What is Adventure Racing and Why You Should Give It A Shot

February 5, 2012

This is a guest post by Chase Hooley.

Have you ever wanted to push your body and mind as hard and far as you possibly can? There’s something exhilarating, empowering and spiritual about pushing yourself beyond the limits you thought were possible. And adventure races are the perfect environment to experience such a phenomenon.

What is Adventure Racing

The first question many people ask about adventure racing is “What is it?” Let’s cover that first. Adventure racing, also known as ‘expedition racing’, is an outdoor multi-sport endurance race. Adventure race distances range from 6 hour ‘sprints’ to multi-day 300 mile+ expeditions. Courses usually take place in remote backcountry where race participants can go hours without seeing race officials or even other racers.

Races usually comprise of solo, two-person, and 4 person categories, making teamwork and communication a must for a successful race. Pace and navigation, orienteering, skills are essential. Race information isn’t given until the night before (and sometimes morning of) the race, making navigation a valued skill.

Gear for an Adventure Race

You need a good backpack. And there’s no group of people more used to wearing a backpack 24/7 than our military serviceman. If these bags work for them, they should work for you. That’s why I’d recommend going to an army navy store for a lot of your gear.

You need good shoes, just make sure you get a good pair of trail running shoes. Any trail running shoes should have good tread and durable build.

A solid mountain bike (for obvious reasons) is imperative! You could potentially be on your bike for an entire 24 hours. Make sure you have a bike with the proper gear ratio and is a good size for your body type. You should train with this bike long before race time (the same applies for all of your equipment)

To get a complete list of what gear is necessary you can go here. The AXS Adventure Races are a Utah favorite of mine. Just click on the ‘gear list’ tab to view their list of essentials.

Why Should You Do an Adventure Race?

The best answers to this question I found in an article titled, It’s More Than a Race, it’s an Adventure. Matt Fitzgerald goes into great detail as to how adventure racing can be one of the most fulfilling sports, particularly for avid racers.

His article is considerably more comprehensive in this topic but the basic summary is this – If you can push yourself through an adventure race, you can push yourself through anything!

With obstacles like mountain biking, trail running, kayaking, rappelling, horseback riding, caving, river boarding and more – you are sure to face demons along the way. Dependant on your team dynamic, you may be forced to rely heavily on one or two other team mates. But most importantly you will learn to rely on yourself. Because in the end, no one is going to drag you across that finish line.

In addition to a mental and spiritual revival, adventure racing also provides these practical real-world skills that come in handy on a daily basis (particularly in the case of a job):

  • Endurance – Sticking out something that is difficult
  • Leadership – How many employment opportunities have listed this as a personal skill they require
  • Teamwork – Whether we’re talking your family, your community or your co-workers you are consistently in the situation to reach a common goal with others
  • Analytical / Critical Thinking – Strategic thinking that helps with problem solving
  • Patience – In a race ranging anywhere from 50 to 300+ miles, we guarantee patience will be learned
  • Communication Skills – Unless you are a solo racer, communication is vital to racing success

So ultimately, reasons behind adventure racing are both practical and well worth it. Anyone interested in a superhuman experience, I encourage to give adventure racing a shot.

“Look at the day when you were supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not the day when you lounged around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” – Margaret Thatcher

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