At a recent Mountains Plus company picnic, we were reminiscing about the fun we used to have at mountain bike races when the sport was in its infant stages in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was a brand new sport, so everyone involved was jazzed and excited about just being a part of it. There was such a sense of community, and the participants proudly considered themselves a breed apart. More often than not, the races would end with a barbecue and people would swap war stories from the trail.
Adventure racing recaptures a lot of those great feelings, which is why Mountains Plus is so heavily involved. It’s fun! And the people involved in AR are wildly enthusiastic, which can become infectious. While the televised adventure races like Primal Quest have garnered a lot of attention, it is the local adventure races that have really exploded in terms of participation and interest.
Recently we were supporting an adventure race here in WA (pumping up 40 inflatable kayaks with hand pumps, now that’s fun!) There were about 80 adventure racers of all levels racing together in teams of 2 to 4. They started with some orienteering, following their compasses on the run. The second leg was a kayak trip down the shores of Lake Wenatchee. After a tour of mountain biking, the race ended with some time on a climbing wall. The best thing about the whole adventure race was that everyone was having fun, from the novices who capsized their kayak multiple times to the hard-core racers who were training for the 24-hr race later in the season. Having fun – that’s really what it’s all about.
Keep your eyes open in your town, and if you see an adventure race, try your hand in it! There are plenty to choose from: shorter urban adventure races (if you live in the Seattle area, the BEAST series is an excellent choice for first-timers) and sprint-length adventure races in local wild spaces, as well as longer 24-hour (the TRIOBA) and expedition length adventure races. So no matter your fitness level, try your hand and meet some great people! It’s a great way to test your outdoor skills, meet like-minded people, and have fun at the same time.