Sault Stryders
Running Club

Eco-Challenge North America takes on Algoma
Reported June 7, 2003 by Brian Kelly for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

A three-time Olympic gold medalist will take on Algoma’s rugged outdoors in July.

Rower Marnie McBean, who captured gold in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, is one of four members of Gears Racing.Com competing in the Eco-Challenge North American Championship.

The event, which runs July 18 to 26, will see 200 participants kayak, canoe, mountain bike, rappel, trek and orientate their way through a 400 kilometre course north of Sault Ste. Marie.

The city will be represented with a team that includes Ian Dunlop, Steve Foster and Jeremy Paquin.

Foster, as a member of the Canadian Firefighter Everest Expedition, attempted to climb Mount Everest in May

The group stopped short of reaching the peak without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Race director Steve Menzie and course designer Rich Marshall are designing the course Eco-Challenge participants will attempt to conquer.

“I can attest to the fact that you will all be in for a wild, gritty and unforgettable adventure,” race manager Michael Sharpe assured participants in the most recent issue of The Challenger newsletter.

Co-ed teams of four will race 24 hours a day for up to six days.

The top four finishers — two Canadian, two American — receive free, guaranteed entry into the world championships, in early 2004.

Other teams slated to take part include:

  • Team Wenji-Enji, an all-aboriginal entry; and
  • Team Running Free with world champion canoeist and kayaker Bill Trayling.

Not only will the event pump an anticipated $2.6 million into the city's economy, it will add legitimacy to the Sault's claim as a gateway to world-class outdoor activities, said Tourism Sault Ste. Marie director Ian McMillan.

Followers of adventure racing may decide to visit the area to see first hand the challenges faced by Eco-Challenge participants, he added.

Negotiations to have Treble Charger perform at the closing ceremonies on July 26 at Roberta Bondar Pavilion are continuing.

Three of the Canadian band’s members — Rosie Martin, Greig Nori and Bill Priddle — are from the Sault. The band’s fifth album, Detox, was released last August.

It should be known next week if Treble Charger will perform here, said McMillan.

For more information, the Web site for the North American Eco-Challenge is www.ecochallengeNAC.com.

Mark Burnett, creator of the popular TV show Survivor, co-created the Eco-Challenge several years ago.