Primal Quest Accident Report

The Following Primal Quest post-race report was written by Rebecca Rusch, captain of Team Montrail, and helps to clarify exactly what happened during the race.Hello Friends…I´m sure all of you have been wondering why there has been such a gap in our race updates. I apologize for the delay, but I have not felt ready or able to write an update until now. As most of you may have heard, our team was involved in a devastating incident during the Primal Quest race.We were in the lead with Team AROC from Australia and had been having a fantastic race. Our two teams had been racing together and developing a strong lead over the pack. We had just started an orienteering section of the race, and our two teams were traveling together. We started the orienteering section at around 2pm and were pushing hard to get through the 5 points in daylight. We knew that if our teams could do that, it would open up an even bigger lead on the rest of the pack who would have to do the navigation at night.Around 3pm, we started ascending a rocky peak to the checkpoint at the summit. We discussed the best way to approach the point and all agreed on the best path up to the summit. The terrain was very loose, slippery and exposed. We´d all discussed how technical the climb seemed and wondered why there wasn´t a fixed rope. We climbed up to the summit. AROC , with Nigel in the lead, arrived first. The rest of our team followed just after. Tom, AROC´s navigator, and Novak, our navigator, checked out the possible options for getting down the other side of the peak to the next checkpoint. On the ascent, we´d all commented on how scary the terrain seemed and how we were glad that it wasn´t raining or dark out.There were two possible gullies to descend the peak. Both were about 15 ft. wide at the top. Tom looked at the first one and dismissed it because he couldn´t see all the way down the gully. He was afraid we might get part way down and get cliffed out. We chose the 2nd option…a steep, rocky gully with quite a bit of loose rock, but we could at least see that it ran all the way to the bottom. Nigel started down into the gully first to check it out. We all followed in, one by one. With six of us in the gully, a large rock dislodged from the top hitting John Jacoby in the leg and pinballing down past the rest of us in the gully. Nigel was furthest down, and the rock ended up hitting him in the head. We believe he was killed instantly. After that, it was a rescue situation to get the rest of us, especially John, out of there safely.John had surgery on his leg that evening for a very large laceration on the back of his calf that just nicked the sheath of his Achilles. He will hopefully be okay to race in time for the Raid World Championships in November. In the week following the accident, we spent a lot of time with team AROC hanging out as the rest of the race progressed.Nigel´s mother and brother were flown in from Australia. At the conclusion of the race, our two teams along with our support crews, Nigel´s brother and Nigel´s ashes paddled across the finish line together.It was a rough week that has left both our teams mourning Nigel´s death and questioning where adventure racing safety will go from here.Novak and I are still physically healthy and wanting to salvage the remainder of the season and finish the year in a positive light. We still have two Balance Bar races, MSOQ, and the Raid scheduled.However, we are missing teammates now for some of those races. I just got home yesterday, and it was a good feeling to be able to come home to my own place in Idaho. We leave in a few days for the Interbike Trade Show and a Balance Bar race the following weekend. Novak, Matthew and I will be racing the NY Balance Bar together. The roster for the rest of the season is unknown, but we´re working on it.I will keep everyone updated on the progress. Thanks for all the understanding and flood of support during all of this. It has been an overwhelmingly devastating experience and one that has changed all of us involved.The dominant themes that I am left with after all of this are a deep scar from the tragedy, but an even deeper love and respect for the friends and teammates that have been close to me during this.I´ll write again soon. Rebecca