Put a spin on the traditional triathlon by switching up running on paved roads for trails, road cycling for mountain biking, swimming for paddling, and toss in a little navigation challenge and some technical climbing/traversing sections and you have the essence of adventure racing.
Just as there are serious Ironman triathlons, easier Tinman tri-s and even scaled down versions for Kids of Steel, there’s also a wide variety of adventure races.
What is Adventure Racing?
Most races usually contain three core elements: trail running, mountain biking and paddling. They may or may not also include navigation and a technical climbing/traverse section.
There are sprint adventure races that are designed to be completed in as short as two to three hours by solo participants, but the majority of adventure races take a minimum of one long day (with some up to five or six days) to finish and involve a team of normally three to four racers.
It’s a perfect fit for well-rounded backcountry enthusiasts.
How to Get Started
Adventure racing has exploded over the past few years, so if you can’t find an event in your area, look around—you may need to travel a bit to get started, but once you take hold of these roots they’ll likely take you on some amazing journeys.
There are a variety of races out there, the first step is finding what suits your strengths.
Do you like Urban or wilderness running?
Urban races have you run through city streets and concrete paths over bridges and into parks, whereas wilderness running often will give you no more than a map which may take you over mountains, across rivers and down into valleys.
Do you prefer off-trail mountain biking or road biking?
Some races have steep downhill tracks whereas others have smooth asphalt pitches. The nice thing about adventure racing is that, as it has gotten a lot more popular there are dozens if not hundreds of different races around the world.
The sport is very inclusive with racers of all ages, sizes and abilities competing together so you won’t feel out of your element. Even though some of these races can be some of the most extreme sports on the planet, they are all there to have a good time
How Much Does It Cost?
Every race will be different depending on the length, location, terrain and services provided but most often you can expect an entry fee ranging from $60/person per day up for basic races and up to several hundred dollars for more remote, extreme, and specialized events.
Longer multi-day adventure races may provide food, transportation, accommodations, guides and services with entry fees often which is another reason why some races can easily get into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
What type of Equipment do You Need for a Race?
Racers are also required to bring their own equipment which may not be anything if its all on foot, but can also including kayaking, skiing, rafting, and even horse riding. So the gear you will need totally depends on the type of race that you are thinking of doing.
Adventure Racing Tips
- Like any outdoor adventure, adventure races require skills, training and the right gear
- Be prepared for potential medical issues, gear malfunctions, sudden weather changes, wildlife encounters, etc.
- If you’re map and compass skills are weak, consider taking a course or joining an orienteering club.
- Join a local climbing club and brush up on your rope work if necessary.
- Get out on the trails (both running and riding) and on the water and strengthen those skills.
- Train with your team members so that you are familiar with each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
To start looking for an adventure race to match your abilities and interests, check out:
Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Racing
Adventure Racing Canada
Various International Racing Events (calendar)