Team South Dakota doing well in Primal Quest

Left to right: Eric Hansen, Lisa Gustin, Gary Haven, Andy Busse. Photo: Bill GabbertThe team that has two firefighters, sort of, is holding their own in the Primal Quest, the 600-mile, 6 to 10 day race through the Black Hills and badlands of South Dakota.

As Wildfire Today reported on Sunday:


The route takes the 32 four-person coed teams through the Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Angostura Reservoir, and Badlands National Park. The fastest teams will travel almost non-stop, day and night and will finish in about six days. Other teams will take as long as 10 days to complete the course.

It began on Friday with a marathon, just to get everyone warmed up.

After consulting the online map to see where they were, I met the the team at 7:00 p.m. MT this evening. They had just crossed the boundary between Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park and were looking at maps trying to figure out the best way to get to the Highland Creek Trail which would take them to their next check point, #26.

While being paranoid about delaying them, I chatted with them for a while, and gave them directions to the trail they were looking for.

And I did confirm that Eric Hansen is a firefighter with the Rapid City Fire Department, and that Andy Busse is a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the South Dakota National Guard and has fought fire with his helicopter and water bucket.

They had been hiking all day after finishing a complicated ropes course near Harney Peak. They have another 10 or so miles to go before they transition to bicycles again, then there’s a very arduous swimming and kayak stage that could take 20 hours alone. Then, more hiking and biking in and near Badlands National Park before they bike to the finish in Rapid City.

Left to right: Andy Busse, Gary Haven, Lisa Gustin, Eric Hansen. Photo: Bill Gabbert

They were very friendly, and looked remarkably energetic and upbeat considering what they have been through for the last five days. They told me that they are not in the race to win, they just want the experience of doing it–and finishing it.

Many of the other 31 coed teams are made up of professionals who have major corporate sponsorships. But Team South Dakota tonight is in 17th place according to the leader board–very good considering they have no experience with this type of competition.

One way to deal with a flat tire

On Monday I went to Angostura Reservoir to watch some of the water-themed events. The four-person coed teams arrive there on bicycles. The Merrel/Zanfel Adventure team had a flat on the rear tire of one of the bikes.  Here is how they dealt with it.

Photo: Bill Gabbert


The 4th team member is behind the “tandem” bike.

They fixed the flat after they arrived at Angostura by injecting some fix-a-flat slime into the tire then inflating it.

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