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U.S. Navy-Coast Guard team wins Wilderness Challenge rafting



New River Gorge a picture-perfect setting for 54-mile event


Lansing WV (October 2008) – The combined U.S. Navy Dominators from Virginia Beach VA and U.S. Coast Guard from Homestead FL teams rafted to victory with guide Linc Stalling in the first day of yesterday’s all-military challenge in the New River Gorge.  Second place went to U.S. Navy Tropical Disturbance from Norfolk VA and Coast Guard Team Awesome of Portsmouth VA, rafting with guide Graham Storey and third place to the U.S. Navy teams Here for Beer from Norfolk VA and Giant Killers of Virginia Beach VA who rafted with Steve Warden. 

Sixty teams from every branch of the United States military are competing in the annual 54-mile competition.  This is the eighth year for the challenge, which this year includes retirees and reserve division and a team of wounded warriors who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The event is coordinated by the Navy Mid-Atlantic Region Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department and hosted by Class VI-Mountain River.  ACE Adventure Center, Alpine Adventures, North American River Runners Inc., and River Expeditions support the event by providing whitewater rafting equipment for the teams.  The New River National River Park Service also supports the challenge.

    "This is a great event for these teams who come here to challenge themselves and score a win for their teams and their branches of the service," said Dave Arnold, a managing partner at Class VI-Mountain River.  "The camaraderie, team spirit and energy of this weekend event are exciting to watch."

    Friday's events included an 8-K mountain run, a 1/2-mile Gauley River swim and a 13-mile whitewater-rafting race on the Gauley River.  Today, the teams will compete in a 14-mile mountain hike, a 14-mile mountain bike race and a 7-mile kayak race on the New River.

    Saturday evening, the teams will get together at Smokey's on the Gorge for the closing dinner and awards presentations.  They will be joined by Sergeant 1st Class Billy R. VanSoelen, team leader of the tandem team for the U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights".  VanSoelen began jumping in 1990 and has completed more than 10,750 freefall parachute jumps, 278 static line jumps and 1,500 tandem jumps. 



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