After a whirlwind four days in the Scottish Highlands, the 2008 Drambuie Pursuit has drawn to a close. And while Team Adventure may not have taken home the top prize, we fought hard, made a strong showing—and had an unbeatably good time.
The ten U.S.-based teams met up in New York Thursday afternoon (April 24) for a send-off party. (Lots of Drambuie was had, and friends were made quickly.) We touched down in Glasgow early Friday morning, then high tailed it to Edinburgh for a day of sightseeing—we toured the castle, sampled some haggis, and crawled the pubs.
On Saturday, we got down to business. First stop was Culloden Battlefield, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army was defeated in 1745 and from where he fled across Scotland to escape persecution with the help of the Highland Clans; he rewarded the clansmen with the recipe for his personal elixir—Drambuie scotch. After the history lesson, we planted team flags in the battlefield to declare the official start of the Pursuit. (Catch the spirit with this photo slide show or some a race videos.)
From Culloden, we continued north toward Isle of Skye. The drive along Loch Ness was stunning. Picture classic English countryside—fields of barley and grazing sheep and stone cottages—set against massive, Alaska-size snowcapped peaks.
The archery competition at Eilean Donan Castle was next: Our man Phil Lewis shot consecutive bullseyes and placed 1st overall, and my lessons paid off: we ended the evening ranked 3rd. Camping was scrapped for the night since the day’s 70-miles-an-hour winds and rain had destroyed our site, but they put us up in a hotel on Isle of Skye instead. We called it a day early to be fresh for the rest of the race on Sunday.
After a 5:30 a.m. wakeup, we headed to the shores of the Kyleakin, where each team’s four members took turns racing across the Sound in a motorized Zapcat boat; ridiculously good fun. From there it was on to Boc Beag—a rocky outcrop above Eilean Donan Castle—for cycling, mountain climbing, and rappelling. We were tied for 2nd at this point—but a few glorious wipeouts in the mountain biking event and a sluggish run down the Class III River Garry were enough to knock us back a few notches. Still, we finished in 6th place overall—and still had enough energy leftover to dance along to the Red Hot Chilli Pipers that night at the awards ceremony.
Top honors went to Team Current TV—a group of three BLM smoke jumpers (i.e. they jump out of planes into flaming terrain to fight forest fires) out of Boise, Idaho (Alex Abols, Brian Cresto, and Steve Stroud) and Scott Logan, a producer/host for Current TV. They dominated in nearly every event and set a Pursuit scoring record. Their names will be engraved on a stone at Culloden Battlefield.
Many thanks to our inspired Austin-based readers Reagan Evans, Chris Lewis, and Phil Lews (check out their Team Justin adventure racing endeavors) who came out for the Pursuit!
Plans are already underway for next year’s Pursuit. If you want to apply—and I highly recommend you do—head to www.pursuitof1745.com.