Adventure Racing is my passion. The outdoors,
the teamwork, the adrenaline, and the competition draws me to
this extreme sport.
I have spent as much as 30 hours per week training, depending
on what race I have coming up. Like many, I first saw
Eco-Challenge on television and thought I want to do that!
Then I realized you do not sleep- except for a few hours per
race. I decided, "no" to that.
About a year later, I saw an ad for a Hi-Tech race. These are
sprint races lasting around 2 hours. I talked my husband, his
friend and my brother-in-law into racing.
I will never forget the feeling as we sat eating pizza after
the race. I was so ecstatic that I had completed a two hour race!
It seems like so long ago, but now 2 hours is a short training
Then I met a woman, who is a great racer, at a navigation
course. She invited me to do a long race.
I was thinking "long" would be 12 hours. She said it
was 24 hours! I agreed to do it. Though it took us 33 hours and
we were lost much of the time, it tops as one of my favorite
Not too long after I met a man named Bill
Lovelace. He was a pro-racer and an incredible athlete. He
took me under his wing and mentored me.
Today he is one of my dearest friend, though we could count the hours we were able to spend together.
Ok I should update this, each expedition race became a pivotal time in my life.
There are several teams in the sport who know that
teamwork is what it takes to make it to the top. Without
teamwork this sport wouldn't be what it is today.
Primal Quest, taking over for Eco-Challenge, is now the
Olympics of adventure racing. Adventure races are all over the
world and expedition races can be found in many countries. The
races in the world challenge you physically and mentally,
beyond anything you could imagine.
WHAT IS ADVENTURE RACING?
Adventure racing can include orienteering and
navigation, cross-country running, mountain biking, river
boarding, horse back riding, paddling, mountaineering,
rappelling, and jumar (ascending ropes)-my favorite!
An expedition event can span ten days or more while sprints
can be completed in a matter of hours.
There are dark periods during
racesâ€“ the choice when (and if) to rest or
sleep is left to the competitors. This can be a big conflict
between athletes and is one of the biggest strategy players. Team
Nike (the number one team in the world at one time) likes to bank sleep
Merell (a team that rivals Nike often) at Primal Quest Utah
led much of the way on no sleep.
Adventure racing normally has teams of 4, but
nationals are teams of 3. To be in the ranking your team needs to
Typically the teams are 3 men and 1 woman, but at Primal Quest
2006, I raced with 3 women. We were the only 3 person women's
team of the 90 teams.
My teammates were stronger than many of the men with whom
I've raced. This is not to take anything away from the men,
these women were just that strong! Jenny went on to race with
Nike. Elizabeth could have easily been the one whom they called,
as she is just as strong.
Quest is the "Olympics" of adventure racing, now
that Eco-challenge is gone. It is a race that is 400-600 miles
long and lasts up to 10 days.
Primal Quest has taken a hiatus, but the Patagonia Expedition races, is one that will test your like never before.
ADVENTURE RACING LENGTH
A sprint is usually a two to six hour race. It is more like an
off-road triathlon. It is very fast paced. It has minimal
navigation and sometimes has team building games or special
A six to twelve hour race usually has more navigation and
really starts to test your level of endurance. It will help you
decide if you love or hate the sport. The winning teams will run
all the trekking sections and bike very hard.
A race lasting between 24-48 hours has UTM-based navigation.
Sometimes there is rope work. If they have ropes it is usually a
Sometimes you will need a support crew for these races. This
is a great test of your ability to go through the night.
On my first 24 hour race, I was so afraid I would not be able
to stay up all night. I had coffee beans and all kinds of snack
foods ready to keep me awake. It ended up being pretty easy to
stay awake. This is mostly because it was cold and we were lost
in the Ozarks!
Races can last 36 hours to 48 hours. There is always advanced
navigation and route choice. Sleep deprivation becomes a
significant factor. Deciding when to sleep or if you will sleep
Three to 11 day races involve all the challenges of a
multi-day race, but often with more disciplines (e.g., horse-back
riding, mountaineering, white
water paddling and advanced rope work).
teamwork and sheer determination are a key to winning and
just finishing these races. This becomes a scenario where just
finishing makes you feel like a winner.
