Adventure Racing Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Adventure Racing, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

Adventure Racing Overview

Adventure racing combines orienteering, navigation, athletic skill, and endurance, as individuals or teams race to the finish line. Expedition races can span ten days or more, and marathons can be finished in a matter of hours.

Adventure Racing History

Modern day adventure racing is thought to have come out of the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon, in 1968. The race required two person teams to cross mountainous terrain while carrying all of their supplies on their backs. The Raid Gauloises in New Zealand ushered in the modern era of adventure racing. The race involved mixed teams competing in a multi day 400 plus mile race. In 1995, the "Eco-Challenge" race was televised. This race inspired journalist and author Martin Dugard to coin the phrase "adventure racing." Primal Quest, the first major length expedition entirely in the United States, was first held in 2002.

Adventure Racing Rules

Most adventure races involve trail running, climbing, mountain biking, and paddling. Longer races usually involve navigation and rope work. Some races also involve hang gliding, riding on animals, and even roller skating. Part of the fun of adventure racing is the unexpected. There are several different adventure racing distances. There is the sprint that is two to six hours, and sometimes involves tests of agility and minimal navigation. The 12-hour adventure, that consists of little navigation and orienteering. The 24-hour race, lasts between 18-30 + hours, and involves rope work, and more navigation. The multi-day adventure, 36 - 48 + hour adventure featuring advance navigation and sleep deprivation. The expedition, a three to eleven day race (or longer), often consisting of several disciplines such as horseback riding, paddling, mountaineering, and rope work.

There are three cardinal rules for adventure racing:

  1. No motorized travel
  2. No outside assistance, only at designated transition areas
  3. Teams must carry all of their gear.

Adventure Racing Tips

Teamwork is crucial in adventure racing. Teams should elect a captain and designate a team navigator. Few teams can compete with poor team dynamics. Teams should work together to establish team roles, goals, and philosophy before the race. Like most team sports, communication is essential for success.

Adventure Racing Equipment

Equipment can very due the length of the race and the obstacles involved. However, basic adventure racing equipment includes: backpacks with water bladder, compass, knife, basic first aid kit, whistle, food to last the course of the event, and a cell phone for emergency use.

Sportsmanship counts on Sportsvite too.

Read the Community Ground Rules.