Week of October 4
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Excellent adventureBy ALLEN GEMAEHLICH, The Daily Sentinel
�Avid runners have found a new fix.
�It's more than running and biking. It involves exploring and teamwork. And it began Saturday at Cactus Park, nine miles south of Whitewater along Colorado Highway 141.
�The second annual AT&T Wireless Kokopelli Adventure Race continues today with a combined canoe, running and mountain bike race at the Blue Heron Boat Launch in Grand Junction.
�"(Stage 1) was a blast," said Eric Bindner of Littleton. "It is something totally different. There wasn't as much navigating as I expected but (Sunday) should be fun adding a canoe."
�Bindner and his Team Oreo teammates � Andrew Holton and Kendra Hinkson � are leading the two-day race by more than six minutes with a time of 3 hours, 19 minutes and 19 seconds. They reached the transition point in 2 hours and 31 minutes where they hopped on the mountain bikes.
�"I'm hooked," Holton said of the Adventure Race. "Now, I'll have to schedule some with duathlons, cyclecross and mountain climbing."
�Part of the challenge of the Kokopelli Adventure Race is not knowing where the course is � or what the terrain is like � until the day before race day when teams sign in to pick up maps and instructions.
�"Not knowing the course was the nervous thing," Jeanie Grooms of Grand Junction said.
�Grooms, 45, and her Team Wombats teammates � Brad Yenter and Derek Duval � are in 10th place, 39 minutes, 51 seconds behind Team Oreo. Rod Korte is their support member, who supplied them with water, food, shoes and other items at the transition point.
�Thirty-eight teams competed Saturday in a 15-mile run up 1,400 feet of elevation change and an 11-mile mountain bike race. Thirteen more teams will go today.
�Grooms, who met Yenter and Duval through local running clubs, participated in the one-day stage last year.
�"It's her fault we are here," Yenter said jokingly. "We've been training for months. We wanted to be fresh when we started. We drank a lot of water 24 hours before the event."
�Duval said, "I wanted to haul it, but I'm not used to carrying 10 pounds (of gear) on my back."
�Duval, 39, is a triathlete and duathlete who last participated in a mountain bike race two years ago, a 24 hour rece in Moab, Utah.
�Yenter, 39, is a trail runner and recreation mountain biker and Grooms runs in ultra marathons such as the Leadville 100.
�"I like the challenge," said Grooms, who is a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. "I like see how far I can push myself. I like to run. It relieves stress."
�All three have been running for more than 15 years.
�"All three of us have been endurance athletes for years," Yenter said. "I'm sure this would be different for people who run 5Ks. It would probably be a lot harder for them."
�Canoeing, though, will be a new experience for the Wombats.
�"We received a lot of good instruction from canoeist Doug Conant," said Yenter, who met Conant through business. The Wombats know today's course, having practiced on it the past month.
�Team Oreo trained together once before the event.
�"I was extremely apprehensive," Hinkson said. "I had a (lower abdominal) injury all summer and I haven't ran 15 miles in four or five months. I was shocked when I found out we were running that far. I was scared to do it."
�She made it through the run and pushed her teammates to the finish on the bike.
�"The course was great," Hinkson said. "The run was long and drawn out at the end and the sand was a challenging run, but mountain biking was downhill and we went all out."
�She has run since age eight, but started mountain biking six months ago.
�"Kendra did great the last couple of miles," Bindner said. "She was so strong; she's a champ."
�Bindner, 44, is training for the Marathon of the Sands, a 151-mile trek across the Sahara Desert. He raced bicycles for 12 years. This is his first year competing in running events, but he has placed in the top three in master division mountain trail races.
�He also plans to run in a 50-mile trail race in November to prepare for the Marathon of the Sands.
�Holton, who competes professionally in duathlons, started running in middle school and ran competitively in high school and college. He even took up steeplechase. He took second place in his age group in his first triathlon and his interest grew. He soon took up duathlons.
�"This is a runners' race," Holton said. "We found our pace. Toward the end, we hammered it."
�Team Oreo knew it would only be as good as it's weakest competitor.
�"The weak person can change through the race," Bindner said. "You have to work well together. Teamwork is a big thing. You have to trust in each other."
�The Road Warriors of Denver are in second place in 3:25:27.
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