The Smith Brothers Race To Adventure


Chris Smith and Pete Smith could smell smoke from the disc brakes on their mountain bikes as they tried to hold their speed at 25 mph down the steep trail.

"You wipe out at that speed, and the penalty for failure is huge," Chris said.


Pete and Chris Smith at the seven-mile point after a four-mile uphill climb with 18 miles to go. Chris Smith's attraction to adventure races is the same thing that brought him to Payson in 1992.

Failure is an untenable attitude for brothers competing in an Adventure Xtream race that tested their kayaking, biking, running and rapelling endurance.

The April 5 sky over Utah was cloudy as they launched kayaks into the river winding through canyons near Moab.

Teams of one to four people had to stay within 50 yards of their team members as they land navigated their way through the 12-hour event.

Chris and Pete were among the 250 entrants who paddled seven miles, then mountain biked uphill 25 miles.

A five-mile trek was sandwiched before the second 25-mile bike ride downhill, through a different section of canyon.

Although they each carried 100 ounces of water in a "camelback," plus two, 24-ounce water bottles, Chris said the amount of water pushed the edge of enough.

"Lack of water causes cramps, and you start to bonk faster," Chris said.

In addition to the water, they had 17-pound packs with shoes and harness gear for the 275-foot rappel that capped the race.

"Fifty miles is well beyond anything you train for, so you transition from enjoying the ride, to enduring, to hoping you'll survive," Pete said.

Failure is not a word in the brothers' vocabulary, teamwork is.

Pete is a SWAT Commander on the Gilbert Police Department. By day, Chris, a former infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division and veteran of Desert Storm, wears a tie and gives people financial advice at his Payson firm, Chris Smith Investments.

The brothers understand how to succeed as a team, using brain and brawn.

"Your body wants to quit, but your brain is playing the next phase of the race," Chris said.

Clydesdales is what racers call 200-pound competitors.

Chris and Pete earned their medals in 11 hours and 22 minutes, coming in ahead of 21 teams and another 14 teams who did not finish.

"God made some to be mustangs and some to be Clydesdales. I'm pretty sure we took first-place in that class," Chris said.

The rewards for crossing the finish line at Adventure Xtream were intangible but for medals, yet enormous.

The achievement comes in wins of man versus the elements and man versus himself.

Chris told his daughter he was nervous before the race and that he didn't think the butterflies ever went away.

When Pete called home as dusk was falling, the first thing his 15-year-old son asked him was, "Did you finish?"

Pete's three teenagers share his sense of accomplishment.

"They bring congratulations, love to hear the stories and brag on the pictures," Pete said.

"Have you ever asked yourself why we do this?" is the most frequent question race participants ask themselves after the event is over.

"It's a conquer kind of thing. There is a certain feeling of confidence that comes from pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, even if you have trained for it," Chris said.

"I guess that's what brothers are for, to rope you in," Pete said.

Chris is seven years older than 35-year-old Pete. So far, he has roped his brother into seven adventure races, persevering through parched throats and flat tires in their pursuit of fun.

When Pete says, "I am never doing that again," Chris smiles and says, "You will."

Next on the calendar for the adventurous brothers is a June climb to the 19,341-foot summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

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