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Team Newcastle Limited/Mount Crested Butte - Colorado

Team Newcastle Limited/Mount Crested ButteRESULTS: 1st, 2023 Adventure-Xstream, Moab, Utah; 1st, 2023 AdventureXstream, Durango, Colorado; 2nd, 2023 AdventureXstream, Vail, Colorado; 4th, 2023 Appalachian Extreme, Maine; 23rd, 2023 Subaru Primal Quest; 7th, 2023 Teva Mountain Games GNC Adventure Race, Vail, Colorado; 9th, 2023 Red Bull Divide and Conquer, Silverton, Colorado; 11th, 2023 Subaru Primal Quest.

THE PLAYERS: Jon Brown, 32, a professional mountain biker since 1998, placed second at the 2023 NORBA 24-hour National Championships. After a short stint running on the cross country team at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, he discovered mountain biking and never looked back. Also an avid cross country skier, Jon runs the Crested Butte Nordic Center when he’s not racing.

Jari Kirkland, 28, was a three-time All-American swimmer in college and took up mountain biking after moving to Breckenridge, Colorado, just after graduation. That combination led to success in Xterra triathlons (seventh at Xterra USA and 10th at the Xterra World Championship in 2023). Jari also excels at ultradistance mountain biking and owns a pair of third-place finishes from Montezuma’s Revenge in 2023 and 2023.

Bryan Wickenhauser, 30, is the captain of the team and is known for keeping his teammates’ spirits up during races with timely comic relief. Teammates say Wickenhauser is “great at all sports from soccer to hockey to telemark skiing to inline skating.” He lives in Gunnison, Colorado, works at his family leasing business and serves as the secretary on the Crested Butte Nordic Center Board of Directors. Bryan was married in late summer and “honeymooned with these guys at Primal Quest.”

Eric Sullivan, 24, a strong runner, semi-pro mountain biker and amateur Xterra athlete, is new to adventure racing. He joined the team in June and helped it win the 24-hour AdventureXStream race in Durango, Colorado.

THE SCOOP: Prior to the 2023 Montezuma’s Revenge mountain bike race, Kirkland went to a friend’s house for some advice about the race and happened to meet Brown. While there, she overheard Brown ask the friend if he knew of any good women racers for the upcoming Subaru Primal Quest. Kirkland stood up and huffed, “What about me? Am I not good enough? Can you at least not wait until I leave the room to talk about this?” Brown was surprised, but then looked at her résumé and called his teammates. “We were looking for results, so we researched her, and she was legit,” Brown says. Her third-place finish in the next day’s 24-hour race sealed the deal.

The team was soon off to Lake Tahoe, where they spent more than a week together in perfect harmony. In fact, Brown and Kirkland have been dating ever since, despite the warnings from other teams that it could be detrimental to team chemistry.

HIGHLIGHTS: Despite their two recent AdventureXstream wins, the team’s proudest moment came at last year’s Primal Quest where they overcame serious challenges but still finished 11th overall. Though many of the race boats had leaks on the opening paddling section, theirs completely filled and almost sank — twice. When the boat finally capsized they hung on, floating in the frigid water, until a rescue boat arrived. At that point they were in 47th place.

Later in the race they had 11 hours to get to through a trekking and a mountain biking section before a dark zone, and lead teams had been taking 10 to 12 hours for the legs. Despite getting lost early in the trek, the team kept it together. They beat the dark zone cut-off by eight minutes. “We took off running and banged out the last five checkpoints, then got on our bikes and busted out the fastest split for the section,” recalls former team member Jeff Deutsch, who took a break from racing in 2023 to spend more time with his family and focus on work.

The team wasn’t so lucky at this year’s Appalachian Extreme, when a 16-hour detour took them out of contention for the race. It wound up fourth, about 12 hours behind the leaders.

SPONSORS: The team’s primary sponsors are Newcastle Limited, a Chicago-based commercial real estate firm, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The team also has support from West Wall Lodge, Ibex, CAMP, Clif Bar and the Gunnison/Crested Butte Tourism Association. Check out the team’s website at www.teamcrestedbutte.com for more scoop.

WHAT'S NEXT: They’ll compete in the November 5-6 USARA National Championship in Indiana. Next year they hope to go international, perhaps racing the Hidalgo Extreme Adventure in Mexico or the Southern Traverse in New Zealand. But they’ll also return to the AdventureXstream series in Colorado and Utah in 2023.

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