November 12, 2001 11:00 pm
Chris Posey ().
Chris Posey ().

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Chris Posey, a former Union County resident, spent an unforgettable week late last month in New Zealand.

But dont ask him about what he saw.

Posey lacked time to take in much of New Zealands beautiful scenery.

Everyone is asking me about what New Zealand looks like. I really dont know. I spent most of time looking at my feet and the ground,said Posey, 43, now of Bakersfield, Calif.

Poseys feet served him well. They helped his four-person squad place 27th out of 70 teams at the world Eco Challenge championships near Queensland, New Zealand.

At the Eco Challenge, championship teams traversed 270 miles over rugged terrain via hiking, hill and mountain climbing, mountain biking, rafting and horseback riding. Poseys team completed the course in about 7 1/2 days.

It was one of best adventures of my life, said Posey, who grew up in Union and Elgin.

Posey, a graduate of Elgin High School and Lane Community College, is the son of Judy Perkins of Union. In Bakersfield, Calif., he owns and operates a charter air


Posey has competed in similar adventure challenges before but nothing comparable to what he encountered in New Zealand. Participants climbed and descended a total of 60,000 feet. So treacherous were the climbs and descents that seven miles of fixed rope was set out for competitors.

Outside of the fixed rope, though, competitors were on their own. There were no roads or trails for them to follow.

You had to make your own way, Posey said.

Competitors had to hike through thick patches of vegetation.

Our hands took a beating because we were always grabbing brush, Posey said.

The toll on his feet, though, was greater. Poseys feet absorbed constant pounding. This was exasperated by the fact that participants were walking through streams and wet grass.

My feet were always wet, Posey said.

Poseys feet have not felt right since finishing the Eco Challenge.

I think I suffered a little nerve damage. My feet are still numb, Posey said.

Posey and his teammates got a total of three to four hours of sleep during the ultra marathon. Most of the time he did not have a problem staying awake.

We were going on adrenaline, he said.

The most difficult time for Posey to stay awake was from 3 to 6 a.m.

Once daylight hit I would be all right, Posey said.

Poseys team was in 17th place near the midway point when one of his team members hurt her ankle. The woman was able to continue, but Posey and the rest of the team had to carry some of her gear and slow down.

In an Eco Challenge, an injury to one team member can have a dramatic impact. Team members can never be more than 100 yards a part. Thus, if someone gets hurt, everyone on his or her team must slow down.

The progress of Posey and other participants was well documented.

There was one member of the media present for each of the 300 people who competed, Posey said.

Those chronicling the event included a crew from the ESPN cable sports network. ESPN will broadcast a program on the Eco Challenge later.

Posey said that helicopters with journalists were constantly flying over the course.

You would be somewhere where nobody was and then a helicopter would appear, Posey said.

The helicopters caused a problem at the start, since a member of each team had to ride a horse for the first 18 miles. Teammates had to follow along. Posey and many other riders were bucked off by horses disturbed by the unfamiliar whirling sound of rotors.

The helicopters got them riled up, Posey said.

Posey kept his strength up during the race by eating constantly. Nevertheless, he lost 12 pounds.

The lost weight, however, failed to diminish his strength.

I felt stronger toward the finish, Posey said.

He and his team passed 10 other squads on the last day.

After the finish, there was a tremendous sense of camaraderie among the competitors.

Everybody knew what you went though, Posey said.

All that mattered was whether or not one had finished.

We were never asked where we finished. People just wanted to know if we had finished. The goal was to finish, Posey said.