Getting started in adventure racing is awfully intimidating. Sure, it sounds awesome on paper, but when you start to seriously consider the prospect of hiking, cycling, kayaking, or snowshoeing your way through the wilderness in a race against time, you can quickly feel overwhelmed. So, maybe hold off on registering for the ten-day Patagonian Expedition Race until you’ve gotten some beginner-friendly adventure races under your belt. Here are six great races for your first foray into the wild world of adventure racing in the US.
When: June 18, 2017
There are plenty of options at this event. The Father’s Day Adventure Race, typically held near Orlando, Florida, boasts a one-hour family race, a three-hour sport race, and an elite six-hour race for teams of two or three people.
The family course includes mountain biking, about a mile of paddling, and two miles of hiking. There’s also a pre-race clinic on how to read a map, how to use a compass, and proper canoe paddling technique.
For those with a bit more experience, the three-hour course includes longer bouts of biking, paddling, and overland hiking. The elite race spices things up with more demanding tasks—two hours of each discipline, often involving tougher terrain and upstream paddling.
If you want to bring along some less-experienced comrades, you can participate in the family race for free if you’ve also signed up for the sport or elite races.
Details: FLX Adventures
When: September 30, 2017
Where: Orcas Island, Washington
If you’re the type to take on a big challenge right off the bat, Kulshan Quest might be up your alley. The three or 12-hour adventure race in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest challenges teams of two, three, or four to hiking, biking, and kayaking (12-hour race only) through the chain of islands that lie between Washington and Vancouver.
If you choose the 12-hour event, you’ll want to make sure you and your teammates have had plenty of time to practice navigation, paddling, mountain biking, and hiking so you’re ready for the challenge. Make sure you plan out how to get there too—you’ll need to catch a ferry to race HQ on Orcas Island.
Details: Island Quest
When: Saturday, June 24, 2017
Where: Cable/Hayward, Wisconsin
For a mix of land and water navigation right in the middle of the Heartland, look no further than Stubborn Mule. This multi-race event has a five-hour race that’s perfect for beginners, but you’ll also be rubbing shoulders with grizzled veterans competing in the 30-hour race. They might even teach you a thing or two!
Solo competitors can compete, as can teams of two, three, or four people. The course involves road biking, mountain biking, hiking, and paddling, albeit on lakes, not down a raging river. If you don’t have your own boat, no worries; the race provides canoes for teams and kayaks for solo racers.
When: April 23, 2017
Where: 884 Indian Hollow Road, Bentonville, Virgina
As the name suggests, this race is designed for the beginner. Don’t think it’ll be a cake-walk, though—the Adventure Class event is still up to ten miles, and involves two or three-person teams hiking, biking, and canoeing in Virginia’s Shenandoah River State Park.
The gear requirements and rulebook are more relaxed, so if you want to work out the nuts and bolts of how to actually do an adventure race before getting bogged down in rules and regulations, this is a great choice. It’s also a fairly tame one, so feel free to bring your less-adventurous friends.
Details: Adventure Enablers
When: April 08, 2017
Where: York River State Park – Williamsburg, Virginia
The “Spring Route,” or Sproute Adventure Race, takes place every year near on Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. The race offers four and eight-hour variants; the shorter version is perfect for a newcomer. Soloists or teams of up to four people compete in mountain biking, paddling, and overland hiking. Boat rentals are available through the race, so you won’t have to stop by an outfitter on your way there.
Details: SBB Racing
When: TBA, OCT 2017
Where: Huntsville State Park, Texas
For the rank novice, the NAV TEXAS Race is a great place to start. If you’ve never navigated with a map and compass before, this four-hour event is right up your alley. The race offers a clinic and tutorial on navigating in the wilderness in an adventure race setting, then a mock race to test your skills. If you’re looking for a real competition, you can elect to compete in the real race, which is a four-hour trekking and biking excursion for teams of one or two. There’s no paddling on this course, which makes things less complicated for adventure racing novices.
Details: Texas Adventure Racing
Feature image: Father’s Day Adventure Race FLX Adventures
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