Courses include mountain biking, trail running, trekking and a choice of adventure legs which can include anything from kayaking, swimming, canoeing, rock climbing, canyoning, tubing, coasteering, abseiling or archery!
ARA offers a whole new experience in adventure racing with innovative courses and concepts, electronic timing, custom made maps, one of the best event prize pools in the country and courses in spectacular new locations with some of the best scenery that Australia has to offer.
Adventure racing’s history can be traced back to the 1980’s with the Coast to Coast race in New Zealand and the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic or possibly even further back to the 1960’s with the Karrimor Mountain Marathon in Great Britain.
In 1989 however what most people now remember is the Raid Gauloises being held in New Zealand, from this the Southern Traverse was born. Mark Burnett, of Survivor, The Apprentice and Are you smarter than a 5th grader, fame, hearing of the Raid took the event to the USA, televised it and then bought the rights to it. The first Eco-Challenge was launched in 1995 by Burnett running until 2002.
What is Adventure Racing?
An adventure race includes navigation using map and compass, if there is a marked course to follow and no navigation is necessary then it is a multisport race.
Adventure racing includes elements of Rogaining, Orienteering and Mountain Biking but is not the same as any of these. This is summed up by Don Mann and Kara Schaad in their book ‘The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing’ when they say “some maps you find in adventure racing are 20 years old or older. Some features may disappear while new ones take shape. Trails will change and new roads will alter the landscape. There are always going to be trails on your map that are no longer on the ground and there will always be trails that you find that are not on the map. It is important to check your compass periodically when taking trails1”.
The adventure of the race is all about taking on the unknown and unexpected and overcoming the challenges thrown at you during the event.
In the lead up to the event a general location will be given a few months before but the exact start point will only be revealed to participants 5 days before the race, maintaining that element of adventure and the unexpected.
Surprises are thrown at you right from the start, bikes may need to be dropped at a different location to the start point, maps are only provided a short time before the start. Decisions on how to get from one CP to another are left to each team, so the pressure is on to choose the best route. Instructions must be read, and on the ground obstacles may force changes to plans as you run and ride. As a result, actual decision making must happen under pressure during the race.
Adventure racing is the chance for people to challenge themselves. Racers learn early on that the competition is less with other teams and more with the course. It’s less about beating the competition and more about achieving your own goals.
Adventure Races have many variations, some of which include:
Sprint: short one day races lasting between 3 and 8 hours.
12/24 Hour race: more extended non-stop race with a set cut off time for the finish.
Multi-day: 2 plus days in duration, possibly involving cut offs along the course, mandatory stops and numerous changes in disciplines.
Races will include trail running, mountain biking, navigation and as the events get longer, even more disciplines can appear inclucing padding, rafting, tubing, roller skates, abseiling and other forms of rope work to name just a few.
This is not to say that any of these can’t appear in a sprint race, one of the best features of adventure racing is the unknown format of the event and the challenge of dealing with the unexpected!
Most adventure races are team events, with longer length races requiring a set number of teammates and requiring the teams to be mixed gender. Many people find the team aspect of adventure racing to be among the most demanding aspects of the event.
Teams will typically nominate a team captain and designate a lead navigator, this is not to say that all team members don’t have a responsibility to understand where they are, the course they are following and navigational objectives they are looking for.
Determining your team’s roles, goals and expectations of each other before the start will save much grief and anguish during the race.
Adventure racing gives participants the chance to challenge themselves, to find their limits and push through them. Racing often takes participants out of their comfort zone by challenging them with unfamiliar surroundings, physical and mental challenges and weather conditions, often while sleep deprived and physically exhausted. How you react to this as an individual and as part of the team by supporting and helping your team mates will greatly affect your whole experience of the race.
Ref 1: The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing – Don Mann and Kara Schaad