Asked if Ballengee excels at any aspect of adventure racing, her teammate Kloser pauses for a long moment before saying, "Well ... she's actually quite good with maps."
And that's it?
A longer pause. "She's ... quite a respectable paddler."
Would you prefer not having a woman on your team?
"Possibly." An even longer pause. "I guess having a woman along is good for the team. It keeps the males from getting off on a testosterone tangent. We pace ourselves better." Which is a backhanded way of saying women are a drag in adventure races.
"All I ask is to be treated like a human being, not a toy doll," says Ballengee, who adds that she has enjoyed recent races with another team--one made up of younger, less grimly intense (and less piggish) male athletes. She says she will stay with her current team through this season, but is considering switching or even competing solely solo. "Adventure racing is becoming more and more of a struggle," says the woman who savors struggle as if it were a Belgian truffle. "It's becoming a job. I liked it better when it was just a hobby."