I went from a 48 hour race to racing 6 days at Primal Quest.
The level of training, demand on your body, and determination is
incredible. It was the best and worst times physically of my
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com
I love it and couldn't wait to go back and race Primal
Quest Montana 2008! The Montana race was incredible with 100,000
foot of elevation gain. I have some great memories of
Primal Quest Montana and made some great friends.
One of the enjoyable things about expedition races is
re-hashing and embellishing the stories. Reading the extreme race stories is a favorite past time
of mine. One exciting thing for me was reading about all these
people and then lining up beside them at the starting line of
History has produced some awesome and thrilling races. To see
what races are popular now and considered the best check out
People debate the origin of adventure racing. The oldest race
rumored is the two-day Karrimor International Mountain
The Karrimor Marathon consisted of two-person teams. Racers
climbed the mountains while carrying their supplies. It was the
same distance of two marathons.
Alpine Ironman was the next race held in New Zealand. There
was running, paddling and skiing. Robin Judkins,the Alpine
Ironman's creator, created the Coast to Coast race the same
year. This race used many of the same disciplines as today's
The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic was six days of
unsupported wilderness racing. The course was 150 miles.
Gerald Fusil's started the Raid Gauloises in New Zealand.
The race included many of the same disclinplines of today's
adventure racing. It had co-ed teams. They competed in a
multi-day 400+ mile race.
The first Southern Traverse was held in 1991.
Burnett after seeing the Raid wanted to promote the race as a
major televised sporting event.
He purchased the rights from Gerald Fusil. He then launched
the first "Eco-Challenge" race.
Thankfully Burnett brought the world adventure racing. He
promoted his event by making heart felt reality television (the
last taping was last held in 2002).
Eco-Challenge first used the term "adventure race".
Many people still hope this ground-breaking race will come back,
including myself! It seems with the success of so many other
shows, by Mark Burnett, Eco-Challenge will not be back.
Primal Quest is now the Olympics of extreme racing. It is run
by Don Mann and a fantastic staff that has taken adventure racing
back to the grass roots.
Primal Quest is still the biggest race this year.
Our team took on Primal Quest Montana. I thought Primal Quest
was an epic race. I still enjoy watching Primal Quest Utah and
Primal Quest San Juans I train each
We also completed Primal Quest Badlands and placed 17th.
TRAINING FOR ADVENTURE RACING
Training for adventure racing varies depending
on the length. We have several options when it comes to
Check out our links below to see what training might help you.
Lovelace my mentor and friend helped me become an expedition
There are tips here from Bill, as well as much researched and
tried and trued race training. I began studying this with a
passion when I first started racing and have looked at it from
science all the way to the heart.
Gear! My favorite and I think most racers would
echo this. As we did our PQ training, if we weren't talking
about the race, we were looking at gear catalogs or showing off
I love trying to get ultra-light gear, or cutting things off
my gear to make it ultra-light.
I have a
personal gear list which is for basic races and then a
mandatory gear list for each race. For instance Primal Quest will
have an extensive gear list on their site in addition to what we
From helmets, to ascenders, to shoes- gear is a lot of fun and
for many a personal preference. I used to look at what the
professionals were wearing. That does not work. My feet are wide
and therefore I cannot wear Salomon Shoes as a lot of people
wear. I actually used to wear them, but my feet have gotten
wider! I now wear Merrells.
I also like to drink my calories. I used to
copy what others were eating. I had a teammate that ate 2
MRE's a day at the Michigan Expedition Race. This worked for
him, but that does not work for me. It is very important to
figure out what works for you!
I also search out the very best gear I can find; then I shop
around for that exact product. I look for great gear deals and then pass on the stores
to other racers. People laugh, but when you are carrying 16
different items and you have saved one extra ounce per item, you
are carrying one pound less...a significant difference.