North Face and even Nike will spend a significant portion, if not all of their marketing budgets trying to attract the new 'multi-sport' customer. The sport has become a driving force in how new outdoor products are designed, and has re-invigorated an industry that has been lagging along with the rest of the economy.

That is why for this edition of the race the organizers decided to create the shorter "Industry Challenge. As part of the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show taking place this week in Salt Lake City, the 'industry-only' race will run for 150 miles instead of the full 400, but it will still offer many of the same challenges as its larger sibling. The only elements that will be missing other than the extra distance, are piloting motorized parachute and horseback riding sections. The industry challenge will be broadcast daily to all the attendees of the Outdoor Retailer show at the Salt Palace.

For the uninitiated, adventure racing can be a bit slow and confusing, and to watch it in real time can be a bit like watching something explode in slow motion. But in its distilled televised version it brings in great ratings, and is credited for starting the 'reality television' explosion. Reality shows like CBS's Amazing Race are modeled after Mark Burnett's Eco-Challenge, and the sport has grown from just three major races around the world, to over 350 races just in the U.S this year.

The elements of an adventure race usually include most non-motorized adventure sports indigenous to an area -- map and compass navigation, trekking, mountain biking and paddling take up the majority of the race's distance. In order to make things a bit more exiting, most adventure races will also include other 'adventure' elements, such as scuba diving, skydiving, camel riding, caving, white water rafting, competitors have even been known to try their hand at fishing if they run out of food. For this week's Four Winds event, participants will have to ride horses, climb up and rapel down rock walls, and fly with motorized parachutes.

To be considered an official finisher the entirety of the course must be completed by every team member, so the challenge is not only just to get through 400 miles of torture, but also to help and encourage up to three soon to be former friends to do the same. In the larger races, a finishing rate of fewer than 20 percent of the entrants is not uncommon.

The risks of an adventure race are many, the likelihood of finishing is remote, and for most the financial cost is high. So why do so many people subject themselves to the expense and torture of adventure racing? The most common answer given by the participants is to surpass their own expectations, and to find the limits of their endurance in a monitored and reasonably safe environment. Like most adrenaline-driven sports, the sense of accomplishment in just finishing can be addictive. But for most of the competitors in this week's North Face/Four Winds Adventure Race it will be the largest and most daunting challenge they will ever face, and they will have to be content with that.



© 1999-2003 MediaNews Group, Inc.

Adventure racing reaches bigger, better pinnacles

Four Winds Supreme Adventure Challenge puts athletes in parachutes and skates

Standard-Examiner correspondent

PARK CITY -- The North Face United Kingdom team won the largest adventure race ever to hit the Wasatch Front, finishing less than an hour before midnight Tuesday.

The second place team is about 30 hours behind as Veteran Leader was expected to finish early this morning. Teams will still be straggling in today as the most unusual adventure race ever held in the Wasatch Front draws to a close.

The Four Winds Supreme Adventure Challenge included flying in a powered parachute, in-line skating through the town of Park City while looking for items described on a clue sheet and building a raft from forest deadfall to use to float the team"s gear across Shadow Lake.

""Adventure racing has found its niche, but we"re all about exploding that. We"re changing the way people look at adventure racing," said Bill Lionberger, co-owner of the organizing company, Four Winds Adventures.

Of the 28 teams in the race, about half did the two-day Outdoor Industry Challenge (OIC), which concluded on the final day of last weekend"s Outdoor Retailer show. All teams competed together on the shorter course; the "Supreme" racers then continued for three to four days more on the longer course. Teams could be two or four people, single or mixed gender.

The OIC race concluded in a deliberate tie between two elite, two-person teams that chose to come in together. Park City adventure star Isaac Wilson and teammate Billy Mattison joined up with the Outside Magazine team of Paul Romero and Karen Lundgren; both teams were awarded first place.

"We did a lot of battling back and forth for the first 24 hours. We had more horsepower, but they were making very clever navigational choices, so we decided to team up,"" Wilson said.

A team racing the longer course has local ties. The Veteran Leader team is racing in honor of Staff Sargent James Cawley. Cawley, who lived in Layton, was killed in Iraq on March 29.

"We found it appropriate to honor a soldier by racing in the state he grew up in. We thought that by coming here and racing in honor of Sgt. Cawley, it would let his friends and family know that there are other soldiers out there, and that we don"t forget,"" said Marc Hoffmeister, of Littleton, Co.

The Veteran Leader team is made up of four military veterans, including Hoffmeister"s wife, Gayle.

The race had a mixture of traditional adventure race wilderness events: kayaking, paddling across a lake, orienteering, biking, running and climbing; but it also added "urban challenges."

In the in-line skating portion - where those who were not good skaters could choose to use a scooter - competitors scrambled from point to point, having to find a target landmark before being given their next clue. Those who wished could walk, but since wheels are always faster than feet, walking was a time disadvantage.

The most unusual leg was the powered parachute portion. A simple light aircraft with a throttle and foot controls that turned the craft left or right, and a motor that inflated a parachute, took one member of each team high enough to spot a designated target. The airborne team member then guided the rest of the team to the site.

By the second day, the North Face team, all of whom are from England, had a comfortable 15-hour lead.

Keith Byrne explained that experience helps, but nothing is sure in adventure racing.

"That much time is a lot for other teams to make up, but you"ll never hear us say we"ve won until we are all across the finish line. There are so many things that can go wrong, and potentially will,"" he said.

Byrne said that the most important thing in adventure racing is that everyone on a team like and respect each other. "Because when you"re out for the fourth night on a run and you"ve had an hour and a half sleep a night, you see the ugly side of everybody. It will come out, there"s no hiding it."" said Helen Jackson, the only woman on the North Face team. "For most teams, each person has a specialty, that"s the same for us. I"m the one that keeps going, I carry on and never stop.""

Byrne is the motivator, the one who keeps the positive attitude going. Ski Sharp (his real name) is the technician; he makes sure the bikes are fine-tuned and all the gear is ready to go. Chris McSweeny is the navigator; he constantly checks the maps for reference points. Teams have to pass specific designated reference points, or they will be disqualified.

Each team"s progress is checked by personal global positioning systems issued by the organizers. At each transition point, where teams finish one section and get ready to begin another, the GPS is turned in, downloaded via computer onto a map, and examined. The GPS, which makes location marks every minute, literally marks each team"s path along the map.

Teams can take a short cut, if they think it will work, as long as they pass each reference point.

"But sometimes a short cut can add a lot of time, so you have to know what you"re doing,"" said Karen Livesay, co-owner of Four Winds.

Gayle Hoffmeister of Veteran Leader enjoys racing with her husband. ""It"s the next best thing to any kind of marriage counseling that anyone could ever have,"" she said.

Husband Marc said this particular race was an emotional one for both he and Gayle. He will deploy to the Iraqi theater of operations one week after he finishes the race.

"So it"s like a goodbye party for me,"" he said.

Copyright ©2003, Ogden Publishing Corporation


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