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Primal Quest: Elements of the Past

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PIERRE, S.D. -- In less than a year, co-ed teams of four will race to the Black Hills and Badlands area for a grueling 600-mile race. Primal Quest, an eco-friendly, non-stop adventure race will have competitors spelunking through caves, climbing over cliffs and paddling down rivers. This leaves many asking: Where did this race come from and who started it?

"The origins of adventure racing date back to the 1980s and to New Zealand," said Don Mann, Director of Primal Quest. "In the mid 1990s the concept became popularized by events like the Raid Gauloises, Eco Challenge and the BEAST of the East."

Primal Quest was introduced in 2002 and quickly earned worldwide recognition as the sport’s premier event. By 2003, Primal Quest became the first Expedition Adventure Race to ever be shown on network television. Since then, the event has received more than $20 million dollars in media coverage and has been professionally filmed and distributed each year. Media and TV exposure has documented the drama and excitement of traveling 500+ miles, nonstop, day and night, through beautiful and unforgiving terrain using only nonmotorized transportation. Racing against the clock, other teams, and the forces of nature; teams must trek, climb, kayak, raft and mountain bike to successfully reach the finish line.

"History shows that the competitors must be in outstanding physical and mental condition to be able to continue on course for up to ten days with little or no sleep, " said Bill Davis, Primal Quest Race Manager. "It is truly inspiring to witness the performance of highly trained and motivated athletes in a competitive and difficult environment. The top teams consistently show how this is done, race after race."  

Another historic aspect of Primal Quest are the hundreds of volunteers who are needed to help support the race, due to the 75-100, co-ed teams from countries all around the world competing. People who volunteer and race come from countries all over the world, including: Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.


2002 = Telluride, CO
2003 = Lake Tahoe
2004 = Cascade Mountains in Washington
2005 = No Race
2006 = Utah
2007 = No Race
2008 = Montana
2009 = South Dakota

The Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is a Million Dollar Challenge partner and has partnered with the South Dakota Office of Tourism to bring Primal Quest to the state through unique events and innovative marketing strategies. The Million Dollar Challenge program is part of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota. Program requirements, applications and additional information on the program are available at


Next summer, just after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, co-ed teams of four will race, without support crews, through the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota from August 15 - 24. The traditional adventure racing disciplines of trekking, mountain biking, orienteering, swimming, and paddling will be well represented, but competitors can expect new challenges as well. Athletes will spelunk in cave systems deep beneath the Black Hills, and will test their climbing abilities while ascending and rappelling from majestic towering spires. Navigation will play a much larger role than in previous Primal Quests and racers will traverse many miles of single track in the mountain biking sections. Teams will run with herds of buffalo and share the trail with deer, prairie dogs, turkeys, elk and big horn sheep. They will pass abandoned gold mines and historic western forts, while bald eagles soar overhead.




For more information about Primal Quest, please visit or contact


To register, visit Registration deadline is November 10.


South Dakota Contact: Wanda Goodman at 605-773-3301 or


Primal Quest Contact: Kraig Becker at






Media Notes:


About Primal Quest Badlands:


Past race locations include: