Sports

Borneo Eco-Challenge lures Whidbey native

"Marc Peck has always loved travel, adventure and testing himself against tough odds, elements and opponents.These days, the Oak Harbor native is getting plenty of opportunities to indulge his passions.Along with three other teammates, Peck is biking, hiking, climbing and paddling across the jungles, mountains, rivers and off-shore waters of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, competing in this year's Eco-Challenge, Sabah 2000.Peck and his teammates - he's team captain - are doing pretty well too, for first-time competitors in the race. As of yesterday, his Team Cascade was 40th in a field of 76 teams, many with several eco-challenge races under their belts. The endurance race, which began Aug. 21 and will continue through Sept. 2, is definitely not for the faint of heart.Four-person teams from all over the world are racing against each other over 300 miles of Borneo's most rugged terrain in brutal heat and humidity - 100 degree days, 75 degree nights and 100 percent humidity. Often, racers put in 24-hour-days to gain an edge in the six-to-10-day event. Then there's the course.This year, the Sabah 2000 racecourse winds through jungle and rain forest via ancient head hunter trails, remote rivers and surrounding tropical seas.Competitors will rappel isolated jungle cliffs using fixed ropes, paddle along winding rivers in indigenous Sampan canoes, trek and mountain bike along dense rain forest trails, sail through tropical seas using native Perahu canoes and scuba dive a coral reef.A cash prize of $55,000 goes to the first team to cross the finish line together. If a team loses a member due to illness, injury, fatigue or disagreement, it's out.Teamwork, Peck said prior to the race, is essential.You have to work together, he said. I think we have a pretty good team. Everyone seems to coincide with everyone else's thoughts.Rounding out Team Cascade are Sarah Bruce, a mountain biker, climber and sailor from Issaquah; Dan Winder, formerly a Navy quartermaster and rescue swimmer and currently a fireman, paramedic and rescue climber and swimmer from Kingman, AZ.; and Victor Chang, a rock climber, river runner, marathoner and child family therapist from Flagstaff, AZ.As for Peck's athletic credentials, the 33-year-old exercise specialist was Oak Harbor High School's 1985 Athlete of the Year, excelling in basketball and tennis.Since then, he's bicycled 6,800 miles through New Zealand, hiked through the jungles of Thailand and climbed mountains in Germany and Switzerland.He also competed in two team endurance events earlier this year; a two-day race in Colorado and a 36-hour non-stop race in Arizona.It was in New Zealand in 1993 that Peck first glommed onto endurance racing, watching the Southern Traverse, a precursor to the Eco-Challenge.I saw these guys racing along on their bikes, then suddenly jumping off and jumping into their kayaks, he said. It looked like fun.Whether Peck is having fun in the jungles and rivers of Borneo is unknown as yet, but five days into this year's Eco-Challenge, Sabah 2000, he and Team Cascade are getting plenty of opportunities to do so.For more information and coverage of Sabah 2000, this year's Eco- Challenge in Borneo, tune into the USA Network or on the Web, at www.ecochallenge.com; www.usanetwork.com; or www.quokka.com "

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