Endurance: Team American What?

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside Magazine, February 1995

Endurance: Team American What?
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard)

Two days into the Raid Gauloises adventure race last October on Borneo, Mark Burnett, the captain of Team American Pride, wasn't in what you might call a stars-and-stripes mood. "I don't need to be kicked in the balls to know it hurts," said Burnett. "I have no reason to finish this race." And while he was right -- the Americans stood 37th out of 40 teams at the time -- his wasn't exactly the warrior élan that the French organizers were counting on from the competitors. The Americans had stumbled at the outset. A major navigational error, an unfortunate hallmark of U.S. teams in past Raids, threw them so far off course during the opening 50-kilometer jungle orienteering leg that they wandered in circles for 24 steamy equatorial hours. Meanwhile, Team Samling, a squad of three Malaysians and two New Zealanders, was tearing up the course. Electing to run rather than walk, they grabbed a commanding four-hour lead in the jungle and proved to be equally capable in the barrage of events that followed, including whitewater canoeing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and caving. Their finish -- in four days, seven hours, and 45 minutes -- was the fastest Raid in race history, by about three days. The French Intersport squad took second, four hours back, while the U.S. team finished -- sans Burnett and one other team member -- 25th, two days back.

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