Travel Council supports return of adventure race; economy could benefit in shoulder season

By Zenaida Sengo
The Times-Independent

A gut-wrenching adventure race may be coming back to Moab, but organizers are not sure when.

On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Moab Area Travel Council unanimously voted to recom-mend hosting Primal Quest, a roughly 400-mile adventure race involving mountain biking, mountaineering, kayaking, and canyoneering. The multi-day racing series, in which co-ed teams of four compete against one another for a substantial dollar prize, claims to be one of the world’s most difficult and prestigious adventure com-petitions. The race attracts competitors from across the globe and is featured on major television networks, contribut-ing to widespread exposure for the Moab region, one of the primary reasons the council voted to recommend it.

In addition to exposure, the council saw benefit in Primal Quest targeting the area for the month of February, Moab’s “shoulder season.” Race orga-nizers plan to use local outfit-ters, so it could be a boost to local businesses during a time when it’s likely needed most, near the end of the off-season. It’s not clear whether they will supply their own medical pro-fessionals or rely upon Grand County EMS. In 2004, one Primal Quest competitor lost his life after a boulder fell on him in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, so it’s likely the event coordinators will want to secure the strongest safety measures.

The Travel Council also voted to contribute $20,000 for advertising the event, an amount Primal Quest will match should it take place in the Moab area. The event at this point has the support of the Travel Council, but organizers will still have to get approval from the city, county, sheriff, and fire department as well as acquire any necessary per-mits.

But Primal Quest isn’t a stranger to Moab. The adven-ture race filmed its 2006 race in the Moab area and included horseback riding and whitewa-ter swimming in addition to the biking, kayaking, and moun-taineering portions typical of all of its races. Other regions that hosted previous races include Telluride, Lake Tahoe, Montana, and the Badlands in South Dakota, all in North America, despite the race’s international competitors and reach for its films.