Team South Dakota gets hero's welcome | Black Hills Travel Blog

Team South Dakota gets hero's welcome

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Team South Dakota got a hero's welcome when Gary Haven, Lisa Gustin, Andrew Busse and Eric Hansen, all of Rapid City, crossed the finish line in Rapid City Saturday night.

The foursome had just completed Primal Quest Badlands, the most challenging endurance race in the world -- a course that covered 600 miles of biking, hiking, swimming, paddling, caving and climbing across South Dakota's Black Hills and Badlands.

Hundreds of South Dakotans streamed into Memorial Park to greet the team. The crowd roared when the team's headlamps became visible in the darkness. Also, a large group of bicyclists had ridden out to join them for the final push.

I think the biggest winners might be the poeple of the Black Hills. Primal Quest organizers raved about the enthusiasm, hospitality and the helpfulness of area residents.

"Every team had similar stories about locals who adopted the race and cared for the racers. This ranged from a simple gesture like farmers filling up racers’ bottles with water to more elaborate involvement, such as one employee of Acme Bikes in Rapid City driving an injured racer to a checkpoint where he could receive medical care, or pizza delivery man Lou Gutierrez, who hiked to the top of Little Devil’s Tower in the middle of the night to deliver pizza to a remote checkpoint," Primal Quest organizers wrote on the race website. " The South Dakota Office of Tourism and Rapid City have truly succeeded in getting the word out about the race, and racers as well as residents have been inspired by each other."

The New Zealand team, OrionHealth, was the winner of the race. They finished on Thursday, well ahead of their competitors. Although Team South Dakota was never a contender, they are the first host-state team to finish the race.

"If South Dakota wasn’t already hooked on adventure racing from following their hometown champs, they surely are now after hearing the inspiring story of Team Spanos and Big City Mountaineers,"  organizers said.

About the Author

Dan is an on-again, off-again Black Hills resident since 1978. The Aberdeen native hit the road after high school, building houses in Boulder, working oil rigs on Colorado's Western Slope, delivering cars in California. In Wyoming and Idaho, he worked as a newspaper journalist. But the Black Hills kept luring him back. For 18 years, he wrote for the Rapid City Journal. The job gave him a chance to see the Hills from atop Mount Rushmore and the bottom of the Homestake Mine. Whenever possible, Dan grabs his dog Kody and heads to the Hills. These days, he's perfecting the art of low-impact backpacking: hike two hours to a scenic spot, break out the wine, cook up the pasta, watch the sunset and fall asleep under the stars.

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