Race takes Tahoe woman on new adventure | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Race takes Tahoe woman on new adventure

Susan Wood
Sue Hughes will participate in the Nevada Passage race.

Susan Hughes should feel right at home competing in the Nevada Passage, a made-for-television, multi-sport adventure race scheduled in May through the Silver State.

For one thing, the commercial airline pilot lives at Incline Village – the sole Lake Tahoe resident from a list of 20 athletes who will climb, kayak, sandboard and ride through the far reaches of Nevada between May 19 and 24.

“I got to get back in shape,” she said Sunday via cell phone from the San Francisco Airport on her way to Beijing.

That could be relative. The 4-year Tahoe resident already cross-trains on her mountain bike, runs – even when she’s flying from city to city – and hits the gym when she can. Hughes spends half her time at home and away, so making excursions is all a part of the lifestyle.

“Most hotels I stay in have gyms,” she said.

Hughes also takes out her cross country skis on occasion, but admits she’ll need to replace downhill skiing with snowboarding. The sport is new to her, but she’ll possibly need it to help her with the sandboarding section.

The race starts with competitors scaling a cliff in Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, then maneuvering a personal watercraft over Lake Mead, four-wheeling in the high desert of Ely, cycling in Lamoille Canyon near Elko, sandboarding at Sand Mountain near Fallon and kayaking in the Truckee River Whitewater Park in downtown Reno.

Hughes, 39, said she’s not afraid of a challenge, especially since she works in a male-dominated field. She’s flown for United Airlines for nine years after being in the Air Force at Spokane, Wash., for seven. Participants are divided into teams of two based on industry. She’ll compete along with 18 other participants from 11 states with Todd Borke, an express-mail pilot from Anchorage.

The former Hawaii resident said she’s never competed in an adventure race of this magnitude. But she’s been in triathlons and long-distance events like the Leadville 100, a century ride for mountain bikers in Colorado, and a three-day bike race in Costa Rica.

Hughes sees some parallels with her job, which requires her to react to the unknown with grace and a level head as she transports thousands of people in the skies.

“I’m used to taking things as they come. With this event, I don’t necessarily know what to expect. And, I’m used to being on a small team,” she said, speaking of activities in the plane cockpit.

The Nevada adventure race will be made into a one-hour reality television program up for syndication and broadcast in more than 80 markets beginning in August.

“TV viewers watching the Nevada Passage will see Nevada in a new way,” Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt said. Hunt serves as the chairwoman to the Nevada Commission on Tourism, the agency spearheading the event.

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