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On the final day the 2004 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest, Team iRule again demonstrated the unshakeable drive that has defined a series of weeklong performances, finishing the stage second to Team Seagate and claiming the overall victory.
"We worked really well together throughout the race," said team member Marcel Hagener. "The course was awesome, well organized, and even had some fun in it. We're very pleased."
A victory in stage five, however, evaded iRule, who won Mild Seven Outdoor Quest's first four stages. "No doubt, we wanted a clean sweep," team member Craig Stevens said with minor disappointment. "Nobody's ever gotten them all."
Even without the sweep, iRule will go home with winnings of US $65,500. The prize money earned mostly for top stage finishes and the overall standing, should ease the finances of Hagener, who at a pre-race breakfast, confessed that he had spent a "major chunk" of his savings to enter the 2004 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest.
Although iRule, the overall winners, maintained a strong tempo on the final day, Team Seagate finally put its earlier Mild Seven Outdoor Quest struggles to rest and displayed the paddling and biking mastery that has placed the 2003 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest champions on many post-race victory podiums. "It was a more challenging race this year, much hotter," said Seagate's Kristina Anglem. "We also had some of our own challenges. But it feels good to come together as team, have a good day, and race to our potential." Hayden Key, her Seagate teammate added, "Yeah, and it's also nice to break their streak."
Following initial inline skating and mountain biking sections, the race for stage five took form on a nearby coastal island, where teams arrived after a paddle to complete a four-kilometer jungle run and two adventure skills. After coming out of the run, iRule and Seagate were extremely close together and well ahead of the pack. At the start of the seven-kilometer paddle back to the mainland, iRule led Seagate by thirty seconds. Once on the water, however, Seagate's exceptional paddling abilities gave the former champs a very small lead as the teams approached Mild Seven Outdoor Quest's final challenge, a run up to Menara Tun Mustapha, the tallest business building in Kota Kinabalu and with a finale downward abseiling challenge to the finishing line. On the building, Seagate broke away from iRule, and eventually winning stage five by a few minutes.
Finishing third overall, Seagate's spectacular rebound in stage five was not enough to overcome Nike ACG/Balance Bar.
Slowed by injuries and exhaustion, Nike ACG/Balance Bar had a tough stage five, finishing seventh. The team still managed to take the second overall position in 2004 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest. With regard to the finish, Nike's Mike Tobin said, "iRule didn't have a weak link. You need to be really solid all the way through to win this race, and they were."
Team Switzerland finished the day in third place, exhibiting a well-rounded race highlighted by a speedy hands-on-hips, caterpillar-style inline skating run. The team finished with an overall fourth place.
During the paddle Team Nokia towed teammate Teijo Laasanen, whose shoulder injury rendered him unable to paddle. Nokia, despite a falloff in stage five, managed to hold onto a spot in the top five.
Held a month and half earlier than last year's mid-December race, 2004 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest was described in many ways -enchanting, magnificent, challenging, and of course, hot. "Even though we're local, it was a tough race, very hot, " said Power Bar Malaysia's Eugene Chan. "But we did it-we finished!" AROC's Tom Landon-Smith was nearly at a loss for words after stage five's long abseil from the building. But the awestruck racer did manage to convey a feeling shared by many of those involved with Mild Seven Outdoor Quest: "The whole thing has been so beautiful."
The 2004 Mild Seven Outdoor Quest closes its eighth year-the third on Borneo-with another successful event and once again, the Malaysian Borneo's immaculate natural setting has played host to a world class adventure racing experience in Southeast Asia.
Courtesy of Mild Seven Outdoor Quest
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