What is Adventure Racing?
These days, it seems like Tough Mudders, Spartan races, and triathlons are the exercise regimens de rigueur, making running, cycling, swimming, and even obstacles par for the course on the fitness scene. But for the outdoor-oriented looking to push themselves just a bit further, there’s adventure racing. Encompassing running, trekking, orienteering, navigating (yep, with a map!), paddling, and mountain biking, adventure racing is the ultimate exercise amalgamation.
What is it?
According to the Gibbons Outdoor Adventure Leadership School located in Downingtown, an adventure race includes “wheels, feet, and oars” or more specifically, three main endurance disciplines: trekking, biking, and paddling. It’s similar to a triathlon in that there are multiple legs to the course, but here’s where it diverges:
- Participants aren’t told the course until the day of the event.
- However, they are told the length of the race (ranging from 4-hour sprints to multi-day varieties), so they can modify their training plans.
- Because the races can be relatively unpredictable and there are varying terrains, navigation skills are critical to successfully maneuver the course and reach the finish line.
How long is it?
Times vary depending on the race, but per the United States Adventure Racing Association (USARA), they can range from a few hours to several days and can cover 10 to 100 miles or more.
Who does it?
Adventure racing is nearly always a team sport, with most teams including two to five participants. Often, coed teams are encouraged. Few, but not many, races offer solo competition.
How does it work?
The folks at Adventure Race Training explain that, before the race, participants are nearly always told which disciplines the race will encompass (some longer races will include rope work). And on the day of the event, teams are given a map with checkpoints and an instruction sheet with a rough breakdown of the events to occur during the race.
Each checkpoint counts as one point and the goal is to accumulate as many points as possible. Meanwhile, the time it takes you to complete the course is merely a tiebreaker in the event multiple teams score the same number of points. It’s the team’s responsibility to navigate to each checkpoint, as the map does not explicitly provide a route.
Interested in giving adventure racing a go? Use this USARA directory to find a club or group in your area.
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