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|Monday, November 06, 2000, updated at 08:59(GMT+8)|
Team Nokia Adventure Claimed the 2000 MSOQ Title
Their competition might be happy to agree. On three of MSOQ's four days of competition, Nokia Adventure won the stage victory. Displaying a command of MSOQ's multisport disciplines, notably the all-important paddling and running, Nokia showed they deserved to win their second consecutive MSOQ title. Despite the best efforts of a sterling international field of elite athletes, Nokia Adventure would not be denied. "They're a very good team," said Michael Kloser of runner-up Team Beaver Creek. "I was very impressed with how they worked together as a team throughout the race, and never stopped trying harder to excel."
Such behavior by Team Nokia Adventure exemplified "the Spirit of MSOQ." This way of approaching competition - indeed, approaching life - revolves around the notion of discovering through nature's splendor your inner-self inspired. This outlook asks competitors to push through mental, physical and emotional barriers to find their true greatness within. The mountain terrain of Lijiang, located near the headwaters of China's legendary Yangtze River is a pristine, rugged location - ideal for allowing competitors greater self-awareness through nature.
The Spirit of MSOQ could be seen in abundance throughout the competition - Team Mild Seven and Team Shanghai, who each lost teammates to injury, joining forces to finish the race rather than abandoning; Mike Pigg of Team Beaver Creek admitting that he "learned new things about how to push harder this week" and that, despite being fatigued, he refused to give less than his best, for fear of letting his teammates down; Kong Xiang Lin of Team Beijing, who collapsed after the third day of competition and received medical attention, but rose early this morning and raced harder than ever; and, most notably, Danelle Ballengee of Team Eco-Internet. This plucky 29-year old American broke her left arm several weeks before MSOQ. Despite not being able to grip her mountain biking handlebars or properly grasp a kayak paddle, Ballengee used the one area in which she excelled - running - to lead her team to a fifth-place finish. "Several times when the course was difficult I thought the pounding had re-broken my arm. I would cry out. But my teammates encouraged me, and I never thought of giving up," Ballangee said at the finish line, a wide grin affixed to her face.
The fourth and final stage of the 2000 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest began sharply at eight in the morning. Nokia Adventure raced off the line. A little over ten minutes later, Team Beaver Creek began. The reason for the gap was simple: that ten minutes was the overall time differential between the two veteran squads. If Beaver Creek was able to catch and pass Nokia Adventure, they would be the champion. If not, Nokia Adventure would win. No other team was close enough to challenge.
From the beginning, however, it was clear Nokia Adventure was bound for victory. They ran and mountain biked with an apparent ease. During one grueling section, a 1.5-kilometer trail run straight up the steep slopes of Jade Dragon Mountain, they actually sprinted. The members of Beaver Creek could not keep the pace. "We tried to close the gap," said Pigg, "but we couldn't do it. Finally, when we realized there was no way we could catch them, we eased up a bit. They deserved the win."
For racing 400 kilometers of mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, and other multisport disciplines in just under 30 hours, Team Nokia Adventure takes home US$47,000. Nokia Adventure say they are thrilled to have won, but are already making plans to come back and defend their title yet again.
"I have done all the top races," said a satisfied Petri Forsman, captain of Nokia Adventure. "And the Mild Seven Outdoor Quest is the very best. The caliber of athletes and quality of the course are like no other race. I am looking forward very much to returning. This is a very special race."
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