If you have a low boredom threshold and an urge to spice up your workout, adventure racing might be just the ticket. Adventure racing takes you off-road on a wild journey where you tackle a combination of extreme sports, potentially anything from mountain biking to caving to climbing.
Adventure racing is hard, especially because the map of the route you take may be kept secret until the last moment. If, however, you have what it takes to stay the course, adventure racing can be your source of adrenaline-fueled exhilaration. Are you game?
Here are the best adventure races.
Kathmandu Adventure Series
If you want a chance at winning a Kathmandu Adventure Race, first get this straight: do not go to Nepal. The series runs at various venues around Australia, including Sydney’s backyard, the Blue Mountains, along a secret route only announced at the very last minute. The modes of movement are foot, bike and kayak. “If you love the outdoors, have a genuine passion for fun and adventure, and want to push yourself to new limits, then round up a teammate,” the organizers say. They add that you need your own mountain bike, as well as some basic fitness to cope with the event’s demands. You must also be able to swim 100m and read a street directory. The typical Kathmandu Adventure Race consists of seven legs that last about 30km. “Just to keep you on your toes,” the organizers say, “a natural obstacle or two (e.g. mystery discipline, creek crossing etc.) may be thrown into the mix to add a little extra spice and adventure…” The prize money is worth a total of $20,000.
Anaconda Adventure Race
In another oddly named Aussie adventure, the Anaconda Adventure Race, you are pitted against extreme athletes of all levels instead of snakes. The organizers define the Anaconda Race as “three exciting adventure events suitable for everyone, from hardened wilderness warriors to first timers, where you get to swim, trail run, mountain bike and paddle your way through some of Australia’s most stunning environments.” You can do the Anaconda in a team or solo at three locations: Augusta, Western Australia; Lorne, Victoria and Noosa, Queensland. Are you adventurous enough? The impending August 12th Noosa race takes you along “an exciting all-new course ripe for the exploring.” That pans out as a 1.9km swim, a 6km paddle, a 34km mountain bike ride, a 14km run and then another 5km paddle followed by a 1km dash. You can tackle the Noosa event solo, with one other person, or with a relay team of up to four people.
Unusual among these events, the exotic Race2Adventure boasts rest and relaxation opportunities. Race2Adventure was devised by logistics wizard Merritt Hopper, also heavily responsible for another blood-pumping adventure race, Primal Quest and “the most popular adventure race of all time”, the Eco-Challenge. The eight-day Race2Adventure, on the other hand, entices some hundred athletes into its host country’s lush recesses. Each morning, runners tackle tough trails stretching up to 10 kilometers, winning prizes. When the contest stops, the fun amps up. You are encouraged to smell the roses and coffee plantations and let go a bit — try some surfing or diving then maybe the night life. Past Race2Adventure events have run in the USA, Costa Rica, Canada, New Zealand, Fiji, Guatemala and Ecuador. “Admittedly, although these past few years have been near perfect, our last two countries have lacked one very key component — crystal blue waters,” the organizers say. Now it is time to revisit the Caribbean sea and some of the loveliest places that Panama offers, they add. Tempted? The next Race2Adventure epic will be the last. So lock March 16-24, 2013 into your calendar now.
Patagonian Expedition Race
Also known as The Last Wild Race, the Patagonian Expedition Race invites teams of four to explore spaces “previously unknown to the human eye.” The teams cross pristine southern Patagonia by kayak and mountain bike among other methods, tracing the footsteps of Indian forerunners. In the process, entrants explore a crazy quilt landscape punctuated by plains, native forests, glaciers, mountains and swampland.
Expect the unexpected because every “edition” of the Patagonian Expedition Race, which covers hundreds of kilometres, takes a unique path. The details are initially hushed up — you only get the charts you need to navigate the night before the race. Besides extreme distance, the challenges competitors face include volatile weather and isolation — a near total lack of other people. Still, according to the organizers, early registrations for the 2013 race are at an all-time high. The point of the race, the organizers say, is to awaken the world to Southern Patagonia and help save its endangered spectacular wilderness for future generations.
Raid World Championship
Formerly the Raid Gauloises, the Raid World Championship is the original adventure race. All about teamwork, the non-stop, long-distance event takes place in different locations around the world and lasts up to a week, as competitors cover 200km. In step with the innovation that characterizes adventure races, the course changes each year, fueling a mood of mystery and unpredictability. Possible activities range from caving to snowshoeing to inline skating.
Raid was first held in 1989: the brainchild of former reporter Gerald Fusil. Initially, the race was named after its first cigarette company sponsor, Gauloises. The Raid Gauloises last ran in 2003. The following year it morphed into the Raid World Championship. What step the race will take next is anyone’s guess.
Twists keep coming. In 2011, Eco-Challenge promoter Mark Burnett sold Expedition Impossible – a reality show offshoot of the original Raid — to ABC as a summer series. Touted as “an adventure of epic proportions”, Expedition Impossible debuted in June of that year.
Cover Photo Credit: PolandMFA / Flickr.com