Guide to Adventure Racing

orange square Adventure or Expedition Racing, is point to point, usually including navigation and making use of two or more methods of transport. The navigation element is designed to make the race more than simply a physical challenge. There is no hiding the fact that if you are an endurance athlete then you are going to have an advantage, but someone who is very good at navigating or orienteering style events should be able to win back some time. Events are becoming more frequent in this fast growing sport, and many include a sort of pro and non pro version, designed to appeal to people who would love to have a go, but who haven't really done anything similar before, and who may otherwise be intimidated by a field of experts.


Who can take part?

Racing may be as an individual, usually for the more experienced or those who no longer consider themselves novices, or as a small team, for those beginners looking for a challenge but who perhaps haven't got the endurance to spend five hours going full tilt on wheels, water and their feet. Races are not always won by the fastest person or team, making teamwork and especially navigation of real importance.

What do you need to be good at?

The actual activities vary from race to race, but usually include two or more of the following: trail or fell running, orienteering, mountain biking, and sometimes canoeing or kayaking. Some events throw in some more unusual activities such as caving, or open water swimming, it's best to check each race before you enter as they will not all follow the basic format. Events can last for several hours (usually termed 'sprints'), a couple of days (endurance), or even expeditions lasting several days.

Where are races held?

Favoured locations are upland areas of heath or woodland. The event needs to be in a large enough area to make finding the checkpoints a challenge, and in terrain that will suit both the running and the mountain biking elements of the event (and kayaking if relevant).

When are races held?

It is possible to find events almost year round with some hardy souls turning out in shorts and t-shirts in the depths of winter, but the majority of races are held from early spring, throughout the summer and until late autumn.

How much does it cost to enter?

Entry fee varies per race, with some small introductory races starting at around £20, but for a full day multi-discipline event you are probably looking in the region of £40-£60 and for a two day event including camping perhaps £80-£100. The price usually includes parking, changing facilities, maps and navigation equipment, and specialist equipment such as kayaks and paddle, buoyancy aid, climbing or abseiling equipment, etc. For events that include mountain biking, you will have to bring your own bike, and every race, regardless of format, will require suitable clothing plus food and drink.

Want to find out more

With no central governing body, there are various series throughout the country such as Questars Adventure Racing Series and Tri Adventure who tend to look after the south and south east of England, Might Contain Nuts who cover the Welsh Series, and Open Adventure in the north of England. The main organiser seems to be UK Adventure Racing which offers a "National Ranking", though does highlight that it is unofficial. The following article describes a similar endurance event from the competitor's point of view: tough guy.


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