Primal Quest Underdog Champions

Team OrionHealth.com dominated this year’s Primal Quest Badlands race to take first place in just under seven straight days of racing. Three highly-experienced and sponsored teams — Team Salomon/Crested Butte, Bones, and Merrell/Zanfel Adventure — followed for second through fourth place. But among the biggest news to come from this year’s race was the amazing late-race surge by Minnesota-based Team WEDALI, which completed the 600-mile course just minutes ago to take 5th Place Overall!


Team WEDALI crosses the Finish Line in Rapid City. Photo: Kraig Becker
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Now, I may have some home town bias. Two of WEDALI’s members are Minnesota friends. But the crew — Scott Erlandson, Justin Bakken, Andrea Nielsen, and Jason Nielsen — were probably the biggest upset victors on the course this year. They raced steady and strong. They were almost dead-on with navigation. Their spirits were up — at least from what I could glean from race reports — for the whole seven days it took them to complete the challenge.


Justin Bakken assembling a bike on the course. Photo: Jason Perreira
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The race started with a marathon run (26.2 miles). WEDALI smoked it at just over four hours. Then it was on to days of steady motion on feet, mountain bike, kayak, and climbing rope. There was a spelunking section. All throughout, the team — and every team in the race — navigated and orienteered from checkpoint to checkpoint, day and night, unstopping at times for 48 hours or longer.


Ropes section in the Needles. Photo: Jason Perreira
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As I wrote in a blog post last week, the WEDALI guys are people who I have competed against and trained with for years. Justin and Scott are friends of mine, great guys who represent the core of Primal Quest’s race pack. That core being the (fairly) normal men and women who have worked hard, trained, planned, and made their way to South Dakota to step outside the bounds of normal living for a few days and do some pretty extraordinary things.

Congrats to WEDALI! Congrats to any team who can finish this feat!


Scott Erlandson downing “energy food.” Photo: Jason Perreira
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The team at a transition area. Photo: Jason Perreira
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Scott Erlandson fixing his feet. Photo: Jason Perreira
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Team WEDALI in the Badlands before race start
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Finish Line. Photo: Kraig Becker
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