Cowboy Tough Adventure Race, Here We Come! Lander Athletes Represent Wind River Country at the 2015 Cowboy Tough Adventure Race (July 16 –July 19)
Wyoming - “So what are you up to this weekend?”
“Oh we’re just headed to Buffalo to do a little trekking through the Bighorns, some mountain and fire road biking, a little Class III whitewater boating, and a touch of orienteering with 100 athletes from over the globe for an 84-hour adventure race ending in Casper.”
Here in Wind River Country, chances are you know one: your neighbor, best friend, co-worker, or even you and your partner are considered an “adventure athlete.” Whether you weekend-warrior up to Wind River’s Stough Creek for a 21-mile fishing excursion, wake up at 5am to run the Tomato Loop, bushwhack with topo maps through the Red Desert to find petroglyphs, ride at-skis/fat bikes/stout horses through the backcountry—there’s a familiar, prevalent breed of (and unspoken camaraderie among) outdoor-forward humans throughout Fremont County.
No surprise that Fremont County has its own adventure race team, for its second year, competing in Wyoming’s 2015 Cowboy Tough Adventure Race. Sponsored by the Wind River Visitors Council, Team Wind River Country is a coed team of four, all residents of Lander.
Captain Charles (Chuck) Schuster crunches 0’s and 1’s by day for Wyoming Life Resource Center. He and his Cowboy Tough teammate and wife Karla Wagner, a local OB/GYN physician, originally got the adventure racing bug at the annual Leadville 100 MTB (mountain biking) race. (Where they spend over ten hours biking 100 miles over 14,000 feet of elevation gain. Each year. On a tandem bike. For fun.)
Returning for a second round, Wind River Country teammate Shad Hamilton is principal at Fort Washakie, a husband, and father of two. Having met in 2006 at the cycling club, Shad has joined Schuster-Wagner on several Leadville races and adventures through the backcountry. Hamilton paddled a canoe singlehandedly across Boysen Reservoir for one leg of last year’s Cowboy Tough to keep the team rolling through an injury and brief and unofficial checkpoint in the Emergency Room. Shad’s wife jokingly refers to Chuck as “that friend” (who drags him out for days and hours of insanity.) We’re not sure if that’s better than a weekly game of poker with the guys or not.
Brad Young is a husband, father, Army veteran, and the newest member of Team Wind River Country. A behavioral therapist at the Wyoming Life Resource Center, Brad was inspired by Chuck’s endeavors over office water cooler conversations, and effectively turned curiosity into action. After surviving his “first date” with the team at the Teton Ogre Adventure Race in June 2014, Brad has been training and on board for Cowboy Tough ever since.
The 2015 Cowboy Tough race-course this year is set for a start in Buffalo, a gentle meander through the Big Horns (ha) and finish line in Casper. 360-430 miles of trekking, paddling, orienteering, fire road biking, single track biking, mountain and road biking, and plenty of checkpoint challenges over the course of four days. Teams are completely independent and self-sufficient for food and water, and are allowed one tote box on an eighteen-wheeler for transition stations. What does that mean? Racing “re-starts” each morning at 7am and even if you rolled into the transition station at 2am, you have to get your food, sleep, and gear ready to start all over again.
Paula McCormick, marketing director of the Wind River Visitor’s Council was adamant about supporting the team in its second year. “Wind River Country is known for its mountains, rivers, trails, and unparalleled terrain from high desert to alpine. Even more so are the people that live here. There’s a pool of adventure athletes who are ‘Cowboy Tough’ and we are thrilled to support them… and have Wind River Country represented at an international (and Wyoming) competition that receives global exposure. These are the people we run by on the trail or see out on the mountain pass. They are our own.”
To get a sense of what this year’s race looks like, look at the video and photos from last year’s race that started in Fremont County. http://www.cowboytoughwy.com/ - !media/c9v9
You can track Fremont County’s team during the race on posts on our Wind River Country Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WyomingsWindRiverCountry?fref=ts