The Eco-Challenge came and went. When we will see another race in this series (if ever) is still in question. While Primal Quest is ramping up once again, it seems the RAID series in Europe has been reformatted to cost less meaning less exposure and less award money. Adventure Sports Magazine, a publication dedicated to covering the sport of adventure racing was unable to generate sufficient revenues to support a complete magazine. It no longer exists.
Is adventure racing a flash in the pan? Compared with other mainstream adventure sports, this is a legitimate question. Fortunately, the answer is no.
While amateur athletes in other sports chase icons (think Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Shaun White), adventure racers are competing not for mainstream appeal, but to prove something to themselves. Pain is progress and how much you can endure over a period of time is exactly what adventure racers explore with each new challenge. This is what makes adventure racing cool. The sport inherently weeds out the weaklings.
Jay Getzel, sales and service manager at C.A.M.P. USA recently competed in his first ever adventure race. Below is a brief statement from him talking about his experience, the value he found in racing and the relevance of adventure racing for a multi-sport adventurer like himself …
Adventure Xstream Vail Race Summary – Jay Getzel – Sales and Service Manager @ C.A.M.P. USA
Having been a vendor sponsor, spectator and support crew member at a number of adventure races in the past, I had only ever caught glimpses of the sport. Tired and weary athletes rushing into transition areas, changing gear, force feeding themselves (and each other) and re-hydrating like camels. So, upon embarking on my first race, I was unsure of what the next 4-6 hours of my life would hold in store…
What I found was nothing but fun, comradery, beautiful scenery and a little (perhaps too little – but everything is 20/20 in hindsight) bit of suffering. My good friend Colin True and I participated in the Adventure Xstream Sprint Race in Vail on September 8 – a 6 hour race that included mountain biking, trail running and paddling sections. We finished 5th out of 10 teams in our category and 11th out of the 40 teams that participated in the sprint race with a time of 3:40. I was very happy with this result and, in hindsight, probably could have left a little more out on the course.
What does this tell me? Not that I didn’t try my hardest, but with no idea of what to expect, I did my best to pace myself appropriately. Maybe the key to winning is less about pacing and more about pushing. Either way, I really enjoyed my time navigating the Colorado River basin outside State Bridge by foot, wheel and boat.
Training for this race forced me to step it up from my normal cardio routine. I ran 4-5 miles twice per week and was sure to get in one good mountain bike ride. In the 3 weeks leading up to the race I did 3 big combo days, riding for 15-20 miles before quickly transitioning to a run of about 4 miles. These combo days felt great and I went into the race with a good deal of confidence. Despite a few navigational blunders that cost us about 20 minutes and an estimated 10 minutes lost on the bike rides and runs where we could probably have pushed a little harder, we crossed the line with huge smiles and a great sense of accomplishment!!!
The vibe on the course was amazing. Where I expected a hyper competitive scene, I saw teams helping each other find checkpoints, offering words of encouragement and generally supporting each other. The folks from Gravity Play that organize the race were wonderful and I highly recommend this series to anyone looking to get into adventure racing. This was my first race and it will certainly not be my last. We are already looking at next year’s schedule, focusing in on another 6 hours race mid-summer and entertaining the idea of a 12 hour as well.
Long Live Team Chili Dog!!!
… And long live adventure racing!!!