It’s time to get off the sidelines and try out adventure racing. But be warned: this is one of the most addictive sports out there. Once you step onto your first obstacle course or backcountry trail, you’ll only want more.
What is adventure racing?
Adventure racing is basically a multi-sport race that combines a physical challenge with lots of fresh air, and often a good dose of dirt or mud.
At the bare minimum, you should expect trail running and mountain biking, and often flat water sports like kayaking or canoeing. But that’s not all. Depending on the race, you might also find yourself zip lining, rappelling off a rock face, rock climbing, inline skating, rafting or tackling obstacle courses.
Races vary from a few hours to several days and may involve set courses or orienteering in the wilderness. You can enter many events solo, but the support and teamwork of racing with others is often one of the biggest draws of adventure racing.
How do I prepare?
You’ll need at least a basic level of fitness, especially if you want to enjoy yourself.
Shorter events cover less distance, which makes them more attractive to newcomers, but they may involve more sprinting. Longer races require more endurance, but you may be able to move at a more comfortable pace.
In addition to running and riding, you may also need to develop more specialized skills like rappelling and rock climbing. If the course involves orienteering, you should be comfortable navigating with a map and compass. For flat water events, you’ll need to work on your paddling skills.
When training, focus first on the primary events like running and bicycling, so you can gain the most ground there. You should try to do at least one multi-sport training session each week, mimicking the race format as closely as possible. This will prepare you to make smooth transitions on race day.
Top adventure races
Adventure races come in all sizes and style. Here’s a quick run-down of some to try out:
- Spartan Race: Obstacle courses ranging from one mile to marathon distances.
- Tough Mudder: 10- to 12-mile military-style obstacle courses.
- Rev3 Adventure Racing Series: Dedicated mountain bike and multi-sport races that range from a few hours to several days.
- Cranky Monkey Mountain Bike Races: Three to six hours of solo or team relay mountain biking, with racers completing as many laps as possible.
- Off-Road Triathlons: The off-road version of the traditional triathlon with swimming, mountain biking and trail running.
Rev3 Glow Run
5K run – June 13
Triathalon – June 7
Revolution 3 Williamsburg
Half Distance Triathalon
Allen Stone Memorial
Aqualon – July 19
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Odyssey Adventure Blue
Ridge Bear Epic
Triathalon – August 17
5K – September 14
Find an Adventure Race Near Your
• EX2 Adventures: ex2adventures.com
• Odyssey Adventure Racing: oarevents.com
• Rev3 Adventure: rev3adventure.com
• Spartan Race: spartanrace.com
• TriFind Adventure Race Calendar: trifind.com
• Tough Mudder: toughmudder.com
• U.S. Adventure Racing Association: usara.com