Adventure racing is gaining popularity among active people as a new way of testing yourself over multiple disciplines and terrains. We take a look at exactly what adventure racing is and why it's something you should try.
What is adventure racing?
Adventure racing is where outdoor sports meets orienteering.
Adventure racing is a multi-discipline sport which often takes the form of running, cycling, and kayaking however it can also involve other outdoor adventure sports such as horse riding, skiing, abseiling, white water rafting, and climbing.
Adventure racing can be done solo in some instances but is usually done as a team and involves not only the physical aspect but also the competitive aspect of having to navigate an unmarked wilderness route while searching for checkpoints. Races can last anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks depending upon the type of event.
What are the rules?
The biggest and most obvious rule is that you are not allowed to utilise any form of motorised travel, so no cars or motorbikes. If you get stuck and need to be picked up, that's your race over. Another rule in team adventure racing is that the team must stay together at all times, usually within 50m of one another. For example, if you spot a checkpoint but your teammates are lagging behind, you can't sprint off to go and get it, you must wait for your team. This is the heart of the adventure racing ethos.
Teams are not allowed any outside assistance, however it is actively encouraged to assist other teams if you see them struggling or in obvious danger. Finally, you must carry all your gear yourself and be fully self-sufficient for the entirety of the race.
Who can do adventure racing? Adventure racing for beginners
Anyone can have a go at adventure racing! If you have a love of the outdoors and want to explore, then adventure racing is for you. You don't need to be proficient at reading a map but you will need to navigate for yourself during the race. You do need to have a love of trying something new and getting out there but you don't necessarily need to be super fit and athletic to manage it.
Many event organisers partner up with bike and kayak hire companies so you don't even need to have your own mountain bike or paddle boat to take part. You can hire the equipment you need and pick up and drop back off at the event location.
Why do adventure racing?
If you have already tried your hand at sports like triathlon, trail running, mountain biking, or orienteering, you would love the challenge that adventure racing brings. If you feel uninspired by your surroundings, seek adventure, or just want an awesome story to tell in the office on Monday morning, then adventure racing is for you.
Adventure racing will take you to some of the most beautiful places in the world and is a great way to get outdoors into nature and help you make the most of your time there. It will develop your team-work skills as well as essential survival skills such as map-reading and wilderness navigation. Not only this, the feeling of accomplishment is like no other and you are sure to have a ton of fun!
Where to begin with adventure racing – next steps
Once you've decided that adventure racing sounds like an awesome day out, it's time to sign up for a race and do some training! Some of the best events in the UK are organised by Questars who host events in areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Chilterns and the New Forest. There are also plenty of awesome adventure racing events in the US.
In order to train for an adventure race, you will want to make sure your fitness is at a good level and that you can run and bike for extended periods of time. Not only this, you will need to make sure you are competent carrying a heavy load as you need to carry all your own equipment and it would help to have some navigation skills – although not completely essential as many first-timers just get stuck in and see what happens.
So why not sign up for a race and get out there? It could be the best thing you ever do!