Adventure racing consists of four core sports: running/trekking, mountain biking, kayaking/canoeing and fixed ropes progression, and the non-athletic sport of orienteering/navigation.[Not a valid template]
The sport of adventure racing can be traced back to the inaugural edition of the Raid Gauloises in 1989, a French race held on New Zealand’s South Island. This mostly-annual event was an instant success in Europe. A carbon copy of the Raid was brought to the USA in the form of the Eco-Challenge in 1995, and with the success of both races, the sport became a global phenomenon. Despite the loss of the Eco (2002) and the Raid (2006), adventure racing’s popularity has continued unabated.
The disciplines in an adventure race can include any non-mechanized means of transport, paying heed to an unwritten but universal ethos that they be environmentally friendly and suitable to the host country’s terrain and culture. In the Raid in Madagascar, the course was too remote to reach the starting line by vehicle, so the teams skydived. In Oman, they included a camel-riding section. In Vietnam, we built our own bamboo rafts, then tied them atop and between our two canoes, loaded our five mountain bikes on the raft, and paddled 34-miles downriver before embarking on another bike leg.
These exotic locales can inspire the experience of a lifetime, but they are not a prerequisite to enjoy this highly addictive sport. Events can be found in almost every corner of the country today, and at almost any conceivable distance ranging from sprint to expedition. So wherever you live, there is an adventure just around the corner.
Adventure racing consists of four core sports: running/trekking, mountain biking, kayaking/canoeing and fixed ropes progression, and the non-athletic sport of orienteering/navigation. For sake of brevity, this article will bypass ropes and navigation except to recommend that if you are a total novice at both, then I recommend that you seek out an expert’s instruction in both.
Running is as good as starting point as any, but “running” can mean many things in the context of an adventure race, so match your training to the terrain you expect to encounter. A running section might begin on a manicured trail, and then quickly disappear into a swamp or scree field. Most adventure races involve as much “trekking” as running and these utilize different muscles with less than expected crossover. A fast half-marathon pace is a good foundation, but will be of little value when the race involves scrambling up a steep mountain slope. For a race with elevation gain, be sure to incorporate fast-packing up hills (or stadium stairs if no mountains are nearby).
One should also begin training with pack weight. Too much of this will not do your back any favors – the object is to condition your body to a little extra weight, not to compress your spine. Short trail runs with 10-15 pounds, preferably with the gear you plan to carry in the race should suffice. Long treks with pack weight should be done sparingly, but they are necessary, and not just for the purpose of conditioning. Racing with a pack, and its concomitant weight, will affect pressure points on the body.